Movies

The Regina King ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ Opening Was The Coolest Thing The Oscars Have Ever Done

Things got weird, okay? I think we can all agree that things got weird. Harrison Ford was up there on stage pulling crumpled pieces of papers out of his pockets like someone looking for a coupon at the register in a diner, Daniel Kaluuya congratulated his parents on having sex, beloved Hollywood icon Glenn Close did Da Butt in front of God and Lil Rel Howery and everyone. And that’s before whatever happened at the end. What did happen at the end, exactly? It looked like everyone was banking on a Chadwick Boseman win and then things went sideways and we got a still frame of Anthony Hopkins and then a smash cut to Questlove saying goodnight. It was… weird. The only thing I thing we can agree on about all of it that Joaquin Phoenix is probably the single most perfect person to have up there on stage as things spiral out of control during a live broadcast. I’m not entirely sure he didn’t just say Hopkins’ name for the sole purpose of creating that chaos. Like I said, things got weird.

But let’s put that aside for now. Let’s focus on the parts that went well. Let’s focus on the Oscars at least trying something new and cool, moving away from the same old stuffy ballroom and orchestra spectacle we’ve seen for quite literally our entire lives. Let’s focus, specifically, on the opening few minutes, in which Regina King strutted into the ceremony with an Oscar in her hand while producer Steven Soderbergh gave the long single shot the full-on Ocean’s Eleven funky credits treatment. That was cool. That was so cool. A reasonable argument could be made — by me, among others — that it was the coolest thing that has ever happened in an Oscars ceremony. I mean, watch it again now.

Can you ever, at any point in your stupid life, even in your wildest Benadryl-addled dreams, picture yourself looking half as cool as Regina King looked in that opening? The whole thing gave the first half-hour or so of the show a fun little vibe, like maybe we were watching a heist movie instead of an awards show, like maybe Regina King was the main character of the festivities and we were supposed to keep an eye on her for the big twist that was coming later.

Case in point: It is my position that the funniest possible thing would have been if that Phoenix-Hopkins chaos at the end happened and then, while everyone in the room and watching at home was all scattered and trying to figure out what was going on, they cut to another long single shot of Regina King strutting out of the theater, but now while pushing an entire wheelbarrow full of stolen Oscars, like she set it all up to pull off Hollywood’s biggest heist. Cut it up with little shots of her laying the groundwork throughout the ceremony, bounce around in the timeline to show us how she did it, maybe a shot of her paying off the kitchen staff to sneak backstage or one of her winking at Glenn Close in a way that reveals the whole Da Butt fiasco was staged misdirection so she could swipe the trophies. It would have been, if nothing else, classic Soderbergh.

Even the way the credits appeared on the screen was cool, mostly because the style of the whole thing made me start to picture what an actual heist movie featuring each set of names on the screen would look like. Look at some of these combinations.

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We deserve this one. A heist movie starring Angela Bassett and Bong Joon Ho, also directed by Bong Joon Ho. I had no clue prior to last night that this is something I could want at all, and now I might die if I don’t have it in 12-18 months. Please hurry. But not until you look at this one, too.

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I have this theory I’m working on that Don Cheadle makes everything better. I haven’t baked it all the way through yet, but I’m close and I’ve yet to run into anything that disproves it. I bring this up now for two reasons: One, I got very excited when I saw his name pop up here because I was kind of hoping he’d show up in character as Basher from the Ocean’s movies to help Regina King steal the Oscars; and two, a heist movie starring Don Cheadle and Halle Berry would be an absolute blast.

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Two options here:

  • Brad Pitt is a career thief who is fresh out of the slammer and itching to pull one big score and get out of the game, and he has his sights set on the crooked billionaire private prison magnate Nelson Hoosegow, played by Cranston
  • Pitt and Cranston play dads who steal the Super Bowl trophy and hold it for ransom to get money to send their kids to college

Either or both are fine.

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I’m not sure if this movie would be any good but I think we should make it anyway and keep the camera rolling between takes just to capture whatever stilted and awkward conversations these two have on set. Something to consider, really.

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Hell yes.

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HELL YES.

In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I had mostly been joking throughout this “let’s do a heist movie with these people” bit, but now I am serious. These last two screencaps settled it. I cannot think of any movie I could possibly want more than a heist flick starring Riz Ahmed and Rita Moreno, except maybe a Fast & Furious movie where Riz Ahmed and Rita Moreno star as the villains that Dominic Toretto and crew heist something from. I am not a complicated man. Give me this and a pizza and I will be happy for hours.

Now, again, things went sideways in places after all of this happened. It was bound to happen, in hindsight. There were so many moving pieces, so many new things being flung against the wall, so many people and institutions that were rusty at all of this business after a year of sitting inside in sweatpants and slippers. I did appreciate the ambition of it all, though. Sometimes chaos breeds invention, and some of the moves Soderbergh and company tried are worth revisiting down the line somewhere, maybe. I liked the cocktail lounge set-up of it all, and I liked that the nominees were all paired off and seated at tables instead of crammed into a fancy high school assembly for three hours, if only because it looked like everyone was having fun little conversations all night and I like to picture my stars as charming and relaxed instead of crammed into crappy padded fold-down seats in rows of 40.

Not everything worked, of course, some things more hilariously so than others, but there were some keepers in there, to be sure. Mostly that opening. It would be perfectly fine with me if every Oscars telecast for the next 10 years opens with Regina King gliding through the lobby and up to the stage with a trophy in her hand. It would also be okay with me if she did make off with that wheelbarrow full of Oscars I was joking about earlier. Maybe that’s the big takeaway here. Let’s go ahead and trim the fat. Let’s just make an actual heist movie where Regina King plays a character who steals a wheelbarrow full of Oscars.

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It’s the perfect crime.

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