Ok people, 4 days and counting til the big night! The Oscars are almost here and I'm more excited about this year's crop than I've been in a while. Maybe it's because it's the first time in a while that I've seen a number of the nominated films (thank you, Criterion Cinemas!) or maybe it's because I honestly don't believe anything is a sure thing this year and that's a nice change of pace. Some people say Brokeback (or Brokedown, Brokeass or Bareback depending on your taste) is going to take the big ones (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay), but Crash is a strong contender based on it's track record at some other award shows. Sure, Reese Witherspoon won the Globe and the SAG, but Oscar loves when a pretty girl gets "ugly" for a role (more on this in a moment) so Felicity Huffman's got a reasonable shot.
As you can see, I have a number a theories about the Academy Awards based on my extensive research (faithful viewer since as far back as I can remember) and I am happy to share them with you now. Please do not use my theories to determine your picks in the Oscar pool. Like I said, it's anybody's game. This year, the only that's certain is that at some point someone will ask Bill Conti to "please stop playing the music, I have some more people to thank."
For your consideration,
The "Sorry We Never Gave You One of These Before." Oscar. Case in point: Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond. I love this movie and I think he was great, but I also think the Academy was going "This guy can't die without getting a competitive Oscar. (The honorary one he received in 1980 does not count, in the official book. Yes, there's a book. ) He's an icon! We already missed out on Cary Grant!" So, Henry got the Oscar for On Golden Pond and Grapes of Wrath and his amazing body of work. See also Paul Newman for the Color of Money, who won in 1986 for playing Fast Eddie Felson, a character he was originally nominated for playing in 1961.
The "We Went With Someone Else the Year You Gave the Best Performance You May Ever Give, So We're Giving You One This Year to Make Up for It" Oscar. Case in Point: Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple. Poor Celie. The Academy later boosted her spirits by giving her a little gold man for her performance in Ghost. Really? She'll never be better than that, Academy Voters? You really think so? Damn.
The "Crazy Crippled Englishman Oscar" Case in Point: Daniel Day Lewis (My Left Foot), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs), Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune). Over a three year period, these veddy English actors played characters (two of them playing Americans!) that were either physically or mentally disabled and each took home a statuette. The only man who could stop this? Al Pacino playing a blind man in Scent of a Woman. Al brought home the Oscar and once again made it safe for American actors like Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia), Nic Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Jack Nicholson (As Good as it Gets) to play damaged men with hearts of gold. Whoo ah!
The "Pretty Girl Gets Ugly Oscar": Case in Point: Charlize Theron (Monster), Nicole Kidman (The Hours),Halle Berry (Monster's Ball) Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry). Oscar loves ugly. These women were all fine (ok, pretty good) actresses before they landed roles that won the Oscar, but they hadn't shown enough commitment to the craft. Apparently, commitment involves removing all your makeup, putting on or losing some weight and donning some prosthetics to draw attention to the performance and not your pretty face and rocking body. Please keep in mind that Halle Berry played a crackhead in a Spike Lee joint and reportedly did not wash for days. Where was Oscar then, I ask you?
The "You Aren't Scorcese" Oscar: Case in Point: Mel Gibson (Braveheart), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Warren Beatty (Reds), Robert Redford (Ordinary People). If you're an actor and you've been nominated for your first attempt at directing film and you're up against Martin Scorcese, your chances automatically go from 1 in 5 to 1 in 4. This man is considered one of the greatest film makers of all time (Goodfellas,Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, I could go on here) and he's never won this thing. It boggles the mind.
The "Try This On for Size, Kid" Oscar: Case in Point: Tatum O'Neal (Paper Moon), Anna Paquin (The Piano), Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker). Youngsters so good, they won right out of the gate. I give Dakota Fanning another year or two of being the best thing in a crappy movie before she takes one of these home. Ditto the kid who sees dead people.
Feel free to discuss this further amongst yourselves. I will be in seclusion on Oscar Sunday, but can be reached during commercials to discuss the program. Watch this space for my full "review" of the program.
In case you're wondering, my all time favorite "what were they thinking moment?" at the Oscars is Rob Lowe's memorable duet with Snow White. The song? Proud Mary. I wish I was kidding.
* I say these things as a true fan of film, so if you are offended, then you don't know me very well.