For anyone who knows me, or has read my stuff the past few years, you’ll know that Jane Seymour is my celebrity arch nemesis. I have never met her, nor has she done anything specifically to me. (Well, not counting the mural that went up on South Street just blocks from my house.) But, no matter. Just the sight or sound of her in one of those stupid Kay commercials or seeing one of those God-awful Open Hearts necklaces makes me want to punch something. Or stick pins in my Dr. Quinn voodoo doll.
In an age when box office receipts are reported like sports scores, when any movie with an opening weekend of $50 million or more seemingly gets a sequel greenlighted, Hollywood wants “sure things.” For studios and producers a sure thing is: a prequel/sequel to a movie that made a lot of money; a movie with a star whose previous, similar films made a lot of money; a film adaptation of a known and well-loved property that has made a lot of money.
Maybe it was just me, but this was one of the strangest Oscar nights ever. From Michelle Obama presenting Best Picture to Captain Kirk to the endless array of (random) musical performances, it was an award show that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. And for a year where six of the nine Best Picture nominees grossed over $100 million, it didn’t seem to be about movies very much.
Months of speculation will soon be over. This Sunday night, we will see whether those who applied Nate Silver math-y prediction techniques like Huffington Post and the website The Credits’s Social Oscars were any more accurate than those who simply relied on hunch or personal choice. (Though people should remember that Silver only got four out of six correct in his 2009, New York Magazinepredictions.
The benchmark for great actors usually involves an Oscar win. In movie previews — regardless if it’s a stoner comedy or a historical drama — “Oscar Winner” always appears before the actor’s name. (When it says, “Oscar Nominated,” if always feels a little sad somehow, doesn’t it?) But let’s be honest: the winner is not always chosen for their work on a specific movie. Often it’s the culmination of a career (i.e., sheer inevitability) and/or their likability. Ergo, Judi Dench and Sandra Bullock. So as we continue counting down to the Oscars on February 24th, it’s time we look at those truly great actors and directors who’ve never won a competitive Oscar. Some who can’t even have “Oscar Nominated” before their names. As you’ll see, it’s time to reevaluate whether winning an Oscar truly defines a great performers or filmmaker.
Valentine’s Day sucks. If you’re in a relationship, it’s a day filled with bad, boxed chocolate, roadside roses, cheap cards, and pajamagrams. (Actually anything from Philly Poster Erica Palan’s bad gift ideas.) Going out to dinner? Prepare to join the cattle call of over-scheduled seating and overpriced prix fixe, which, invariably, ends with a heart-shaped, molten chocolate cake. If you’re not in a relationship, you’re made to feel bad through the onslaught of TV commercials. And while office mates avoid asking you about your V-Day plans, they insist on showing you their just-delivered pajamagrams. You could always go out to a movie, but then it’s possible that the movie couple will a) end up together or b) remain alive.
One of the most famous Oscar surprises occurred at the 65th Academy Awards on March 29, 1993. Unforgiven and Howards End led with 9 nominations each. People still whispered about The Crying Game’s ending and sang along to Aladdin and The Bodyguard’s nominated songs. Jack Palance, 1992’s best supporting actor (City Slickers), presented the first award of the night: Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Most thought veterans Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave, Miranda Richardson, or Judy Davis would win. Instead it went to Marisa Tomei for her tough talking, flowered-bodysuit wearing girlfriend in the fluffy My Cousin Vinny. (A role which also brought her an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance. Take that, Plowright.) People were shocked; some believing Palance simply misread the card. To be fair, Tomei has proven herself with incredible performances in In the Bedroom and The Wrestler. But that year, the award should have gone to Davis or Plowright.
With only 3 weeks until the ceremony, this month I’ll be focusing on the Oscars. (Big change, I know.) Starting things off are my picks for the best and worst Oscar speeches of all time. You might be surprised to find absent many memorable and, might I say, obvious speeches: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Roberto Benigni, Sally Field, the fake-Indian lady for Marlon Brando. Instead, I wanted to highlight the speeches that might not immediately come to mind. Except for the worsts: those — all from the ‘90s — are pretty universally abhorred and mocked.
"I don’t even like that goat-thing,” said my friend Carrie as our conversation turned to Pan’s Labyrinth. As it often does. It is one of my all-time favorite films. But that movie—particularly, the hairless, kid-eating, eye-in-hands monster—has scarred her for life. It probably doesn’t help that I frequently send her a picture of the creature as an email attachment innocuously titled, “Weekend Fun” or “Bradley Cooper Knows Who You Are.” Or that I keep threatening to get us front row seats for the musical version.