The Academy Awards Mailbag

With the Oscars coming up, Brian Batty and first time Are We Recording contributor Bridget Morrissey exchanged e-mails over the last few days, going over the main awards and their nominees, while making predictions along the way. Here are the good times that followed…

Brian: First off, Bridget, I’d like to welcome you to the AWR Family. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life. How excited are you that a Fortune 500 pennies company is letting you get involved?

Bridget: Brian! I feel like Renee Zellweger in the beginning of Jerry Maguire. I just know I am about to be a part of something magical. You had me at hello.

Brian: So the Oscars are coming up this Sunday, and to say there’s a lot to talk about is an understatement. Although what year isn’t there a lot to talk about? Ellen Degeneres is hosting this year which should be a little less….offensive (is that the right word?) than Seth MacFarlane was last year. I mean I’m all for anti-establishment and pissing off the higher-ups, but he may not have been the right choice for the demographic they were going for. Ellen should piss a little less people off this year. Talk about a safe choice, who doesn’t love Ellen Degeneres?

Bridget: The Oscars are constantly fighting to stay relevant in the mainstream, and using Seth last year was an attempt to be “hip”. By my standards, nothing he did was particularly surprising given his brand of humor, but I can imagine the powers that be felt it was too far. Ellen is a happy middle ground. She’s hosted the Oscars before, so she knows the protocol, and like you said Brian, she’s a universally loved figure. But to me, the host doesn’t much matter. The Oscars are about a celebration of the past year in film, and I hope for more attention on the nominated work. The most enjoyable awards telecast I’ve seen this year was the Screen Actors Guild awards, and there was no host. Might I add, that without the added time constraints of fitting in hosting bits or other fluff, the speeches were more insightful and void of the anxiety of a ticking time prompter and building music cue.

Brian: My question is why don’t they just have Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host every awards show? Those two are funny and charming enough to just do it every year and not be offensive or do anything other than be awesome. To the awards though, this year’s Best Director roster is absolutely stacked. David O. Russell goes for three losses in the last 4 years. Also, I think with a film like “Gravity”, I can’t really give a best director award to somebody who didn’t actually work in the environment the movie was in. I mean if they actually went up to space to film it, I think you’d have to give it to Cuaron just because, you know, they were in freaking space. My pick for Best Director though goes to Scorsese. I don’t think “Wolf Of Wall Street” wins best picture (which it totally should, but we’ll get to that later), but he should definitely get it this year. That movie should at least win SOME award.

Bridget: I agree that Amy and Tina are hosting national treasures, and if there must be a host (or two), I’d choose them every time. But to close this topic off, I think Ellen has learned from her past errors and will do a wonderful job this time around. I’m excited for what she’ll bring to the table. Now over to the director side of things, where I have to respectfully disagree with you. I don’t know if you saw “Gravity” or not, but Alfonso Cuaron was able to pull a riveting performance out of Sandra Bullock, not to mention the fact that he had to INVENT a way to film this movie. You see it, and you as the viewer are in space with her. It is an incredible feat that deserves the award, because he’s pushed the boundaries of filmmaking. Visually and sonically stunning. A complete experience. I say this is easily his win, although a lot can be said for Steve McQueen’s work in “12 Years a Slave”. It’s between those two for me.

Brian: I guess we can agree to disagree on “Gravity”, just for the sole fact that I was a little disappointed with the movie in general. That’s personal preference though. I see it as Steve McQueen winning too, just based on the Academy liking to pair Best Picture and Best Director together, and I think “12 Years a Slave” is going to have a big night, so that definitely wouldn’t surprise me at all. How do you feel if you’re David O. Russell though? He’ll probably be having a, “WHAT MORE DO I HAVE TO DO?!?!?!?” moment in his head by the end of the night.

Bridget: I think David O. Russell is doing just fine. He’s building up quite the formidable reputation, which will make his eventual win so much sweeter. I call it having a Susan Lucci Moment. Susan Lucci was nominated for the Daytime Emmy 19 times before she won it. 19! And her win is one of the greatest moments in awards show history! The entire audience is on their feet cheering and crying. It makes me tear up every time I think of it. It’s one of my top five youtube videos to watch when I’m feeling down. The energy is contagious. Now, I’m not saying David needs 19 nominations. I’m just saying when it’s his time to shine, it’s going to be really sweet. But it isn’t this year.

Brian: Yeah, “American Hustle” is this year’s movie that seemingly has a nomination for every single category, but doesn’t actually win any of them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I was honestly surprised it garnered so many nominations. For example, I don’t think Bradley Cooper has a shot for Best Supporting Actor. I ultimately see Jared Leto winning for “Dallas Buyers Club” or Michael Fassbender for “12 Year a Slave” walking up to the podium, and it will be highway robbery. Jonah Hill deserves this one ten times over. He absolutely nailed his part in Wolf, and when I walked out of the theater the first time I saw it, literally the first thing I said was, “If Jonah Hill doesn’t win an Oscar for this I’m going to boycott the Oscars”….or something like that. Regardless, Jonah’s come a long way from saying “ASK ME ABOUT ME WIENER” while wearing a hot dog suit in “Accepted”.

Bridget: If the Oscars were about the journey over the destination, not many have climbed a steeper Hill than Jonah. (Drum hit!) The Supporting Actor award is Jared Leto’s to take though, just as I think Best Actor is Matthew McConaughey’s. Everyone knew it as soon as photos from the “Dallas Buyers Club” set hit the web, and the performances lived up to the hype. It’s a beautifully acted film, and my girl Jennifer Garner is an unsung hero in the acting tour de force that’s going on there. But as a lover of great TV moments, I wouldn’t hate it if this year was Leonardo DiCaprio’s Susan Lucci moment. Talk about a win that’s been years in the making. Move over David O. Russell! And I’ve made a lot of safe choices with my picks so far, so why not give the Best Supporting Actress to June Squibb in “Nebraska”?

Brian: Speaking of Best Supporting Actress, I saw this video on Youtube the other day…..WAIT A MINUTE IS THAT YOU? PLAYING MERYL STREEP?!?!?! How weird. I’m kidding I knew it was you. This was way too funny to leave out of this

I won’t even lie, I didn’t get a chance to see Nebraska so I can’t really pick her to win. Although they do like to give out a “shocker” type winner, and this category isn’t necessarily stacked with big names this year. I think the “American Hustle” not winning anything theme keeps up with this one also. I’ll go ahead and say Lupita Nyong’o takes it for “12 Years a Slave”. That movie screams, “We’re about to win a whole bunch of Oscars #DealWithIt,” to me, and this is one I could see Lupita taking.

But are you predicting Leo’s going to win Best Actor then, if I read into what you were saying correctly?

Bridget: You got exactly what I was saying with regards to surprises. I think the category with the most breathing room is Best Supporting Actress. My favorite performance there is actually Jennifer Lawrence, but hey, June Squibb is fun, so I’m mixing it up. I said Matthew is going to win Best Actor, but I’d love it if Leo did, because it’s been years in the making. I wanted Joaquin Phoenix to win for his work in “Her”, but he didn’t even get nominated, so you know, que sera. I’m willing to bet Leonardo is your pick though. Am I right?

Brian: Only Jonah Hill not winning would be a bigger travesty than Leo not getting the trophy. In my opinion Leo is the best actor still going right now, and probably the best actor of all time if Al Pacino decided to stay working in the taco stand in the 80s. I feel like everyone forgets how good he actually is, just because “Titanic” is, for whatever reason, still the role people most associate him with, until they see his next movie then it’s like, “Oh yeah that’s right, Leo’s the shit. What is he doing next?” Do you think his countless snubs comes from the fact that he works with so many great directors and scripts, and he doesn’t get as much credit for carrying those movies? “Wolf Of Wall Street” was basically three hours of Leo on screen doing a bunch of drugs and other debaucherous activities and it doesn’t feel like three hours at all. With my bad hip, I can barely sit through a two hour movie without getting squirmy and uncomfortable, but I was absolutely glued to the gigantic movie screen in front of me the entire time. I’ll get to my opinion on “Her” when we get talk Best Picture (SPOILER ALERT: I hated it).

This will be my face if Leo isn’t on that stage after they announce Best Actor

One thing I’ve always wanted to know though, is why don’t they make the votes public? I want to know the people who voted based completely on their own personal reasons. I want to see where some of the bad votes come from ya know?

Bridget: Interesting thought. It would create too much polarity within the Academy if everyone knew the votes. This is a presidential election in the world of acting, and while I’m sure some people are comfortable stating their picks, others don’t want to ruffle feathers (The June Squibb secret voters!). They also don’t want anyone to know how they sacrilegiously voted against Meryl Streep in “August:Osage County” when she turned in an electric, top ten lifetime performance in a career so stacked there isn’t an actor alive who can match it. All hail Meryl. But I won’t be remiss when Cate wins because she’s as elegant as they come and she turned in a monstrous performance too. In fact, as a whole, this Oscar year is so exciting because of the insanely high quality all across the board. A year full of memorable characters. There isn’t a disappointing win to be had.

Brian: Meryl Streep should probably just get the Best Actress award every year she does a movie. Has there ever been a female actress that has been so widely accepted as the GOAT (Greatest of all time– for you non-basketball fans out there)??? Has there been one negative word ever spoken about her? BRB doing a quick Google search for “Negative Meryl Streep comments”…..uh yeah, Google just suspended my search privileges. Oh well, off to I go.

I’m gonna throw in a homer pick on this one and go with Amy Adams, solely based on the fact that I’ve had a crush on her since she played Jim’s girlfriend/girl Jim used to get Pam jealous in The Office. She should win it just so I can see her some more. That’s really based on my own selfish reasons, and I don’t feel bad about it at all

Yeah that’s right Pam. I found another red head. Now dump Roy already would ya?

Bridget: Meryl Streep being a Goddess is in fact a universal truth, but her potential loss this year stings worse than say, the year she was nominated for “Julie/Julia”. And honestly, who else in the world could get nominated for a movie like “Devil Wears Prada”? We will never be worthy of her greatness. I love Amy “Giselle from Enchanted” Adams too, but as we Cub fans love to say, “wait ’til next year.” Cate Blanchett takes the trophy.

Is now the right time to hear about your Best Picture opinion? I’m dying to know how you’ve failed to appreciate the wonder of Joaquin!

Brian: See Bridget, we’re all having fun here. Sharing some laughs, the good vibes flowing like the salmon of Capistrano, and then you have to bring our Cubs into it? Why must you torture me so?

Sorry I literally couldn’t help myself with that. I think Dumb And Dumber should win Best Picture every year because it’s the most perfect movie ever made.

I disgress, I guess “hate” was the wrong word to use there. I just didn’t like the way I felt walking out of that movie. His probably great performance was overshadowed by how uncomfortable in general “Her” made me feel. But maybe that was the point. I don’t even know anymore. That whole movie had me feelin’ some type of way (Shout out Rich Homie Quan). Just the whole falling in love with your computer thing just seems so real to me, because I’m sure there are hundreds of lonely guys out there that consider Siri to be their girlfriend, which isn’t ok by any sense of the word ok.

I don’t know if you’ve been perceptive enough to gather that I really really really liked “Wolf Of Wall Street” yet, but I really really really liked “Wolf Of Wall Street”. It was probably the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. I’d have to go back and look at a list of movies in the last five years, but off the top of my head I can’t think of one I liked better than Scorses’s latest masterpiece. But sadly, I don’t have a vote, and “12 years a Slave” is the winner. Such a great, moving movie. I believe the working title for the original draft was actually “Oscar Bait”, but I may have to double check my sources on that.

Bridget: I see what you’re saying about “Her”, which is precisely why I loved it so much. It felt like a glimpse into a very real future, also serving as a way to open our eyes to our dependency upon technology, and how it already borders on romantic anyways. The amount of time we spend with our computers and phones rivals the time we spend with real people. Great concept, uniquely executed. Possibly my favorite of 2013.

I think “12 Years A Slave” will and should win, however. A difficult and important story to tell, done with a masterful balance of imagery and great acting. Chiwetel, my man, you’re a revelation. There are some scenes in the movie that are so hard to talk about, I can only imagine what it was like to create them. Beyond that, and more importantly, what it was like for the men and women who lived them. Thought provoking in a completely different way than “Her”, but another magnifying glass on society that really worked for me. I’ll be cheering at the end of the telecast when the cast gathers to celebrate their accomplishment.

In the midst of all our conversation, it occurred to me that I didn’t mention the man, the myth, the legend- Mr. Tom Hanks. Those who know me know that my love for Tom is deep and personal. If Meryl is our acting Goddess, Tom is our God. Joaquin was overlooked, but by God (Tom?) was Hanx robbed. His closing scene in “Captain Phillips” is…beyond words. I can not be subjective when it comes to him, because it is fact in my eyes. He is the greatest. He deserved at least a nod, to recognize his hours cooped up in a cramped submarine, flailing in the ocean, and I don’t know, also for getting out of bed every morning. Breathing in and out.

SPOILER ALERT: Ending of Captain Phillips. Do not click if you haven’t seen the movie

Okay, I’m starting to loosely quote “Sleepless in Seattle” now. It’s time for me to clock out. This has been fun. I can’t wait to see how close our predictions come to the truth. JUNE SQUIBB FOR LIFE!

Brian: Well in that case…I think I’ll just leave this here.


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