The landscape – Ah, February; a month that many only see as the second of the year, just so happens to be one of my favorite month’s of the year. And believe it or not, that’s not because of the Super Bowl, which is still very much in our rearview. Sure, that’s a bonus, but not as relevant for this Cowboys fan who has watched his team define mediocrity for the past 17 seasons. Not even the unofficial “Super Bowl” of racing makes this one of my favorite months. Sure, I love the Daytona 500, but it too falls to the waist side when matched up against the Oscars. And that’s despite the two events falling on the same Sunday for the second consecutive year. What a Sunday that will be and one that I certainly can’t wait for given all the drama and intrigue that has already taken place among the chosen nominees. Yep, for those hiding under a rock, the nominations were announced three weeks earlier this year throwing yours truly for a loop. I almost felt like a nominee being called at 5 AM PST to hear the good news, only my shock wasn’t as pleasant some two hours later. Needless to say, I’m glad it’s February and time to debate and ridicule the nominees ten-times over. Yeah, it may only be the second month of 2013, but the chapter on 2012 is far from being over. Because that’s really what the Academy Awards bring; an extension to last year and a time to watch and honor some of the best Hollywood had to offer.
The frenzy – For those that have never taken this annual journey with me into Academy Awards history, feel privileged, as this isn’t your ordinary Oscars preview. Sure, I will give my thoughts and predictions on everything pertaining to the Oscars, but that only scratches the surface. You see, people don’t realize just how big this award show is to Hollywood. All the ceremonies leading up to it are important too, but no star currently working in Hollywood wants to be known as the People’s Choice winner. They want to be known as an Academy Award winner, for that title follows you the rest of your life. So, even though I watch all these “other” award shows like the SAG Awards and the upcoming BAFTA’s, none of them compare to grand daddy of the all, The Academy Awards. Plain and simple, this award show still means something to most of Hollywood and that’s despite all the politics that seem to always be lurking. And in true Oscar fashion, the Best Picture category seems to be leading all discussions early on.
What a shame, for this ceremony is about so much more, but it is what it is. So, while I would love to waste some time arguing why a certain film should or shouldn’t be nominated from the year that was 2012, I will once again focus my attention elsewhere. Because the fact of the matter is, whether five or ten films get nominated for Best Picture, my opinion won’t change on this category. It’s still the grandest of them all; I just wish all films nominated actually had a ‘chance’ to win. A casual viewer might think that’s the case, but us that follow this ceremony know better. Not since “Reds” (1981) have we seen a film win Best Picture without also securing the Oscar for Best Film Editing. Now, that’s a weird stat, but one that has held true for over 30 years now. Same could also be said for directing, where “Driving Miss Daisy” (1990) holds the title of being the last film to win Best Picture without its director being nominated. Put those two Oscar trends together and guess how many films remain in the “race” for Best Picture? How about a whopping three out of nine films? Those films you ask are none other than “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln.” So, it will be interesting to see if history holds true or if a critically acclaimed film like “Argo” continues its “best in class” streak that’s it’s been on thus far.
The rules – For those that don’t know, in order for a film to qualify, it must open in the previous calendar year, from midnight of January 1st to midnight on December 31st. This according to rules 2 and 3 of the official Academy Awards Rules created by the AMPAS, which also states film’s must be a feature-length of at least 40 minutes long with a minimum projector resolution of at least 2048 by 1080 pixels. Producers must submit their Official Screen Credits online from before the deadline or it will be deemed ineligible. That form, which includes production credits for all related categories will eventually be checked and put into a ‘Reminder List of Eligible Releases,’ thus giving the pool of movies for the 6000-plus active and life Academy members to choose from. For most of the categories, members from each of the branches will determine the nominees, meaning only actors will vote for actor, writers for writers, directors for directors, etc. The only exception is for Best Picture, where all voting members are eligible to select nominees for that category. The winning nominees are finally determined by a second round of voting in which all Academy members are allowed to vote in most categories, including Best Picture. ~Excerpts taken from oscars.org
The Quotes – Mixing it up and displacing all the criticism for just a moment, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite quotes that have occurred over the years surrounding this ceremony. Because when you break it all down, without the kind of talent that has supported this ceremony the last 80-plus years, I would have nothing to write about. So, thank you Jim Piazza and Gail Kinn for bringing us your complete unofficial history of these awards each New Year in published form.
-Frank Capra – “A film critic is a legless man who teaches running.”
-Shirley MacLaine - “I’ve played so many hookers they don’t pay me in the regular way anymore. They leave it on the dresser.”
-Irving Thalberg - “Novelty is always welcome, but talking pictures are just a fad.”
-Marie Dressler - “You’re only as good as your last picture.”
-Shelley Winters - “Fredric March was able to do a very emotional scene with tears in his eyes and pinch my fanny at the same time.”
-Clark Gable – “They call me the King of Hollywood. I’m under-endowed, I’ve got a mouthful of false teeth and bad breath.”
-Claudette Colbert – “The casting couch? There’s only one of us who ever made it to stardom without it, and that was Bette Davis.”
-Bob Hope – “Television – that’s where movies go when they die.”
-Gary Cooper – “Gone with the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in history. I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable falling on his face and not me.”
-Humphrey Bogart – “The trouble with the world is that it’s always one drink behind.”
-Rosalind Russell – “We’re going to the party afterward anyway. I won’t be bitter”
-Gene Kelly – “There is a strange sort of reasoning in Hollywood that musicals are less worthy of Academy consideration than dramas.”
-Frank Sinatra – “I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniels.”
-Ingrid Bergman – “I’ve gone from saint to whore and back to saint again all in one lifetime.”
-John Wayne – “I’m an American movie actor. I work with my clothes on. I have to. Horses are rough on your legs and your elsewhere’s.”
-Sammy Davis Jr. – “Tonight the Academy is honoring two films about my people, Shaft and Fiddler on the Roof.”
-Dustin Hoffman – “The Academy Awards are obscene, dirty, and no better than a beauty contest.”
-William Holden, referring to Peter Finch – “If the son of a bitch hadn’t died, I could’ve finally had my Oscar.”
-Woody Allen – “When you see who wins those things, or doesn’t win them, you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is.”
-Paul Newman – “Sydney Lumet is the only guy I know who could double-park in front of a whorehouse. He’s that fast.”
-Brenda Fricker – “When you’re lying drunk at the airport you’re Irish. When you win an Oscar, you’re British.”
-Jeremy Irons – “My wife doesn’t get jealous. When she sees me in sex scenes she says to herself, ‘Oh, he is only acting. I Know he can’t last that long.”
-Clint Eastwood – “I guess when I got into cowboy gear I looked enough like one to convince people I was.”
-Burt Reynolds – “I thought my chances of being nominated were the same as there being a Richard Simmons Jr.”
-Kevin Spacey – “This is the highlight of my day. I hope it’s not all downhill from here.”
-Halle Berry – “This moment is so much bigger than me.”
-Billy Crystal – “There is no one left in New Zealand to thank.”
-Martin Scorsese – “Could you double-check the envelope?”
The skinny: Now that you have been enlightened on some of the unknown history and unique moments of this ceremony, let me educate you on what will come over the next few weeks. Since virtually all the major categories feature most, if not all nine films nominated for Best Picture, I will go over all my favorite categories as I review each Best Picture nominee. Fact of the matter is, without these nine films, I doubt anyone would really watch the ceremony, as seeing who takes home the Oscar for Best Costume or Best Foreign Film is not all that exciting to most people. But, that’s not all, as I will once again get into the music, fame, and all the things that make the Academy Awards special. So, get ready for what will ultimately be the best place to get your Oscar fix leading up to the ceremony on February 24th.
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