Now in our ninth calendar year!|
PCR #408 (Vol. 9, No. 3) This edition is for the week of January 14--20, 2008.
Hello, gang! Not a lot this week so let's get started. Shall we begin?
IT'S OSCAR TIME!
This coming Tuesday, Jan 22, the nominations for the 80th Annual Academy Awards will be announced. Which means that I will be sending in my nominee choices on Monday. Check in Tuesday to see whether the academy and I agree on the best film had to offer in 2007.
SO MJ's AVAILABLE?
Long time fans of Spider-Man can only be shaking their heads at the latest issue of the long running comic. Seems in order to save his beloved Aunt May's life, Peter Parker and his wife of 21 years, Mary Jane, have made a deal with Mephisto, who has erased all traces of their relationship. Hey, if Batman can have three different Robins anything is possible in funny book (as my father called them) land.
Last week I neglected to note that pitcher Goose Gossage finally was elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame. In what is a practice I don't understand, Gossage was elected in his 9th year on the ballot. Let's see. 9 years on the ballot after 5 years of retiremnt. 14 years. And in those 14 years he didn't throw one more pitch, strike out one more batter, record one more out. It puzzles me how someone isn't a Hall of Famer one year but is the next. Or, in Gossage's case, eight years later. Of course it's always puzzled me how some of the voters feel the need to not vote for anyone in their first year of eligibility. It's shocking to think that a baseball writer DIDN'T vote for Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mantle, Ripken, Bench, etc. Hell, Babe Ruth didn't even get in unanimously. Note to voters: either they're a hall of famer or they aren't. Thank you.
AND THE OSCAR FOR 1983 SHOULD HAVE GONE TO...
April 9, 1984. Another night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles for Hollywood to award their biggest prize. But did the right films and performers win? Of course not! If they did then this space would be blank! Let's begin with Best Picture. The nominees: TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, THE BIG CHILL, THE DRESSER, THE RIGHT STUFF and TENDER MERCIES. A weeper, an ensemble piece, the required "British themed" film, the epic and the little film with a heart. All excellent but there were others that were just as deserving, if not more so, of a nod. The short list: KING OF COMEDY, STAR 80 and NEVER CRY WOLF. Both were critically lauded, gaining higher praise then some of the films that were nominated. My choice for best picture was "The Right Stuff," which lost the prize to "Terms of Endearment."
Best Actor was a Brit fest, with four of the nominees coming from across the pond. Both Tom Courtney and Albert Finney were up for "The Dresser," Michael Caine was nominated for "Educating Rita" and Scotland-born Tom Conti got a nod for "Reuben, Reuben." The only American actor nominated was Robert Duvall for "Tender Mercies." This nominations here have stuck in my crawl since they were announced. In fact, this was really the first year when I thought voters had lost their minds. To me, the best performance by an actor that year was given by Eric Roberts in "Star 80." As Paul Snider, husband of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, Roberts ran the gamut of emotions; from joy to rage, his descent into his own personal hell was incredible. In my opinion, of all of the nominees,Conti gave the weakest performance. I would have dropped him in a heartbeat for Roberts. Two other actors more deserving: Robert DeNiro in "King of Comedy" and Christopher Walken in "The Dead Zone." And if you want to award over the top, how could you pass up Al Pacino for "Scarface?" The winner that night was Duvall, who finally came away a winner on Oscar night.
The nominees for Best Actress were pretty solid. Both Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger were up for "Terms of Endearment." Julie Walters scored a nod for "Educating Rita," while Meryl Streep, who had won the award the previous year for "Sophie's Choice," was back again, this time for "Silkwood." Nominee number five was Jane Alexander for the little-seen "Testament." If I had to pick an actress that deserved to be there it would have been Barbra Streisand for "Yentl." Unfortunately Babs had done the impossible by producing, co-writing, directing and starring in a film that made money, somehow offending the powers that be. My vote would have gone to Winger, however it was her co-star that won.
The supporting categories featured strong performances. Actors up for the prize: Rip Torn for "Cross Creek," Sam Shepard for "The Right Stuff," Jack Nicholson and John Lithgow for "Terms of Endearment" and, in his second nomination in a row in this category, Charles Durning for "To Be or Not to Be." All great actors, and all very deserving. Other's I would have nominated: Steven Bauer for "Scarface," Daniel Stern for "Blue Thunder" and Jerry Lewis for "The King of Comedy." And if I had to nominate someone from "Terms" in this category it would have been Jeff Daniels instead of Lithgow. To me, Nicholson's role was almost a lead one, but the studio pushed him for this category, much like they did a few years earlier with Timothy Hutton and "Ordinary People." However, of the nominees Jack was my choice. Of course, Jack won his second Oscar this night, for a role he only got after Burt Reynolds turned it down. On the ladies side, another strong group of nominees: Glenn Close in "The Big Chill," Alfre Woodard in "Cross Creek," Cher in "Silkwood," Linda Hunt in "The Year of Living Dangerously" and Amy Irving for "Yentl." Can't argue here. All great performances, with Hunt a stand out because she was playing a male character on screen. She got my vote at home as well as the academy's that night.
For best director, the nominees were a combination of long time masters and novices. Mike Nichols for "Silkwood," Bruce Beresford for "Tender Mercies," Peter Yates for "The Dresser," Ingmar Bergman for "Fanny and Alexander" and James L. Brooks for "Terms of Endearment." Nice group. However, I'm one of those guys that thinks a film can't be a best film nominee without a directing nomination to back it up. And I ask, what happened to Phillip Kaufman for "The Right Stuff?????" Or Lawrence Kasdan for "The Big Chill?" I don't know. I'm guessing they were sitting at home. The winner was Brooks, but his win also proves my point. Since his Oscar win, Brooks has directed two other films (Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets) that received Best Picture nominations but none for Best Director. If the director wasn't any good how could the film be?
FYI: Besides the films listed above, more of my favorites from 1883 included: The Outsiders, Return of the Jedi, Zelig, A Christmas Story, Risky Business, Eddie and the Cruisers (which didn't recieve a Best Original Song nomination. Of course neither did "Staying Alive," carrying on a long tradition of the song branch not paying attention to the good stuff!
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week and I'll see you on Oscar Nom Eve! See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.