Despite My Recent Emergency Appendectomy, I’m Live-Tweeting the Oscars for the Talkhouse

Writer-director Jonathan Lisecki will be sharing his unfiltered thoughts on the monochromatic awards show from his "death couch."

“We all dream in gold” is the tagline of the Oscar promotional campaign. Do we? What the fuck does that even mean? The only person I can think of who dreams in gold, judging from his design choices, is Donald Trump. Perhaps the people who created the sets for Dynasty in the ’80s dreamed in gold, but they have likely moved on. I guess I just don’t appreciate this nonsense slogan. I do understand how executives might dream in gold when they consider how an award might boost box office and profits for the corporations that employ them, or how the Academy might have wanted to change the color from the stark white that voters dreamed in when they filled out their nominating ballots. Despite my low-level irritation with Oscar this year, I accepted Talkhouse Film’s invitation to live-tweet the ceremony again.

Last year was a little more exciting — less because of the films being celebrated than because of the company I kept. I spent 2015’s ceremony tweeting in the middle of a fun party in the Hollywood Hills filled with the friends of a writing-directing team whose modestly budgeted independent film featured a nominated performance. It wasn’t the most extravagant party of all time, though I did have to walk by a Grammy on a pedestal to get to my tweeting location on the couch. There was something genuinely sweet about being with people who just wanted their friend’s film to be recognized. A very refined composer, in a moment of unbridled joy after that film did win, dove into the pool in her evening gown. That’s the kind of party you want to attend, where you can feel people rooting for someone they care about — people who know what an award like this can do for their friend’s future.

This year will be a little different. I had some pasta last Monday. I love my local Italian joint, which sits on the border of Los Feliz and Silver Lake. Whenever you go there, you always see friends who have fled New York for one reason or another. Or you see fabulous locals, whom I noticed far more when I first moved here. After you’ve been in Los Angeles for a few months you quickly go from, “Wow, that’s Flea,” “Oh look, Juno Temple is so pretty,” “Oh, awesome, Samantha Mathis from Pump Up the Volume likes pasta too,” to “When is Nigel Godrich going to finish his damn food and go produce a new Radiohead record so my table frees up?”

My dinner was delicious, but it left me feeling a little sickly. Over the course of the night, I woke up once every half hour or so in increasing amount of discomfort. By the time I was forced to get out of bed, the pain had localized in what I assumed to be my appendix area. I’ve seen enough Grey’s Anatomy episodes to be able to self-diagnose. As my husband rushed me to the emergency room, all I could think was, “Damn, I’m supposed to pitch a TV show tomorrow to the amazing Effie Brown.” I texted my friend with whom I’ve been developing this project, saying, “I’m getting my appendix out but I should be fine for the meeting tomorrow.”

I didn’t make my meeting. My appendix was shrieking like a Marco Rubio debate plant, singing a cover version of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” — i.e., dangerously close to bursting. I was rushed into surgery. Everything seems to have gone well. I am mostly fine now but not allowed to do certain things. I can lift our two svelte Abyssinian cats but not our full-figured Egyptian Mau who weighs over ten pounds. I am not allowed to drive and I don’t feel so comfortable standing for too long, so I won’t be going to any parties this year. I’ll just tweet from my death bed, which is actually a death couch, as I prefer to be in front of the TV watching the least mentally challenging shows while I recuperate: superhero yarns, MSNBC, the Shonda Rhimes oeuvre, and CNN. Don’t worry about me, though. I have spent the week easing myself back into posting to social media and so far it’s been going well. I will try not to strain or pop a stitch. The only other party attendees will be my husband and my cats. They supply all the glitz and glamour I need. Anyone who has viewed my many kitty photos on Facebook or Instagram can attest to that fact.

This is probably the best way for me to view this year’s ceremony. I don’t feel thrilled about many of the films this year. I don’t loathe any of them and I truly love Mad Maxine: Furiosa Road, but none of these narratives feel as fresh or important as something like Tangerine. Quite a few of the nominated films feel like they could have been made 20 to 40 years ago. And I have doubts that we will be talking about most of them in 10 years. As someone who truly believes in inclusive casting and crewing, I do feel let down by these nominations. Straight Outta Compton and Creed deserve to be in the Best Picture race. Michael B. Jordan and Jason Mitchell deserve to be among the acting nominees. Ryan Coogler should be up for Best Director, and while we are at it Ava DuVernay should have been nominated last year. If there weren’t two lead performances hiding out in the supporting actress category, perhaps Mya Taylor’s revelatory, bold work in Tangerine and Tessa Thompson’s lovely and genuinely supporting performance in Creed would be in the mix as well. Even though The Revenant is probably going to win Best Picture, I guess we can take some small solace in the fact that social-issue movies like Spotlight and The Big Short are frontrunners this year. At least those films feel like they are of this current world and time.

The controversy over which musicians get to perform their nominated songs has added to my lack of enthusiasm over this year’s ceremony. The genius transgender artist Anohni (lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons) and the opera singer Sumi Jo (singing music by David Lang) were cut from the show. My husband won’t be able to write another charming New Yorker piece about going to an awards show with Mr. Lang, as he did for the Golden Globes. And I won’t be able to watch the first nominated Trans performer in herstory sing during this global event. This particularly sucks for me because Anohni let me use her stunning, perfect cover of “Crazy in Love” in my film Gayby, and I owe her an eternal debt for that. She is a true artist and an amazing person. Look up her statement on why she chose not to attend the awards and you can truly experience something golden.

Until the Academy does better, I’ll be dreaming in disappointment.

Oh, who am I kidding? I dream in cat.

Update 2/29/2016: Here are some choice tweets from Lisecki’s Oscars takeover.

Independent Spirit Award-nominated writer/director/actor Jonathan Lisecki made his feature film debut with the romantic comedy Gayby (2012), adapted from the award-winning short film of the same title. He lives in New York and Los Angeles with his husband, New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonnynyc.