The Academy Awards

John W. Pinkerton

When I was a kid, folks seemed to take the Academy Awards, the Oscars, pretty seriously.  Today folks don’t seem very interested in the annual pageant.  AmourArgoBeasts Of The Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty are the nominees for the best picture award this year.  I have heard of only a couple of these movies. The eighty-fifth Academy Awards will be televised February 24th.  Gawd, I hope something is on better than this hootenanny.

During the first three or four years of the Oscars, there were persistent and
probably truthful rumors that the fix was in.  Louis B. Mayer of MGM was the godfather of the awards; it’s not too surprising that he would want to maneuver the results to his studio’s favor.

In recent years, the only award I even take note of is the Best Picture Award.   The awards began in 1927.  From 27 through 59, such movies as All Quiet on the Western Front, It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, You Can’t Take It with You, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, The Best Years of Our Lives, All the King’s Men, From Here to Eternity, On the Waterfront, Marty, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Ben-Hur won the award.

Probably around 1960, I became more critical of the Academy’s choices.  In 1960 The Apartment won; Phyco should have.  In ‘61 West Side Story won over The Hustler.    1964, My Fair Lady won over Dr. Strangelove: or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
‘71, The French Connection won over A Clockwork Orange and The Last Picture Show.  ’79, Kramer Vs. Kramer won over Apocalypse Now.  ‘80, Ordinary People won over Raging Bull.  ‘95, Braveheart won over Apollo 13, Toy Story, Babe, Dead Man Walking and The Usual Suspects.  ‘96, The English Patient won over Fargo.  ‘98, Shakespeare in Love won over Saving Private Ryan.  In 2011, a silent film, The Artist, won.  Go figure.  Of course, all of this is subjective, but I’ll stand by my choices over the Academy’s.   I recall the evening that Mel Gibson’s Braveheart beat out a group of wonderful films.  To Mel’s credit, he seemed as surprised as everyone else that his film had won.  Kramer Vs. Kramer’s selection I still resent.  I felt that Hollywood gave itself approval for divorce by choosing this rather dull film.  Well, it’s just Hollywood, not to be taken seriously.

How about a little Oscar trivia?  Oldest actor in a leading role: Henry
Fonda, age 76, for his role in On Golden Pond, 1981.  Oldest actress in a leading role: Jessica Tandy, age 80, for her role in Driving Miss Daisy, 1989.  Youngest male in a leading role: Adrien Brody, age 29, for his role in The Pianist, 2002.  The youngest female in a leading role: Marlee Matlin, age 21, for her role in Children of a Lesser God, 1986.

Who’s won the most Oscars for leading roles?  Spencer Tracy  for Captains Courageous in 1937 and Boys Town in 1938 and then Tom Hanks for Philadelphia in 1993 and Forrest Gump in 1994.  Katherine Hepburn won four times: for Morning Glory, 1933; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, 1967; The Lion in Winter, 1968; and On Golden Pond, 1981.

Who is Walter Brennen?  He won the Academy Award three times for best supporting actor: for Come and Get It, 1936; Kentucky, 1938; The Westerner, 1940.

Which director has won the most Oscars?  John Ford made
over 140 movies.  Four of them won Oscars: The Informer, 1935; The Grapes of Wrath, 1940; How Green Was My Valley, 1941; and The Quiet Man, 1952.

Who were the actor and actress who received the most nominations?  Jack Nicholson, 12; Meryl Streep, 16.

How many Academy Awards did Peter O’Toole receive?  None, but he was nominated eight times.  Which dead
guy received the most nominations?  James Dean, two.

Well, that’s enough about the Oscars.  It’s a pretty trivial pursuit.


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