Film award season is upon us and I can hardly open an entertainment blog without reading about Oscar prognostications, film critic awards, snubs and surprises, etc. In my younger days and even a little now, I was obsessed with the Oscars. I used to make my mom buy fancy cheese and crackers to eat while we watched and when I was old enough I’d buy wine and drink along as I watched making a game out of how many times they showed Jack Nickolson reaction shots to everything (I’d get really drunk). My sister and I will text back and forth cattily about dresses and if a speech makes me cry I will rewind it and watch again. My father’s birthday is March 1st and back when I was in high school the Oscars were in mid March. My father knew what a pretentious little film snob I was but decided to indulge my whims when I suggested for his birthday that I treat him to dinner and a movie, just the two of us. I was making money babysitting and working at Dunkin Donuts in high school and made a big show and insisted on paying. Since it was “Oscar season” I had read reviews and chosen a few contenders I thought we might see every year. My dad does love good films and has great taste but had little time while raising four kids to get to the theater to see stuff so I think he enjoyed what became our yearly ritual. By choosing Oscar bait, we were choosing to see movies that would undoubtedly have “adult themes” but I thought I was mature and could handle it… and thus began my string of awkward movie going experiences with my pops. In honor of the holidays where some of you assuredly saw movies with family members you surely wished you had read about before committing to (On the Road anyone? Who knew she was going to give two handies in the car? Not you or your mom? That was awkward) I bring you my top 3 most awkward Oscar movie watching experiences with dad.
3) Traffic. I was a senior in high school when we choose Steven Soderbergh’s interwoven epic about the drug trade in the US/Mexico. It seemed like a cerebral choice and I remember having a Benecio del Toro phase for awhile and my dad was pretty in love with Catherine Zeta-Jones having claimed he predicted her future stardom after a viewing of Mask of Zorro. It had good Oscar buzz and I was prepared for guns, violence, swearing and drugs. I was not prepared to watch the daughter of a main character (who was supposed to be my age) give a blowie and then full on do a drug dealer in an explicit sex scene in the movie. After said boning they shot up heroin and it was terrifying to watch. Needle drugs still terrify me. I am sure my dad was as uncomfortable as I was and I liked to pretend that part of the movie didn’t exist. Some things are best forgotten. Sidenote – I also blame this movie for ruining Catherine Zeta-Jones as I think this is where she met her future husband Michael Douglas. Ugh. Really CZJ? Michael Douglas? You were once of the hottest things in Hollywood and could have boned Clooney if you really wanted and you choose saggy old man balls? Gross. Get serious about life.
2) American Beauty – Sixteen year old me was pretty snooty when it came to “films” and so when everyone and their mom started talking about how wonderful American Beauty was and how Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey were locks for Oscars and how Wes Bentley was the next big thing and the girl who played Teeny in Now and Then was going to be the daughter of Spacey and Bening, I was sold. We had to see this movie. It was bound for Oscar glory. Oh good lord, I have regrets. Do you remember how the movie starts? Let me refresh your memory as this moment is burned into my retinas – it starts with Kevin Spacey jacking off in the shower. What follows is wall to wall moments of pure movie watching agony if you are sitting next to your dad. Spacey lusting after his daughter’s high school friend, teenagers doing it, Bening getting boned by Peter Gallagher violently against a headboard and screaming “You’re the King”, recreational weed smoking, a dad beating his son, and it ends with the main character getting murdered. I wish I could have disappeared in my seat. I remember before the movie started my dad had seen friends two rows behind us and told them his daughter was taking him to dinner and a movie for his birthday. I think their look of shock at the movie we choose should have warned me, but it didn’t. My dad never said a word but declared the movie a great one (perhaps he was remembering the trauma inflicted by movie moment #1 on the list). I was too busy scrubbing the image of Bening and P-Gal fucking from my brain to reply.
1) Shakespeare in Love – It was the year that Miramax bought the Oscars and the romantic dramedy “Shakespeare in Love” beat out the prestige picture “Saving Private Ryan”. This was the first year of our dinner and a movie birthday and although it was my dad’s dinner I begged off of seeing Saving Private Ryan because I don’t think I could have handled over 2 hours of awful war. A birthday movie shouldn’t contain boys holding on to their intestines and crying for their moms, even if Tom Hanks was great in it. So we opted for the light and silly Shakespeare in Love and it was fine until the sex scenes. Oh god, there are a few and they are sexy sex scenes. Not like cutting away and soft lighting Sandra Bullock movie sex scenes were the sex is implied and not shown – we saw Gwyneth’s boobs – more than once. And this prompted a comment from my dad that still makes me shiver with horror “Her breasts (yes he said breasts) are like two golden delicious apples”. I swear to god, those words fell from my dad’s mouth during the movie. I could have died. I did die. I still don’t know if he was trying to be funny or was so inspired by the Shakespearean language and by Paltrow’s boobs that he let it fly – but either way it was awful in a way I can’t forget. Imagine being fifteen and hearing your dad talk about tits – and then compare them to apples. Good grief Jimbo. Fifteen year old me should be slapped for suggesting we see Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan. Fifteen year old me was a real dick and got what she deserved – having to hear sexual comments about Gwyneth from her dad. Vomit noises.
My dad and I sort of continue this string and have gone on to see many more Oscar movies together. We were the only two people laughing during the screening for No Country for Old Men we saw a few years ago and I still crack up when I think of the woman who turned around to stare at us when we both busted up when Javier Bardem blew a dude away with a rigged up cattle prod shotgun. Classic. Birthday dinner and a movie may have produced some hilariously awkward father-daughter bonding, but it was always a good time.
What I’m Listening to – Miguel’s album Kaleidoscope Dream – seriously – this music makes me wish I was having sex 24/7. I almost need a cigarette when I am done with the album. Particular song highlights are “Do you..” and “Adorn”. Good old fashioned baby making music.
What I’m Reading – A Dance of Dragons by George R.R. Martin – the fifth of the Game of Thrones books. A welcome relief after my favorite characters didn’t appear in the 4th book and it is getting intense. I need Dany to stop being in the fucking desert though and get her ass to Westeros. The Seven Kingdoms need you and your dragons, girl. Also, GRR Martin – either go on a diet and lose weight or finish the last two books ASAP because I don’t want your fat ass dying before I know what happens to Jon Snow and everyone else. New Years Resolution – write more and eat less, don’t die.
What I’m Watching – The Downton Abbey Christmas Special because I watched all of season 3 this fall streaming in Japan. I have no words. I am too emotional and won’t spoil anything for anyone but I am beside myself. Just. I just. I can’t talk about it right now.
Random Thought (As recently discussed between a friend and myself – though I have thought about this before and more than once) – Does Taylor Swift bone all the dudes she is dating? If so 1) Good for you girl! 2) John Mayer and a Jonas brother? Gross. 3) She is crushing more ass than me. Upsetting.