A Depressing True Story

First: Yup, I got most of my predictions wrong. It happens. Every year. I’m worse than Ebert, and I’m cool with that.

And now, the point of this post: The Oscars had started, as had the Tweety/Facebooky snark avalanche. Tom Hanks walked out to talk about art direction and cinematography and, for reasons that never worked because the show’s writers had apparently given up, Gone with the Wind. He started rattling off nominee names, and then it hit me: I didn’t have my ballot. Oh God, I didn’t have my ballot.

Since my teens, I’ve spent every Oscar night dutifully tracking each winner, originally underlining names on a list of nominees clipped out of the local newspaper, later checking boxes on ballots available online. It’s a tradition started from a pre-internet need to reference winners in the days/weeks/months/years to follow, and it evolved into an OCD thing. I’ve lost most of the old clippings over the years (I still have a couple from the late 90s), and these days, I have no need to keep them at all. But I still keep track, through every show. I even got my wife and daughter doing the same. I think if I were to ever lucky enough attend the ceremony live, I’d still have to bring a ballot and a pencil.

So not having the ballot nearby was a bad, bad thing. I found a stack of them (printed out weeks ago for such an emergency) in another room, and I made it back in time to hear Alice in Wonderland win the first prize of the night (damn you, Academy!), and all was right with the world. But for those few seconds, my world was upside-down, and I type that without an ounce of sarcasm.

Oh, as for the show, in case you missed my Tweety/Facebooky ramblings? About the same as could be said in the past two years, only more so: a terrible production saved by a handful of bright off-script moments. All these recent attempts to speed up the show and appeal to younger viewers have turned it into an embarrassing mess. At least when it was slow and unhip, it was fun to watch. Here, the acceptance speeches were livelier than the prepared comedy and music routines, a sure sign of something gone all too wrong. Good luck fixing that next year, Academy.

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