We Americans love our movies. We also love television shows ABOUT the movies.
Most of all, we love anything that provides us with a two-hour respite from the incessant nonsense associated with modern life and politics in America.
This brings me to tonight’s 89th annual Academy Awards. This show is projected to be viewed by nearly 40 million people in the United States. While the show is occasionally entertaining, the event is primarily an overblown, self-congratulatory, and ridiculous celebration of narcissism.
Since we are recognizing narcissism, and few people embody this trait better than our current president, I thought it would be fun to provide you with an overview of this year’s nominations for Best Picture using President Donald Trump and his cast of characters as central figures in each of the movies.
Welcome to the Oscars – Trumpian style!
ARRIVAL: When Donald Trump and a group of mysterious people (Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, etc.) begin to appear around the America in June 2015, a linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. After authorities intercept a transmission from Donald Trump in a Washington post article – in response to a question about racial tensions in Baltimore – Ms. Banks was asked to translate the following words from our president into understandable English.
“Well, number one, I’d create economic zones. I’d create incentives for companies to move in. I’d work on spirit because the spirit is so low, it’s incredible, the unemployment, you look at unemployment for black youth in this country, African-American youth, is 58-59 percent. It’s unthinkable. Unemployment for African-Americans – not youth, but African-Americans – is very high. And I would create in the inner cities, which is what I really do best, that’s why when I open a building and I show you it’s way ahead of schedule, under budget and everything else—I think it was the Rite Aid store, the store in Baltimore it took them 20 years to get it built, one store, and then it burned down in one night—we have to create incentives for people to love what they are doing, and to make money. And to create, you know, to really create a better life for themselves.”
After hours of careful analysis, Ms. Banks responded: “I got nothing.”
FENCES: A second generation, working-class Mexican-American father tries to raise his family in Texas 2017. After taking a trip to care for his ailing mother in Mexico, he attempts to return to his wife and children in Texas. Upon reaching the border at Laredo, Texas, the man is confronted by a YUGE wall – a big beautiful wall – paid for by the Mexican government, and is forced to return. However, a few days later, Juan simply catches a ride in northbound semi-truck and is quickly reunited with his family.
HELL OR HIGH WATER: A twice divorced father and his three adult children resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s fortune by getting the father elected to high office where he can personally influence the federal tax code to benefit his family and other wealthy Americans. Critics unwisely dismissed the proposed plot of this movie as “pure fantasy” and said that the characters were too odd and detached to ever connect with the American viewer.
HACKSAW RIDGE: Secretary of Defense and Marine Corps General James Mattis leads a cast of hard-charging generals who are able to assume positions of power in American government without firing a shot. Toward the end of the movie, when giving the president advice on a critical military operation, Mattis says, “Remember – the most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.” Spoiler alert – the operation ends poorly.
HIDDEN FIGURES: An inspirational, family-friendly historical drama about a rich, white woman whose work at the Department of Education was instrumental in putting public schools out of business in America. The movie includes flashbacks to her decades of work as a shadowy figure conspiring with her husband to influence political elections with hundreds of millions of dollars of dark money. Don’t bring your young children to this one. The ending is rather frightening.
LA LA LAND: A bumbling, nonsensical, yet highly ambitious political neophyte is elected to office on a platform of making “America Great Again.” Soon after he’s elected to office, American’s quietly reflect to each other, “Oh, God, what the hell have we done?” There is a lot of song and dance in this flick, much of which makes no sense. There are also a few scenes where you will want to avert your eyes and others when you may feel an urge to submerge your entire head in acid. Just breath and try to stay calm.
No one is really sure how this movie will end, but many Americans are already hoping that there will NOT be a sequel.
LION: This is a movie based on potentially true events that we hope never occur. A five-year-old Syrian refugee boy and his family are separated by a horrific civil war, in part influenced by well-meaning yet poorly conceived American foreign policy. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia after his family’s request for asylum in America was denied. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family and discovers they were killed by Assad military forces shortly after his departure. Sorry, there’s no happy ending here.
MOONLIGHT: A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young white man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhoods of Barrington, Rhode Island. In April 1993, he wrote a letter to the student paper, The College Voice, urging that new campus anti-smoking rules not alter existing accommodations for smoking during examinations, then submitted an angry complaint after they rendered his byline as “Sean Sphincter”, for which he received further ribbing from the campus satirical publication Blats. The incident was later cited as the beginning of his “contentious” relationship with the media. This is a fun movie with lots of laughs.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA: The movie begins in a fishing village, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. The main character, Donald Trump, is on a small boat with an American voter and is teasing him, asking who he would rather hang out with him or “Crooked Hillary.” The voter jokes, “Well, of course, you – Uncle Don.”
After an unspeakable tragedy in early November, the president must then come to grips with the reality that he has somehow become the person occupying the most powerful office in the world. He complains that the boat he inherited has a bad motor and needs a lot of costly repairs. Yet he reminds us that God made him the “best boat-fixer in the history of the world” so there’s nothing to worry about.
The president then moves to the White House, leaving his wife and youngest child in their drab New York penthouse.
The film ends with President Trump and the American voter on the boat four years later, on the wavy sea, just like the opening of the film. We’re not sure what happens after that.
We’re praying for a happy ending.
Enjoy the Oscars!