' ' Cinema Romantico: Most Potentially Retroactive Awkward Oscar Presentation

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Most Potentially Retroactive Awkward Oscar Presentation

I have just begun reading Mark Harris's "Five Came Back", a book chronicling five famed Hollywood directors - John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens - and their involvement as filmmakers in WWII. But there was a particular passage in the earlygoing revolving around the 1941 Academy Awards that struck me. I'll let Harris tell it: "When the time came to announce the winner of the award for Best Director, (Frank Capra) decided to break form and, instead of reading the list of nominees, called them all to the stage and instructed them to shake one another's hands in front of the audience."

That sounds bad enough. That sounds like the "sharing of the peace" at my old Lutheran church, which was, like, the worst, man. But then Harris recounts how William Wyler ("The Letter"), Alfred Hitchcock ("Rebecca"), Sam Wood ("Kitty Foyle"), and George Cukor ("The Philadelphia Story") ascended the stage and shook hands only to, of course, have Capra read the name of John Ford ("The Grapes Of Wrath") who was not present. Awk-ward.

This, as it must, got me to thinking. Not thinking about how the 1941 Academy Awards were held at the Biltmore Hotel nor how the 1940 Academy Awards were held at the Coconut Grove and that maybe this is what the Oscars should do to liven things up - host them at the Hollywood Roosevelt and watch stars get blasted on gin gimlets. No, it got me thinking about recent Best Director races, and which ones would have suffered (benefited) the most from being called onstage.

There are obvious choices, like Tarantino being onstage in 1994 when Zemeckis won for "Forrest Gump" (while Krzysztof Kieślowski stands in the background, all like "WTF?") or Polanski not being onstage (for obvious reasons) in 2002 when he won for "The Piano" which would have left poor Marty Scorsese to fake a smile and Pedro Almodovar to likely commandeer the mic and perform some sort of impromptu monologue or Costner "dropping the bomb" in front of Scorsese and Coppola (Francis Ford) in 1990. Benigni being up there for "Life is Beautiful" would have been better if he'd had someone like David Fincher to bop him in the head when he started Benigni-ing. A lot of folks might cite the infamous Bigelow/Cameron showdown in 2009 on account of their shared history but Cameron, for all his Cameron-ness, seemed fairly deferential to his ex-wife on that particular campaign trail.

Some might find 2007 intriguing when The Coen Brothers won for "No Country For Old Men" which would have left the notoriously surly Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton") and Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood"), who's got at least a little of the iconoclast in him. Or by 2010, when, in a much mocked decision, Tom Hooper won for "The King's Speech" by beating out David Fincher ("The Social Network"), Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan") and David O. Russell ("The Fighter"). I imagine Fincher would have just shook his head and probably mumbled "F*** this s***" while Aronofsky probably would have just flipped Tom off and, well, only God knows what Russell would have done.

But I prefer 2001. Imagine the scene. Mel Gibson comes out to present and I mean, really, can't you see Mel Gibson being crazy enough to call all the nominees to the stage to shake hands? He cites stalwart Robert Altman ("Gosford Park") and iconoclast David Lynch ("Mulholland Drive") and ornery Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down") and Peter Jackson who, you know, spent a trillion jillion dollars and eleventy bazillion feet of film to make that movie about rings and elves and what-have-ya and, oh yeah. Right. Ron Howard for "A Beautiful Mind." And Ron wins. And then, one by one, Altman and Lynch and Scott and Jackson pass Opie on their way off the stage, sending him a glower that would make him/us shiver. Yup. That's the one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is one crazy post! It's hilarious/scary/funny/incredible/interesting to imagine some of those scenarios actually playing out! I can't believe that happened back then . . . not awkward at all, ha.