By all accounts, if you’ve been paying attention, it’s been a brutal year all around. Brutal in government, in mass shootings, in wildfires, in the extinction rate, in the rising sea level, in the melting ice sheets, and in the bizarre new ritual of public stoning a piece of fresh meat every day online. Twenty years ago, I was a film school drop out who’d left Columbia University on a scholarship and had found a new way of communicating with people on “the internet,” which was not yet the “world wide web” and was not yet the blogs, which was not yet Facebook and Twitter. Once people figured out that the web could be a place to make ideas happen, people like me took a deep breath and a big risk. I had just given birth to a baby girl and was living in a guest house in Van Nuys when I got the idea for Oscarwatch, a site that would track the Oscar race from start to finish — not to shape it, but to crack the code. Why did people believe the greatest films ever made were great if they never won Oscars? Why didn’t the Oscars honor the greatest films ever made? I wanted to know everything.
Twenty years later, the Oscar race is, in some respects, the same as it always was, only the people — as my friend David Carr used to say — with their faces pressed up against the glass, now stand on the other side. A scan through most tweets of people who cover film or the Oscar race will find thinly veiled subtweets taking apart one another — competition has always been fierce and, no, people have never been nice. Even nice people aren’t nice when money and power are at stake. Most of them do not like women who have strong opinions. Oh sure, they pretend they do, but really want they want is for you to listen to them, to support them, to learn from them. With a scant few notable exceptions, this is true across the board.
But there are angels here, my friends. Angels I have somehow become lucky enough to cross paths with. One of those is Awards Daily’s actual spine, Ryan Adams. A health scare put Ryan in a precarious position throughout this year, but he was still there 100% keeping a watchful eye on the site, helping me edit and rephrase. I don’t know how I got so lucky that Ryan walked through the door all over those years ago, but if you’re asking me what I’m thankful for today? He is one of those things.
Marshall Flores is also a friend I do not deserve. From texting me that fateful night, “Moonlight won!” (and then frantically calling me to see if I was still there at the Dolby), to keeping me informed on the Senate race in Arizona, to caring about asking after my dad when he was dying last year, Marshall is among the blessings, and I count him as a true friend.
And then there’s Jazz Tangcay, who seemed to appear out of nowhere, to breathe fresh air in a stagnate room of tired and bitter people like me. A bright light full of optimism and love of movies who dragged Awards Daily kicking and screaming into the modern world. Jazz is everywhere, making it seem like Awards Daily isn’t a crowds-phobic misanthrope but rather an engaged, friendly, social advocate. Jazz really could melt even the coldest of cynical hearts and we’re so lucky to have her. The other night we were watching Vice and Tom O’Neil was a row over and I said to Jazz I wish I could say hi to him. So she texted someone sitting next to Tom. That’s the kind of thing Jazz will do — just because.
Speaking of cold, cynical hearts, ADTV editor Clarence Moye… just kidding. He doesn’t have a cold, cynical heart — in fact, he is curious about haunted places like Savannah. Clarence and the AwardDaily TV crew — Megan, Joey, Jalal, Robin, and David — have brought to life a whole new part of the site that hums with activity and insight. Who’da thunk it all those years ago? Math wizard movielover Dr. Rob who each year helps us see inside the preferential ballot. The intrepid Paddy Mulholland whose columns are the stuff of legend, international wunderkind Zhuo-Ning Su film-critic-at-large.
Mostly, though, I am grateful for the kindness of strangers, she says before being carted off to the mental hospital. But really, I mean that sincerely. Every year I get letters from you readers, some of whom have been coming here for all of these twenty years. I can’t always answer them all, but I do read them. It’s always the one thing, other than being a mother, I can return to during those dark nights of the soul that reminds me that reaching people, moving them, inspiring them is never a waste of time, not when we have such little of it.
I’m a lucky girl in so many ways, even if I do complain too much about too many things. I do tend to always see the creeps and forget to acknowledge the angels. That is what I want to do today. I am not sure how much longer we will be engaged in the same topic of conversation, but I can say that it’s been swell, that part of it, knowing those of you out there in the dark, writing for you, hearing back from you. Happy Thanksgiving dear readers and AD crew.