The long night of the boring Oscars

Disoriented, pleasing to all sides and endlessly boring, that's how I experienced the Oscars 2022, only Will Smith brought momentum into the place.

It was a highlight that I almost slept through - it is one of my quite annoying characteristics for my environment that I tend to fall asleep almost everywhere. Mostly, however, when it starts to bore me. This is true for the theater, the concert, television (whether streamed or linear in front of the screen) and even more so in the cinema. Whenever it gets boring, I slowly sink into Morpheus' arms. Unfortunately, sometimes I also start to snore, which is the moment when my companion, usually my wife, starts to feel embarrassed. I also understand. Numerous are the anecdotes about my snoring in concerts, theaters, cinemas and at lectures or meetings. An ORF grandee had asked me many years ago whether I was so tired, or his lecture so boring (I was sitting in the audience, in the very back, hidden, I was a works councilor at the time) - my spontaneous answer, I had just woken up, a little of both. No wonder, my wife commented, that I had so many good friends.


In the Oscar night it was so far again, lulled by the in parts very detailed but always also unbelievably smug comments of the presenter duo in the ORF and the rather boring award ceremonies, I was already semi asleep when I realized that it might have banged. I got the replica of the slapped and the furious attacks of the slapping. A real waddle dance. They were speechless, the two ORF experts, only later, after the award ceremony for Will Smith, who had entered the stage shortly before for the purpose of slapping, things really got going in the ORF studio. The acceptance speech was seen as an affront and the Scientologist stories were also served - Smith's wife, whose appearance was at the center of the controversy, is said to be a high-ranking Scientologist, one of the three stars who presented Will Smith with the Oscar was John Travolta, who is also said to be close to or a member of the Scientologists. My comment on this, the waddle was successful as a plot point, the acceptance speech again boring because too long and, well my goodness, he really spoke about being an instrument of God and evil lurking everywhere in the world. "The evil is always and everywhere" - quote: "Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung".


In fact, Scientology and Hollywood are now closely linked, there is now a Ron Hubbard Way in Los Angeles and the "church", which has mutated into a global corporation, operates its TV station in Hollywood's oldest studio, at 440 Sunset Boulevard, and has concentrated its media activities there. Stars like Travolta, Tom Cruise, Kirstin Alley and Will Smith's wife therefore don't have it so far, but Dustin Hoffmann also seems to be there - at least he repeatedly stands up for Scientology, for example in a letter that the U.S. Scientologists addressed to the German government when something like a Scientologist persecution broke out in Germany. Professing members lost their jobs, the public service no longer wanted to hire Scientologists, the debate about the questionable methods of the community classified as a cult, told by Scientologists who had left, reached its peak. Dustin Hoffmann co-signed said letter and John Travolta is firmly convinced that he owes his career exclusively to the Church of Scientology.

The discussion has fallen asleep again in recent years, but thanks to Will Smith it has been reignited, at least in the social media. Among other things, because, according to Twitter, the slap is a common and desired method of education in Scientology, so Smith was well within the code of conduct. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, is a well-known, successful actress and producer, she became known worldwide in the comedy "The Nutty Professor" with Eddie Murphy and in the role of Niobe, born in Zion and commander of the hovercraft "Logos" - guess it, it is the Matrix films of the Wachowski brothers turned sisters. And it is no secret, as with Tom Cruise, that she is a high-ranking member of Scientology. Other high-ranking members from the film biz have also dropped out of Scientology; screenwriter and two-time Oscar winner Paul Haggis, who was in it for nearly 30 years and reached the highest level of insight as "Operating Thetan VII," had his key experience with his lesbian daughter. She was labeled "1.1" to other members after coming out.


The code refers to the categorization of people in L. Ron Hubbard's "The Science of Survival," and a "1.1." is a "covert enemy," and those are the most dangerous and insidious. Such persons have casual sex, are sadists and homosexuals. The homophobia has disappeared from the texts in the meantime, does not come so furiously well in the Hollywood of today.


Incidentally, Will Smith and Chris Rock already had an argument, albeit virtual, on the occasion of the 2016 Oscars, Rock also joked at Jada's expense at the time. His comparison with Demi Moore's hairstyle from "G.I. Jane" this year was probably particularly distasteful, Pinkett-Smith suffers from hair loss caused by an autoimmune deficiency.


Bottom line, there's something for everyone and, as we know by now, the weakening viewership numbers are up slightly again. This should interest the Academy the most, because more than 90% of their annual budget is fed by the rights sales of the Academy Awards - in Austria, for example, the event was allowed to be broadcast live, but it remained dark in the TV theater, even the report in the Kulturmontag the following evening could not be shown in the TV theater. Apparently the additional streaming rights were too expensive for ORF.


Despite the waddle dance and the subsequent remasuri on all channels, the film biz will not be saved. The Oscar night also had other funny moments, such as the announcement of the best film. The award was presented by Lady Gaga and Liza Minelli. There was a reason for that, because Minelli won her Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in "Cabaret" exactly 50 years ago. Today, in her 77th year, she sits in a wheelchair and is scarred by her alcoholism; 2015 was the last time she went to rehab. When the nominees were announced and Lady Gaga "nested" the envelope in her usual roundabout way, "And the Oscar goes to ...", she held out the envelope to Minelli and without pause it burst out of her, "Coda".


"Coda" was also the main winner of the night, with three nominations and three Oscars, after that in the main categories of "best film", "best supporting actor" (the deaf-mute actor Troy Kotsur) and best screenplay (Sian Heder, who also directed and whose words of thanks sounded as if she had won the directing Oscar). The film can be seen on and is therefore virtually unknown. It is a remake of the French comedy La Famille Bélier, which was released in 2014 and was a considerable box office success (budget: 13 million, box office: 73 million). Successful and a well-behaved film, and a bit boring. But, this brings us back to the problem of our days, you probably can't say that anymore. Because a film in which the topic of people with disabilities is "negotiated" (is also part of the vocabulary of a contemporary, correct description of a film) cannot be boring per se. Unfortunately, so is "Coda", well-behaved and committed, but boring. Alas.


The members of the Academy are generally not in agreement anymore and if you didn't know that all members vote, you would believe in a director who distributes all awards equally and politically correct. There old master Spielberg wins for his semi-successful interpretation of "West Side Story" (music recordings: not enough; the actor of Toni: not enough; the dance scenes: excellent; camera (Janusz Kaminski): very much flair lens, otherwise - well eh, he can;) himself nix, but best supporting actress for Ariana del Bose (Latino-Afro-American) and her portrayal of Anita - by the way, 60 years after Rita Moreno for exactly the same role - Moreno plays in Spielberg the widow of the local owner "Doc" (who is still alive in the musical), where the Jets meet and where Toni works.


"Tick, tick Boom," the rousing film adaptation of Jonathan Larson's musical that Lin-Manuel Mirinda, to whom we owe "Hamilton," directed with such panache that it leaves you breathless (it grossed more than $110 million worldwide), comes up empty - lead actor Andrew Garfield was nominated for Best Actor, here, as we know, Will Smith won for his portrayal of the father of tennis superstars sisters Venus and Serena Williams in "King Richard." There was also no Oscar for the music Mirinda wrote for the animated musical "El Canto," but the film won Best Animated Feature. Best Director went to a woman, Jane Campion, for "Power of the Dog," which looks like a Western, acts like a Western, but is most definitely not a Western. Producer: Netflix, once again. All other film nominations, 11 in number, failed to convert into an Oscar.


Not to forget the best documentary: "The Summer of Soul", a documentary cut from forgotten film material that shows footage of a music festival in Harlem, which is considered the "Woodstock" of the blacks parallel to the Woodstock festival. The film reels lay unnoticed in a basement for decades.


That's about it, wait, I forgot the second winner of the evening: "Dune", nominated 10 times and 6 Oscars, all in technical categories, from best camera to best music (Hans Zimmer). Theoretically there was something for everyone and the Academy could not be happy enough that for the first time a film distributed by an online service became "best movie", that the third (anyway only) woman won a directing Oscar, that after 36 years again a deaf-mute actor won an Oscar - just to mention the most important "milestones". But frankly, who cares. That only interests the two presenters of the ORF Oscar broadcast, who, as in the past, knew everything very well anyway. Also which films were or are good or bad now, or will be, and which Oscars are completely incomprehensible, because just the wrong film. The e.g. to Will Smith, a pure PR Machwerk, raged the ORF expert, with the result Oscar. A bit of "the Scientologists pulled the strings" also resonated there. Apparently, nowhere is completely free of sinister characters.


The number of moviegoers in theaters also shows how uninspiring the films are, with rare exceptions, and that's probably the crux of the matter. Nationally, in any case (see the attendance figures on the website of "Film Austria", one of Austria's two producer associations). The only exception and lonely beacon, the children's comedy "The School of Magical Animals", co-produced on a minor scale by WEGA-Film, which brought around 145,000 visitors to the cinema this year (the film had already been completed in 2019 and only brought to the cinema this year because of the pandemic). At the 15th Oscar night in the Gartenbaukino, also only matter visit - I sat bravely from 12:00 noon in the cinema and took just as bravely the Ciabatta-Weckerln, air up, and the cafe, very much air up, in the also renovated cinema buffet to me. But I understand the operator somehow, the rush held itself within limits and with "Tick, tick, boom" sat not even 40 visitors in the largest cinema hall of Austria. Neither the horticulture, nor the film and certainly not the buffet deserved that.


Did the pandemic also break the cinema's neck (according to statistics, the number of visitors in Austria was reduced by more than half during the pandemic - and the cinemas were closed for what felt like eternities) or did it only intensify and mercilessly highlight the problems. One could speculate endlessly about this now, at least at the Gartenbaukino the argument "bad seats, bad technology, bad air" will certainly fall away after the renovation. And with a box office of more than 100 million worldwide, "Tick, Tick Boom" was not a film that anyone wanted to see. And the Spiderman movie in January brought more than half a million in Austria to the cinema, a cinema phobia looks different.  Let's see, if the cinema, as an important building block in the revenue chain of the film, breaks away, then good night.  


Keyword good night, here I quote verbatim the ORF correspondent from Los Angeles, who, placed in front of the entrance of the "Dolby Theater", said about the crisis of the Oscar: "I would now like to make a daring comparison with the Roman Catholic Church, whose members are leaving in droves, which still preaches far away from any reality, and in relation to the Oscars it is the same, it took years and decades until they even realized that there is such a thing as equality, that one should also care more about women and other ethnic groups. That means that there is hope that the Academy will learn, but it would definitely be an important and right step for the future if we now also become more political in some way." (Transcript from TV Thek, KulturMontag, March 28, 2022) Exactly, such an expert opinion can be safely left as it is. Good night.