There are lots of reasons to be cheerful on a Sunday night. The Academy Awards, coming this Sunday, isn’t one of them. Maybe your team won on the weekend. Maybe your country qualified for the World Cup. Maybe you still don’t have to go back to the office on Monday morning and are once again saved from the feeling that you’re in a very bad episode of The Office and everyone there, except you, has a concussion.
Listen, the TV ratings don’t lie. Public interest in watching the Academy Awards has been declining for years and is now irreversible. The pomp and pageantry of the so-called “Hollywood’s biggest night” now has all the relevance of a royal visit to the Caribbean where, as we’ve recently seen, a bunch of locals have decided the monarchy is an anachronism and belongs in the dustbin of history. They decline to gawp in awe at a prince or duchess, as we decline to gawp in awe at overpaid, pretentious movie actors who, actually, really want to work in television because that’s where the action is.
The relevance of the Oscars is too flimsy to carry weight or truth about anything, this column says, in case you haven’t caught on yet, and here is a list of reasons to just ignore the Academy Awards this year.
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1. Pachinko starts on Apple TV+ this weekend. It’s better than any featured movie. Based on Min Jin Lee’s novel, it’s a sweeping multigenerational epic about a Korean family throughout the 20th century, was an international bestseller, nominated for the 2017 US National Book Award, and recommended by former president Barack Obama. It has heft and meaning, unlike nine out of the 10 movies they will jabber about on Sunday.
2. Amy Schumer, we’re embarrassed for you. Schumer, co-hosting this year with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, told Drew Barrymore on Barrymore’s daytime talk show that she pushed for an appearance by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to speak on Sunday, by satellite or a pretaped video segment. That was a dumb-as-a-rock move. It’s a war in Ukraine, not a movie. Besides, given that last year’s Oscars reached only 10 million viewers in the US, Zelensky can reach a bigger audience with one tweet.
3. News that Beyoncé is “in talks” to perform on the show from the Compton tennis courts, is equally cringey. She’s nominated for Best Original Song for the theme from King Richardabout Venus and Serena Williams who perfected their game in the poverty-stricken Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Beyonce + Tennis Court + Compton equals the Academy’s notion of “real” and is no one’s idea of “real,” ever.
4. A binge watch of Bridgerton (returns Friday, Netflix) is funnier and sexier.
5. The decision to pre-record eight craft categories at the Oscars is a toe-curling embarrassment, an insult to people who actually work in the film industry, as opposed to those who just show up on the set in a limo with a list of demands about the size of the on-set accommodation, having already arranged that the fee for their services goes into a secret bank account in Cyprus.
6. If you want to see the giant, preening ego of movie actors on display, all you have to do is watch Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway in the first hour of WeCrashed (AppleTV+ streams). Just the first hour. The rest is even more irritating.
This rant could go on and on. Why, it hasn’t even touched upon the gift bags that all the nominees for best actor, actress and director awards are given whether they win or not. Just for showing up, they get swag valued at around US$250,000. Given that we’ve seen millions flee Ukraine, often with all their possessions in a plastic bag or a single suitcase, the very existence of those Hollywood swag bags is an obscenity.
Some people will watch and enjoy the Academy Awards, hurt them, and argue about the merits of the overlong broadcast. There will always be people who are transfixed by gazing on the ghostly ruins of a vanished culture, one that bored itself to death, slowly and painfully, in a series of annual Sunday rituals.
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