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You now have no more excuses for not seeing the Oscar nominees
David Lee / NetflixThis is a preview of our pop culture newsletter, The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by Kevin Fallon, a veteran entertainment reporter. To get the full newsletter in your inbox every week, sign up here. This week: Cher and her lonely elephant are all of us. Why don’t you check out the Oscar nominees? Nothing on TV is better than top chef. A TV moment I’ll never stop thinking about. Who Goldberg, who now presides over my conscience. Why are you still not seeing the Oscar nominees? Sometimes even a Pavlovian answer can make you sound like an idiot. This year, like every year, it was brought up in conversations with a lot of people I know, people who follow me on social media, and just people in general who are the Oscars – this Sunday indeed. It’s big business! It’s the Oscars! Even now! And this year, like every year, these people have proudly – smugly even, like it’s something to brag about – something like, “Who cares?” I haven’t seen any of the films anyway. “Sometimes in protest against the idea that the nominated films are too niche and don’t appeal to mainstream moviegoers. Historically, that was fair criticism. Often times they are either limited edition films or only in theaters in the run-up to Oscar night, and it is not possible for the average film fan to see them. But that’s just not true this year. Because you can do it. For the first time in my life, you can see pretty much every candidate before the Oscars – and have been for weeks, in some cases months. If availability and accessibility have always been your concern, why are you still not nomad land likely to win it all? It’s on Hulu, as is Andra Day’s Best Actress Nominated Performance in the US against Billie Holiday and the sensational nomination for Best International Feature Film and Best Director for another round. The Chicago 7 trial, Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Hillbilly Elegy, and Pieces of a Woman, all ready for a series of Best Picture and Acting awards, are all on Netflix. Instead, watch them all (check out Netflix’s current top 10 list), a movie called Synchronic and Melissa McCarthy’s least fun movie in years, Thunder Force. If you have Prime Video, for free with your Amazon Prime account, you can watch the multi-nominees Sound of Metal, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and One Night in Miami Messiah, the Father, Minari and the Promising Young Woman can from home if necessary from being borrowed on video on demand. Sure, some people might not want to pay $ 19.99 to watch Anthony Hopkins for dementia, but the option is actually there! Handout I say this because, anecdotally, the same people who seem curious about this year’s Oscar nominees are still going back to the old ridicule, “Well, I haven’t seen them …” It’s one thing not to be interested watching these films – a perfectly good and separate matter – and I’m not arguing one way or another about whether the Oscars are still important. (The latter is certainly the case when the average American film buff can watch every nominated film from their home and still doesn’t.) This is the worst “well, actually …” rant I’ve ever done, something that is not so important to me. But for those of you who keep telling me that you haven’t “seen” this year’s Oscar nominees: “Well, actually,” you can. It’s a little disappointing too. It could have been fun at least once if the majority of people had seen the movies and invested in the races instead of just seeing one actress from a movie you will never see beat another. That means you still have time! Stream some competitors. Just not shortcomings. Please God, never look at faults. I would die for everyone on top chef. An unfortunate emotional consequence of my inexplicable instinct to watch every single cooking contest series on television is the surprising (or, let’s be honest, not) frequency with which I end up crying. One restaurant owner of diners, drive-ins, and dives, the one special telling moving story about his trip to America as he demonstrates how they make their locally famous pierogies? Tears. A kid at the Kids Baking Championship can’t control their emotions because they’re so upset that they have gratinated their cake? Devastated. After an episode of Chopped with Cafeteria Ladies from Rural Schools, I had to take a long, moody walk along the river and listen to Joni Mitchell while I looked away and thought about humanity. via Twitter That’s all to say there’s a low bar, but I’m still shocked at how poignant and entertaining Top Chef’s new season has been. In its 18th season, the series is still the gold standard – and most exciting – culinary competition on television. That’s no mean feat considering how reliably other veteran reality shows (from American Idol to Dancing With the Stars) have plummeted in desperate attempts to maintain relevance and enthusiasm. Top Chef locked away the bells and whistles of reality TV I’ve been trying to snatch myself up for the past few years. Instead, it has enriched each new season with more culture and connections between emotions and food, drawing on its own legacy as the classiest show in the genre. The recent season in Portland sheds light on the plight of chefs and restaurant workers during COVID. Their devastation and fear, but also their relief and joy at proving themselves and being able to cook again, pulsate through every episode. The bosses are open about how badly the shutdown has hit their psyche, and some speak openly about the alcohol addictions they have developed. But they also cook with more passion than I’ve ever seen on the show; It is clear how high the stake is. The season is a sharp reminder of everything that has been lost, but also of how much we will have to return to when this is over. The biggest compliment for the kind of show Top Chef has put together over the years is how naturally these conversations go with it. And not just COVID. There’s talk of Black Lives Matter – protests are right outside the set at the time of filming – and how overdue American food culture is to take into account the influence of the African diaspora, the wonderful theme of last week’s episode. At a time when reality TV seems more content than ever with background noise, Top Chef urges you to pay attention. This is in stark contrast to the other reality series I’m getting into right now: Bravos Below Deck franchise. The best thing about these shows is how absolutely, really, very little you have to pay attention to everything that’s going on and still enjoy it. I caught up with Below Deck: Sailing Yacht this week, and every time someone mentioned a character’s name, I had no idea who they were talking about. Still, I had just watched three episodes happily in a row. All of this means that I have really enjoyed and moved this season of top chefs so far. There are only a few more episodes left, but I’m sad when it will be time to pack up our knives and go. I’m going to tell my grandchildren about that Bernadette Peters moment, unless you see Zoey’s extraordinary playlist on NBC you’re missing a gem of a series. It’s one of the most bizarre things on TV right now in every way as it moves through harrowing heartache and wide comedy while singing and dancing to popular songs. Handout In the last episode, Bernadette Peters sang and danced drunk to Sia’s “Cheap Thrills”. The Broadway veteran bounces around the kitchen as lively as ever, as if Thumbelina were throwing back a shot from Tito, and then decided to dance over some lily pad and take a break at one point to drink more red wine. Bernadette Peters buckles up “I have no money, I have no money, but I have you, baby …” I’ve never been so excited. It’s an iconic moment of television and I won’t rest until every person alive speaks about it. (Check it out here.) Whoopi, ForeverSome decoration news: I decided to have this photo of Whoopi Goldberg from her recent Variety cover story – where I imagine her saying wordlessly, “Kevin, think about yours Decisions … ”- papered over my wall. I need the memory Handout What To See This Week: A Black Lady Sketch Show: A Serotonin Comedy If We Really Need It. (Friday on HBO) The big shot with Bethenny Frankel: That I will follow Bethenny to the end of the world is my personal cross. (Sunday on HBO Max) Romeo and Juliet: The Crown’s sexy Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) stars in a shortened, updated version of the Shakespeare play, one of the Mad Libs I like the most. (Friday on PBS) What to Skip This Week: Mortal Kombat: My mom didn’t let me play the video games because they were too violent so I have no relationship with them. (Friday in theaters and HBO Max) Read more on The Daily Beast. Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.