The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Monday, March 01, 2004

OSCAR, OSCAR, WHO WILL WIN?: Well, Oscar night has come and gone for another year, and last night was about par for the course in Oscar night tedium. Where is Janet Jackson when you really need her? Let's face it, folks, the Oscars are like sex or tennis: intensely interesting if you're involved but something of a bore to watch. The Lord of the Rings won everything in California that wasn't actually nailed down, and, as Billy Crystal pointed out, everyone in New Zealand either won an award or was thanked by someone who did. In fact, the only Kiwi anywhere not awarded anything or thanked for helping those who did win was Keisha Castle-Hughes, the girl up for Best Actress in Whale Rider. She was eleven or twelve when the film was made, and is now thirteen and on the brink of puberty, and she flew 8,000 miles from her home in New Zealand to California to have her self-esteem shattered on world wide television. If this causes zits she should sue the Academy for every dime they've got.

The memoriam montage was handled nicely, I thought. I wondered who was going to get top billing; usually the biggest star is the last one on the reel, but this past year Hollywood heavyweights were dropping like punchy fighters taking a dive. So the question of who was going to get the end of the montage was a bit dicey. Hope, Hepburn, or Peck? They solved the problem pretty neatly, I thought; Hope and Hepburn got their own montages, and Gregory Peck's montage led into the main memoriam. So who got pride of place, the last man standing, as it were? Donald O'Connor, God bless him. And dont think for a minute I missed the significance of putting Elia Kazan and Leni Riefenstahl back to back, although the real significance was this: Kazan was right and Riefenstahl was wrong. The memorial managed to skip a few people; it always does; but I suppose that this year that was understandable.

My biggest peeves about the nominations? Simple. Over the years a good number of actors have been nominated and won for biographical pictures. Gary Cooper for Sergeant York, Anne Bancroft for The Miracle Worker, George C. Scott for Patton, and, most recently, Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich and Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind come immediately to mind. So the tradition is there; no one can deny it, which makes the denial of a nomination to the lead actor in Seabiscuit doubly troubling. Charlize Theron was honored for changing herself over totally in order to play Aileen Wuornos, yet the lead actor in Seabiscuit, who did not even get his name above the title on marquees across the length and breadth of this country, has not been honored by anyone anywhere for his performance as the horse who brought hope and not Crosby to millions of people during the depths of the Great Depression. I do not wish to raise a controversy here, but as the National Enquirer pointed out recently, the lead actor in Seabiscuit is not a thoroughbred at all, but rather one of the Budweiser Clydesdales; he had to go on the Atkins diet to get himself down to racing weight; and more than one film critic has detected a certain subtle racism in the stereotyping of Clydesdales as good for hard backbreaking labor and cracking a keg of brew and little else. The Academy should put a stop this sort of thing now.



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