2.23.2009

The sounds of Oscar


PHOTO: Kate Winslet, 2009.

There’s one thing about the Oscars and the movies and performances they honor – they are too damn visual.

Perhaps it’s unfair – since I no longer can see the movies or the awards ceremony itself – for me to critique the Academy Awards, but since I’ve enjoyed every telecast since I was 10 years old, I know what makes the show a hit.

Let’s start with Hugh Jackman. I am ga-ga for Hugh Jackman – a one-man talent show. I don’t know who wrote the lyrics to his opening song - the lamest since Rob Lowe serenaded Snow White. “Swim in human excrement …” is not exactly the glamour expected at such a gala.

After six decades at the movies and with more than 2,000 films in my home library, I am aware of all the elements of film excellence.

Even though I’ve seen none of the nominated 2008 movies, I was able to pick every winner in the big categories with nothing to go on but buzz.

I’m happy with the winners. I adore best actress Kate Winslet (don’t miss her screen debut in Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures”), I’m delighted Sean Penn (best actor) finally got his due. “Slumdog Millionaire” seemed a shoo-in for its “best picture” statuette.

15 nominations for acting! I personally think the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences should establish “The Meryl Streep Award” to be presented occasionally – not every year, mind you – to anyone who even comes close to this woman’s talent.

Perhaps readers who have seen “The Dark Knight” can tell me whether Heath Ledger won based on performance or on his tragic death. Only one other actor has won posthumously: Peter Finch for “Network.”

Others receiving best acting nominations after their deaths were James Dean (twice), Spencer Tracy, Ralph Richardson, Massimo Troisi and Jeanne Eagels.

One classy feature of last night’s show was having previous acting winners introduce – and pay homage to – the current nominees. The reviewer at cnn.com thought otherwise: he thought this bogged things down.

The elegant Queen Latifah singing the Billie Holiday classic “I’ll Be Seeing You” during the annual “In Memoriam” montage was a nice touch. And, Jerry Lewis’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was long overdue.

All in all, the sounds of Oscar weren’t so bad.

I appreciate the bully pulpit of actors embracing causes related to their current work, but …

Did I mention glamour? If the beautiful people turn out for Hollywood’s big night beautifully bedecked, shouldn’t the Oscars continue to reflect the glamour we so long related to Tinsel Town?

Bring back the big production numbers, models dressed in nominated costumes, on-stage displays of nominated set decorations. If the final winner is announced after three and a half hours, we might as well br entertained along the way.

Sure I miss seeing all the designer gowns, borrowed jewels, Armani tuxedos, but when I think of past fashion disasters (think Geena Davis, Oprah Winfrey and Cher), maybe that’s a blessing.

I remember the night Mira Sorvino won best supporting actress. My friend Bill Sumrall exclaimed, “She looks like a movie star!”

Bring back the movie stars!

Kate Winslet is a start.

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Here are my top 10 favorite movies:

1. Doctor Zhivago – David Lean’s epic has everything that makes a movie great.

2. Auntie Mame – Rosalind Russell’s tour de force: “Life’s a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death.”

3. Platoon – You feel the emotion of being a grunt in a futile war.

4. The Last Temptation of Christ – The most perfectly crafted film ever made. Don’t take my word for it: the late Gene Siskel thought so, too.

5. Some Like It Hot – Forget bathroom humor, this is still the funniest film ever.

6. Lawrence of Arabia – Peter O’Toole. Need I say more?

7. The Killing Fields – A true story of love and perseverance. Imagine.

8. Out of Africa – real-life adverturers brought to the screen in filmdom’s most romantic story.

9. The Lion in Winter – Tit for tat from Peter and Kat in the best dialogue a screenplay ever produced. (“Sleuth” runs a close second.)

10. West Side Story – Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins – a music-and-dance mixture which explodes on the screen!

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In the “comments” zone: tell us your favorite movies and Oscar moments!

6 comments:

Frodo, who has his own Golden Globe said...

Frodo, who sees all award shows as folly, must correct his friend. Liz Taylor won an Academy Award because everybody thought she was dead. "Butterfield 8" remains the worst movie that Frodo ever left half-way through (Frodo has inordinate patience for making it that long).

Frodo feels bad for the guy who was grieving over the loss of his 18 year-old chihuahua.

Annelle said...

I can't add to your list...they are my favorites too.

Bill Sumrall said...

Yes, in my humble opinion, Heath Ledger rocked as the Joker. His performance set the new standard, surpassing even Jack Nicholson's take on the character in "Batman" from 1989.
Unfortunately, this year's “In Memoriam” montage left much to be desired -- I thought someone must have forgotten to throw the switch in the control booth so that the TV audience could actually see it.

airth10 said...

Kate W is great.

Does anybody understand what Frodo is taking about?

B.J. said...

At the risk of getting in over my head, I’ll try to explain what Frodo is talking about.

Liz Taylor received a “sympathy” best actress win from the Academy for her performance in “Butterfield 8,” the title a telephone exchange for call girls. It was generally accepted at the time that the vote was to honor her comeback from a near-death iillness. She was there, looking great, to accept the Oscar.

The Chihuahua. Mickey Rourke, nominated for best actor this year (“The Wrestler”), lost his pet chihauhua about a week before the awards ceremony. The news covered this because, I believe, it softened his bad-boy image. (See Rourke in “Bar Fly.”)

As for Frodo only having one “Golden Globe,” well, he’ll have to explain that one, LOL.

BJ

Frodo, anathema to airth10 of the Desert said...

Just be glad Frodo didn't refer to his Oscar.