Working Title: Just Pick One Already!

This week Will Leschber splits hairs and Oscar camps…

Ok theater geeks, it’s go time. This is our Super Bowl. The Academy Awards.

So many Oscar races come down to a title fight: 12 Years a Slave vs Gravity; Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker; The Kings Speech vs The Social Network; Crash vs Brokeback Mountain; Shakespeare in Love vs Saving Private Ryan; Goodfellas vs Dances with Wolves; Forrest Gump vs Pulp Fiction; Gandhi or Tootsie; Kramer vs Kramer vs Apocalypse Now; Annie Hall or Star Wars; To Kill a Mockingbird or Lawrence of Arabia; All About Eve or Sunset Boulevard; Citizen Kane or How Green Was My Valley; Gone with the Wind or Wizard of Oz; Wings or Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans… (trick question film nerds).

As you peruse this list I’m sure you are thinking a few things: I’m sure 12 Years a Slave is great and maybe I’ll watch it one day; Thank god that towering achievement Dances With Wolves won over the endlessly forgettable and uninfluecial Goodfellas; I know Pulp Fiction is better but I’m not gonna feel bad about loving America’s Tom Hanks. Win Forrest Win! And lastly, I can hear you thinking, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans…? Are you making shit up again? What the fuck is that?

The voices keep telling me to see Birdman but all I really want to watch is the Lego Movie...

The voices keep telling me to see Birdman but all I really want to watch is the Lego Movie…

I’m getting around the posing of the dichotomy…What is more important, the Unique and Artistic Production or the Outstanding Best Picture award? Once upon a time we had an award for both (all the way back in 1927) but now it seems there can be only one. These days, bouts between the heavy, artistic “important” pictures and the awesome spectacle that only lives in the places between the silver screens has become a common conversation. (See Avatar vs Hurt Locker, and 12 Years a Slave vs Gravity.) There’s no assumed judgement here. I loved all of these films for very different reasons. I know, I know, the best films are a balance of these elements, but that doesn’t make for a good debate! I’m saying, if you only get one and you had to pick, dear reader, which do you choose?


What is more valuable and what is more valued? Do we strive to delight and transport in a way only film can? Or do we strive to reach new depths of the human experience? Or do we strive to rage against the dying of the light? Calm down Christopher Nolan, we get it, you are super deep.

This year that title fight looks like Boyhood vs Birdman. I show up to spectacle any day. Birdman was a visual feat and feast! But the greatest and best film this year is also the quietest and the most unassuming. That’s why it achieves more. I’d love to see Boyhood win because it’s a one of the most successful films to capturing something all of us experience that rarely makes it into narrative film; the feeling and memory of growing up and the importance of all the unimportant moments that build the mortar of who we are. That’s my pick. But what should win isn’t necessarily what will win. I made peace with that award show truth long ago. Who knows Imitation Game may show up and surprise us all. We’ll see.

There can be only one…Who will you choose?

Working Title: Retreading New Paths

This week Will Leschber vows never to be hungry again…

This past weekend I did two things that I haven’t in a very long time. I went to a for-real-résumé-headshot-requested audition in front of a large group of directors and also I took in Gone With The Wind on the big screen. Both can be daunting tasks. How many hours did you say that film was?! You want me to try WHAT accent?! Depending upon who you ask either could be a new miserable experience or an insightful pleasurable one. What I find curious about revisiting old ground is the new things it shows you about yourself. You may feel differently about Scarlett O’Hara the fifth time you watch her bellow, “I’LL NEVER BE HUNGRY AGAIN!” Also, you might realize that your relationship to your craft is different than it was when you auditioned in your early 20’s. Sometimes moving forward requires a start-step back. Here are a few things this old ground made new for me.


Gone With The Wind never ceases to offer complexity to its characters. It’s so easy to see the rampant flaws in both Scarlett and Rhett, yet we accept them and adore them anyway. By the end of my 4th big screen viewing, I know I was thinking Thank god, someone knew enough to “frankly not give a damn” and leave her misery-sowing ass! And at the same time, Oh I hope she goes after him and they make it work! They are really a swell couple… a swell couple of tyrants. The film is a pillar of cinema because it never ceases to impress with it’s scope and technical grandeur and at the same time the intricate characterization continues to reveal different shades upon repeat viewings. I am not the same as when I watched the film for the film time when I was 16 years old. I am twice that age now, married with a kid on the way and the emotional keys of the film play so much more richly for me now. Give it a revisit. You’ll see.

As for auditioning, I am terrified and elated to audition. If you are part of the theatre world, I’m sure this juxtaposition is well known to you. The line between success and fall-on-your-face-failure is thin. If you put yourself out there, you most assuredly will experience both. It’s scary. It’s positively electrifying. It’s as if theatre people should be provided bi-polar medication upon entering drama club. We are asking for the best and worst of things at the same time. The positive side I came away from this round of the acting routine is this: Auditioning, standing up and being judged, like few other things, really allows you to assess yourself. You know if you are prepared. You know where you stand in relation to your craft. You know where your priorities lay. Sometimes the things you see are not what you wish to be. Sometimes you are positively surprised. Either way, you must recon with your exposed self. Living a creative life through theatre or film is a crap-shoot. You are asking for failure and rejection and overwhelming adversity. But you are also asking for community and kindness and intimate connection. Plus more often than not the strangers, who are there to judge you, are rooting you to succeed.

Go watch an old movie. Go out there tomorrow and expose yourself…to self assessment. 😉 Don’t let either thing overwhelm you. The step back may sweep you ahead.