March 2000
s m u g
feed hollywood
by Brian Thomas

Death, taxes and award shows

Late winter is comparatively slow in the movie business, which is why there's so many award shows this time of year. There's plenty of time for people in the movie business to count their money and take nostalgic trips down memory lane - to last year. Yes, those golden innocent days of everyone pretending to be boys, seeing dead people and having sex with apple pies.

Well, let me qualify that thought: they look back to the latter half of last year, preferably only to late December for a brief award qualifying run at a small L.A. arts theater. Everybody knows that nominations are only handed out to new movies from last year, not that old stuff. Do you think My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York could have copped a Best Short Film Live Action nomination if it had been released in May? Who can remember back that far?

Yes, now that the Golden Globes have shown us what's popular, and Albert Bell has checked in for spring training, it's Oscar time once again. So let's take a look at the nominees, shall we? In the category of Best Supporting Foreign Costume Designer, the nominees are...

Oh, who cares. We all know that the Academy will vote for the nominees that: A. the most members have seen, and B. the most members feel good about selecting. Quality rarely enters into the decision - a good movie must never be confused with a Good movie. Oscar Q. Academy may have had the best night of his or her life watching Deuce Bigalow, Pet Detective, or had his or her life changed watching the moving performance of Jonathan Pryce as the obsessed but loveable Cardinal in Stigmata, but since neither of those films is based on a prize-winning novel or dramatically depicts actual historic events (except maybe Deuce Bigalow), then they can't possibly be capital-eye Important enough to receive the Best Sound Effects Editing Award.

I watch the Academy Awards show because I love movies, and I love trashy spectacle. Those unfortunate song and dance productions are balanced perfectly by those largely pointless but addictively entertaining film montages.

The best one is always the bittersweet salute to those that have "left us" since last year. Clip after clip trots out each late celebrity for us to see again, while a helpful subtitle gently supplies the identities of the Less Stellar. This also helps in scoring if you're playing the home game of "Guess the Dead Celebrity". Death is such a great equalizer - who would think that Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Charles Schultz would have anything in common, except for sharing the same obituary page. If it hadn't been for a timely check-up, we'd be watching a clip from The Cabin Boy, with David Letterman cheerily asking, "Wanna buy a monkey?"

Of course, being of the posthumous persuasion also helps you get votes. Unfortunately, none of the major nominees has had the good fortune of getting themselves killed since the completion of their masterpieces. However, Stephen King got hit by a car, so that probably gives The Green Mile the edge this year.

I also watch because it's yet another excuse to put off doing my taxes. Well, to be honest, I'll put off doing my taxes if there's a new episode of Jesse on, so who am I kidding.

Somehow, we all know going in that a movie like Pitch Black won't be nominated for any Academy Awards next year, even in technical categories. Despite the fact that it has great cinematography that artfully simulates lighting conditions on a planet with three suns, it won't get much credit for it, probably because of all the space monsters tearing people apart. The Award in that category will go to something more like The Cider House Rules because it looks pretty and sun-dappled. Nor will Vin Diesel, the man with the muscle-bound larynx, win any awards for his portrayal of a bloodthirsty space-psycho with a heart of gold. The Academy never rewards actors who play robots or characters who have their eyes surgically altered so they can see in the dark. That's just the way the Oscar tumbles.

Many of you are probably wondering why the Academy Awards are called "Oscars". Well, the Awards were first given out when the Roaring Twenties were roaring their loudest. Jazz Age hipsters partied the night away drinking bootleg bathtub champagne and feasting on steaks and lobsters. That's why an enterprising sausage tycoon named Oscar Meyer bankrolled the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and encouraged the Award ceremonies, in the hope that it would bolster the sale of cocktail weenies. This is also how the Jews infiltrated and dominated the world of show business.

I know where I'll be on Oscar night - sitting on the couch in front of the television, holding my breath and a weenie, wondering what kind of eye-popping gowns Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek will be wearing in celebration of their performances in Office Space and Wild Wild West, respectively. Which short celebrity will be teamed to present with which tall celebrity? Which cartoon characters will magically appear in the audience? I can hardly contain myself.

I do have some suggestions to improve the show. First, let's do away with those old fashioned envelopes. The presenters always fumble with them and some of them can't read anyway. Why not have the winners' names etched onto the award immediately by high-powered lasers? Why not have tumbling midgets appear on stage to whisper the name M. Night Shyamalan in Charlie Sheen's ear at the climactic moment? Let's do something to dress up this dead spot in the show.

And what's all this talk about the Oscar show being too long? I say let's make it longer! Every executive producer should get to thank everyone he's ever met on international television for as long as he wants. After all, what's the sense of winning an award if during the shining moment of your career you get shoved off the stage so they can show a commercial for a razor with five blades? Let 'em talk - it gives the reporters time to take notes. Besides, it's a school night, and Mom said we could stay up to watch Jar Jar Binks present the Irving Thalberg Award to Jerry Bruckheimer.


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