Os­cars this Sun­day: 7-step sur­vival guide

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Carolina Living - BY MICHAEL PHILLIPS Chicago Tri­bune

Sud­denly, the Os­cars are in­ter­est­ing.

After a se­ries of pub­lic prat­falls in its plan­ning stages, I’m gen­uinely cu­ri­ous about how this Sun­day’s host-free Academy Awards cer­e­mony turns out. I’m not kid­ding. I’m in­ter­ested.

This is what comes from months of for­mat de­ci­sions an­nounced, then re­scinded. And this is what hap­pens when even the odd­s­mak­ers’ fron­trun­ner in the best pic­ture cat­e­gory doesn’t feel like a sure thing.

These last few months have re­minded us of the ne­ces­sity of in­sti­tu­tional change – con­stant, sloppy, ill-con­sid­ered in­sti­tu­tional change. It’s the na­tional mantra, cer­tainly in pol­i­tics. And it’s a show busi­ness law. “That’s the way we do things around here!” the stu­dio mogul bel­lows in the 1930 Kauf­man & Hart com­edy “Once in a Life­time.” “No time wasted on think­ing!”

Last Au­gust, the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences floated the an­nounce­ment that it’s time to add a sec­ond best pic­ture cat­e­gory, some­thing like best pop­u­lar movie or best pop­corn movie. (This was ABC-TV muscling a de­ci­sion, by all re­ports – an at­tempt to re­verse the rat­ings slide.) Then came the blow­back, and the sar­cas­tic mirth was lim­it­less through­out the land. Academy presi- dent John Bai­ley said never mind. Let’s wait a year on that.

Then Kevin Hart came on board to host the Os­cars, be­fore ob­jec­tions to his ar­guably ho­mo­pho­bic stand-up rou­tines of yore gath­ered mo­men­tum. Up­shot: No host this year.

The sea­son’s re­versed Os­car de­ci­sions also in­clude the an­nounce­ment of four awards, in­clud­ing cin­e­matog­ra­phy and edit­ing, be­ing con­fined to their mo­ment in the spot­light dur­ing com­mer­cial breaks, with edited high­lights in­ter­po­lated later into the broad­cast.

Bai­ley, him­self a cin­e­matog­ra­pher, an­nounced the change, made to help keep the tele­cast un­der three hours. Then he heard from his con­stituents, among them many of this year’s nom­i­nees. And now it’s back to the way it was. And, as many have cracked on Twit­ter, if “Green Book” ends up win­ning Sun­day, no wor­ries: The cor­rec­tion will be is­sued by Mon­day.

Let’s be frank: It’s all guess­work and frip­pery and, at least in New Jersey, as of this year, a chance to bet on the out­come legally. As of Valen­tine’s Day, “Roma” was the fa­vorite to win best pic­ture, with “Green Book” es­ti­mated by var­i­ous book­mak­ers to be the sec­ond-most-likely win­ner.

With that heart­en­ing re­minder that the 2018 movie year truly did of­fer some­thing for ev­ery­one, and with apolo­gies to the late Stephen Covey: Here are the seven habits of highly ef­fec­tive Os­car pun­dits, good through Sun­day.

1. BE PROAC­TIVE Know the re­sults so far. The Pro­duc­ers Guild of Amer­ica voted for “Green Book.” The Di­rec­tors Guild of Amer­ica voted for “Roma.” The Screen Ac­tors Guild voted “Black Pan­ther” for best en­sem-

ble. The Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica went for “Can You Ever For­give Me?” in the adapted screen­play cat­e­gory, a ter­rific choice. And the WGA opted for Bo Burn­ham’s “Eighth Grade,” stupidly over­looked by the Os­cars this year, for orig­i­nal screen­play. The Golden Globes fa­vored “Green Book” and “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” in its top cat­e­gories. So while “Roma” may be the fa­vorite, it’s not a sure thing.

2. BE­GIN WITH THE END IN MIND

If peo­ple at work want to dis­cuss your hearty rec­om­men­da­tion of “The Favourite,” and why you mis­led the pub­lic into think­ing it was a com­edy, or a tragi­com­edy, or worth see­ing in the first place, en­gage them only if you have pre­ar­ranged a meet­ing to post­pone the dis­cus­sion at the 12-sec­ond mark.

3. PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST

If you’re watch­ing the Os­cars at home, the cor­rect way to make pop­corn is on the stove, a lit­tle canola oil in a saucepan, one ker­nel as the sig­nal. Wait for the pop, then add the rest so that it cov­ers the bot­tom of the pan evenly. Melt the but­ter in a sep­a­rate pan, pour over popped corn, add salt. This is far more im­por­tant than any­thing on the show it­self.

4. THINK WIN-WIN

Ev­ery best pic­ture nom­i­nee has its cham­pi­ons. So which­ever film wins Sun­day, it’s good news for some­body.

5. SEEK FIRST TO UN­DER­STAND, THEN TO BE UN­DER­STOOD

Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Ef­fec­tive Peo­ple” urges em­pa­thetic lis­ten­ing to un­der­stand a per­son. You can prac­tice it next time you talk to some­one who hated “The Favourite.”

6. SYNERGIZE!

If “Black Pan­ther” wins Sun­day, it'll be fan­tas­tic for ABC, owned by Dis­ney, which owns Marvel, which made “Black Pan­ther.”

7. SHARPEN A SAW Your per­sonal saw can be used to make men­tal edits to the Os­cars, should they run into Mon­day.

TUNE IN: The Os­cars air at 8 p.m. Sun­day on ABC. For more in­for­ma­tion on the movies, go to os­car.go.com.

Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures

“Green Book,” star­ring Viggo Mortensen, left, and Ma­her­shala Ali, is es­ti­mated by book­mak­ers to be the sec­ond-most-likely win­ner for best pic­ture.

CAR­LOS SOMONTE Net­flix

“Roma,” star­ring Yal­itza Apari­cio, left, is the fa­vorite among book­mak­ers to win best pic­ture.

ALEX BAI­LEY Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox

Gwilym Lee, left, and Rami Malek star in “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” nom­i­nated for an Os­car for best pic­ture.

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