Long before the kids were born, I started what I call “Oscarpalooza.” Starting with the day nominations come out (sometimes before, if there are obvious candidates), I try to see as many nominees between then and the ceremony as possible. Oh, I allow myself to skip them—not even the Academy can get me to break my Tom Cruise boycott, for example—but if it’s available and I’m not actively opposed to it, I try to get to it. It was harder during lockdown, but with my younger child in all-day kindergarten, we’re back with a vengeance. And if Argentina, 1985 was one I wasn’t going to try them on, my son got to introduce me to The Sea Beast, which he’d seen with his dad, on Sunday.
I use the Oscars in part as an educational tool. While you’re never going to see all the best in cinema together by sticking just to the Oscars, or even all the best in US cinema, you will see a lot of the big names. This year, we did see The Sea Beast, and we could watch Turning Red again. My son is really hoping I’ll rent Puss in Boots by Sunday afternoon (you could contribute to our movie rental fund by helping me out on Patreon or Ko-fi!), though he’s less interested in Pinocchio and Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. Just sticking to the Animated Feature category gives us a pretty decent spread of this year’s animation, and it lets us talk about variation in style and so forth. Even more if we see some of the shorts.
It’s another one of those things we use when we watch the ceremony. One of the first times he ever recognized a voice actor was when I told him that that guy accepting an Oscar was the dentist from Trollhunters. He was only about four at the time, and he definitely knew the dentist; this may have been the first time he ever truly processed that animated characters were voiced by real people. And if he was a wee bit young for The Shape of Water—if he is still a wee bit young for The Shape of Water—we can now use Pinocchio as a connection to the wider world of film.
We joke that my daughter Sandy is a film buff, but it’s definitely true that she has probably seen more Oscar-nominated and winning films than the other kids her age. Oh, sure, a lot of the animated ones, and maybe there’s very little in this year’s live-action selections that I think she’s ready for, but we watched an out-of-date video from last night of every Best Picture winner ever (it gave us the 2018 nominees, and I’d already forgotten Vice existed), and there are quite a few of those that we can start introducing them to.
And, yes, this will also include tasteful introduction to the idea that the Academy gets it wrong a lot. They have watched the ceremonies often enough already to know I feel that a lot of the time. And also they had to listen to my Greatest Show on Earth rant even well before we got to my informing them how wrong the Academy was about Green Book. And a certain amount about my approval of when the Academy really leans into the pageantry for the ceremony. Certainly this is going to be part of their education come Sunday.