Intersections – an Oscar for Billy Zane
By Nicki Salcedo
Every year my sisters and I go to see one Oscar-nominated movie together. We bring our husbands. We debate the films in advance. We each refuse to see some of the movies, and eventually we settle on a movie we all agree on.
I am woefully unaware of current movies and TV shows. This is good because when I go to the movies, I like not knowing about what I’m going to see. Some titles give it away. “Lincoln” or “Twelve Years a Slave.” Okay. I get it. But this weekend our pick was “Still Alice.”
They tricked me. At first, the plan was to have coffee with my sisters.
“Let’s go to the movies,” my oldest sister suggested. Then she mentioned our husbands, and I panicked.
“Is ‘Still Alice’ our Oscar movie?” I asked. I didn’t have any Kleenex. I wasn’t ready. But I went. I cried. I wiped my two hours’ worth of tears on my long sleeves. Thank goodness it’s winter.
I love Julianne Moore something awful. She is lovely and accessible. They still owe her an Oscar for her performance in “The Hours.” Another beautiful Oscar-quality movie that I loved and will not see again.
I usually only see one movie a year that is intended for adults. The rest of the time I’m in movies like “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” where my eyes are burned by horrible characters, and my ears are filled with insipid dialogue. I told you “Fifty Shades of Grey” was not for me. No hate there. But I hated “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” with every ounce of my being. There is no word in your language for how much I despise that film. I might not have cried on the outside during that movie, but believe me, I was crying on the inside.
Grown-up movies are supposed to save me, but then why are all Oscar movies so depressing?
Over the years I’ve seen many Oscar movies with my sisters. “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Inception,” “Lincoln,” “American Hustle,” “Still Alice.” I had high hopes for “Inception.” It did not make me cry. Handsome actors, mind travel, explosions. It should have been perfect, but it wasn’t for me. Damn you, Leo DiCaprio! You lie.
I love seeing movies in the movie theater. I like the darkness and the camaraderie of strangers when the movie elicits a dramatic response from the audience. I like the fact that you can’t pause or replay a scene. You just have to catch the action the first time.
I have many favorite movies. Silly movies. Intellectual movies. Foreign films. Why do Oscar movies make me mad? They are always about someone who is dying, mentally or physically challenged, abused, or a prostitute. You can’t win an Oscar if you tell a story about happy people.
I encourage you to see “Moonstruck” for my favorite didn’t-win-an-Oscar movie. “Moonstruck” is the only romantic comedy I’ve ever loved. I loved the characters and family dynamics and romance and humor. Maybe I cried a little, but they were happy tears.
I encourage you to see “Zoolander” for my favorite Oscar-didn’t-give-this-a-chance movie. I watched “Zoolander” every day for the forty weeks that I was pregnant with my first child. I was morning-sick all day, every day for nine months.
“Zoolander” saved my life every day.
I can’t explain why this specific movie calmed my nightly nausea. It did. It is the only movie I have seen more than two hundred times.
I often speak lines of dialogue from “Zoolander,” forgetting that they don’t make sense in the real world.
When my kids argue I’ll say, “Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude.” My kids don’t even know who Billy Zane is. I do. I met him once years ago, and he was a cool dude. Billy Zane has never won an Oscar, but I’d give him one for his brief appearance in “Zoolander.” He made me laugh. He made me smile.
His biography barely mentions “Zoolander,” but instead lists movies like “Dead Calm.” I saw that. The title lets you know how happy that movie is going to be. His big Oscar-worthy credit is the movie “Titanic.” You know a movie called “Titanic” is not going to be happy. Thank you Leo DiCaprio for screwing with my mind in “Inception” and “Titanic.”
My sister is a big movie fan who sees everything. “Selma.” “Birdman.” She hardly misses an Oscar picture. Her kids are older. She can do this. After watching “Still Alice,” I turned to her.
“I’ve been wanting to see ‘The Imitation Game’ with Benedict Cumberbatch. That should be a happy movie,” I said.
My sister stared at me blankly. “It’s about the war and a scientist who is later persecuted. Excellent movie. Maybe the best movie this year. But I’m not sure that it’s happy.”
Of course it isn’t happy. Oscar movie. What was I thinking? I better get my Kleenex and go see it. I should add a dash of “Selma” when I’m done. Because I will need more crying.
Good thing I like crying.
I hope that Julianne Moore will win an Oscar. Maybe she can dedicate it to my friend Billy Zane. He is a cool dude.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.