The Oscar’s: Ego’s “R” Us


With all the usual hype and build-up to the 85th Oscar Academy Awards, I suddenly realised that, unlike the ceremonies that I watched growing up, I did not care at all about the upcoming event.

I used to love the Oscar ceremony. The Academy Awards with all its pomp and circumstance kept me glued to the telly for the entire show. I saw my first “streaker” on the Academy Awards and learned that David Niven really was that funny when he quipped, “Now that chap will only ever be known as the fellow who showed the world his shortcomings on national television.”

When I used to watch, Bob Hope was the eternal master of ceremonies and each year a wealth of jokes about his being passed over for the little golden man were trotted out for the audience’s enjoyment. There were some great moments in the “old days” of the show.

I saw John Wayne moved to tears when he got the nod for True Grit. I saw a very young Henry Winkler telling the world about how excited he was and how star-struck he felt. I watched Clint Eastwood forced to “stand-in” for Charlton Heston; fumbling along until Moses showed up and took over. I also watched Sally Fields exclaim (in a statement that has had the eternal mickey taken out of it ever since) “You like me, you really like me!”

I watched Sir Richard Attenborough give his thank you speech where he talked for what seemed like hours. I also saw the resultant microphone cut-off that the producers of the show introduced after his mammoth acceptance speech. I saw  Elizabeth Taylor get flustered when the above mentioned streaker dashed across the stage (or should I say flashed) during her relay of that category’s nominees.

Mega-Star Taylor creasing up at the streaker. Later she couldn’t concentrate on the auto-cue.

I used to go and get a snack and use the bathroom when the live Broadway show of the moment came on and the other live acts that turned the Awards ceremony into a “variety show” came on. But I loved the awarding of the lifetime achievement awards.

I loved everything about the show, even its awkward (if I chose to watch them) live acts; even when Bob Hope ceased to be the master of ceremonies and was replaced by, among others, Billy Crystal.

Then I got older and began to notice things that I’d missed before.

I realised that actors “got the gong” for films that just were not that great. Other actors never got nominated for outstanding performances or never won when they did get nominated. Films won best picture that were not the best picture by any means. Horror films, screwball comedies, science fiction and a few other film genres were never acknowledged by the Academy’s committee.  Steven Spielberg had to make Schindlers List to finally get the bald golden chap.

Films with “a message” always beat out films that were just damned good entertainment. Your chances of nomination went up with how popular you were. But most obvious were the winners who should have won the year before for an outstanding performance, film, score, et al; who were then nominated for and won the year after for a performance that was nowhere near as impressive. Guilt awarding, I call it.

The other type of award was the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement award (which as I said I used to love) these were usually handed out to someone who had been snubbed by the committee for the entire length of their career. Usually trotted hurriedly out when it appeared that the recipient was about to die or, if the timing was off, just after they had died.

I began to realise that the Oscars were not about merit or excellence. It was about egos and agents and publicity and managers who could splurge for the biggest campaigns for their clients. It was a popularity contest. If your peers liked you and, more importantly, liked your political stance you were almost a shoo in.

Liberals were the fair-haired children of the business and right-wing “hawks” were not. Unless you were NRA hawk Charlton ‘Chuck’ Heston whom Hollywood has always equated with God. After all Charlton played Moses for Christ’s sake, you can’t mess with Him.

Moses, I mean, Charlton Heston.

I think the honest humour that used to be present in the ceremonies has disappeared. They all seem to take themselves entirely too seriously. Maybe it’s because the “funny men” have changed or stopped caring. When the actor Chills Wills took out an entire page in Variety to plead his cause for winning the Oscar the ad said:

 “We of The Alamo cast are praying harder than the real Texans prayed for their lives at the Alamo for Chill Wills to win the Oscar.” “Cousin Chill’s acting was great,” he wrote, signing, Your Alamo cousin.” Another ad read: “Win, lose, or draw. You’re still my cousins and I love you all.”

Comedian Groucho Marx, wrote back: “Dear Mr. Wills. I am delighted to be your cousin. But I voted for Sal Mineo. *courtesy of http://www.emanuellevy.com*

Admittedly a somewhat “tasteless” lapse of judgement on Wills’ part, but a damned funny response from Groucho; but the Oscars have grown up and become more cynical, more about the money and the highbrow idea that these people are more than just talented performers, they are royalty and way above mortal men.

When I became older and more cynical, I began to realize that, just as they don’t make actors like they used to, the business itself has changed. Oh not the money bit, it has always been about the money, but the overtly political overtones have become unwatchable.

The cut-off microphone isn’t the only control that has been placed on the show; they also limited the amount of time that acceptance speeches could last. The televised proceedings have been shortened to show what “they” deem important. Lesser categories (foreign films, documentaries, et al) are not shown at all, except in a quick “credit” recap at the end of the show…if you are lucky.

For me, the magic has gone from the event. They might as well change the name to Ego’s “R” Us. It is all about who has the biggest ego and pocket-book to match. It stopped being about talent and the virtue of a single outstanding shining moment, if indeed it ever was about that to begin with.

The laughter of the audience (filled with the crème de la crème of Hollywood) looks forced and the comedic “in-jokes” have lost their ability to be really funny. When the event becomes more about who has been chosen to be the master of ceremonies; or who is wearing what on the red carpet, and less about the films and actors who have been nominated, it’s time to stop watching.

I’ll just wait to read the list on the internet of who won and who didn’t. Because I don’t believe in the integrity of the award any longer and cannot be bothered to see egos catered to and the audience talked down to. I also don’t want to be overwhelmed by the Botox brigade of new surgically enhanced actors who believe that the secret to a great performance is having the least amount of facial movement possible and big boobs, or a six-pack.

If you watch the show, enjoy it if you can. I’ll probably be watching a film instead; preferably one with the Duke in it.

The Duke’s acceptance speech.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

28 thoughts on “The Oscar’s: Ego’s “R” Us”

  1. Mike, you absolutely nailed the Oscars — then and now!! I used to think it was a generational thing. It was terrific watching all the old legends on stage and in the audience. Even the “newer” legends — McQueen, Eastwood, Beatty, etc. were fun to watch. I remember Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas doing a song and dance number together on one Oscar show. Oscar night was MUST viewing night. If you were a movie fan, it was MAGIC night! Politics — then and now — have always played a major role in winners, losers and the just plain ignored. But now the magic is gone. I think it would be very unfair of me to say I don’t know many of today’s stars and use that as an excuse for Oscar’s decline in our home. It USED to be that the ceremony was the thing. The Movies were the icing on the cake. Obviously, a different time — different sentiments (Just remembered I used to listen to the Oscars — as a kid — on the radio). But you still NAILED what’s wrong with Oscar today!!

    Like

    1. Thanks Garry! That’s the best compliment I’ve received about a blog post thus far. Plus it always helps to find out that other folks feel the same way and that it’s not just me grousing alone. Cheers mate!! 😀

      Like

  2. Have not watched the Oscars in years and really don’t care much about them really. I only know in the runup to it there are usually some great movies out and that’s all I care about 🙂

    Like

  3. Oh … but they promised to revamp things this year. I think there is a lot of pressure on them to do so because all those other Award Shows are stealing their fire … and their audience.
    You’re right … I always WANT to watch it … but usually don’t last 10 minutes. But yeah, I haven’t seen half the movies either (and don’t intend to) so I can’t even make an educated guess at who SHOULD win. And some of the stuff that does win … I wouldn’t bother watching twice.
    But it’s still a bit of fun.

    Like

  4. You nailed it. We still watch, but it doesn’t mean much when you (a) haven’t seen almost any of the movies, and (b) don’t know any of the new generation of performers. Kind of takes the wind out of ones sails.

    Like

  5. I agree with most of the things you said here, but you may want to give Seth McFarland a chance as host this year b/c he seems the type not to pull any punches. I also imagine that eventually Daniel Tosh will get a nod to host and he will be equally, if not more brutal.

    But, yeah a lot of things have changed for the worse. NINE nominations for best picture now? And as you said they never nominate any comedy, or horror. You’re telling me that neither Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels deserved a nod for Dumb & Dumber? Does the Academy ever take into consideration how much energy it takes to play those types of roles – especially as brilliantly as Carrey and Daniels did? The screenplay written by the Farrelly Brothers could have gotten a nod, as well; the script was very well-written!

    And Denzel Washington is my favorite actor, but he deserved to win Best Actor for that crappy “Training Day” movie over Sean Penn in “I Am Sam” or Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”? LOL.

    So, Denzel doesn’t get nominated for “Man on Fire” or “John Q” in which he did a tremendous job – but does get nominated for his mediocre performance in “Training Day”? lol. And not only gets nominated, but WINS against the superior performances by Penn and Crowe. That Oscar was Sean Penn’s that year!

    And then a few years back “Crash” wins best picture? LOL.

    And now this year “Silver Linings Playbook” which looks to be nothing more than a typical romantic dramedy is somehow nominated for EIGHT awards, including best picture, best actor, best actress, and best supporting actor? I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I highly doubt it’s half as good as they’re hyping it up to be.

    I tell you, though – keep an eye out on this Jessica Chastain. She’s the next Meryl Streep! She acted alongside Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter” and she’s up for Best Actress for “Zero Dark Thirty”. I’m not expecting her to win b/c the role didn’t feel academy award caliber, but her performance was great; it just didn’t cause her to do anything extraordinary to earn an Oscar; but there will be plenty of roles in her future that do.

    I can’t argue against Daniel Day-Lewis, though. He deserves it. Most phenomenal actor we have today, followed by Christoph Waltz. And dare I say followed by Michael Shannon.

    I have definitely lost interest in the Academy Award ceremony over the last few years, but with Seth hosting I definitely want to watch his opening monologue. You may want to check out the opening, as well and see if you think he’s funny. In case you’re unfamiliar Seth McFarland is the creator and star of the hilarious and offensive “Family Guy” animated series. I expect him to kill at the Oscars! 🙂

    Like

    1. You’ll have to let me know. As much as I admire Seth McFarland (although I’ve always like American Dad over Family Guy) I haven’t seen anyone able to “rule” over the Oscar ceremony as well as Billy Crystal. 🙂 I stopped watching the awards ceremony a few years back as I found myself becoming less impressed with the “new” talent out there. I do agree that Chastain is one of the up and coming artists of the new millenium but I’ve never been a huge Daniel Day-Lewis fan. Waltz is great in whatever he works in and Shannon I cannot praise enough! Cheers for sharing your thoughts mate. 😀

      Like

      1. Yeah, I hear you. What did you think about Ricky Gervais when he hosted the Golden Globes? I would think you may think that was humorous. lol. He was basically roasting everyone in the room; that seems like how the Academy Awards used to be.

        Like

      2. Not really, amazingly I am one of the few people who don’t find Gervais funny. He’s a good comic actor but as a comedian he leaves me dry. I love Crystal’s sense of the ridiculous and the mickey taking not just of the audience but himself as well. But having said that, I grew up watching Bob Hope MC the show and he was pretty hard to top. lol 🙂

        Like

      3. What did you think of Jon Stewart when he hosted a few years ago? I thought he was pretty good. Who was the most recent host you enjoyed?

        Like

      4. I really cannot emphasis enough how long it has been since I watched the Oscars. I honestly think the last time I watched was when Billy Crystal emcee’d. I have seen clips since, mostly of “winning” moments, but that has been it. So I guess my answer would have to be Mr Crystal! 😀

        Like

      5. Eddie Murphy was set to host in 2012, but dropped out after Bret Ratner resigned as producer after a controversial remark made when promoting his new film Tower Heist. Eddie Murphy could have been a good choice I think. But after Murphy dropped out they just went safe and reliable with the consummate professional Billy Crystal, who was better than most of the hosts they had had in a while. Hugh Jackman hosted a few years back, and he was pretty good, too.

        Like

Let me know what you think!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.