By Paul Rhodes, publisher and editor
It was a powerful night for me Sunday as I watched the Oscars, carrying with me a renewed enthusiasm for the movies that I hadn’t had since before the COVID Pandemic.
Yep. That long. And it felt good to be back.
For the first time since 2019, Kim and I carefully and methodically spent the past couple of months watching all of the Oscar-nominated films that were up for Best Picture this year. Some we had seen just by default, over the course of streaming movies during 2022.
But then, following the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees, something stirred within us that had been severely tamped down over the course of the pandemic. We, like much of the world, felt like we had to shun movie theaters for the better part of three years.
What a shame.
For Kim and I, going to the movies was a big part of our lives. We would go see all kinds of films, all of the time, everywhere we went. If a weekend was upon us and we had a little free time, we went to the movies. Wednesday evening was date night, and more often than not, we would go see a movie. When we traveled, we would go see a movie that was on our “must see” list.
You get the picture – or in this case, motion picture.
And with that thirst for films, we always participated in the frenzied buildup to the Oscars. We made sure that we had at least seen every nominee for Best Picture, as well as most of the films featuring Best and Supporting Actors and Actresses, and yes…even the Oscar-nominated shorts and documentaries.
When the pandemic hit, we instantly had to stop going to the movies. We had to learn how to stream. And then, adding insult to injury, the film industry had to all but shut down, and eventually even Family Video, our “go to” movie rental source, had to shut down after sustaining more of a hit than it could handle.
2020 and 2021 were sad, sad years for movie lovers. But now, I can honestly say that the rebirth of the movie industry is happening.
Both Kim and I shed some tears Sunday as the Oscars got rolling and Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of a beleaguered husband and father in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” This fantastical, crazy, weird – and heartwarming – science fiction movie instantly won Kim and I over when we watched it, and we were all but sure it would win best picture.
And it did. It also won Oscars for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and – as I had already mentioned – Best Supporting Actor.
Quan and his other winning cast members from “Everything” were all deserving of their wins, and Quan’s acceptance of his Oscar was a tear-jerking show stopper.
At age 51, Quan is best remembered as the young Asian sidekick to Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Short Round, as he was called in that movie, got to hug Ford when he announced “Everything” as the winner of Oscar’s biggest prize Sunday night.
Ke Huy Quan’s actual childhood was more dramatic than most movies. Born in Vietnam in 1971, the future child star fled the war-torn country with his family when he was only 7 years old.
Quan escaped to Hong Kong with his father and six siblings, while his mother went to Malaysia. He didn’t see her again for more than a year, until the whole family reunited in Los Angeles in 1979.
On a fluke, Quan went to a casting call with his brother, was spotted by director Steven Speilburg, and eventually was picked to play Short Round.
Through his ever-flowing tears Sunday night, Quan talked about almost giving up on his acting career after being a child star. In the end, he said, it was worth the wait to have this new opportunity turn out so well.
It was nearly as emotional just minutes later when Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Supporting Actress for the same film, in which she portrayed a ruthless IRS tax agent. It was her first Oscar win in a career spanning five decades, and she acknowledged how her family, her colleagues around her, and yes – even the world of movie fans – all shared in her Oscar win.
Oscar night made me proud to be a cinema fan, and now that Kim and I can more comfortably get back to watching films in a movie theater, we’ll keep coming back. We’ve missed it, and going to the theater recently to see one of the Best Picture nominees just drove that point home.
And the winner is…us.