Wait. Kobe Won an Oscar? What?
March 5, 2018

So we're one hour and 35 minutes into a three hour, 48 minute marathon. Host Jimmy Kimmel has offered a jet ski to the Oscar winner with the shortest speech, there's been several montages, cameo appearances by 93 year-old Eva Marie Saint and 86 year-old Rita Moreno. We're waiting for Coco to win Best Animated Feature, and they give an award to Kobe Bryant. Yes, that Kobe Bryant. The basketball player.

So I have to admit, the 90th Academy Awards snuck up on me this year. They actually were in February last year so I should have known they were coming. Maybe it was the snow in Grass Valley last week. Maybe it was the Winter Olympics. Maybe I was still consumed with wondering how UCLA could beat USC twice, and Arizona on the road, and still be considered a bubble team for the tournament by ESPN's Joe Lunardi. In any case, I was not prepared. Not only I was I not prepared for this weekend, but for the first time, maybe ever, I didn't see one single solitary movie nominated in any category. Not even Star Wars (sad face emoji here).

My head has been buried so far into the Hollywood sand that I had no idea that the Laker legend was nominated. I didn't even know he made a film. Further research (Google) shows Dear Basketball is an animated short based on the poem Bryant wrote to announce his retirement. I do know about the poem. I watched his retirement from basketball. I had no idea they made it into a movie.

So while I guess my reaction was a combination of shock and awe, there were others that were immediately wondering out loud about a thought that hit me later. How does this fit in with the #metoo and #timesup theme that were supposed to be a part of these Oscars? I mean Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Salma Hayek all presented together. They were the Weinstein Trio, the Accusers Three, and their applause was deserved. Kobe was accused of rape a few years ago. Although the case was ultimately settled out of court, that case went a lot farther than any of the other allegations that have come out in the past year, but that didn't seem to matter.

I didn't know this until today, but Best Actor winner Gary Oldman has been accused of abuse by his ex-wife. Some are calling wins by Oldman and Bryant Hollywood hypocrisy. USA Today referred to Oldman and Bryant's wins a “step back in the Me Too movement.” At least with Frances McDormand's Best Actress win, and her having all nominated women stand during her acceptance speech, the movement should at least say they've taken two steps forward.

The show did have some great moments, though. Immediately following Kobe's award came Best Animated Feature, which went to Disney Pixar's Coco. One of the winners, who received an Oscar, and spoke briefly, although his name was not mentioned, was Adrian Molina, who grew up in Grass Valley.

Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph pondered if the Oscars, which were considered "too white" a couple of years ago, are too black now. Rudolph said there were plenty of more white people to come, and Haddish added, “We just came from backstage, and there are tons of them back there.” They then did a hilarious couple of minutes on white people with clipboards.

That bit followed Kimmel and several actors surprising a group of theater goers across the street on live TV. Kimmel-style theatrics following a simialr line last year where he brought some movie-goers into the theater without knowing what was going on.

For speeches, Best Supporting Actress winner Allison Janney opened with “I did this all by myself”, a standing ovation for Jordan Peele, who wrote Get Out and won for Best Original Screenplay, and McDormand, who placed her statuette down on the stage floor and announced, “I have some things to say.”

Of course, you knew Kimmel was going to poke fun of the big gaffe of last year, when they announced La La Land as Best Picture, when it turned out to be Moonlight. “When we announce your name, don't get up right away”, Kimmel joked in the monologue. The classy end was to have Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway present again, like they did last year.

The Shape of Water won Best Picture, but costume designer Mark Bridges took home the big prize. He won the jet ski.

I may be a day or two off, but my grandfather, Alan Small, passed away 25 years ago this week at the age of 91. I believe it was March 6, 1993. Grandpa was a huge influence on my life—a self-educated man who had a working class job, but retired fairly early in life and became a world traveler. He visited every country that he wanted to, and many more than once. My favorite memories of him, though, were playing Scrabble, or even Crazy 8s or Uno when he came up to Palmdale to visit, at least once a month if not more. I don't know if he would understand what I do, but I think he would be proud of me. I miss him.

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