Thanks to awards season, these days spring fever has to wait until winter.
Roughly a decade ago, in anticipation of the big awards-season push, distributors started withholding prestige pictures—their contenders—until the final moments of the calendar year, squeezing into fall release their best bets for Oscars and Globes so they would be fresher in the minds of voters come ballot time. From the distributor perspective, I get it. But burying the gold—and burying it deeper every year—has begun to play havoc with our social lives. And by “our” I, of course, mean “my.”
For the first 10 months of the year, there is virtually no reason to check in with Hollywood, unless a) you have children, or b) identify with them, in which case, yes, from January through October, you live in a weekend paradise of Hogwarts, Hobbits, and Wookies. But—it must be said—in either case, something is emotionally wrong with you because a) you’ve been forced to watch this stuff over and over, or b) you’re over 35 and you want to.
As for the rest of us, we are now abiding streamers—a euphemism for shut-ins. In consequence, I have begun to notice in me pangs of agoraphobia (or is that just wise?), and I feel, seriously, like a strong candidate for Hoarders: Buried Alive, or a private reboot of Grey Gardens, in which I play both recluses.
Winter through summer, I miss the crowds, the laughter, the collective church silence that says something meaningful is happening to us. I even miss the little things, like the Grove parking lot, which is manageable and satisfying and, for my money, has the best 360-degree view of Los Angeles there is. But most of all, I miss Dinner and a Movie.
Aside from being fun in its own right, Dinner and a Movie is a fundamental courtship ritual, hallowed and sacrosanct, and for good reasons: Sitting in the dark next to someone you don’t yet really know, looking at a screen instead of each other, sharing, in other words, a paradoxical experience of togetherness apart, offers in those early stages the perfect amount of intermediary intimacy. There is no substitute.
But awards season, as it is now practiced, has changed all that. Unless you are addressing a leprechaun or Stan Lee himself, no date that begins with “I got us tickets to Ant Man” has ever ended well. So, new lovers over the age of 14, on your marks—you have only two months to enjoy those electric, banter-y conversations, laden with innuendo and the preludes to things that come on one’s way out of the theater and into the restaurant. Unless, of course, you are in high school and your idea of romance begins with Jurassic World and ends with furtive groping in a car parked outside your parents’ house. In that case, have at it, kids. This is your world and I—surprise—am the Jurassic.