In my family, the Oscars are a religious observance that you attend in your pajamas.
As a little kid, I used to dress up for the show—I’d always change into pajamas at the first commercial break, but still, it took a lot for tiny gay me to don my piano recital finery by choice, but it was worth it for the Oscars.
As a teenager, I would tape (yes, TAPE) the show and then watch it after school to relax—having to fast-forward through all the commercials and then face the indignity of the tape cutting off before the end of the show.
In college, my dad would drive three hours to visit me and stay overnight in a hotel room so we could watch the show together over carefully curated snacks.
And now I’m an adult, with a TV that I can pause and rewind IN REAL TIME. I can watch my favorite speeches and montages on my phone while waiting at the dentist. It’s great.
I still love the Oscars, but I also hate the Oscars. I love getting together with people and sharing snacks and triumphing in my weird super-ability to predict the winners in the short film and documentary categories (I just go with the titles that give me a good feeling! The less I know about them the better!).
I hate pretty much everything else. How the acting winners are chosen based on everything but the actual performance, how truly independent films are shunted out, how diversity is treated as an obligation at best and a joke at worst, and how hollow and superficial the entire exercise seems the older I get.
I invited Jessie, Julia, Stella, and my sister over to watch the Oscars with A and I, and decided the show would be the perfect opportunity to try out my first ever Bundt pan—mini Bundt bunnies!—even though I had never baked with a Bundt pan before and had nightmares of my mini bunnies emerging with deformed ears and misshapen bodies.
I found these sure-fire tips, which worked really well. Allow me to paraphrase:
- You know how every recipe begins with “Grease your pan and set it aside?” Don’t do that. Even if it makes you physically anxious not to have a pan prepared as you bake, RESIST! Instead, grease the pan as your very last step. Then dump in the batter and throw it in the oven as fast as you can. Make race car noises or zoomy sound effects if that makes it more fun for you.
- I greased my pan with a flour-added baking spray, which I bought because it had a picture of an actual Bundt cake on the label. That’s my thought process.
- Use a pastry brush to spread the baking spray around and fill in all the fiddly bits.
- Grease the absolute shit out of that pan.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for a good ten minutes before you flip it over.
And lo and behold, all nine of my bunnies popped out with their ears and tails intact!
In the spirit of the occasion, I got gold icing gel with SPARKLES so my bunnies would be fit for the big show. And because I made way more batter than I needed, I got three extra bunnies out of the six-bunny mold.
“Awww, nine bunnies for the nine Best Picture nominees,” said Stella. “And they’re repping for Jojo Rabbit!”
“That was . . . completely intentional!” I said.
(It was not).
A does not care about the Oscars or pop culture in general. Before she met me, she thought the supporting acting categories were reserved for old people and that only young people could get nominated as leads. She wasn’t wrong wrong (especially for actresses), but still. She doesn’t see a ton of movies, but she did watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on a plane, and was eager to talk to Stella about it, since Stella loves three things: the ’60s, Quentin Tarantino, and cults.
A praised the acting and production design (I picked it to win that one, and of course I was right). Stella added that the guy playing Charles Manson was really convincing.
A said, “Who’s Charles Manson?”
“He was the leader of the cult,” I said, before Stella could unload every detail she knows about Charles Manson, which is every detail.
” . . . What cult?”
“All of those people at that ranch? They were in a cult,” I said, as Stella screamed into a pillow. “The Manson Family? They murdered Sharon Tate.”
“. . . Who’s Sharon Tate?”
We filled out our ballots and started the show. I let the spirits guide me to the correct winners for the sound, documentary, and short film categories, but they forgot to tell me that Ford vs. Ferrari would take editing. Zoomy noises can never be counted out, I guess.
“My mom says hi to everyone,” said Julia. “She’s also really happy that Keanu Reeves is dating someone age-appropriate.”
When 1917 took cinematography (called it), I had to take one for the team and explain the one-shot gimmick to my sister.
“Wait, the whole thing was shot in one take?” she said.
“Nooooooo, it just looks like it,” I said. “Because of clever editing, which is why I picked it to win editing, but no.”
“So it’s like a play?”
My sister bit into a bunny and shrugged, “One shot sounds hard. Why would you do that?”
“Gotta get that Oscar,” said Stella.
There is something magical yet attainable about the Oscars. Maybe it’s because we grow up attending the show in our pajamas. Maybe it’s because the technical people are normal-looking even though the actors and actresses are Botoxed within an inch of their lives, and that makes people think that the Oscars are this big celebration of equality, with the doors thrown out to everyone. Like, if a goofy visual effects guy with messy hair and a lumpy tux can win, you must have a shot.
When Parasite won, I felt a little bit of that magic again—that for all the obnoxious campaigning and dead-eyed red carpeting and patronizing speeches aside (seriously, Renée, why would you equate Harriet Tubman to Martin Scorsese), the best movie actually won, for once.
My dad texted us, “I’m really choked up—so happy for them!”
Having spent a year in South Korea during the ’60s, where he was safe from Charles Manson, he has a lot of love for the people there. He also claimed, “I didn’t need the translator during their speeches, but she did a great job.”
I ending up picking 19 of the 24 categories correctly, but Jessie beat me with 21 (goddamned Ford vs. Ferrari). Stella got 16, my sister got 13 , A got an impressive 8 despite asking if Paddington 2, a movie that came out two years ago, was nominated for anything (honestly, it should have been), and Julia got 5, having given up filling out her ballot halfway through and writing in Laura Dern for every category—a move I completely supported.
Maybe I can get an Bundt mold of an actual Oscar statue for 2021 . . .