Something is really sticking in my craw about the 2018 Oscars. It’s been bugging me all day. No, it’s not that Lady Bird got shut out, although I’m not exactly tickled about that either, in large part because it was very good and in lesser part because it was one of the two Best Picture nominees I actually saw and I wanted to be able to say things like “Did you see Lady Bird won a bunch of awards? It was so good” in conversation to impress people. (Although, in its own way, being the “Umm Lady Bird should have won” guy is also kind of fun.) But no. That I can deal with. My problem is that no one really tried to win that Jet Ski.
I mean, it was a free Jet Ski. Who turns down a free Jet Ski? Come on. All anyone had to do was give the shortest acceptance speech of the night, which ended up belonging to Phantom Thread costume designer Mark Bridges, whose speech clocked in at an even 30 seconds. You could give a good acceptance speech in under 20 seconds, easy. “Wow, this is amazing. Wow. I’d like to thank everyone out there who made this possible. You can all have a ride on my Jet Ski. Thanks.” Boom. Done. How was that so hard? Joe Pesci gave a three-second speech at the 1991 Oscars and there wasn’t even a recreational water vehicle on the line. We should give it to him retroactively.
The best case scenario would have been one big star making a blatant play for the Jet Ski early in the ceremony — say, Sam Rockwell — and then others piling on and trying to beat him. Picture that chaos. Picture, like, Allison Janney just walking up there, saying “Thanks,” then grabbing her trophy and walking off. Picture Guillermo del Toro one-upping her by nodding and smiling and exiting the stage without uttering a word. Picture all of it getting Kobe Bryant’s competitive juices flowing again to the point that he refuses to even accept the award on-stage, scoring a ruthless 0.0 time. It’s all anyone would be talking about for days. We’d refer to it, forever, as the Jet Ski Oscars. I would have liked that.
Of course, it was never meant to be. This was a big year for the Oscars for a lot of very serious and important reasons. A lot of people had a lot of things to say and losing all of that — asking them to sacrifice their moment for a silly gag to win a prize many of them could buy with cash today if they really wanted it that badly — would have cheapened the whole thing, probably. Jordan Peele’s speech was really cool because you could see the genuine excitement in his face while he was giving it. Frances McDormand gave a powerful speech that opened with a shout out to a teen snowboard prodigy. I have no complaints about either of those things happening. I just wish someone, at some point in the festivities, had really gone all out to win that Jet Ski. Anyone.
You know what would have been the best? I’ll tell you. The best would have been if there was a career achievement award given out last night. Let’s say it went to… oh, I don’t know… let’s say Martin Scorsese. And the entire night is about what a treasure he’s been and how his films have been groundbreaking and had staying power. The whole deal.
And the award is introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio, who struts out and gives a long speech about filmmaking and the power of art and how “Marty” — lots of people dropping the “Marty” throughout the night — exemplified everything that’s right about film. And then he tosses it to a five-minute clip package of career highlights. Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, all of it. The package ends and Scorsese walks out from backstage. Wild applause. Just huge. A 90-second standing ovation, minimum. And then, as the crowd settles back into their seats, Martin Scorsese — who can give you a 20-minute answer that references five silent film directors to a question like “What did you think of Minions?” — leans into the microphone and just says “I really want that Jet Ski.”
Then, poof. He’s gone.
That would have been fun.