The movies and shows that stick with you after you’ve walked out from the cinema or got up from the couch, the books that live on in your head once the cover is closed, are the best kind of story there are.
During college, Lin-Manuel Miranda and a friend used to improvise interpretative dance tributes to best picture nominees at their annual Oscar party. “It was a lot of breathing and rolling around,” recalls the creator of the Broadway smash Hamilton. “We had a great Seabiscuit dance one year.”
For the New York-born son of Puerto Rican parents — his father a political consultant, his mother a psychologist — it was just another phase of a lifelong fascination with the Oscars that began when he was growing up in the Inwood section of Manhattan, playing and replaying the telecasts that his family recorded on their VCR. At 37, Miranda is about to cross the threshold from superfan to participant: “How Far I’ll Go,” which he wrote for the Disney film Moana, is nominated for original song, and on Feb. 26, Miranda (with his mother) will attend his first Academy Awards.
It’s an auspicious step in a career that will see him star with Emily Blunt and Colin Firth in Disney’s 2018 Mary Poppins Returns and collaborate with composer Alan Menken on the studio’s live-action The Little Mermaid, one of Miranda’s favorite films and, he reveals here, the gateway to his Oscars obsession.
My brain is a compendium of Oscar moments: Tom Hanks’ beautiful acceptance speech when he won best actor for Philadelphia in 1994. Roberto Benigni climbing over chairs and wanting to make love to everybody in the world when Life Is Beautiful won best foreign-language film in 1999. Kim Basinger presenting in 1990 and telling the audience that one of the best films of the year, Do the Right Thing, was not nominated. For her to take a stand, 25 years before #OscarsSoWhite, was incredible — and impressive because time has shown the prescience of that film.
I expect we’ll see more of that this year. It’s a political time, so I imagine the Oscars will look exactly like your Twitter or Facebook feed. Why should we ignore for three hours what we’re talking about 24 hours a day?
The Oscars were always a family affair when I was a kid. One sort of unintentional tradition we had every year was during the “In Memoriam” part of the show. My family called it the “She died?” section because my dad, who is pop culture-oblivious, would always go, “She died? He died? She died?!” the whole time. So, it was very sad and yet also very funny watching my dad catch up.
When I was a kid, the Oscars felt like this impossibly larger-than-life thing. The first time I felt like I had a horse in the race was in 1990. I was 10, and The Little Mermaid was up for best song and best score. They did that crazy “Under the Sea” number with the late, great Geoffrey Holder and dudes in scuba outfits tap-dancing with flippers. We had a tradition of recording the show on our VHS, and I must have watched it a million and a half times.
There was also an amazing Chuck Workman montage at the beginning of the show that depicted 100 years of filmmaking with classic scores. I was already in love with movies, but this was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life.
That was the period when Billy Crystal was hosting, and I would memorize his musical spoofs of the year’s top films. He did them with Marc Shaiman, whom I’m working with right now on Mary Poppins Returns… I was a huge fan of those moments and musical numbers — they showed a genuine love of movies while still poking fun at them. I may also be the only person in America who laughed his ass off to “Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Uma.” David Letterman’s commitment to that bit was enough to put it over the top for me. He didn’t care if no one got it. In his head, it was funny.
Hosting the Oscars is not a thing I would ever want to do… You always have to do this dance as a host: You’re playing to a billion people at home, and you’re playing to anxious contestants in a room, and that’s an insanely hard thing to divide. It’s the most thankless task in the world. I have a pretty healthy ego, but it does not extend in that direction. I’d much rather be the guy writing the opening tune than having to deliver it.
Another Oscar moment that really stuck with me was when Whoopi won her best supporting actress for Ghost. I’ll never forget, at the top of her acceptance speech she said, “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted this,” which is so rare. Then she said, “As a little kid, I lived in the projects, and you’re the people I watched. You’re the people who made me want to be an actor.” For me, it was like she was saying, “If you want this, you can get it, too. I’m proof that you can.”
I had been seeing myself in this world since I was old enough to do anything, and it was as if she reached through the screen to talk to me. I was that kid. Even my mother used to say, “Remember what Whoopi said.”
There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere sitting there, living for Tony performances singin’ and flippin’ along with the Pippins and Wickeds and Kinkys, Matildas and Mormonses / So we might reassure that kid and do something to spur that kid / ‘Cause I promise you all of us up here tonight, We were that kid and now we’re bigger
Another of my favorite moments was in 2005, when they had Antonio Banderas sing “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from The Motorcycle Diaries, which was nominated for best song. And then when Jorge Drexler, who composed it, won, he went onstage and sang it, like, “This is how it really goes.” It was so funny and ballsy and great. I’m happy whenever Latinos win anything, so I was thrilled by both performances.
I can’t tell you what it feels like in that room because this will be my first time at the Oscars, but I can tell you why the Oscars matter. It’s a night when the arts and artists are formally honored, and this recognition is seen by millions of people across the country and around the world. The show inspires people to keep pursuing their craft, or to seek out the nominated films or the overall body of work of the nominees, and through that exposure, people gain a greater appreciation of what the art of filmmaking brings to our culture.
Omg. I need Levi and Jean competing for Erens affection and Eren being oblivious. I need this like I need air.
Levi glowered back at the arrogant punk that was Jean Kirshstein. Shit brown to steel grey - according to him. The reason being, both he and the young brat were after the same person, apparently Levi had unknowingly came on to this kid`s “territory” when Eren and his squad had been alone with him.
“Back off ole man, You`re three years too late and about fifty years too old.” The horse-faced fuck smirked. Levi remained unfazed, despite him fuming at the idea that a shit stain like this was trying to get his grubby hooves on his Eren.
“How do you know Eren doesn`t want a real man?” Levi bit out, an indignant squawk from the boy, “Y`know, perhaps he prefers balls that have already drop?”
“I-I! A-as if you can still get it up! What are you, fifty?” Jean countered.
Levi huffed in cruel amusement. “I can use mine just fine, you on the other hand… I don`t think anyone really wants a thumb up their ass.”
Levi almost felt bad for that one, poor kid was speechless. But he was intruding on his and Eren`s courtship that had been going fine before the lousy new cadets trounced in. He was the center of Eren`s world and now this pony was trying to throw it off balance.
The two of them turned quickly to see Eren jogging up to them, well actual, Levi, much to Jean`s displeasure. Eren smiled brightly at him as he stopped in a proper salute.
“Captain Levi, it`s time for combat training, I was…. uh, wondering if you`d be my partner?” Eren mumbled, confidence slowly ebbing away as he spoke. Levi`s hard gaze softened to mush as he nodded firmly, his chest fluttering at the way Eren lit up.
And of fucking course Seabiscuit had to make his insignificant presence known.
“Uh, hey Eren, why not train with me?” He pipes up, a cocky smile on his face. Eren`s happy smile dampens immediately.
“No.” He says flatly, Jean isn`t deterred.
“Aw, you chicken Jaeger?” He coos.
“No! I could take you!”
“Prove it then, train with me!”
Levi`s eye twitches at the obvious tactic, Jean using poor Eren`s temper against him is unacceptable. He pulls Eren away from his face off with the smug cadet and into his chest.
“Eren needs an actual challenge, not some play fight with a little boy like you.” He humphs, he can feel Eren smirk at the praise in disguise.
Jean is once again speechless, and can`t do anything as he opens and closes his mouth like a fish, hoping a decent comeback will emerge from it. Levi drags Eren off with a smirk on his face.
Hidden Figures is the Inspirational film that black people
as a whole really needed to see this year. It headlines with the star power such as the
academy award winning Taraji P. Henson as Mrs. Katherine Johnson, the academy
award winning Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Dorothy Vaughn, and the Grammy award
winning Janelle Monae as Mrs. Mary Jackson. Hidden Figures tells the story of
how three brilliant and brave black women become the very foundation of the
engineering and computing of NASA’s role in the infamous Space Race.
Through sheer determination and will these ladies blow past the obstacles of
racism and discrimination and literally fly over the stumbling blocks of sexism
to become some of the brightest minds to grace the National Aeronautics Space
first. This movie shows Black People, more specifically Black Women,
succeeding, overcoming, and winning on the big screen. Just like with Colin
Kapernick, Marvel’s Black Panther, and all the Black Women into the Olympics:
representation matters. It’s important for us as a people to have positive
images shown to us to remind us who we are and what we’re capable of. This sets
into the mind conscious and subconsciously and ignites the fire of
excellence in us all. Sometimes just the glimpse of someone making the impossible
possible is just what’s needed to inspire greatness.
But what we don’t need is a false story strategically placed
in our narratives that cater to the white savior complex. For those that are
unfamiliar with the term “white savior”, it is a situation found in books and
often in Hollywood in which a white character is seen as needed to rescue
people of color from their awful predicament. This Caucasian “hero” usually
stumbles on learning more about themselves in the midst of their heroic deeds.
Examples of this heinous crime can be found in movies like Django, Glory, The
Help, Mr. Church, Lincoln, Last Samurai, The Blind Side, and many others.
Some white savior moments can be found in this box office
hit. The first strong whiff of this comes after Katherine Johnson, played by
Taraji P. Henson, comes back to her desk soaked from the rain after running
across NASA’s campus to use the only colored women’s restroom in the facility.
Soon after her frustrations were rightfully expressed to her supervisor AL
Harrison, Kelvin Coster, he notices and removes the colored sign on the coffee
machine and proceeds in the next scene to remove the colored sign above the
restroom with a crowbar. Now when I saw this in New York for the first time it
was before the nation wide release date. The audience cheered and applauded his
actions! And to be honest it did feel good to see what seemed like a win and
turnaround for us. Unfortunately, this apparently never happened.
According to Margot Lee Shetterly, author who wrote the book “Hidden Figures”,
to which the movie is based on, she reveals that Johnson used the white
restrooms and refused to use the colored restrooms. Now that’s the
boldness I would love to see on the big screen.
Another fictional scene is the moment when Johnson
brilliantly calculated the coordinates for John Glenn’s launch and delivered
them to mission control. Once passed the doors slammed in her face and she was
denied entry, at least until our hero Harrison gave her clearance to enter and
take part in the success of the mission she greatly contributed to. In an
interview with Katherine Johnson she explained that she was not admitted to
enter mission control at the time of the launch. It is said in the book
that she “sat tight in the office, watching the transmission on a television.
Theodore Melfi insisted that there is nothing wrong with placing a white savior
in the African-American biopic. “There needs to be white people who do the
right thing and there needs to be Black people who do the right thing, but who
cares who does the right thing as long as the right thing is achieved?“
care! POC have had their history rewritten, copied, erased, and
whitewashed to favor people it has nothing to do with and is shown as false
evidence to make white people feel better. It is not acceptable to rewrite
our history to appease your guilty conscience. When you come across a story in
which black people do the right thing AND white people do the right thing, feel
free to write that movie script. I will buy my ticket early and cheer at the
appropriate times. Until then, save your white savior moments for the sequel to
Back to the biopic, remember that every film made about the
Black race and the struggle endured was 10x worse than displayed in that
particular film. As sad as it is, it is the
truth. It shows a glimpse of what our people were truly dealing with
during this era. Some of which has trickled its way down to today. Maybe
they don't want to be remembered on the wrong side of history, that’s
why they do it. Well hopefully Hollywood will cease the white savior nonsense
one day. That may be the same day when the “All Lives Matter “crew finally
realizes that statement is false unless Black Lives Matter.
Like, he was born with four mismatched legs. All of his joints were at different heights. They were going to shoot him as a foal because they thought he would never be able to walk, and then he became this really amazing racer because people cared for him. He and his jockey(s) helped heal each other through injuries, both physical and mental.
Like just look at those front legs. It really was a wonder he could walk at all.
And then oh boy, his one-on-one against War Admiral? A legend in his own right? The fact that these two horses were so incredible that they earned their own head to head public challenge?
If you haven’t seen it, I advise it. Like I still genuinely find such a turn of speed hard to believe - remembering that the two were practically considered equals.
I studied Seabiscuit for a public speaking exam when I was 8 or so and just he’d stayed in the back of my mind until today and I just. Feels. That horse <3 everyone said he was broken and he proved them wrong.
Maybe I need to start looking at the things I need to be grateful for instead of the the things that are wrong or missing. I need an attitude adjustment.
I had spin class tonight where I questioned why I even owned a bike? The spin instructor has a friend who rides with him he calls Seabiscuit- Like the movie, and the horse. A cyclist who fizzles at 60 miles.
My rides and spin class can all be summarized as “fizzled”. After a convo with the spin instructor it was determined I needed more endurance work. I don’t know what I need. I think if I went long and slow I could ride for a long time. But hard/fast/standing/sprinting = fizzled.
I’ve been disappointed with all my rides this week because my efforts were not transferred to the results. In fact I had a slow week. Maybe like swimming, the less I try, the faster I’ll go. Or maybe I need a break. It’s supposed to rain this weekend- so maybe I’ll get it.
I wish I could just run.
Grateful for sunsets
Grateful to have a bike.
Grateful for Xanax