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And the Oscar Goes to…Green Book!

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Critic Josh Board and his wife, with Oscar winner Peter Farrelly; Wearing tux by Enrique

I watched the Oscars with the San Diego International Film Festival crew at a swanky pad in Rancho Santa Fe. It’s actually for sale, and they just lowered the price by $2 million. It’s around $15 mil, and if you have the means, I highly recommend it (that was written in my best Ferris Bueller voice).

I walked in and saw that MMM Cakes had an incredible display of their stuff boxed up, with Oscars all around, and all of them going up to form a huge statue.

I grabbed some cheeses, and my wife grabbed a smoked pork taco from Pillbox Tavern. We found one of the rooms off to the side that we thought would be perfect for watching the show. We needed a few drinks, though. I tried “The Oscar” which had an egg white, pineapple, and some other things I can’t remember (probably because I drank one too many). On top, the folks at Snake Oil Cocktail put something on it that had the Festival name. He claimed it was edible, but I wasn’t so sure. I said, “If I choke on this, you’ll hear from my lawyer.”

Kristian Forster, one of the sponsors from Wells Fargo, is always fun to hang with at these events. I showed him my drink and said, “Look. They put words on the top of this. How is that even possible?”

He smiled and said, “It’s science, man.”

My wife opted for the “And the winner is” which had cinnamon, bourbon, orange citrus, and some herbs, possibly lavender. They had a few other craft cocktails with movie related themes, too.

Since we had half an hour before the show started, we walked around the estate. Just as I got back to the front door, I saw Ludvina and Sonny, who win the award for “nicest couple.” But catching up with them threw me off my game. So when the Oscars started, we weren’t near our original seats. We instead sat downstairs, in an area that was a little louder with all the partygoers (rumor has it, there were 300). Although it was louder, I liked the proximity to the Sprinkles cupcakes. I ate 3 or 4 of them, but who’s counting? And the award for the biggest glutton, goes to me! And I’d like to thank all the little people I stepped on on the way up…on the way up to the table with all the food.

But I digest.

I heard the unmistakable guitar shredding of Brian May, and realized Queen had hit the stage to start the show. Someone nearby asked what I thought. I said, “Queen is one of my favorite bands. I have all their albums. I have two Queen t-shirts. But, this is half of Queen, and a singer from American Idol. He’s not even the singer that replaced Freddie Mercury. George Michael sang with Queen at the Mercury tribute, and they did an album with Paul Rodgers of Bad Company singing. They even toured with Rodgers. To me, this is just a tribute band. It’s cool to see former San Diegan Adam Lambert, though.”

The woman punched my arm and said, “You’re too picky. No wonder you’re a critic.”

I said, “I’ll tell you something else I have a problem with. They’re doing two songs I’ve grown tired of. How many times do we need to hear ‘We Will Rock You’? Why not Bohemian Rhapsody, to honor the movie? Why not ‘Radio Gaga’ which is the song that inspired Lady Gaga’s name? Or better yet, start with the amazing Queen tune ‘Let Me Entertain You.’ The lyrics start, ‘Let me welcome you ladies and gentleman/I would like to say hello. Are you ready for some entertainment/Are you ready for a show?’

What better way to open the Oscars than those words?

She said, “Well, I don’t know that song. I’m just glad they didn’t do ‘Another One Bites the Dust’.”

I laughed and said, “On that we agree.”

Who knew the talk shows would be playing that when Rami Malek fell off the stage after winning his Oscar. I’m guessing once he got rid of that mustache, his super stage powers vanished.

The first presenters knocked it out of the park. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph had some great zingers, and made me wish they had been the hosts.

The first award went to Regina King. It was wonderful to see her mom there with her to witness this. It’s just a shame that she won it for the underwhelming movie If Beale Street Could Talk.

I was thrilled to see Free Solo win the best documentary. RBG was the favorite, and it was enjoyable, but not the best made documentary. Free Solo deserved it.

Once the commercials hit, I figured…this isn’t the Super Bowl. I don’t need to sit and watch the spots. I could mingle with this interesting crowd and…okay, who am I fooling…I could eat some more.

I went to the Great Maple Modern American Eatery, and had the best deviled egg I’ve ever eaten. They had truffle oil on them, and…I was about to go all Paul Newman on the lot of ‘em (for you young folks, that’s a reference to Cool Hand Luke, where his character wins a bet by eating 50 hard-boiled eggs in prison). Instead, I merely took one egg, and a second Sprinkles cupcake. They paired rather nicely. Now, back to the show.

A guitarist I met at the Belly Up Tavern a few years ago — Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, came out to introduce the movie Vice. Probably a good choice, as Morello gets rather political. And my wife said she was surprised at how well spoken he was. But, I didn’t like the idea of non-actors introducing movies. Especially Serena Williams introducing a clip from A Star is Born. This is the best female tennis player ever, but she’s also a spoiled brat. When things don’t go her way, she throws tantrums and yells at referees (perhaps that would give the idea to Spike Lee). Now, if it had been a sports movie, having Serena might have made sense. Also, with Barbra Streisand in the house, who was in a version of A Star is Born in the ‘70s, she would be the perfect choice to introduce it. And while I’m on the subject of Babs, would it have killed her (no pun intended), to tell the folks putting together the “In Memoriam” segment, that Carol Channing passed away? Sure, she’s more of a Broadway performer, but she was nominated for a damn Oscar in 1967! And as usual, they left out a few names. When I didn’t see Sondra Locke, I almost wondered if Clint Eastwood had something to do with that. Oh, and where was military bad-ass R. Lee Ermey? He’s been in so many movies. Even ones where he’s not an angry drill sergeant. I hope his ghost comes back and gets in the face of the person that left him off that list, and screams at the scrooge, “What is your major malfunction, you maggot?! I died in 2018, just like all those other actors, directors, and publicists you listed on there, you slimy worm!”

But I digest.

Vice ended up winning a makeup award. That makes sense. If you can make Christian Bale look like Dick Cheney, you deserve something. I’m just glad he didn’t win the Oscar, although…having Malek win for lip-synching and wearing a mustache…I dunno. Don’t get me wrong. He was great in the movie, but it wasn’t a great movie. And why Malek over John C. Reilly (who didn’t get nominated) for playing Oliver Hardy? The Oscar should’ve gone to Viggo Mortensen for Green Book, but I can’t complain — that incredible movie got Mahershala Ali his second Oscar (he won for playing the drug dealer in Moonlight a few years ago).

Another commercial, another food run. I saw The Marine Room table. That was always my go-to restaurant when I wanted to impress a woman on a first date. They were serving a mushroom bisque, which I heard one person say was amazing. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, though. In fact, I’d give it an award for “the worst vegetable on the planet.” Or perhaps an award for being the only vegetable that, if you choose the wrong kind, could poison and kill you.

I instead grabbed some chocolate covered strawberries and brownies from The Melting Pot, who melted my heart when their table was set up at a SDiFF movie screening recently.

Black Panther won an award for costumes. That was well-deserved. Each year I try to figure out what will win in this category, and it’s tough. So many films have great costumes/clothing. Speaking of which, Melissa McCarthy stole the show with the outfit she came out in to present this award. Now, we all made fun of singer Bjork when she showed up at the Oscars with her swan dress years ago. Melissa’s dress was meant to make you laugh. It had rabbits all along the train of it (and she kept one in her hand that was moving while they talked). Anyone that saw The Favourite will realize how great that bit was (in fact, it was better than anything in that actual movie).

Black Panther also won for production design. Someone at the party was discussing with me what was actually involved in that. He made me laugh when he said, “I don’t understand why that city of Wakanda…had all this futuristic stuff. Yet they had all these little farmers’ market shops all around the village. Why are some people in that place living like poor peasants, when they have all that modern technology?”

Roma won for cinematography. I was hoping that would be the only category it wins for, although I wouldn’t mind it winning “best foreign language” — since it’s a given (even though there were two better foreign films that didn’t even get nominated).

Just as I was about to get up for another food run, a woman working with Zafferano Catering brought over plates of pasta to those of us sitting inside. It was so nice of them, although…getting up off the couch and walking around to find the next food I was going to devour, kind of makes me feel like a caveman that had to go out and hunt for food. I also like to trick myself into believing that I burned off some calories by doing that.

Patti Judd and her husband Bob Salt showed up. Patti wins the award for “best smile” and her husband for “best hair.” Now, every time I see him at these events, I go on about his long white hair. My wife is starting to wonder about me. She just doesn’t realize the pain of a man dealing with male pattern baldness.

I lost that “nicest couple” in the crowd and went to look for them. Instead, I found Koo Koo Liqueur. I was afraid to try it, despite it looking delicious. They were mixing chocolate, coconut, coffee beans, and all kinds of stuff. My wife had a shot and said it was great. I said, “How many calories does this have?”

One of the guys smiled and said “60 calories per ounce.”

As I was trying to figure out how many that would be for one of the cups, he admitted, “Actually, more like 63 calories.”

I got back to the show in time to see Trevor Noah introduce a clip for Black Panther. He was the perfect person to do it, being from South Africa. And I loved the fact that he slipped in a Mel Gibson dig. I mean, with all these idiots out there complaining about Green Book not properly covering racism, they should instead be furious about all of Gibson’s comments over the years. It’s great to see Noah hasn’t forgotten.

My favorite people introducing a movie were Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. It started with a clip showing them singing along to Queen in their blue Pacer from Wayne’s World. My friend Rich had texted me a few minutes before that, and since his girlfriend left him for Carvey (who she ended up marrying), I had to text a dig to him.

Anyway, I found my favorite couple, and they were asking why I was sitting in the loudest room of the party, when there were eight other screens. My favorite was the huge screen set up in the pool. I had to point out my close proximity to the desserts outside.

Bohemian Rhapsody ended up winning three early awards. It was great to see Brian May and his long white hair in the audience (note to self: take “best hair” award away from Bob Salt and present it to Brian May).

Keegan-Michael Key, half of the funniest duo ever (Key & Peele), came down from the ceiling on a wire, with an umbrella in hand. He wasn’t sure where to throw the umbrella. It was a cute bit, but I would’ve liked to see him do something with Jordan Peele, who has really accomplished a lot since leaving that show.

Bette Midler came out to sing a song, and the four women nearest to me, couldn’t stop talking about her boobs. I said, “I didn’t even notice, because…I’m listening to a singer’s voice and looking at their face. I’m not staring at their chest.”

A woman in her 70s grabbed my arm and said, “Well, you should take a peek. They look pretty damn good!”

A guy named Alex came over, and remembered me from the last party. He handed me a Romeo Y Julieta cigar. He now gets the award for “best partygoer at an awards show.”

The best costume/clothing, would go to a guy wearing a gold sequin coat that was sparkling like a shiny Oscar. I told him it reminded me of something Elvis would’ve worn in 1962. He said, “No. Elton John in 1982.”

The woman that runs this entire shindig, Tonya Mantooth, deserved an award for a nice dress, too. She looked stunning. We talked about our mutual love of Green Book. And as she talked, and I looked her right in the eye, something came to me. It was the older woman who grabbed my arm and asked why I wasn’t looking at Bette Midler’s chest, and with that logic…it was all I needed to take a quick peek. I decided the award will go to Tonya for…throwing the best party in town (you didn’t really think I was going to say that, did you?)

I was talking to a few other people, and didn’t see what award was given out. It was something smaller, and the couple on stage was in shock. The words wouldn’t come out of their mouths, and it was so cute. It made me realize how horrible it would’ve been if the Oscars didn’t have a moment like this, by giving away smaller awards during the commercials.

Another great moment was the filmmakers winning for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse. Not only was it an amazing animated film, they seemed grateful and gave a nice shout-out to Stan Lee.

Everyone is talking about the duet that Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga did, and it was rather romantic. I was wishing the camera would show his girlfriend, who was sitting in the front row.

My favorite duet of the night though, was Gillian Welch and David Rawlings singing the song from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — When a Cowboy Trades his Spurs for Wings.

After hearing a western-flavored ballad, I had to mosey on over to the bar for either a whiskey or a sarsaparilla. Instead, I went with a Stella.

I noticed the bar had an electronic news scroll feed above it. I took a few sips from my beer while catching up on some of the sports scores of the day. It would be the manliest thing I did that evening.

When the award for “best actress” was announced as going to Olivia Coleman, the entire party moaned and yelled. We were all disappointed. Glenn Close was the favorite (no pun intended), and she won all the major awards for it (I voted for her in the Critics’ Choice awards, where she tied with Lady Gaga). At least Coleman gave a wonderful, tearful acceptance speech. I loved hearing her say that Close was always her idol and “I didn’t want it to be like this.”

I love wonderful moments like that. It almost made it bearable that Close got robbed. It’s easily the biggest upset in Oscar history.

During the commercials, I noticed a second spot using a Queen song. My wife said, “Do you think Freddie would be happy about his songs being used in a commercial? Well, maybe this one. It’s for makeup.”

This was certainly a night where various “queens” reigned, even during commercials.

A woman told me I looked like her son. I replied, “Good.”

I’m not sure why I answered with that, but really…what should I have said? I told her, “Usually when people tell me I look like someone, it’s Bill Murray. So hearing I look like your son was a good thing to hear.”

Another woman told me, “My idiot ex-husband…used to tell women they looked like Rosie O’Donnell. I kept trying to tell him not to say that, and he’d just say ‘but they do’. He didn’t get it.”

I was thrilled to see Period. End of Sentence win for best documentary short. It was the favorite of my wife and I. It’s also nice that the woman who made the movie is a teacher, who graduated from Patrick Henry High School right here in San Diego (her dad is still in Del Cerro).

Also nice to see Skin win for best short. It was a very powerful film about a racist teaching his young son to shoot African-Americans. And what ends up happening to him at the end is…very, very satisfying. Try to seek it out. And while you’re at it, the funniest short I saw this year was at the San Diego International Film Festival. It was called Sac de Merde. Find it, watch it, and thank me later.

When Green Book won the best original screenplay, I was thrilled. It’s easily the best movie of the year, and I was getting tired of all the backlash from the dopes of this world that are trying to find fault in it. Especially since BlackKklansman, which won for best adapted screenplay (of Ron Stallworth’s autobiography), is a disappointing movie that is 90% fiction. And I went from being happy that Spike Lee finally won an Oscar, and seeing him jumping joyously into Samuel Jackson’s arms, to despising him. Now, he’s never been a nice person. I’ve met him on multiple occasions, and heard from others that have worked with him, about how much attitude he has. But when he pulled out a bunch of pages to read about the history of slavery, I was wondering…why can’t I understand what you’re saying? Why was he having trouble reading his own words (although it was bizarre that Trump would tweet the same thing, when you look at how poorly Trump writes and spells most of his tweets).

I usually hate when actors get political, but I didn’t mind his mention at the end of his speech about the election in 2020 and how people should vote. It was just…the rest of the speech was so bad. And for him to later get up and try to leave when Green Book won the much deserved Oscar for Best Picture…shows you what a childish jerk he really is.

I would’ve been bummed about Alfonso Cuaron winning the best director Oscar for Roma, but I didn’t care for any of the other directors nominated. Surprisingly, best directors of films this year didn’t get nominated. They include: Peter Farrelly (who won for co-writing Green Book), Bradley Cooper, Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You), Paul Schrader (First Reformed), Carlos Lopez Estrada (Blindspotting), Elizabeth Chomko (What They Had), Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs), and Andrew Haigh (Lean on Pete). Perhaps Spike should be jumping his 5’2” body up and down about those great movies being snubbed.

But I digest.

I never cared what people wear at awards shows. The women always seem to show too much cleavage with goofy looking dresses. I still have nightmares thinking about Cher’s hair from the Oscars over 30 years ago. This year, Kendall Jenner showed too much leg. And why is a Kardashian anywhere near this place? Their “movies” are all sex tapes, right?

Lady Gaga wore a 128 karat diamond necklace, but I think the women at the Oscar party were more impressed with her song with Cooper.

Spike Lee looked goofy in his purple outfit, which was a tribute to Prince. Maybe I missed his name in the In Memoriam segment. Oh wait, no. It’s the fact that Prince died three years ago!!

With his Air Jordan shoes, purple suit, and huge Prince logo necklace…I couldn’t decide if he looked more like a pimp from a bad ‘70s show, or Prince’s limo driver.

Speaking of colorful suits, I got about 12 texts from various friends when Green Book won “best picture.” It’s almost like I was producer of it. It’s just that my friends have been hearing me singing its praises for months. My favorite text came from Enrique, the tuxedo guru at Bridal and Tuxedo Galleria. He talked me out of a green tuxedo to wear to the Critics’ Choice awards, and instead hooked me up with a great green bow tie and vest. His text talked about how I must be a prophet, knowing Green Book would win. Well, it’s not that I thought it would win. I was actually afraid Roma, which was boring…or Bohemian Rhapsody, which was great songs in a not so great film, might win. It’s very rare that my best movie of the year pick, actually wins.

I figured I’d make one more food run before the Oscars finally ended. I saw a guy who had been painting a picture outside, was almost done. I thought it was Speed Racer, but now I noticed it was a classic Maserati. I asked him why he painted it and he said Maserati invited him (I remembered they were a sponsor). He said they’re going to raffle it off at the end of the night. I said, “A Maserati?!!!”

He replied, “No. My painting.”

I think he saw the disappointment in my face as I walked over to get more cheese and crackers.

The show had ended, but the party hadn’t. We were outside, a group of us with our cigars.

When my wife and I finally did leave, I saw the guy who had given me a cigar, had been playing the Steinway inside. Now this is a party Dr. Shirley could enjoy. I watched him for a few minutes and he sounded incredible. Someone told me he has even composed some songs for Harry Connick, Jr.

The next day I was surprised to see Bohemian Rhapsody was the big winner with four Oscars. I still think it’s insane that one of the winners for that movie was doing selfies of himself as he got out of his seat.

One of their winners from that movie is a San Diegan.

What a lot of people don’t realize is there was another San Diegan on stage. Actor Dimiter Marinov, who played Oleg in Green Book, was on the cover of the Union-Tribune holding an Oscar on stage with the rest of his cast. He’s lived in Carlsbad for awhile now.

Now I’m just spending the day thinking about this incredible party, and all the idiots of the world that are knocking Green Book, for the dumbest of reasons. I will give Spike Lee credit for something. He’s now the biggest complainer in Oscar history (the only other time someone walked out when they didn’t win, was Eddie Murphy for Dream Girls).

Since his movie Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated the year Driving Miss Daisy won the best picture Oscar, he said backstage, “Every time somebody drives somebody, I lose.”

It’s a great line. It’s just a shame he didn’t make a great movie this time. In fact, he’s lucky it was nominated at all.

Green Book is still in theaters. Go see it. It’s by far the best movie of the year, and for once — the Oscars got it right.

And as always, the San Diego International Film Festival got it right. They threw the best bash in town.

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