This past Sunday, I watched the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. Lost in the hype of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water having a big night and Kobe Bryant winning an Oscar for his animated short, Dear Basketball, was my man Sam Rockwell finally getting his due and winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was some of his best work as far as I’m concerned. If I’m being honest, it probably should’ve been his 2nd Oscar as a Best Supporting Actor. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: The Way, Way Back.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the film in April 2014. I was managing facilities for the Army Corps of Engineers at the time and I was TDY to the Florida Panhandle, where I spent the night at a Hampton Inn & Suites in Panama City Beach. I wasn’t particularly interested in the NBA or Stanley Cup Playoff offerings that night and the Dodgers weren’t playing until late so I tuned into HBO and there it was.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, I was entertained. It was your traditional coming-of-age film with a lead character (Liam James) harassed by a villain (Steve Carell) only for a hero (Rockwell) to save the day in a teachable moment. It had something of an ensemble cast too with Maya Rudolph, AnnaSophia Robb, Allison Janney, Rob Corddry, and Amanda Peet alongside Carell and Rockwell. The film definitely tugged at my heartstrings as the young Duncan found himself as a member of the staff at Water Wizz. I’ll admit that I had a bit of a tear coming out of my eye when his mother saw his picture as Employee of the Month during the climactic scene.
What it means to me now? It’s almost 4 years later and that film is still a favorite of mine. In fact, I downloaded it from the Google Play Store and I watch it here and there. I still get teary-eyed at the very end, when Owen defends Duncan against Trent’s asshole disposition.