Chris Rock is hosting the Oscars this year, and he took the gig long before the nominees were announced and everyone got pissed because all of them were white. So here we have one of the greatest social commentators of his generation presiding over a ceremony that is in DESPERATE need of a public flagellation. Sounds potentially promising, right?
WRONG. Here’s what’s gonna happen Sunday night: Rock is gonna come out onto that stage, and he’s gonna take his jabs, and that audience—the fucking lifeless audience of plasticized actors, each of whom needs six publicists just to do basic addition—will go OOH, like someone slapped a baby in front of them. OMG HE JUST SAID A TRUE THING, SHOULD I CLAP? And then the monologue will peter out and the show will go on—and on and on and on—as normal. Any hope of real subversion will be smothered with a tastefully art-directed throw pillow.
There’s no reason for the Oscars to be this fucking terrible. There’s no reason for them to be four hours long, making it impossible to sustain any semblance of live audience energy. There’s no reason for them to pass up worthy performances every year in favor of nominating Eddie Fucking Redmayne. There’s no reason for the show to sell people on THE MAGIC OF THE MOVIES every year when people were already watching plenty of them. I know it’s easy now to play it cool and publicly declare your indifference to this breathtakingly inane, terrifying display of limousine liberalism. And that’s your right. I ain’t gonna stop you. But if done right, the Oscars could be just fine, instead of being an endless telethon of toilets flushing.
I used to be way into the Oscars. This is true. I would watch it every year when I was a kid, all the way to the bitter end where, against all reason, they cram the only important awards into a span of three minutes. I watched all the nominated movies, picked all my favorites, and rooted for those faves like a good little dipshit. I could recite most past winners and major nominees from memory. Remember Amadeus? That was a good movie. I remember when that won Best Picture. I would watch and I would DREAM. Oh, how I would dream! I would imagine winning my own Oscar one day (many at once, actually; I was an imaginary star/writer/director/producer/gaffer), walking up onto that stage and giving a speech that would charm the world.
And you know what? All that dreaming bullshit still kinda works. Tell me I’m up for an Oscar and I’d still quietly shit my pants in excitement. The reason a lot of people were pissed about the lack of diversity this year was people still care about these awards, or at least would like to.
But good fucking lord, does that town make it hard. They nominate eight to 10 shitty movies for Best Picture, and they dole out Oscars to anyone willing to look less than perfect for 90 minutes on camera, and they force every host to make jokes about what it’s like to be the host when the show doesn’t even need a host, and they treat Sean Penn like an elder statesman instead of a humorless shitstain. God forbid they wake up and actually take stock of this dreck. No one in Hollywood wants to piss anyone else off, which means no one ever does anything interesting, and the Oscars are the perfect distillation of that bland restraint. It’s four hours of people biting their tongues.
Maybe their new voting procedures will make the field of nominees more inclusive next year, but nothing else about them will REALLY change. They’ll remain a slog … a parade of self-important fuckfaces using their 30 seconds at the podium to holler out freshman-year political takes. I hope everyone in that fucking auditorium chokes. Except Rock. I hope he escapes before the Choke Spell is cast.
Anyway, as we do every year, let’s take a moment to say absolutely horrible things about all of the nominated movies and actors and actresses. I’ve actually seen some of these movies this time, much to my regret. Let’s go.
The Martian. The dirty little secret of The Martian is that it was based on a book that was technically brilliant and expertly plotted, but written by a third grader. There are jokes in this movie that Rick Reilly would deem too mild. OMG GUYS DISCO MUSIC IS SO BAD LOL. That’s the joke they push on you for two-plus hours. You know what? Keep the guy on Mars. We don’t need a second Jay Leno back here on Earth.
Bridge of Spies. This was the blandest, most old-fashioned movie I’ve ever seen, complete with somber trumpet music. At one point, Tom Hanks literally lectures a guy about the Constitution. They hired Amy Ryan, and all she does in the movie is wear a wire bra and gaze in awe at the GREAT AMERICAN she married. Yes, let’s all go back to the 1950s, when people spied on each other, but they spied THE RIGHT WAY. There’s one scene where Tom Hanks takes a train over the Berlin Wall and sees people get shot. Then he goes home and rides the subway in New York and he sees kids climb a fence without getting shot. BECAUSE AMERICA IS FREE, YOU SEE. I’ve seen Olympics broadcast montages that were more subtle.
The Revenant. Oh hey, let’s take a look at some real quotes from the director of Dances With Wolves, But Violent. Here he is on Leo eating raw bison liver for the movie:
Without it, he may not have gotten to the truth.
Oh. And how should I watch Leo eat this liver?
This film deserves to be watched in a temple.
Go fuck yourself. Why are directors all such awful people? We should replace the Oscar broadcast with three hours of Alejandro González Iñárritu being mauled by a bear. People lionize directors, and the truth is that the more control a director has over a movie, the more likely that movie will be fucking intolerable. Go watch the Star Wars prequels and see for yourself. Not everyone is a visionary. Someone should have wrested this movie from Iñárritu and cut 40 minutes from it. They should have burned the footage right in front of him, to teach him a torturous lesson in brevity.
SPAWTLIGHT. This was my favorite episode of SVU ever. By the way, here was a movie about the revelation of a truly horrifying, devastating child abuse scandal, and they STILL had to make Boston look gritty and tough and real, like I was watching The Town 2: TOWN HAHDAH. I wish this scandal had started in Peoria so that Boston couldn’t humblebrag about it. OW-AH MOLESTAHS AHHH MORE-AH TERRIBLE THAN YOUR-AH MOLESTAHS.
Brooklyn. Well, now, all I gotta do is look at the title to know this movie is about white people. Let’s check the plot:
An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local.
Yep. Nailed it. I bet there are mandolins involved. Not since Sweet Home Alabama has a movie title so blatantly reflected its desired target audience. There are porn movie titles with more nuance. I’ll never watch this. Oh, and speaking of movies I’ll never watch …
Room. Nope. Not a chance. “This harrowing story of a mother and her child held captive for years is surprisingly life-affirming!” My ass. You know what’s life-affirming? Furious 7. This is not Furious 7. I’m not watching any movie that makes Nancy Grace cream her hashtags. No way.
The Big Short. This was not a movie. This was a Vox explainer video with famous people in it. And The Big Short thinks you’re so stupid that it just repeats the same talking points over and over and over again. Here’s Autistic Christian Bale explaining the housing bubble. Now here’s Margot Robbie in a hot tub explaining the housing bubble. Now here’s Ryan Gosling using a Jenga tower to explain the housing bubble. Now here’s Anthony Bourdain (WUT) to explain another aspect of the housing bubble using a DIFFERENT prop as metaphor. Now here’s Brad Pitt ... you know what? I got it. I’m not an idiot. Just because the actors in this movie couldn’t understand any of this doesn’t mean I can’t either.
Mad Max: Fury Road. Say anything bad about Fury Road and I will plant you on a fucking spike. This movie is too good for the Oscars. They should have pulled the movie from consideration and set up their own award ceremony for it, complete with tricked-out hot rods and double guitars. If anything, the Oscars will just ruin this movie. If George Miller wins, I want him to mount the statue on the hood of a ZZ Top coupe and drive it over the corpse of Jack Valenti.
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo. Are we sure this wasn’t an HBO movie? A boring, pseudo-prestigious actor showcase about a fucking Communist? That SCREAMS HBO movie. Actually, you know what? Not even HBO would greenlight this thing. This is a TNT movie at best. The guy from JAG is in this. Come on. That’s a basic cable movie. Anyway, no one saw this thing. I got a free copy of it and used it to stabilize a table leg.
Matt Damon, The Martian. Andy Weir’s novel consists mainly of log entries from stranded astronaut Mark Watney, who is the most generic person possible to leave stranded alone on a planet. So what does the movie do? It has Matt Damon recite all the log entries out loud, like I’m watching Sam & Nia trapped in space. That would never happen. Why wouldn’t you just have Damon narrate the action instead? I’ll tell you why: NO OSCAR.
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant. Continuing the Oscars’ time-honored tradition of belatedly honoring respected stars by giving them an Oscar for their LEAST impressive work. The worst Leonardo DiCaprio is GRITTY Leonardo DiCaprio, when he wants to prove he isn’t some wealthy, charming, boyish scamp (is that really a problem if you’re a wealthy, charming, boyish scamp?), and is in fact a REAL MAN. Now he’s gonna get an Oscar for going camping and having a beard, because it LOOKS hard, not necessarily because it is. Watching DiCaprio act in this movie is like watching Bieber try to rap. There’s a final confrontation at the end with Tom Hardy (SWOON), and it’s clear that, in real life, Hardy could wad up Leo and shit him out. Leo has the bare torso of a 5-year-old. He ain’t taking down Bane.
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs. Congratulation to Michael here for being the latest actor to fall all over himself for the chance to be Aaron Sorkin’s personal blogging puppet. I’ve said it before: Actors love working for Aaron Sorkin because he gives them lots of words to say in the script. It doesn’t matter that every character serves as a flimsy proxy for the ongoing, insufferable cocktail arguments that Sorkin is waging in his own mind. And it certainly doesn’t matter if the movie makes money (which this movie did not). All that matters is that you get to say a lot of words about what the zeitgeist MEANS, which means you sound intelligent! LOOK AT ME! I’M TALKING LOTS OF STUFF FAST! IT’S LIKE I ACTUALLY GRADUATED MIDDLE SCHOOL!
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl. Oh, look, it’s the guy who only acts in Oscar bait ... a man who was born INSIDE a Merchant-Ivory film. Join us next year when Kirk Lazarus here plays an amputee heroin addict … an amputee heroin addict who also happens to be Che Guevara. Fuck Eddie Redmayne.
Cate Blanchett, Carol. I didn’t watch Carol, because Carol is a movie made for movie critics and exactly no one else. Instead, I made my parents watch it. Here now is their review:
Tough but fair. They might give Blanchett her second Best Actress Oscar for this one, just so she has a Best Actress trophy that ISN’T tainted by the help of a shitbag director who diddles his stepkids. Boy was THAT awkward!
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy. This movie is a vehicle to get Jennifer Lawrence to give Steely-Eyed Speeches about America, and it’s the most boring vehicle they could have picked. I’m not watching any David O. Russell film that doesn’t include people getting shot. No amount of KEWL ZEP TUNES or quick cuts can make up for the fact that this movie is about someone who invented a mop. I bet Lawrence and Russell made this movie as the result of a drunken bet to see if they could get the lamest pitch possible greenlighted. “A mop! They’ll never pay for that!”
Brie Larson, Room. Well, look, I better at least watch this trailer so I know what to make fun of here …
... OH JESUS. JESUS GOD NO. I got three small kids, and the world is already terrifying enough. I don’t need this shit. Just give this lady an Oscar so that she doesn’t go making Room 2, okay? Give her whatever she wants.
By the way, brie is the most overrated cheese, and it isn’t even close. There. I said it. It’s cheese diarrhea.
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years. What was this? This was a movie? Is this foreign? I bet it’s foreign.
Oh, wow, it’s not foreign! See, usually Hollywood is so utterly bereft of decent roles for women that they have to go wading through the foreign film scrap heap just to fill out the paltry five slots in this category. Barring that, they pull from the Dench/Streep/Mirren carousel of low-budget movies about senior citizens to finish the job. By the way, Rampling would be a sentimental choice here if not for her being a fucking idiot.
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn. I remember Saoirse Ronan! She was in Atonement! That movie was garbage. I’ll give her an Oscar if she goes back and shreds the negative of Atonement.
Christian Bale, The Big Short. This movie had a lot of great performances—especially from Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Jeremy Strong—and yet the one they chose to nominate was Bale going the Full Redmayne and doing that thing where he’s WAY too intense for the movie surrounding him. I like Bale, but his Heavy Metal Rain Man bullshit was the worst thing about this movie. Oh, my God! That guy doesn’t wear shoes in the office! He must be some kind of savant! I’m angry on behalf of Gosling. Baby Goose got robbed, dammit.
By the way, the Oscars can redeem themselves if they have Mastodon do a surprise performance of “Blood and Thunder.” It’s the show’s only hope to save itself.
Tom Hardy, The Revenant. They should give Hardy an Oscar just so I don’t have to watch him scratch his infected scalp again. That was so gross. By the way, if Hardy’s character ran for president in 2016, he would get 60 percent of GOP primary voters. That Fitzgerald guy GETS why I’m so angry!
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight. You really don’t want Ruffalo winning this thing. Once he gets hold of that microphone, you’re in for a tree-hugging screed that would make a Michael Moore acceptance speech sound like Nixon. Here’s Mark protesting for drinking water. And here’s Mark protesting fracking. And here’s Mark protesting climate change. And here’s Mark protesting with Leo. And here’s Mark wearing licensed Dickinson apparel. No wonder James Woods acts the way James Woods does. He’s surrounded by people like this all day long! I’d turn into a gun-toting loon if that ever happened to me, too. #Sticktoacting, Hulkboy!
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies. Why did this guy get nominated? You shouldn’t get an Oscar for acting calm. I could have played this role from a dentist’s waiting room. The only thing that impresses critics more than overacting is tasteful underacting. “His face says so much!” Bullshit. All this guy did was wear a hat. I’m not impressed.
Sylvester Stallone, Creed. They’re not gonna give this guy an acting award, right? Please God, tell me that isn’t going to happen. It’s Sylvester Stallone! He’s been a laughingstock for five decades specifically because he can’t fucking act. He can’t even talk! And now they might give him an Oscar just because he was able to build a career despite being a marble-mouthed imbecile. He doesn’t deserve an award. Everyone else deserves a caning for propping up all three feet of him for so many years.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Racist Clue. I guess you deserve to be nominated if you voluntarily sign up to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s action-figure playdolls. Leigh spends this entire movie dropping N-bombs and getting her ass kicked and getting called a bitch. Nope, no psychological fanboy projections in that role at all! I really liked Pulp Fiction, but people need to stop slobbering over Tarantino for making $100 million Redditor wet dreams.
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight. McAdams got nominated because she spent two hours wearing reporter clothes, which in Hollywood counts as portraying a legitimate physical disability. Holy shit, she’s wearing chinos. She threw vanity right out the window for this one!
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl. Jesus, she’s gonna get an Oscar, too? How many acting trophies get handed out annually for performances involving FORBIDDEN LOVE? This is bullshit. Vikander and Redmayne probably spent all of their time on the set reciting their Oscar speeches before the director yelled ACTION.
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs. I didn’t see this movie, but since it’s an Aaron Sorkin script, I assume that Winslet’s character talks fast and is super brainy, but also a little crazy! YOU NEED TO DUMB IT UP A LITTLE BIT, YOU CATTY SHREW.
Rooney Mara, Carol. And here I remind you that Rooney Mara is the daughter of one NFL owner who was named after ANOTHER NFL owner. It would be like if there was a guy from the families that own the Raiders and the Pats who named his kid Davis Kraft. She’s Roger Goodell’s starchild. What a remarkably fortunate occurrence that both her AND her sister were able to become successful Hollywood actresses! WHO THE FUCK WOULD HAVE GUESSED. I’m sure they totally achieved fame and fortune on their own, in a true meritocracy. Real triumph over adversity there. It just goes to show that if YOU are born a billionaire heiress, you can make something of yourself out in this crazy world.
So there you have it. Also, no need to tune in Sunday, because forecasting models have already ruined all the suspense, and we know who’s gonna win everything. Fuck the Oscars.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter@drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also pre-order Drew’s second novel, The Hike, through here.
Design by Jim Cooke, photo via Getty.