Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who Should Win the 2012 Honorary Oscars?

I chime in every year on filmicability in regards to this yearly question, which these days is usually arrived at around the end of August. It was a bit controversial, the Academy's recent decision to fete the Honorary Oscar winners with the separate Autumnal ceremony prior to the February/March competitive Oscar show. But, in many ways, I kind of like how they're handling the Honorary Oscars now. Those moviemaking legends who're chosen get a warmer ceremony that doesn't try and rush the honorees off stage (and which internet-savvy fans can watch almost in full on the Academy's website). And they still get to be a substantial part of the wider-seen Oscar party come the new year. Best of all, this allows the Academy to hand out three or four Honorary Oscars per year, since eating up time on the rilly big shoo isn't an issue anymore. This also frees up the Academy to be more adventurous in their choices. In the end, I'd much rather see more artists deserving of the award actually receiving it, regardless of whether they can be seen getting it on television. TV exposure is beside the point; these people who've given their lives to the filmmaking art deserve recognition. If it means we need to trade off TV time for the opportunity for three or four artists a year to receive their due, then I think this is fair.

In the years since this blog has existed, I have posted two articles trying to predict the winners of this award: here in 2008 and here in 2010. Each time, I have been able to predict at least one of the winners. Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, Ennio Morricone, Roger Corman, Lauren Bacall, Jerry Lewis, Jean-Luc Godard, and Gordon Willis have all been on my wish lists, and all have garnered their Oscar (or Hersholt, or Thalberg awards).

So, this Spring, I choose to highlight just ten more names to add to the ones I've already stated should be considered for Honorary Oscars. Just in case you haven't clicked over to my previous choices are (and these are the ones who haven't been chosen yet): Frederick Wiseman, Albert Maysles, Liv Ullmann, Max Von Sydow, James Ivory, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Peter Bogdonovich, Albert Finney, Kyle Cooper, Burt Reynolds, and Woody Allen. Here are my 10 choices for this year, in no preferential order:

Douglas Trumbull, special effects artist and director. KEY FILMS (as FX supervisor): 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, Silent Running, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner; (as director): Silent Running, Brainstorm. For his brilliant engineering of special effects for movies (including his return to FX this year for Malick's The Tree of Life); for helping develop the IMAX format; and for his groundbreaking work on a variety of film-based theme-park rides.

Roger Ebert, film critic and screenwriter. KEY FILM: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It might seem unusual to posit Mr. Ebert for a Special Oscar, given that his involvement in the meat-and-potatoes of film production is minimal. But who else out there has promoted the love of motion pictures more? He's given his entire life to the art form, and continues giving through his annual Ebertfest and his popular online presence. The guy has conquered newspapers, television, and the Internet with his analysis of all things cinematic. He was the first movie critic to win the Pulitzer; I think he should become the first one to win the Oscar, too. By the way: this would be a HUGELY popular choice.

Paul Mazursky, actor, writer, and director. KEY FILMS: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Alex in Wonderland, Blume in Love, Harry and Tonto, Next Stop Greenwich Village, An Unmarried Woman, Moscow on the Hudson, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Enemies: A Love Story. An indelible voice on film throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Mazursky has a style all his own, and it's time it was recognized for its colorfully humanistic verve.

Gena Rowlands, actress. KEY FILMS: Shadows, Lonely are the Brave, A Child is Waiting, Faces, Minnie and Moscowicz, A Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night, Gloria, Tempest, Love Streams, Another Woman, Night On Earth, Something to Talk About, Hope Floats, The Notebook. One of our greatest actors and, lastly, our deepest connection to Mr. Cassavetes.

Christopher Lee, actor. KEY FILMS: Hamlet, Moulin Rouge, The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, She, Rasputin: The Mad Monk, The Magic Christian, The Devil Rides Out, Scream and Scream Again, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Hannie Caulder, The Wicker Man, The Man with the Golden Gun, 1941, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Triage, Alice in Wonderland, Hugo Cabret, The Hobbit. For a breathtaking body of work that continues, after six decades, to make its mark on the medium.

John Boorman, writer, director and producer. KEY FILMS: Catch Us If You Can, Hell In the Pacific, Point Blank, Leo the Last, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, Hope and Glory, The Emerald Forest, The General, The Tailor of Panama. A brilliant director, through and through.

Doris Day, actress. KEY FILMS: Young Man with a Horn, Calamity Jane, Young at Heart, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Pajama Game, Teacher's Pet, Pillow Talk, Midnight Lace, Please Don't Eat The Daisies, Lover Come Back, That Touch of Mink, Move Over Darling, Send Me No Flowers, With Six You Get Eggroll. For being a singular presence in film for two decades, often in which she was the #1 box office attraction.

Ken Russell, writer and director. KEY FILMS: Women in Love, The Music Lovers, The Devils, The Boy Friend, Tommy, Altered States, Crimes of Passion, The Lair of the White Worm, The Rainbow. For being a lovably wacky author of one-of-a-kind motion pictures.

Owen Roizman , cinematographer. KEY FILMS: The French Connection, Play It Again Sam, The Heartbreak Kid, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Exorcist, Three Days of the Condor, The Stepford Wives, Network, Straight Time, True Confessions, The Electric Horseman, Absence of Malice, Taps, Tootsie, Havana, The Addams Family, Grand Canyon, Wyatt Earp. His remarkable resume says it all; the one totally technical award I think deserves to be given, to a man who's been nominated five times but never has won.

Ned Beatty, actor. KEY FILMS: Deliverance, Nashville, White Lightning, All The President's Men, Network, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Silver Streak, Gator, Superman, Superman II, Wise Blood, Friendly Fire, 1941, Back to School, The Big Easy, Hear My Song, Rudy, Cookie's Fortune, Spring Forward, Sweet Land, The Walker, Charlie Wilson's War, The Killer Inside Me, Toy Story 3, Rango. I liked how the Academy opened up the Special Oscar field last year to include an essential character actor like Eli Wallach. If they were going to do the same sort of thing this go round, I'd like to submit consideration for another great American actor who's rarely gotten his due.

For the Thalberg award (which goes to producers alone), I'd go for either the Weinsteins, Scott Rudin, Lawrence Bender, or Ted Hope. For the Jean Hersholt Award, for humanitarian effort, I'd nominate George Clooney, Sean Penn, or Angelina Jolie.

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