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Bill Maher Doesn’t Understand Oscar Movies, It Seems

Bro, where have you been? Also you clearly haven't watched a single movie you're talking about.

Bill Maher crying about movies

Since the dawning of the Academy Awards, movies that make you question all your life choices and cry have been awarded time and time again. From Casablanca in 1944 and Hamlet in 1949 all the way up to The Hurt Locker in 2010 and Moonlight in 2017, the Oscars are not known for embracing genre films or comedies, for that matter. There’s a reason certain movies are labeled Oscar-bait.

Parasite‘s win last year was game-changing, and now with the 2021 Oscars, we have a more diverse range of Best Picture nominees. So what is Bill Maher’s excuse to complain about them? He suddenly thinks that the Oscars are too sad. Sir, where have you been?

What’s so frustrating about these hoots and claps happening after his terrible jokes is that they’re not true. First up for Bill Maher’s “I’ve clearly seen this movie and not just read the Wiki page, I swear” rundown is Nomadland. He says that if you want to feel guilty and bad like going to church, you can watch this movie! As someone who has actually seen the movie, I never felt guilty or bad. I saw the movie calling out the Great Recession and how it left people struggling, and I embraced Fern as a character and her journey. I also have brain cells and a heart, which Maher is lacking.

Then, Maher doesn’t make a single joke (is what he said supposed to be a joke?) about Judas and the Black Messiah or The Trial of the Chicago 7 because all he does is … explain that they’re historical movies and still somehow gets it wrong? Judas is about the assassination of Fred Hampton by the FBI, and Trial is about … well, the trial of the Chicago 7. Sure, there are shared events between the two (and Fred Hampton’s death plays a part in both, obviously), but they’re two very different movies.

Promising Young Woman has Carey Mulligan avenging a murderous rapist, but then he kills her, too. And she was so close to joining the Black Panthers,” Maher says, which is a bad joke in general but also not what Promising Young Woman is about. He diminishes Sound of Metal to its most basic parts and doesn’t seem to care that he’s ignoring the heart of the film. He brushes past The Father and then, yet again, points out the barebones of the story being told with Minari to make it seem as if it’s just a completely depressing movie.

All of this shows two things about Bill Maher. First, he’s not watched a single one of these movies before opening his mouth. Second, he clearly only has a problem now instead of all the years where the Oscars were filled with sad white men trying to cope with the fact that they were turning 40 or whatever else the Academy decided to sell us.

He says that he doesn’t have to leave the theater whistling but asks if it would kill them to make a movie that doesn’t end with him “wanting to take a bath with the toaster.” To that I say: Maybe you need to work on your comprehension of film then, Bill. Because I didn’t come out of any of these Oscar-nominated movies depressed.

I learned something from both Judas and the Black Messiah and The Trial of the Chicago 7Minari showed me the struggle many immigrant families still face and their journey to obtain this idea of the “American Dream.” Nomadland taught me to embrace the joy in every situation, even the absolutely life-changing ones, and find those moments of joy. Despite what Maher says, the Sound of Metal isn’t just about a musician going deaf. It’s about taking the hurdles life throws at you and finding ways to adapt as best we can.

As someone who loves David Fincher movies and enjoyed Mank, I do find it hilarious that Maher just … left that movie out. Why? Because it was a movie based on old Hollywood and centered around white men, so it’s ok? Or is it because maybe Maher actually watched that one and didn’t have a false snarky thing to say about it?

Maher asks a simple question: Where’s the comfort food? To which I say literally still out there, just not nominated for an Oscar, which is no different this year than any other. Did Bill Maher watch Gladiator and Titanic and have a fun time?

“If you’re at the movies and you’re wondering ‘Huh, who’s the bad guy?’, it’s you,” Maher says, and again, does he just not comprehend movies? Or did an angry male intern write these jokes? Because they’re bad, inaccurate, and just show that Maher is talking out of his ass instead of understanding what the Academy has been or what it is changing to be.

The Academy Awards, though they still have plenty of room for improvement, are more inclusive and telling stories that are not completely filled with the struggles of white people. And now we get this sudden anger about how “sad” all the movies are? Dude, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t watch Schindler’s List for a fun time.

The most baffling part is that he says that Hollywood used to know how to make movies for adults that were “entertaining and not just depressing” while showing images of movies like 12 Years a Slave, Milk, and Schindler’s List, that are in no way more “entertaining” vs. “depressing” compared to this year’s nominees. Was his graphics department pranking him? Has Bill Maher ever seen a movie? HE ALSO BRINGS UP Godzilla Vs. Kong and how it got people back to theaters as if IT SHOULD BE WHAT WINS AWARDS? AND THEN SAYS HE DOESN’T WANT TO SEE THAT EITHER?!

I think the problem here is that Bill Maher doesn’t like or understand movies and wants people to make movies specifically for him and his interests, and sorry, there’s plenty of movies for angry old white men.

He pushes the blame for this imaginary issue onto “liberals,” saying that we have a desire to be sad. I think we’re just smart enough to understand what movies are telling us and then move on to watching reruns of Parks and Recreation, but that’s just me.

So, I’m sorry that Bill Maher doesn’t have the emotional range to handle cinema, but acting like this is a new thing for the Oscars, when it isn’t, just shows that he doesn’t care and never will. We, as a society, have moved past the need for Bill Maher’s takes, and I’m glad that I’ll continue to actually watch movies before opening my mouth about them. Unlike Maher.

(via Pajiba, image: HBO)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.