Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Valentine’s Day Edition

It’s February 14th and my gift to all of you is the latest edition of the pop culture roundup. So no matter what your romantic status is today, everyone gets a valentine. Enjoy!

Television

Movies

 

Trailers

  • Venom:

 

  • I Feel Pretty:

 

  • Atlanta, season 2:

 

  • A Quiet Place:

 

  • The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale:

 

  • Rampage:

 

  • Overboard:

 

  • Benji:

 

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:

 

  • Marrowbone:

 

Music

Theater

Books

Stand-up

Award Season

Odds and Ends

Mashups and Supercuts

  • Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd recreated the video for “King of Wishful Thinking”:

 

Every winner of Best Visual Effects winner ever:

Chris Rock – The Palace Theater (Albany, NY), 4.10.17

There may be no more worlds for me to conquer.

Old school readers of the blog know that I go to a lot of concerts. Like a lot a lot. Most of my summers are spent driving myself from one venue to another to see live music. My musical tastes cut across genres and I’ve had the experience of being both the youngest person at a show and the oldest person at a show. But 2017 is shaping up to be the first time since before I got my driver’s license that I have absolutely no plans to go to any shows. I’ve seen pretty much everyone that I care to see. Once I saw Adele last year for my birthday, my bucket list was empty. I’d seen everyone that I had the desire to see. It’s over – the girl at the rock show has hung up her shoes.

Now of course this doesn’t mean that I’ll never go to another concert, but for the foreseeable future I’m out of the concert game. I am beginning to feel the same way about stand-up comics. While a different experience than concerts, I was equally enthusiastic about hitting the road to get my laugh on. I’ll always go see Louis CK when he comes to town, but for the most part I had seen everyone that I wanted to see.

Except for Chris Rock.

I’ve been a fan of Chris Rock’s stand-up forever. I probably first became aware of him on Saturday Night Live, as his tenure on the show coincided with the period that I was the most loyal fan of the show. I cannot even count how many times I’ve seen his 1996 comedy special Bring The Pain. Unfortunately for me, I started really getting into going to see comics around the time that Chris Rock was taking a hiatus from touring thanks to a busy acting career. Any stand-up dates were few and far between and were either impossible to get tickets to or were unannounced drop-ins at comedy clubs in New York City. I figured that I’d see Chris Rock eventually, but my hopes of that being any time soon were beginning to waver. So when it was announced that he was not only doing the Total Blackout tour but was also coming to Albany, I leapt at the opportunity. I found a pre-sale and nabbed tickets without asking a single soul if they wanted to go. I wasn’t going to miss this while other people hemmed and hawed or tried to line up child care. I was grabbing the brass ring while opportunity allowed. I had been trying to avoid making any plans in April in case my sister-in-law went into labor early, but this was just too tempting.

Since Rock was testing out material that would probably eventually make its way into one of his upcoming Netflix specials, no cell phones or smart watches were allowed in the theater. If you did bring a phone, they were secured in a special container that could only be unlocked in the lobby. I figured that was going to be a clusterf*ck for getting in and out of the venue, so I left my phone in the car. This gave me a ton on anxiety since 1) I was sincerely hoping that I didn’t miss a call about the baby and 2) even though it wasn’t a far walk and I generally feel very safe in the city, walking alone back to my car at night without access to a phone is not usually how I do things. This also forced me to entertain myself prior to the show starting rather than just killing time on social media. These were dark times and I was actually forced to make conversation with the guy sitting next to me to get through it. If you know me personally, you know that came from a place of desperation. I don’t just chat up people; I’m good at many things, but small talk is not one of them.

The show started a little late to accommodate all the people who had to check in their phones (suckers) and kicked off with Ardie Fuqua as his first opening act. I wasn’t super familiar with Fuqua’s work, though he did look familiar. He’s appeared on Louie a few times, which is probably where I knew him from. He was one of the comics that was in the car crash with Tracy Morgan and he had a very funny bit about that. He was a good hype man to get the crowd ready for the show and he had some decent jokes, but overall wasn’t super memorable. Solid, but nothing to write home about. The second opening act was Dave Attell, who I have seen live multiple times and is always a fun time. He kept pushing the envelope to see how offensive he could be with the crowd, but we proved to be people who aren’t easily affronted, much to his delight. He perhaps got the biggest laugh of the night with a very inappropriate (but not untrue) joke at the expense of Schenectady – a neighboring city to Albany. Local humor that has a streak of truth to it is comedy gold.

For some reason, after Attell’s set they decided to have an intermission, which personally I always think is a really dumb idea. What’s the point of getting the crowd primed for the opening act if you are then going to let them cool off for fifteen minutes. Maybe it builds anticipation or something – I have to assume that Chris Rock and his people know better than I do – but it seemed silly to halt the momentum that was building in the crowd. Plus that was 15 more minutes without my phone and I was starting to show stages of withdrawal.

Finally, the lights once again dimmed and it was time for the man of the hour, Chris Rock. And he was really everything that I hoped he would be. His delivery is always great and so distinctive that you can’t help imitating him when re-telling a Chris Rock joke, almost to the point of parody. He touched on a lot of topics that night – politics, race relations, his recent divorce, gun control – and though I’m not sure everyone in the audience agreed with him (this is upstate New York, after all), it didn’t really matter because the jokes were so solid. I don’t want to spoil any of his punchlines or set-ups since that would ruin the upcoming Netflix specials, but I can say that based on what I experienced they will definitely be worth watching. He may have stepped away from the stand-up game for a minute, but he hasn’t lost anything off his fastball. And honestly, it was just kind of thrilling to be in the same room as him, watching him do his first love; my seats weren’t amazing, but they were close enough to be able to clearly experience all of Rock’s facial expressions. He must have been on stage for close to 80 minutes, which means that we definitely got our money’s worth. I’d see him again in a heartbeat.

If Chris Rock is the only concert/stand-up that I go to see in 2017, I would be OK with that. After waiting so long to finally see him live, he 100% delivered and met my lofty expectations. I’m still excited to watch his upcoming Netflix special, even if I’ve already heard most of the material. His stuff only improves with repeated viewing. He was very open and honest with this new material – especially when it comes to his divorce – and it’s great to have him back on the stand-up scene, for however long that is.

Chris Rock’s Total Blackout tour continues through June.

2016 Running Oscar Diary

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It’s become an annual tradition – my running diary of watching the Oscars. I love the Oscars and was looking forward to this year’s ceremony for a plethora of reasons, not the least of which was because I wanted to see what Chris Rock had up his sleeve. I knew he wouldn’t shy away from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy; in fact, this kind of played into his wheelhouse as a comedian, so the stars were aligning for him to give a good performance. And of course, all of the nation was waiting with bated breath to see if this was going to be the year that Leonardo DiCaprio finally brought home an Oscar, mostly so we could stop worrying about it. It still cracks me up that people, including myself, are taking his failure to win an Academy Award so personally. If he wins an Oscar or not, that dude is still living his best life.

So without further ado…..on to my real-time thoughts of watching the Academy Awards.

8:28 – Even Adele is pulling for DiCaprio tonight:

 

8:30 – And we’re off……

8:30 – Kicking things off with a montage of movies, Oscar worth and not. Seem to be showing a lot of Straight Outta Compton. It’s like they are trying to make up for something.

8:33 – Here’s Chris Rock. Can’t wait to hear what he has to say. (Watch his full monologue here).

8:33 – Lots of commentary about #OscarsSoWhite. He’s taking this bull by the horns.

8:34 – On why he didn’t quit hosting the Oscars “I couldn’t lose another job to Kevin Hart.”

8:35 – “This is the 88th Academy Awards. This no Black nominees thing has happened probably 71 other times.”

8:36 – “When your grandmother is swinging from a tree, it’s hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short.” That got dark quickly. P.S. – That isn’t even a real category.

8:37 – “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.” – BURN

8:38 – “This year’s In Memorium segment is just going to be Black people shot by the police.” That one didn’t go over as well, but still a solid joke. I’m with you, Chris.

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8:40 – “Hollywood is ‘sorority racist. It’s like ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.'” As an actual Kappa, I should be be more offended by this, but he’s not wrong. The Greek system overall isn’t very integrated.

8:43 – A really strong monologue from Chris Rock. I think he killed it.

8:44 – Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron to present Best Original Screenplay.

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Getty Images

8:44 – There’s weird pop-ups to tell us who these presenters are. If you’re watching the Oscars I’d guess that you know who most of these people are, but maybe not.

8:47 – The winner is Spotlight. I’m 1/1 with my predictions.

8:47 – They need to slow that Oscar scroll down – those names are flying by way too fast. Even a little slower and they might be more useful.

8:48 – Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe present Best Adapted Screenplay.

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8:49 – I love when they let Gosling be funny.

8:52 – The Big Short wins, so Adam McKay is now an Oscar winner. Love it! Now I’m 2/2.

8:53 – I think the point of the scroll is so the speeches wouldn’t just be a list of names. So far, that hasn’t really happened. You’d think the writers would have been able to do better.

8:58 – Loving this – putting Black actors in Oscar nominated movies. Watch it here.

8:58 – Whoopie in Joy.

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8:59 – OMG – Leslie Jones subbing in for the bear in The Revenant is perfection.

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8:59 – Tracy Morgan as the Danish Girl.

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9:00 – Chris Rock in The Martian. “I told you they weren’t going to bring you back.”

9:01 – I can’t believe Stacey Dash agreed to that. The silence was DEAFENING.

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9:01 – The Weeknd’s reaction says it all:

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9:01 – Sarah Silverman introduces Best Original Song, “Writing’s on the Wall.” We all know how I feel about this stupid song.

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9:03 – “James Bond – not street enough.” Agreed, Sarah. Agreed.

9:05 – Chris Rock’s best throwaway line of the night so far – telling Sam Smith “My favorite song was ‘Father Figure.’”

9:06 – Kerry Washington and Henry Cavill present clips from Best Picture nominees The Martian and The Big Short.

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9:07 – I wish Cavill got to speak with his normal voice more often. I love his accent.

9:09 – J.K. Simmons to present Best Supporting Actress.

9:12 – Woot! Alicia Vikander, the best thing about The Danish Girl, wins. I’m 3/3.

9:12 – Hold up…is she dating Michael Fassbender?!?! How lucky can one girl get?

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9:13 – I like her dress:

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9:18 – Cate Blanchett to present Best Costume Design.

9:20 – Mad Max: Fury Road wins. My first miss of the night. 3/4

9:21 – Why do all the winners for costume design always dress so oddly? Is that a rule?

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9:22 – Tina Fey and Steve Carell present Best Production Design.

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9:23 – Another win for Mad Max. This one I predicted. 4/5

9:25 – Margot Robbie and Jared Leto walking and talking to present Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

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9:26 – LOL – I do not recommend Googling ‘merkin.’

9:26 – Third in a row for Mad Max. 5/6 Never bet against anything that manages to make Charlize Theron slightly less gorgous

9:27 – All nominees should be sitting closer to the stage. It’s not fair the less famous people have to walk so far.

9:28 – Benicio Del Toro and Jennifer Garner to present clips from Best Picture nominees The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

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9:29 – Nice that the bear from The Revenant got to attend!

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9:34 – The real Joy, Michael Rezendes (Spotlight) and “Suge Knight” are in attendance:

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9:35 – Rachel McAdams and ‘shoulda be nominee’ Michael B. Jordan (PREACH) present Achievement in Cinematography. That’s a gorgeous pair right there.

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9:37 – The Revenant wins, as expected. 6/7

9:38 – Liev Scrieber and Priyanka Chopra present Best Film Editing.

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9:39 – Those pop-ups came in handy for spelling those names correctly.

9:40 – Mad Max: Fury Road is cleaning up in all the technical categories. I really dug that film. 7/8

9:41 – Black History Month Minute!

 

9:42 – Ha-ha – they honor Jack Black! I totally forgot that he was in Enemy of the State.

9:43 – “The Minions are coming” sounded vaguely like a threat.

9:47 – Chadwick Boseman and Chris Evans to present Best Sound Editing. That explains all the noise before they came on stage, which I would argue was not good editing because it made no sense.

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9:49 – Another win for Mad Max: Fury Road. I foolishly tried to diversify with a pick for Star Wars. 7/9

9:49 – Ironic that there was no sound for the first part of their acceptance speech. Here’s why (I’m a Fifth Element fan):

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9:50 – Awards shows need about 75% more Aussies. What a fun bunch.

9:50 – Boseman and Evans back to present Best Sound Mixing.

9:52 – The Oscar goes to Mad Max. I should have expected a sweep. The sound categories are apparently my Waterloo 7/10

9:53 – A mini-tribute to the great motion-capture work of Andy Serkis.

9:54 – Ah – he’s presenting Best Visual Effects. That makes sense.

9:56 – Oh shit – Ex Machina! Didn’t expect them to get this, but it is well deserved, even if that drops me to 7/11.

9:58 – Olivia Munn and Jason Segel here to talk about the Sci Tech awards show that no one cares about.

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9:58 – Mark your calendars – August 27th, the robots take over. I hope they let me still see Adele in September.

9:59 – Hey it’s R2-D2, C-3P0 and BB-8. You should be impressed that I knew all of their names.

9:59 – You now have Jacob Tremblay’s attention.

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10:00 – C-3PO does look like the Oscar statuette:

 

10:03 – Bette Midler knows what’s up about #OscarsSoWhite:

10:05 – Chris Rock out in the audience. Something tells me he isn’t going to be taking a selfie.

10:05 – Nope – he’s going to try to get the audience to buy some Girl Scout cookies. That stuff sells itself. John Legend is quick to buy some for his pregnant wife. Smart man.

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10:06 – Honestly I’m impressed these people carry cash.

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10:06 – OF COURSE Matt Damon shares his cookies. He’s the best.

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10:07 – So did Leo buy cookies or not after being called out? Inquiring minds want to know.

Update: It appears Leo did in fact buy some cookies. Wouldn’t have pegged him as a shortbread guy. Leo’s full of surprises.

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10:07 – The Minions here to present Best Animated Short. There will be a day when I don’t find them funny. Today is not that day – they still make me smile. Probably because I don’t have kids.

10:08 – Bear Story wins, but by the time these people make it from their seats, their time will be up.

10:09 – First Oscar for Chile.

10:10 – Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story present Animated Feature Film.

10:11 – No surprise here – the Oscar goes to Inside Out. 8/12

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10:13 – Kevin Hart gets to present Best Original Song “Earned It” by the Weeknd.

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10:14 – “I only came tonight because I thought I’d get a seat in the front row this year.”

10:15 – This song can’t win simply because no one wants to have to call Fifty Shades of Grey an Oscar winning movie.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Singer The Weeknd performs onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

10:16 – I wonder who thought “What this performance needs is an aerial acrobat.”

10:1 – These musical performances have been pretty underwhelming so far. And I think it’s nonsense that they only let three of the five nominated artists perform.

10:18 – Cookie update – Mindy Kahling was a customer:

10:21 – Kate Winslet and Reese Witherspoon present clips from Best Picture Nominees Bridge of Spies and Spotlight.

10:22 – Reese’s makeup makes it look like someone just smacked her.

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10:24 – Chris Rock visits a movie theater in Compton. Watch it here.

10:25 – “Was it slap a White man bad?”

10:26 – “Tom Hanks? I’ve heard of him.”

10:27 – Leo found that bit funny.

10:28 – Patricia Arquette to present Best Supporting Actor.

10:29 – This entire award show was worth it just for this:

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10:31 – Upset! Mark Rylance wins over Sylvester Stallone. 8/13

10:33 – That was the best speech so far.

10:35 – Don’t feel bad Sylvester Stallone – Arnold still loves you:

 

10:37 – Louis CK to present Best Documentary Short, his favorite award.

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10:38 – “This Oscar is going home in a Honda Civic.” He’s secretly making a case for him to host next year.

10:39 – “A Girl in the River” wins. Sorry that I didn’t get to see any of the shorts this year.

10:41 – Daisy Ridley and Dev Patel present Best Documentary Feature. I got through two more of these today. Would have watched more, but I got distracted by a Golden Girls marathon.

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10:42 – Amy wins, which was one of them. Highly recommened (free on Amazon Prime). I’m 9/14.

10:44 – The accountants this year:

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10:45 – Aw – the poor little guy missed his mark. And that joke was really tone deaf given that this year is about diversity. Not the time to do a joke about Asian stereotypes. Next year stick to bringing out the Matt Damon-doppelganger guy.

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10:48 – The Girl Scout tote board:

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10:49 – Dang. I should have sold cookies at award shows. “Suge Knight” was their best customer:

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10:50 – Whoopie Goldberg to talk about the honorary Oscars that were given out in months earlier.

10:52 – Now we hear from the Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

10:54 – Louis Gossett, Jr. to present the In Memorium segment, which normally sucks, but features Dave Grohl this year so it’s already 100 times better.

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10:55 – Alan Rickman 😦

10:58 – They needed a longer song. “Blackbird” repeats itself a lot. And kind of a weird choice given the theme of this year’s ceremony.

10:59 – Leonard Nimoy gets the power position at the end. I’d forgotten that he died this year.

11:03 – Jacob Tremblay and Abraham Attah present Best Live Action Short.

11:03 – “Thanks, Chris. You were great in Madagascar.” This kid can’t help being freaking adorable.

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11:05 – The winner is Stutterer.

11:06 – People – stop shaking hands on the way. You are losing valuable time.

11:06 – Sofia Vegara and Byung-hun Lee present Best Foreign Language Film.

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11:08 – Son of Saul (Hungary) wins. I told you Hollywood loves Holocaust moves. 10/15

11:09 – Hey – it’s Joe Biden! He’s getting a standing ovation.

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11:10 – “I’m the least qualified man here tonight.”

11:11 – He’s here to introduce Lady Gaga performing “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground and talk about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.

 

11:14 – Powerful moment – Gaga joined on stage by victims of sexual assault.

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11:15 – Bless her heart – during the commercial break Brie Larson hugged as many of the survivors as she could

 

11:19 – Pharrell Williams and Quincy Jones present Best Original Score.

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11:20 – It’s weird to see Pharrell without a hat.

11:22 – Suck it John Williams! Ennio Morricone wins for The Hateful Eight.

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11:25 – Common and John Legend here to award Best Original Song.

11:25 – Safe to bet that if your song wasn’t performed, you probably ain’t winning.

11:27 – Ugh – Sam Smith wins for “Writing’s on the Wall.” That is some straight up bulls*&t. 10/16

11:27 – And even without looking it up, Sam Smith is not the first openly gay person to win this award unless Melissa Etheridge and Elton John have been pulling a long con on all of us. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t think he’s the first openly gay person to win ANY Oscar. Because then he’s even dumber.

11:28 – Olivia Wilde and Sacha Baron Cohen to present clips from Room and Brooklyn.

11:29 –Cohen is presenting as Ali G. I’m sure Olivia is thrilled.

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11:35 – JJ Abrams to present Best Director. Let’s finish strong.

11:37 – No surprise – Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant) for the win. 11/17.

Alejandro G. Inarritu accepts the award for best director for “The Revenant” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

11:42 – “It’s late. Infomercial late.” –Chris Rock, you have no idea.

11:43 – Eddie Redmayne to present Best Actress.

11:47 – Brie Larson wins for Room which is well deserved. If she’d lost, I would have been worried for Leo, since she was a lock. 12/18

11:47 – I so love the relationship that she has with her young co-star.

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11:51 – Julianne Moore to present Best Actor, also known as the Leonardo DiCaprio Invitational.

11:55 – FINALLY! The words we’ve all be waiting to hear: “The Oscar goes to…..Leonardo DiCaprio.” 13/19

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11:55 – Leo winning brings people together. Even Kanye is happy about this:

11:56 – “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

 

11:57 – I kind of was hoping he would get a little emotional.

11:58 – Kate’s getting emotional for him.

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11:58 – Morgan Freeman here to present Best Picture. When the voice of God appears, you know it’s almost over.

11:59 – Spotlight! That’s what I personally wanted to win, but I didn’t think it would. I don’t even care that I was wrong; this is a great movie. Michael Keaton is excited:

12:00 – I’m ending the night 13/20. Not my best year, but not my worst.

12:02 – Michael Keaton is a Thin Mints man. That seems right.

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12:04 – Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” over the final credits may be a bit much.

Despite the fact that the Oscars ran nearly 30 minutes over, I think it was still a successful broadcast. There were a few notable missteps, but overall I think Chris Rock did a really great job. I’m happy with most of the winners, even the ones I got wrong, except Sam Smith because I want to punch that guy in the face. The evening actually moved along pretty quickly, which is saying something. Hopefully #OscarsSoWhite won’t be a talking point next year, though I think it is an important issue to be discussed. And now I’m hungry for some Girl Scout cookies. ANyone got a box of Samoas that they want to share?