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Crude Observations

And the winner is…

Well, this week is going to mark a first of sorts for this blog – I’m going to put a new tome in this writer’s oeuvre and finally acknowledge an event that is universally loved by seemingly everyone I have ever known and, let’s be honest here, everybody else. I’m talking about the Academy Awards of course, the Oscars. The big night where the beautiful and smart people in Hollywood get together and celebrate themselves by talking about themselves and giving prizes to each other, all in the hopes that they will get noticed, either while they are preening on the red carpet or at an after-party so they can, of course, talk about themselves some more and how awesome they are.

 

Come to think of it, maybe the Oscars aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In fact, it is probably the single most self-absorbed night of the year in any industry. Even more annoying than Davos and more self-righteous than an environmental summit or Liberal Party Cabinet retreat. Hard to believe I used to get together with friends to watch these awards and sit on the edge of my seat desperately hoping that my favourite movie would win Best Sound Design for a Movie Adapted from a Kleenex Commercial or hanging on every word uttered in an acceptance speech by such intellectual luminaries as Sally Field (“you really like me!”) or James Cameron (“king of the world!”).

 

In all reality, I probably won’t watch this year’s weird combination of live and zoomed participation, as I don’t really need to know what Tom Hanks’s living room looks like nor do I care to watch a virtual red carpet. Never mind that the proliferation of self-indulgent arty movies in the nominating categories has made the entire event an exercise in cinematic futility for pretty much anyone except the self-congratulatory “members” of the Academy who clearly get compensated for sitting through a lot of the unwatchable nominated movies.

 

That’s right. The Academy Awards, the Oscars, have been dead to me since they jumped the shark in 1996 by not inviting back the most glorious host in Oscars history – David Letterman (“Oprah. Uma.”).

 

So clearly I am not much of a fan anymore. At least of this particular incarnation of the Oscars. That doesn’t mean that I can’t exploit the awards for personal gain. And that’s because earlier this week the real Academy Awards were held and I had the pleasure of attending the ceremonies in person (no virtual garbage for these babies!) and I am pleased to report that it was a rip-roaring success.

 

What Oscars you say? Why the Energy and Other Stuff Oscars of course. Which strangely has many of the same categories as the actual Academy Awards, just with a bunch of surprising nominees, and winners!

 

As a VIP attendee I was privy to the whole event and below is my review. I’ll skip the boring awards of course. No one really cares about Best Drilling Rig or Best Performance by Pump Jack in Inclement Weather. Those get handed out separately at the nerd show.

 

A Night to Remember

 

Imagine my excitement when I received my formal invitation to attend this exclusive event in person, at a secret location. My VIP ticket arrived by UberEats earlier this week with a swag package that I ripped open as soon as I got home. Most times, the swag bag is reserved for nominees and presenters (I missed out on that honour) so actually receiving one myself was an early highlight of what was sure to be a special evening.

 

The contents were of course mostly energy themed and included the following:

 

  • A Tupperware container filled with bitumen
  • An autographed picture of Jason Kenney in a cowboy hat
  • 10 original Encana share certificates
  • The deed to an orphaned well in the Lloydminster area
  • A fairly sizeable lump of coal (my plan is to put it under my mattress and hopefully make a diamond!)
  • Tickets to an NHL Playoff game* of my choice
  • An $834 carbon tax rebate cheque signed by Justin Trudeau
  • A corporate bond in a Texas based LTO producer. I suspect this is more tongue in cheek than anything, no value here.
  • A CD compilation of Greta Thunberg’s best speeches.
  • A solar panel
  • 1 Dogecoin

 

*Apparently my choice has to Toronto. Hard pass.

 

Pretty exciting stuff if I may say so myself.

 

As the day arrived, I found myself strangely filled with a nervous energy I hadn’t felt in a long time. Was it butterflies at the prospect of meeting so many of the luminaries of the energy sector? Maybe it was trepidation at attending an in-person event after all this time of isolation and virtual cocktail hours. Not wanting to be late, I hopped into my as-yet not repaired truck, stopped at a drive-thru to pick up some lunch (Harvey’s makes a hamburger a beautiful thing) and punched in the GPS code for the secret event location – hmm, a three-hour drive? That’s gotta be near Edmonton?

 

As I arrived at the location, I noticed several cars with out of province licence plates (Quebec and Ontario) and realized when I saw the fencing around the building that I was at the Grace Life Church that has been in the news lately. Fortunately, although the building was clearly closed, a friendly Alberta Police Force constable was there to direct me back down the highway to a hastily set up outdoor structure where clearly there was some action because there was a nice long red carpet set up as well as some of those Klieg lights that look so cool in movies and televised awards shows.

 

I tossed my keys to a valet (well I thought he was a valet) and headed up the red carpet to the tent, fighting my way through the surprisingly large continent of paparazzi falling all over themselves to interview an impressive assemblage of energy related luminaries including, among others Gwyn Morgan, Jason Kenney, MBS, Max, John Kerry, Vlad Putin, Andrew Leach, Rick Perry, Leo DiCaprio, some guy named Fracslap and Neil Young.

 

By the time I got to my seat the show was just getting underway and this year’s host, the equably voluble Rex Murphy was doing some Billy Crystalesque mashup soong and dance number introducing this year’s Best Picture nominees, which will likely give me nightmares until the day I die and then stay with me in the afterlife.

 

But before we get there we have to get some of the lesser major awards out of the way. Given the length of the show and the mind-numbing boringness of the speeches, I am going to spare everyone the blow by blow narrative and just summarize them by category, winner and notable moments if any happen.

 

Best Supporting Actress for the Environment.

 

This year’s two favourites were Greta Thunberg for ongoing student strike and an old standby, Jane Fonda, nominated for hopping in a private jet to fly to Michigan to protest a pipeline she knows nothing about. It should come as no surprise that Greta won this one. You may not agree with her but at least she’s not a massively annoying hypocrite.

 

Best Supporting Actor for the Canadian Energy Sector

 

While Canadian up and comer Energy Minster Seamus O’Regan was an early favourite for this category given his unqualified support of the energy sector and nifty Newfoundland accent it was actually Joe Biden who generated the most buzz in this category with oil prices up a whopping 50% since his election allowing Canadian oil producers to generate obscene profits in Q1, followed by a series of policy moves that taken as a whole is decidedly bullish for Canadian energy, even if he killed a pipeline.

 

Best Director

 

This award goes to the person who shows the greatest skill and leadership in creating and guiding an energy company. Nominees of note were Murray Edwards and Vladimir Putin. The award went to Mr. Edwards who, wisely, elected not to make a speech or share hands with Vlad who strangely chose to wear just one glove that also glowed in the dark.

 

Best Screenplay/Story Spinning/True or Otherwise

 

A lot of nominees in this category including, surprisingly, yours truly, although I’m certainly not the favourite since my promotion activities are confined to my job and this blog, making me kind of an indie cult favourite. No, the powerhouse nominees here are The Alberta War Room, CAPP and the American Petroleum Institute. There must have been a lot of vote-splitting here, because I actually won. Perhaps also a sense that despite their best intentions, all the other nominees had the opposite effect. I won’t bore you with my speech, but it was epic and involved the use of props.

 

Best Actress

 

This year’s contest featured some pretty compelling performances including Rachel Notley’s turn as opposition leader in a bizarre parallel universe version of Alberta called Crazyland, Michelle Rempel-Garner’s role as a naïve politico in Mrs Smith Goes to Oklahoma and Danielle Smith as a social media quitting, salt of the earth woman of the people in the sleeper hit Promotion. This year’s winner was of course Rachel Notley, thanks in no small part to a powerful performance by fellow nominee Jason Kenney as the diabolical, Machiavellian schemer with the heart of gold.

 

Best Actor

 

Aside from the aforementioned performance by Jason Kenney, the other nominees of note in this category were Justin Trudeau in a madcap adaptation of Black Like Me, Donald Trump in a remake of the Aaron Sorkin classic The American President and a tour de force performance by everyone’s favourite Calgary mayoralty candidate Roger Baker in a Canadianized remake of There Will be Blood, telling the take of a former oil and gas CEO crossing to the dark side of the legal profession. The winner here was quite a surprise with Donald Trump taking home his first ever entertainment trophy after being bypassed so many times for an Emmy.

 

Best Picture

 

And then finally we were at the moment of truth. The award of awards. The best picture. Strangely, all of the movies in question had the same titles as the actual Oscar nominees although slightly different plots. Let’s go through them.

 

Sound of Metal. Starring Jason Kenney, this movie tells the story of a career politician who decides to take a job working in a machine shop.

 

Mank. This biographical picture tells the story of Mick Manker, who rose from being a lowly righand to running the largest oilfield services company in the world before dying a mysterious death in norther Siberia.

 

Nomadland. This is the moving story of an energy investor who, upon finding they have lost their entire retirement savings in a bad energy bet decides to buy a used Tesla and travels the continent, stopping at charging stations along the way to lecture people about the perils of energy investment.

 

Minari. No one knows what this movie is about. I’m not even sure anyone went to see it.

 

Promising Young Woman. Not for the faint of heart, this is the dark tale of an aspiring oil and gas executive who, when she finds out how much less she is paid compared to her male counterparts, decides to exact revenge against the CEO’s of Canadian energy companies in fairly gruesome fashion.

 

The Father. This animated feature tells the life story of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Featuring cameos by such contemporaries as Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark and Keith Richards, this movie also won for best voiceover and features Justin Trudeau doing the voice work as his dad.

 

Judas and the Black Messiah. Strangely not about race or religion, this coming of age romantic comedy produced by John Hughes (yes, that John Hughes) tells the story of nerdy Judas who finds his calling and true love while working on an oil transport train nicknamed the Messiah. Noteworthy that this movie also won best soundtrack with its Gen-X nostalgia laden 80s-90s grooves.

 

The Trial of the Chicago Seven. This is the story of the infamous Chicago Seven, a group of private equity fund managers who made the mistake of investing in Canadian oil and gas services in 2015 and were sued by their limited partners for fraud. Featuring a fine group cast ensemble, this movie was also nominated for best editing.

 

True to Oscar fashion of the last few years the winner was Minari, a movie that no one except the people that worked on it knew anything about. Jason Kenney accepted the award on behalf of the filmmaker. Oh wait. He is the filmmaker. And was in it! But he won’t tell anybody.

 

Well there you have it! After all that excitement, I gathered my belongings and eager to go to the after parties, I left the tent in search of my vehicle, only to discover what I already suspected, there was no valet parking and I had randomly given someone my vehicle. Ooops! At least I had won an award.

 

 

What’s that? Do I have an actual pick for Sunday? Well the only movie I have actually seen is the Trial of the Chicago Seven and I thought it was pretty good, especially Sacha Baron Cohen as a smarmy Abbie Hoffman.

 

So I hope it wins.

 

But it’ll probably be Minari.

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