It is once again that time of year when we are told that a billion people around the world will be tuned in to see which of the over-hyped movies and actors get to take home Academy Awards. My wife will be tuned in because she likes to see what everyone is wearing and I’ll be watching because I enjoy seeing the winners trying to act humble and I get a kick out of watching the losers pretend to be good sports.
The fact of the matter is that as with most elections, the winners have to spend a king’s ransom advertising. For months, the same people who will go on stage and pretend they are unworthy have been waging war in the Hollywood trade papers.
This year, there’s been a lot of static over the fact that Kathryn Bigelow, who directed Zero Dark Thirty, wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award, even though the movie was. As a result, as happens whenever a woman appears to have been slighted, we have been hearing from the usual suspects that sexism reigns in Hollywood.
The dopes ignore a few salient points. For one thing, although they are now nominating 10 movies for Best Picture, they continue to only nominate five directors. Therefore, if one were to say that if it was an injustice in her case, it was equally so for Ben Affleck, whose Argo was nominated, while he wasn’t. For another thing, how is it that if the Academy is now riddled with sexists, it wasn’t two short years ago when they actually gave Bigelow the Oscar for the mediocre Hurt Locker. Is it possible that the Academy been over-run with right-wingers? And if so, why wasn’t I invited to join the coup?
We had the same scenario when Barbra Streisand wasn’t nominated as Best Director for The Prince of Tides, and outraged feminists –there being no other kind! – ignored the fact that she had been given an Oscar for the very forgettable song, “Evergreen.”
Back in 1958, David Niven won the Best Actor Oscar, Wendy Hiller won as Best Supporting Actress and Deborah Kerr was nominated as Best Actress. What’s more, the movie they all appeared in, Separate Tables, was nominated as one of the five Best Pictures. In spite of all that, its director, my friend, Delbert Mann, was not nominated. To his credit, he didn’t whine about it. He was disappointed, but he didn’t complain that the Academy members had it in for guys born in Kansas.
It seems to be a constant complaint that when women don’t win any award they might have a shot at, it’s because of blatant sexism. And when they do win, it’s based on recognition of their sheer genius, even when there might be more women than men casting ballots on both occasions.
It reminds me of the black college basketball coach who, after several losing seasons, was let go a few years back, and accused the university of racism, ignoring the obvious fact that it was the very same institution that had hired him in the first place.
Only the folks who hand out the Nobel Peace Prize make as many bad decisions as the members of the Motion Picture Academy. These are the folks, let us never forget, who decided that “Sweet Leilani” was a better song than “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and that “Three Coins in the Fountain” was better than “The Man That Got Away.”
They gave Oscars to the likes of The Greatest Show on Earth, The English Patient, The Deer Hunter, Driving Miss Daisy and Platoon, but never even nominated Roxanne, My Cousin Vinny, Hail the Conquering Hero, Singin’ in the Rain or Groundhog Day.
These are the very same goofballs who have given not one, but two Oscars, to Sean Penn, Tom Hanks and Jane Fonda, but none to Irene Dunne, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, William Powell, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter or Preston Sturges, and never even got around to nominating Joseph Cotton, Steve Martin or Edward G. Robinson.
This year, the biggest blemish on the Oscars had nothing to do with Kathryn Bigelow. It’s the fact that they, who saw fit to bestow Oscars on Michael Moore and Al Gore, for such left-wing crapola as Bowling for Columbine and An Inconvenient Truth, respectively, never even had 2016 on their short list of 15 documentaries worthy of consideration.
One thing for certain is that on Oscar night, when one recipient after another rushes on stage, and with the sort of cloying humility that made Charles Dickens’ Uriah Heep so singularly obnoxious, insists that they are undeserving of such an honor, I’ll be sitting home, echoing their sentiments.