With so much misery around us these days, from school shootings to Donald Trump opening his mouth and, hilariously, declaring he’d have run into the Douglas school shooting “even without a weapon,” I’m really glad March is almost here (whoo-hoo, best month of the year, college basketball tournament season!) and the Academy Awards are this Sunday.
I’m very rarely any good at Oscar pools, I think I’ve won one my entire life (and that was two years ago, thanks to “Spotlight,” one more reason to love that amazing movie.)
But this year I’ve seen some of the nominated flicks, and what the hell, here’s one person’s opinion on Sunday’s results:
— Best Picture: It would be thrilling if a horror movie like “Get Out” somehow won, but that’s not likely. It seems like “The Shape of Water” or “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” will win. I’ll go with “Three Billboards” because it seems very timely given the culture of sexual harassment shaming/outing going on. Haven’t seen it but apparently it’s a beautiful film.
— Best Actor: I’m of the belief that any time Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for anything, he should win, because he’s the most amazing actor of my lifetime. But everything points to Gary Oldman winning here for “The Darkest Hour.” So I’ll go chalk and say Oldman.
— Best Actress: Would love, love, love to see Saorise Ronan win for “Lady Bird,” because it’s such a great movie, or even Meryl Streep who killed it in “The Post.” I’m going to pick Ronan because upsets happen sometime, and everyone seems to think Frances McDormand is a lock.
Best Director: Again, would love to see Greta Gerwig win because she’s so humble and delightful and she made a terrific movie, but it’ll probably be a dude. Christopher Nolan or Guillermo Del Toro will likely win.
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, who I worship and adore, seems to be a consensus lock for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s Mom in “I, Tonya.” I have no problem with that. But I bet Mary J. Blige would give one hell of an acceptance speech if she somehow won.
Best Supporting Actor: I have no idea or feel on this one. Sam Rockwell was apparently great in his “Three Billboards over Ebbing, Missouri,” but Willem Dafoe has gotten lots of buzz for “The Florida Project” and Richard Jenkins is always sensational. I’ll go with Dafoe.
**Next up today, I’ve written many times about the awesomeness of NPR’s “Only a Game” podcast, but it’s been a while since a story hit me as strongly as one that aired last week (it’s linked above). It’s a story I’d never heard and it knocked my socks off.
When you say “Germany” and “Hitler” and “1936 Olympics,” most people automatically think about Jesse Owens and his winning four gold medals, metaphorically spitting at Hitler’s “master race” beliefs.
But I sure as heck didn’t know that the 1936 Winter Olympics were also held in Germany, and that an American hockey player named Francis Baker stood up to Adolf Hitler, right to his face.
Baker was a goalie from upstate New York, and had studied German at Hamilton College.
A last-minute addition to the Olympic team, Baker was never shy about speaking his mind. At the Opening Ceremonies, Hitler expected every other nation to raise their arms to salute him. But the U.S. contingent did not do that; they had their hands at their sides.
Hitler was furious, and apparently Der Fuhrer came around to speak to the American team in their locker room, a day before Team USA was to play Germany.
Hitler berated the American team, and declared Germany would certainly beat the U.S.
Well, little Francis Baker, all 5-foot-7 of him, spoke German and decided to retort.
” ‘We will not only beat Germany in hockey tomorrow,’ ” Baker told Hitler, according to Fischler. ” ‘In addition, Die Vereinigten Staaten werden Deutschland immer besiegen: The United States will always defeat Germany.’ And Hitler was infuriated and conducted an orderly retreat.”
Amazing story. Listen to it at this link and learn about the life of an Olympic hero who so few remember, but who certainly deserves to be remembered.
**Finally today, please read this moving eulogy written by Max Schachter, whose son Alex was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two weeks ago.
It has beautiful stories in it, about Alex’s joy of being in marching band, the new friends he’d made this year, and the tragedy he and Alex suffered when his mom passed away when Alex was 4.
The last paragraph just hit me hard:
“Two weeks ago, Alex was assigned a poem for a literary fair. He decided to write about roller coasters because Alex loved roller coasters. He wasn’t writing about his life and had no idea that his poem would become his future.
Our elected lawmakers are a big part of the bar of our life’s roller coaster. Don’t just start anew and repeat the failures of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Act now and hear the cries of our community. No child and no family should ever have to experience this because of someone else’s failure to protect us.”