Monday, February 27, 2017
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Well………how did you like that Oscar finish? Wow! Talk about a way to end a show! If you didn’t watch, I’m sure you heard about it today. It’s down to the last award presentation, best picture, and presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner. We know now of course they were given the wrong envelope to read. That in and of itself is unbelievable. Considering the timing and planning that must go into this monumental annual event, how is that even possible? Rest assured someone’s already been fired because of it.
Granted, I’ve read critics decry that Warren and Faye should have figured this out on their own and never made the announcement to begin with. I’ll give them a pass on that. Think about it: Two octogenarians on stage at the end of a long evening, perhaps with a few cocktails in them at the time….and handed the wrong information to read? I don’t think it’s fair to place any blame on them.
If you’re anything like me or my wife, you maybe watch some or parts of the Oscars every year. Most years I’ve never seen or heard of any of the films nominated, but I usually tune in anyway. It’s an event. It always seems to find its way on to my television set.
That being said however, I’ve always had a problem with the process. I know it’s not sports. That’s my problem with it. There isn’t a team with more points than the other when the clock hits zero. There isn’t a boxer laying on his back in the center of the ring while his opponent raises his arms in obvious victory. It’s art. There’s no real objective way to decide how one performance or one film is better than the others. Art is always subject to interpretation. Yet sometimes I want to scream at the choices the Academy makes.
No time did this seem more apparent to me than in 2004. Best film and best director were awarded to Clint Eastwood and his movie, “Million Dollar Baby.”
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Now I’ve enjoyed many Eastwood-directed films over the years, and this particular film was decent, but I’d still like to know how the Academy believed it was better than this:
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The Martin Scorcese-directed biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes was an amazing film. I know I said art is subject to interpretation, but how anyone in their right mind could watch these two films and honestly say “Million Dollar Baby” was superior in story or directing to “The Aviator” is simply beyond me. Yet, as history will have it, in the eyes of the Academy it was. Astonishing!
Granted, this snub was nothing new for Scorcese, who’d been getting jobbed by the Academy for years. In 1980 “Raging Bull” lost best picture to something called “Ordinary People.” In 1990 “Goodfellas” lost to “Dances With Wolves.” Ok, I’m told the Kevin Costner epic was good, but better than freakin’ Goodfellas? In 2002 “Gangs of New York” lost to “Chicago.” A Richard Gere musical? Seriously? And in none of these film defeats was Scorcese even awarded Best Director.
In fact, Scorcese, despite decades of being one of the best directors in the business, never won anything until the Academy finally threw him a bone in 2006 for “The Departed.”
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So let me get this straight, despite making tremendous films since the early 70s, it took over 30 years and a film ensemble of DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Wahlberg, Sheen, and Baldwin to get the Academy to finally realize, “Yeah, that Marty Scorcese is pretty good.” Hell, I could have won best film and best director with that story and cast!
They did the same thing to my favorite actor of all-time, the late, great Paul Newman. Paul was possibly the greatest actor of his generation, who starred brilliantly in countless classics for decades. Yet it wasn’t until 1986 and his performance in “The Color of Money” that the Academy finally and mercifully awarded this man Best Actor.
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It’s almost like they thought, “Well, we don’t know how many more good roles Paul’s going to have, and we’ve never gotten around to giving him an Oscar, so I guess we better do it now.” The man should have had a closet full of them by 1986.
But hey, art is always subject to interpretation………..or is it?