Monday, February 25, 2019


I'm not a big Oscar guy. Haven't been for awhile.

I mean, I love movies. Even though I don't see nearly enough of them these days. I have a wheelhouse of knowledge that is far exceeded by others but still puts me in the game when discussions arise on, say, movies that came out between 1960 and 2005 or so. I love great films, I love guilty pleasure films, I love those comedies that are still funny after 15 viewings, I love thrillers that sometimes keep you guessing and sometimes don't, I even love good horror films. And of course, I love this!

And I love music. I mean hell, despite my noticeable absence from this space in recent weeks...okay, in recent months...Scott and I created this little blog to showcase our love of great musics, good musics, so-so musics, silly musics and even, sometimes, stuff we can't stand.

But the Academy Awards show itself, despite often spotlighting not only the best in film but also some damn fine and lasting music too, just doesn't tend to do it for me. I guess awards shows in general don't. Maybe it's the self-congratulatory nature of it all. Maybe it's that for way too long it's been, um, a little less than diverse? Or maybe it's just that the show is so, so long.

So I tend not to watch. But last night, just as I finished watching a DVR'd program, I flipped by to see where in the show the Oscars were. And I got there just in time, literally, to see this:

And I really do have to say, it was one of those moments that left me breathless. And so damn grateful that I saw it happen in real time.

For starters, this is a great freaking song. Emotionally churning and bleeding with the pathos and grandeur that all pop songs long to have yet so few are able to obtain. The muted beginning. Cooper's ragged but perfectly tuned voice. Gaga's vibrato-free performance that runs from soft and almost lilting to overpoweringly glorious. The wordless climax that so flawlessly brings us to one last, gorgeous chorus before a shockingly quick ending. "Shallow" has it all in just around three minutes. That is great pop.

Then there is the performance. Look how humble and quiet Cooper seems as he starts. Check out the stare he gives to Gaga, and the one she returns to him. Unbreakable. When she takes to the piano and begins to devour the song like a praying mantis (and I mean that in a very, very good way), the stage and the world belong to her. But when we next see Cooper again he has this unworldly smile on his face, like he can't believe his good fortune to be watching what he is watching, let alone be a part of this. And when he makes his way over to the piano to sit with her for the finale, watch the look they give each other after a mike-share that is so close they almost become the same person. They are smiling and draw and worn and content, and that final look shows us how much this moment just meant to them.

And then there is the camera work. So many times the direction of these shows is overblown and over-complicated and you just want to smack the director and yell, "Would you please just relax?!"

But not here. From the moment the guitar starts and the camera moves from backstage to  front, it is all one single tracking shot for the next four minutes or so. Think about that. It's all one shot.

The choice to show Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga rising from their front row seats and walking hand in hand to the stage, the audience in full view behind them, is such a beautiful one that it's hard to get my arms fully around it. And just the idea of doing it all with one single camera, uninterrupted, moving tastefully back and forth between two of the biggest stars and talents in the world? I don't know how someone thought to do this or, quite frankly, how it was pulled off with such precision that it seemed effortless. But it was spectacular.

So I'm still not really an "Oscars" guy. But you give me more moments like this? We'll talk.

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