Whoa! The Oscars Really Might Not Suck This Year

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This week:

The Oscars Just Might Be Good This Year…

Being obsessed with awards shows is strange, because it often involves complaining about and even hating awards shows. Common gripes include: voters making ridiculous choices with nominees and winners; hosts bombing; and, chiefly, producers grossly misunderstanding what makes an award show telecast good.

The most common mistake is when awards organizations and telecast producers make ridiculous decisions aimed at courting viewers who have not expressed interest in investing or watching awards shows, while simultaneously pissing off the people who do. Think: attempts to add Best Popular Movie categories to the Oscars—and actually, laughingly doing so at the Golden Globes—or minimizing the honoring of the nominees and diminishing the presentations of the awards and speeches themselves, with the assumption that doing so would make for a more entertaining show. (It never does.)

This week, however, my 15-year prayer—and the collective prayers of every gay man—was answered, giving us reason for great hope. For the first time since 2009, five past Oscar winners will introduce the five nominees for each acting award.

The 2009 Academy Awards, produced by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and hosted by Hugh Jackman, remains the best telecast of the millennium, and this nominee presentation pageant was the best part of it.

There was a tangible thrill in the room that filtered through the television when the five past winners were unveiled each time, and their tributes to each nominated actor were gorgeously heartfelt. The segment accomplished the task of highlighting the gravitas and drama of the Academy Awards—after the lengthy segments, the winner announcement was an explosion of feeling and honor—while doing the best job of any telecast to highlight the work of the nominees and their impact on the film industry. (Which is, hey, the point of these things!)

I have crusaded for the segment to return before, and I am not alone. Just look at the outpouring of glee among the gays huge Oscars fans when the news was announced this week.

Between this being a good omen for decisions producers will make this year, all five nominees for Best Original Song performing—including Ryan Gosling!—the always reliable Jimmy Kimmel hosting, and a legitimately excellent slate of nominees… dare I allow myself to be excited for this year’s show?

This Timing Is Incredible

Legendary comedian Richard Lewis died this week. Among the many things he’ll be remembered for—his stand-up career, Robin Hood: Men in Tights—his work playing himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm is near the top.

The final season of Curb is currently airing, and the most recent episode happened to feature a scene where Lewis tells Larry David that he’s amended his will to leave him money, as an appreciation for how great a friend Larry has been to him. In typical Curb fashion, Larry yells at him because it’s awkward and he doesn’t need the money, and Richard yells back not to insult him; this is what he wants to do.

It’s a great scene, as sweet as Curb Your Enthusiasm gets. The timing, just days before Lewis’ death, is incredibly poignant.

For some added tears, here’s David’s tribute to Lewis:

“Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me. He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

This Is Amazing Casting

One of the greatest theater gifts in New York City right now is the long-running off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors. The show has rotated through an amazing, fittingly off-beat roster of Seymour and Audreys, with Broadway stalwarts like Jonathan Groff, Jeremy Jordan, and Darren Criss playing Seymour and more daring choices like Constance Wu, Maude Apatow, and Evan Rachel Wood playing Audrey.

The latest Audrey announcement is a thrill: RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Jinkx Monsoon.

Jinkx set box office records when they played Mama Morton in Chicago last year, is one of the greatest live performing talents working right now, and will crush this. What a fun, inclusive, perfect choice.

The Song Crossover I Didn’t Know I Needed

One never knows what wild Mad Libs they’ll encounter in news headlines these days. Still, I was thrown for a loop when I saw that Beyoncé’s new song “Texas Hold ’Em”—which I love; I spend all my free time watching TikToks of people doing that lil’ line dance—was being compared with the theme song to late-’90s/early-’00s preschool cartoon Franklin.

Gif of the Animated turtle, Franklin

Once it was brought to my attention, I immediately got it. It’s a compliment (the Franklin theme is a twangy banger). And the lovely addendum to the news: Bruce Cockburn, the composer of the Franklin theme, has heard about the comparisons, dismisses any copycat accusations, and is otherwise delighted.

What to watch this week:

The Regime: Kate Winslet gets her very own Succession-meets-Veep. (Sun. on HBO)

The Greatest Love Story Never Told: Of course the documentary about the making of J. Lo’s batshit new movie is utterly captivating. (Now on Prime Video)

Dune: Part Two: It’s big. It’s ambitious. It’s got so much sand. It’s very good. (Now in theaters)

What to skip this week:

Spaceman: Adam Sandler, why are you so sad? (Now on Netflix)

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