Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Oscars, creative bankruptcy married to misguided snobbery

OK, enough time has passed so I can now comment in a relatively relaxed way. Here goes...

To paraphrase Will Rogers' quote on the weather, everybody complains about The Oscars, but nobody does anything about them. But is this annual giveaway and the vulgar show celebrating it really worth the energy that some critics and film fans invest in them every year?

No, much more offensive than the Academy’s overall lack of taste is its hilariously misguided snobbery – which really isn’t that funny. Case in point: The yearly Irving J. Thalberg Memorial, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian, Gordon E. Sawyer and Honorary awards. These awards seem to bring out the self-consciousness of the Academy’s board of directors who invariably underrate, ignore and, by extention, insult some of film’s most popular professionals. Overlooked in their lifetimes were the invaluable Robert Mitchum, Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford. Still waiting for recognition are Richard Widmark, Doris Day and Jerry Lewis, all of them more than deserving and long overdue. The Academy’s refusal to honor or at least acknowledge them smacks of a dsiturbing lack of gratitude. And that's exactly what this blog is all about.

And what’s with the annual “In Memorium” errata? How difficult is it for someone to keep a list of those film personalities who died during the calendar movie year being honored? Well, apparently, it’s a tough job because how else do you explain the fact that, every year, familiar faces are overlooked? This year, Dennis Weaver, who died on February 24, 2006, and Adrienne Shelly, who was tragically murdered on November 1, 2006, didn’t make the obit reel, while James Doohan, who died on July 20, 2005, not in 2006, inexplicably did make it. The criminally underrated Sheree North didn't make it last year. What's odd about the omission of Shelly is that the last film she directed, "Waitress," generated a lot of buzz at Sundance just as Oscar fever was raging. Anyway, this sloppiness is just another example of the Academy’s overall lack of respects for “its own.”

As for the awards themselves, how can one quibble each year with a voting system that embraces thousands of Academy members, most of whom presumably saw the films and performances for which they’re voting? The winners, as we all know, are tested by time. My hunch is that Jennifer Hudson’s absurd “Dreamgirls” victory over “Babel’s” Adriana Barraza will seem as bizarre 30 years from now as Goldie Hawn’s 1969 triumph over Susannah York does today. (How bizarre? Hawn won for “Cactus Flower”; York lost for “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”

And the show itself ? Why waste the energy complaining? Clearly the powers behind it – which is most of Hollywood – think along the lines of “why-fix-what-isn’t-broken?” They are oblivious to the fact that as the Oscarcast grows into a bigger White Elephant each year, it is transcended by the appealing simplicity of the Golden Globes. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must think its progress to trade in those deadly, stultifying production numbers for an endless series of montages that are at once pretentious, self-congratulatory and numbing – the worst one on this past show being Michael Mann’s seemingly pointless hodge-podge.

End of Diatribe.

Oh, one more thing... Why did Oprah exlude Alan Arkin from her post-Oscar TV extravaganza. Mirren, Whitaker, Hudson and Ellen Degenerese were all there, but no Arkin. Was he being pusnished for winning or couldn't me make it? Whatever, an explanation was necessary - but wasn't forthcoming.

(Artwork: from top: publicity shots of Richard Widmark, Adrienne Shelly and Adriana Barraza )

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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com



I can never get past the red carpet. I like the gowns, but it's all downhill from there.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why Adrienne Shelly wasn't mentioned. I thought maybe she died in 2007. The Academy should get its act together.

Beverly Davis said...

I've been complaining about this for years. Did you notice that James Doohan was mentioned in memorium both last year and this year? Weird and sloppy