The Rundown: A Few Very Good (Bad) Ideas To Make The Oscars More Exciting

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — Just hear me out

The Oscars are lacking juice. The ceremony is this weekend and the buzz, at least what I’ve seen, is borderline non-existent, outside of small circles of Film Twitter that care a lot about these things. That’s a bummer. I love the Oscars. I love the big spectacle of it all. I love to see all the stars out looking fancy and I love to see the show and I love to have my own little favorites and fight about it.

But even I’m struggling to get jazzed about it this year. Lots of people have lots of bad ideas about how to make it all exciting again. Some people want to create whole new categories to give awards to big-budget action movies, in the hopes that your average Jimmy Comicbook at home will tune in if Spider-man might get a trophy. They’re trying out a thing this year where there are multiple hosts. Instagram influencers are going to be running around the red carpet. None of it is really all that ideal.

But if other people get to toss out bad ideas, then I should get to, too. I love bad ideas. I have lots of them. Just the other day I was telling someone that humans should start hibernating like bears. I think the warning track on baseball fields should be made of trampoline. I think all spoons should be soup spoons. I am a legitimately unwell person.

So… yeah. I can help here. Here are five very good (bad) ideas to fix the Oscars and/or make them more exciting, none of which are “Let the Muppets host,” both because I have pitched that before and because it is a good idea that I am extremely serious about. Okay. Here we go.

Hold the Oscars in a water park

Everyone loves a water park. We can have everyone chill out in a wave pool during the monologue. Nominees go to the tops of water slides and the winner gets to shoot down to collect their trophy, with the losers climbing back down the ladders. Lots of people have funnel cakes. Instead of a red carpet, we have people show up by floating down the lazy river.

The important thing here is that everyone is still in tuxedos and gowns. I will not waiver on this.

Give every nominee a knife as they enter and tell them there’s a loose tiger in the building

Okay. We won’t actually release a tiger. That’s dangerous. Both for the people in attendance and for the tiger. I don’t want to cut to commercial because Olivia Colman has just slashed a tiger’s throat and Nicole Kidman started crying. We don’t need that.

But we will tell them we’ve released a tiger. Just to keep everyone on their toes. We pump in a tiger growl every now and then, maybe a shadow or two with some lighting magic. I want to see stars giving acceptance speeches with a trophy in one hand and a knife in the other, all jumpy like “I’d like to thank mWHAT WAS THAT NOISE?” That would be fun.

I feel like at least one person would take this a little too seriously and start trying to find the tiger proactively. I feel like it would be Kristen Stewart and I feel like she would just want to find it to be friends. You can see her riding a tiger. Do not lie to me about this.

Let the hosts curse

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • A second ceremony, on a streaming service or premium cable channel
  • Hosted by Tracy Morgan and, like, Adele
  • No cue cards

Could work.

The Best Picture winner from the previous year keeps the title unless a new film from the current year defeats it

“And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to… wow. For the 21st consecutive year, it’s Gladiator.”

This would be fun. To be the champ, you have to beat the champ. Rules are rules.


I don’t know. Karaoke is fun. Make the nominees perform between each award. Spin a wheel and have them do whatever song comes up. Benedict Cumberbatch doing “Like a Prayer” by Madonna. Judi Dench doing “Purple Rain.” Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst performing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Javier Bardem doing “Suspicious Minds.” Denzel Washington doing “Lovefool” by The Cardigans. This is a good idea.

Please feel free to adopt any of all of these for the next ceremony. Combine them. Hold it in a water park and tell everyone a tiger is loose and make them sing. You would watch that. Everyone would watch that. Bingo bango, problem solved. I’m sorry and you are welcome.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Carrie Coon is the coolest

Carrie Coon rules. We’ve known this for a while now, which we’ll discuss more in a second, but we also have proof in the present. Proof, to be specific, like this tweet.

To be clear, what we have here is as follows: Carrie Coon, in full period regalia on the set of The Gilded Age, sitting on the floor, just wrecking a piece of pizza. I respect this a lot. Both the act of doing it all (please imagine how angry the costume designer would be if Carrie Coon had come to them after lunch with a massive pizza sauce stain on one of the frillier parts of this dress), but also just the element of deciding to post it. More celebrities should go on social media and post pictures of themselves housing pizza. Or anything.

Show me Jonathan Banks on the set of Better Call Saul wolfing down a meatball sub. Show me the entire cast of Euphoria, in costume, tearing through a bucket of crabs. This, to me, would be entertainment. Also, something that is entertainment to me: Carrie Coon dropping a modified “not so different” in this show, too, which I also learned this week. Great week for Carrie Coon.

Anyway, if you’re wondering if this is all leading up to me posting the thing from The Leftovers where her character got a Wu-Tang tattoo and then jumped on a trampoline with Regina King while one of my favorite Wu-Tang songs played, well, wonder no further. Look at this.


And hey, here’s this one, too.

The lessons here are as follows, to recap:

  • Carrie Coon is cool
  • Pizza is great
  • More shows should feature scenes where characters have fun in their backyards while songs I like play

Really hoping to see NoHo Hank throw a barbecue on the new season of Barry, just working a grill while listening to Paul’s Boutique. That would be fun.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Welcome to the snail chat


I have not seen Deep Water yet. I’m sorry. I will. I will. Or maybe I won’t. It’s all up in the air at this point. But I will read lots of things about it, especially if those things are about snails, which, I have learned, play a prominent part in the movie. That’s why it was nice that Entertainment Weekly wrote a whole article about the snails in the movie, complete with stories from the set and background and an interview with a man who is identified as “a snail trainer.” It gets good so fast. I mean, did you expect to read the phrase “handbag full of snails” today? I bet you did not. But the world is unpredictable like that, because you just did and are about to again.

The author of Deep Water, Patricia Highsmith, had a thing for snails.

She did. She was known for carrying around a handbag with a head of lettuce and a hundred snails in it. She would take it to parties and said because she needed some real company.

What do you think it is about snails?

There’s a simplicity to snails that I think appeals to people. It’s not that they’re not complex in their biology, because they can be. But they’re just a straightforward animal. There’s no guile about them. And in the book and in the movie, I hope this came through, the fidelity of these two snails…they were a foil for Ben and Ana’s characters. Even these dumb animals, these very simple animals, without even really brains, as you know, by definition, exhibited the kind of love and fidelity that these humans were seemingly incapable of. The draw of the snails, for Ben’s character, is that it’s almost like peering into a world that he desires and he can’t have.

Which is great. Love some Hollywood snail talk. But I hear you. You want to know how the big stars on this set — Affleck, de Armas — handled the snails. There’s great news on this front. The snail trainer has your inside information all lined up.

How did the actors feel about the snails?

Ben was fantastic to work with. He’s a great listener. And you can tell that when he does his scenes, he will take instructions. He understands them, and usually, he can nail it the first time. He was exceptionally good with my animals. We didn’t lose a single one.

What about Ana?

She did not have to fake her look of revulsion. I don’t know if she hated the snails, but she did not want to touch them. And I was trying to put her at ease. I said, “You know in Knives Out, you were working with Captain America. He’s a lot scarier than these animals.” She said, “I’m not scared of it, I just think they’re gross.” Despite being not okay with the snails, she did a great job too. And the director was just a delight to work with.

There are two points I want to make here before we end our discussion on snails in Hollywood. The first is that I would absolutely watch like a 10-minute behind the scenes thing about these two working with the snails, complete with Ana de Armas scrunching her face up into a disgusted smirk at the mere thought of them and Ben Affleck just casually holding a conversation while letting snails crawl up and down his forearms.

The second thing is that this snail trainer’s name is, I swear to God, Max Anton. Max Anton: Hollywood Snail Trainer. I don’t think you can fathom how much this information altered my week upon learning it. I might not be able to watch the movie at all now. I’ll just be thinking about Max Anton whenever I see the snails. This is a problem. For me.

This has been Snail Chat.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Let’s check in with Vin Diesel

Hey, I wonder what Vin Diesel has been up to latel-…

Good morning planet…

I know I haven’t posted in a minute, when people in the world suffer I tend to pull back from the shallow acts of social media. However, I know there are many of you who really sincerely wait to hear from me and to know where my state of mind lies. I am approaching the finale of the first saga… that is Fast. It is very intense, although god has brought such incredible talent to assist me in completing this mythology, I can’t help but to reminisce… you all have been a part of this journey. You all have been a part of this family. I can’t believe that universal studios is committed to a two part finale… their support and belief in this mythology surprises me and makes me smile. There are angels coming to this mythology that will make you all smile. Haha. I love you all… and I from the bottom of my soul, hope to make you proud.

Three notes here:

  • I wish I had one-tenth of the confidence it takes to open a social media post with “Good morning planet”
  • This post really teeters into “sorry but thank you” territory before veering back to Fast & Furious hype
  • I cannot wait to see what all of this means, especially the thing about “angels coming to this mythology,” considering Han’s death was depicted two separate times with two different spins on it and he still waltzed back into the action with salty snacks in hand in the ninth movie

I hope he literally drives a car to hell and fights the devil. It’s the natural conclusion.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I want to go to a steakhouse with Nicolas Cage

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Did you guys read the big Nicolas Cage profile in GQ yet? I hope so. It’s incredible, just littered with stories and explanations and discussions about, for example, why he made so many movies for a while and how he ended up so deeply in debt. He also goes through this whole thing about how he’s not crazy and then punctuates it all by saying, and I’m quoting him directly here, “My doctor says I have the liver of a 13-year-old choir boy, you know?” Fascinating, riveting stuff, straight through. I might read it again over lunch.

But I want to focus on one specific part that I don’t think has gotten enough attention in all of this. I want to focus on the knife thing. Please read these paragraphs at once.

“He’s deeply focused,” Unbearable Weight director Tom Gormican said. “He would elliptical from 3 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. every morning and read the rest of the script, and then send me a list of questions, thoughts, notes, and ideas for the day’s scene work.” The movie’s co-writer, Kevin Etten, called him “probably the hardest-working actor I’ve ever witnessed.”

“He goes to time-consuming depths, which you don’t see often as a director,” David Gordon Green said. “With him, it’s like, ‘What do you need, and what are you doing on Sunday? Let’s spend time and let’s talk about it.’ ” Green paused. “And he brings his own knife to the steak house, which I think is very cool. You go out to have a steak with Nick, and he unfolds this amazing hand-carved knife to be his cutlery.”

Okay. Okay. Prior to today, I had not really put a lot of thought into the kind of restaurant I would want to go to for a dinner with Nicolas Cage. If I had, I suspect it would have been some sort of hibachi situation. But now… now I must go to a steakhouse with Nicolas Cage. Any steakhouse. A fancy one, sure, fine, me and Nicolas Cage eating filet off of white tablecloths. But even an Outback will do.

Just imagine the scene. Play it all out in your head. Nicolas Cage sitting down and ordering a massive ribeye. Calling over the waiter and handing the confused teen his steak knife while saying “I won’t be needing this, my good man.” And then pulling out a jet-black case — I’m picturing the kind of case like a flute or saxophone comes in, lined with red felt — and producing the most beautiful knife you’ve ever seen. I bet it cost at least $4,000. I bet it has a snake on the handle. I bet he jams it into the table and lets it sit there standing straight up the whole time instead of laying it down next to his plate.

On second thought… I do not actually want to go to a steakhouse with Nicolas Cage. I’m having too much fun pretending. Can’t risk ruining all of this now. Safety first.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Nick:

My friend and I got into an argument recently and I figured you might be the best person to settle it. Here’s the issue: Who do you think makes a better lasagna, Joe Pesci or Danny DeVito?

I think it’s Pesci. I can see him in the kitchen being intense about chopping ingredients and layering the noodles. I don’t even think he has a recipe. I think he has made it so many times that he does it on the fly now and he doesn’t let anyone else in the kitchen.

My friend thinks it’s Danny DeVito. He says he can’t explain why but he’s sure of it. What do you think? Please tell me I’m right.

What a terrific email. Nick, thank you for this.

Unfortunately… I must side with your friend. His argument — rather, his complete lack of one — is just too convincing. I also like picturing Danny DeVito in the kitchen making a big pan of lasagna. There are no losers here, really, if I’m being honest about, except for all of us everywhere for not already having like 10 seasons of a Celebrity Cookoff show like this sitting on Netflix right now.

I am not joking. Please make this show.


To… uh… a mystery location!

Bidding has ended on an eBay auction for a diamond literally crafted out of ranch dressing – and a lucky person paid $12,550 for the honor of owning the stone.

Excuse me.

Hidden Valley Ranch hired a professional diamond maker to heat-blast its ranch dressing to 2,500 degrees and then crush the resulting charred dressing under 400 tons of pressure. Five months later, voila! The two-carat (carrot? It is for the salad, right?) round brilliant-cut diamond was placed in a 14k white gold band with the engraving HVR LVR: “Hidden Valley Ranch Lover.”

I suppose there are more important elements to this story that I should be focusing on (all of them), but right now I can’t stop thinking about a cowboy cop named Detective Ranch Diamond who moves to the big city and starts riding around on a horse to provide country-style justice to a collection of organized crime figures.

I don’t know why I’m like this. It’s not a bit. Having an actual conversation with me is impossible.

With an opening bid of $310, this swank and unusual diamond ring was sold to raise funds for the charity Feeding America, which helps millions of people having trouble funding their grocery bills. Feeding America has a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries; they serve an incredible one out of seven Americans.

I mean… good? I love raising money for charity. That part rules. I just kind of wish I had been there when some guy pitched “what if we make a diamond out of ranch dressing?” at the meeting. It’s funnier if you assume he didn’t even know it was possible. I’m going to be thinking about this a lot.

It’s unknown whether the ring was purchased for use in a marriage proposal, but Hidden Valley Ranch timed the auction to close on March 17, in time for the winner to receive the ring by March 20 – National Proposal Day.

Do yourself a favor here…

Think really hard about what this wedding would look like. The one between the very nice woman and the man who proposed to her with a diamond made out of ranch dressing.

The nice part here is that there are no wrong answers. Anything is possible.