Benny Jay: Oscar Winners

January 19th, 2016

With the Academy Awards upon us, it’s time for my annual post on which flick deserves the Oscar–a regular feature you can only find in The Third City!

So without further ado…

Best Picture: Tangerine.

Written and directed by Sean Baker, it’s a funny, bitter-sweet story about Sin-Dee Rella and Alexandra, two transgender prostitutes in L.A.

It’s got a great script and sensational performances–especially by Mya Taylor as Alexandra. Plus, it’s creatively shot on a cell phone–talk about low-budget.

It builds to a climactic scene on Christmas Eve in a dingy donut shot on Sunset Boulevard that features, in no particular order: Sin-Dee Rella, Alexandra, an Armenian cab driver, his wife, howling baby daughter and Armenian-speaking mother-in-law. Plus, Chester–a white Eminem-wannabe pimp.

Also, there’s the Asian-American counter woman that Chester calls mamasan. Not sure why. It’s clearly not her name. Maybe he thinks she’ll take it as an honorific. Though it only seems to piss her off, as she threatens to call the cops.

It’s so funny and sad, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry and…

Hold it! I just scanned the list of nominees. And Tangerine is no where to be found. Are you kidding me!


If you’re not going to give it to Tangerine


Okay, then give the award to Phoenix, the German-language movie directed by Christian Petzold, starring Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld.

It tells the story of this Jewish nightclub singer who, miraculously surviving three years in a Nazi concentration camp, returns to post-war Berlin to reunite with her husband.

Only he doesn’t recognize her–cause she got a face lift. Which doesn’t stop him from devising this insane scheme to fraud the reparations people by having her pretend she’s the wife he doesn’t realize she really is.

If you follow all that…

It has a great climactic scene of its own, featuring Nina Hoss singing Speak Low, which was written many years ago by the unlikely duo of Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash.

Yes, Ogden Nash.

It features this memorable line: “Time is so old and love so brief, love is pure gold and time a thief…”


It hasn’t been nominated either?

Fuck, man! Who’s in charge of this shit?


Then give it to Phoenix


Okay, just give the award to Wild Tales, the hilarious dark comedy by the Argentinian director, Damian Szifron. It’s actually six stand-alone stories dedicated to the theme of vengeance. As in man’s need not to let any bad deed–event trivial ones–go unpunished.

The final scene at a Jewish wedding involving an enraged bride, who figures out that her husband is a philanderer is…

Wait! Wild Tales has also been shut out?

C’mon–who do you gotta blow to get a nomination these days?

Forget it–I’m boycotting the Oscars. I’m going to spend that night re-watching Pam Grier in Jackie Brown.

Speaking of sensational performances that the Academy ignored.

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