It’s Oscar season, and I confess, this is usually the time that I read about all the films I haven’t seen. I wait for a few years to see if a film lasts long enough to make it to “31 Days of Oscars” on Turner Classic Movies. As a rule, I go to the theater to see one film, so I can have some skin in the game on Oscar Night. This year was different — I played multiple choice. I wanted to find a film to raise my consciousness. The nominees for best picture, and some that did not make the list, did not disappoint.
When I saw “Black Panther” (for the second time), I was transformed. Today, I treat every challenge with the possibility and audacity of Shuri (Letitia Wright), a brilliant scientist who isn’t afraid to assert her opinions — or to throw a punch. Wakanda Forever! Thanks to TCM, I’ve seen every version of “A Star is Born,” so I didn’t expect to feel that raw pain when the power of love is not enough to beat the demons — where success or failure is what someone sees in you and not what you see in yourself. (As a side note: If Bradley Cooper goes on tour, I’ll be there.)
But the more best picture nominees I saw, the more something troubled me. All of these movies are amazing in different ways. Who came up with the idea that we had to declare one of them “best?”
Who’s to say that seeing the Colorado Springs of yesterday and today through the undercover adventures of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) in “BlacKkKlansman” is better than the insights into the yesterday and today of Mexico we see through the eyes of the nanny Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) in “Roma”? I wanted to remember the lives people lived — and the one that was lost — in contemporary Charlottesville, whose experiences Spike Lee includes in “BlackKklansman,” and those people who live south of the southern border, whose stories are often erased in contemporary politics. I generally don’t like feeling angry after watching a film, and both films made me angry. I can see why some people say a great film should stir that kind of passion.
I was reminded this season that great music can change the way you remember a film or your life. I close my eyes and hear the genius of Queen. I wondered if Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Prince were playing on a stage somewhere. I didn’t know that I had so many genres mixed up in me. “Bohemian Rhapsody” carried me from high school to adulthood, easy come, easy go.
I have an unconventional idea about what should happen when the Oscar clock strikes midnight — or shortly after 11, when this year’s telecast is due to end. This year “when the Oscar goes to ...,” I want the night to be like the end of a t-ball game — everyone should get a trophy.