Sunday, December 21, 2008

What About The Honorary Awards?

As a ridiculously devout follower of the Oscars, I pay attention to the details. That means that I wonder, every annum, who's gonna win the Honorary Oscars AS WELL as them Golden Boys we all expect to be handed out year after year.

To wit: In 2004, I was surprised, but then really not so much so, when I predicted the winner of that year's Honorary Oscar to be the reliable producer/director/writer Sidney Lumet, who'd just done too many great movies to be ignored--among them, 12 Angry Men, Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Pawnbroker, The Fugitive Kind, Fail-Safe, The Hill, The Anderson Tapes, Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Equus, Prince of the City, Deathtrap, Running on Empty, and The Verdict.

In 2005, I easily (I thought) predicted Robert Altman would win a Special Oscar for his unparalleled career work, which included M.A.S.H., Images, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, Thieves Like Us, California Split, Nashville, 3 Women, Popeye, Brewster McCloud, Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean, Secret Honor, The Player, A Prairie Home Companion, Short Cuts, Cookie's Fortune, and Gosford Park.

In 2006, I amazed myself mightily by predicting that Ennio Morricone would win an Honorary Oscar for his contribution to film music, with credits such as The Good The Bad and The Ugly, The Mission, The Untouchables, 1900, La Cage Aux Folles, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon A Time In America, Days of Heaven, Burn!, Bugsy, Frantic, Danger: Diabolik, The Thing, A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, Duck You Sucker, and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

I admit now that I failed to predict the 2007 winner, Robert Boyle (whose credits include North by Northwest, The Birds, Fiddler on the Roof, The Russians are Coming, Gaily Gaily, and Shadow of a Doubt). I mean, really--who could have predicted that? However, I heartily applauded the Academy's notation.

Now I attempt to foresee the 2008 winner of the Honorary Oscar (as well as the winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award).

This is an uber-challenging aspect of Oscar prognostication that I haven't even seen my three favorite Oscar predix sites The Envelope, In Contention, and Awards Daily attempt to tackle. But I'm now hellbound to deliver my top ten possibilities (or recommendations) for the winner of the AA's Honorary Award, with only two predictions--long time comin'--for its Humanitarian Award PLUS a special bonus.

The top ten possibilities, in my view, for the Honorary Award (in order):

Gordon Willis, cinematographer (The Landlord, Klute, The Godfather, Bad Company, The Paper Chase, The Godfather Part II, All The President's Men, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Stardust Memories, Pennies From Heaven, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, The Godfather Part III) (Willis's singular style of photography put a chestnut-colored brand on the movies he's worked on like no other cinematographer out there. With only one nomination under his belt--believe it or not!--the man has been ignored for too long. He is my #1 pick for the Honorary Oscar this year.)

Lauren Bacall, actress (To Have and To Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, Key Largo, How To Marry a Millionaire, Written on the Wind, Murder on the Orient Express, The Shootist, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Dogville, Birth, Manderlay, The Walker) (Bacall is one of the last the major star-powered name left from the 40s. She's running neck-and-neck with Willis, and may very well best him.)

James Ivory, writer/director/producer (Shakespeare Wallah, The Wild Party, Roseland, The Europeans, The Bostonians, A Room With A View, Maurice, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, Howards End, The Remains of the Day, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, The White Countess) (The American-born Ivory has been a internationally-renowned figure of cinema for four decades. He'll might not win Best Director this late in his career, so should he now win an Honorary Award, given his resume's brilliant pedigree?)

Roger Corman, producer/director/impresario (It Conquered The World, Not Of This Earth, Machine Gun Kelly, A Bucket of Blood, The House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Intruder, The Raven, Little Shop of Horrors, The Terror, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, The Masque of the Red Death, The Wild Angels, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, The Trip, Bloody Mama, Dementia 13, Boxcar Bertha, Unholy Rollers, Cockfighter, Big Bad Mama, Death Race 2000, Hollywood Boulevard, Jackson County Jail, Eat My Dust, Candy Stripe Nurses, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Targets, Saint Jack, Rock and Roll High School, The Tin Drum) (Corman has mainly been a purveyor of A-list schlock. But how can one ignore the guy who gave starts to Coppola, Scorsese, Bogdanovich, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, Jonathan Kaplan, Jonathan Demme, and sooooooooooo many others?)

Albert Maysles, director/producer/cinematographer (Salesman, Primary, Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Christo in Paris, Showman, Christo's Valley Curtain, Running Fence, The Gates, The Beatles: The First US Visit, Monterey Pop, Meet Marlon Brando) (The greatest living documentarian has never won an Oscar. Is it time to rectify this?)

Jerry Lewis, actor/writer/director/producer (My Friend Irma, The Errand Boy, Scared Stiff, The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Nutty Professor, The Patsy, Artists and Models, The Delicate Delinquent, The Geisha Boy, The Family Jewels, The Disorderly Orderly, Who's Minding The Store?, Arizona Dreams, Funny Bones, The King of Comedy) (Not only is he an influential screen comedian, he also has captivated the world with his groundbreaking directorial stylings, has impressed with his late-career adventurousness and will always be remembered for his undying devotion to his pet causes.)

Werner Herzog, writer/producer/director (Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde, Woyzeck, Nosferatu The Vampire, Even Dwarves Started Small, Every Man for Himself and God Against All, Heart of Glass, Stroszek, Where The Green Ants Dream, Lessons of Darkness, Little Dieter Needs To Fly, Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn, Encounters at the End of the World, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, ) (His is an unusual body of work that's very obviously award-worthy, even as it seems to be entering a third distinct phase.)

Jean Luc-Godard, writer/director (Breathless, Weekend, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Band of Outsiders, Masculin/Feminin, Alphaville, Contempt, Pierrot Le Fou, Number Two, Hail Mary, Histoire(s) du cinéma, Nouvelle Vague, Forever Mozart, In Praise of Love) (Godard would be number one on this list, were it not obvious that he might literally piss on the Oscar live in front of a billion viewers.)

Peter Bogdanovich, writer/director/producer (Targets, The Last Picture Show, What's Up Doc?, Daisy Miller, Paper Moon, Nickelodeon, Saint Jack, They All Laughed, Mask, Texasville, The Cat's Meow) (Like Altman, only less long-lasting, Bogdanovich is another director from the 1970s that has done enough great work to merit the award' this in addition to his continuing contribution to recorded film history with his always revealing DVD commentaries, which further his standing as America's answer to France's cabal of critics-turned-filmmakers.)

Woody Allen, writer/director/star (Yes, he's already got three Oscars. But I defy anyone to name one past superstar winner--like Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and Sidney Poitier before him--that deserves to net this special award as well.)


Tony Dayoub said...

Actually, Dean, here's a link to a press release put out by the Academy on 12/10:

Jerry Lewis to Receive
Hersholt Humanitarian Award
at 81st Academy Awards

Good call.

Dean Treadway said...

OH MY GOD!!! Such a deserved award! Thanks, Tony, for showing this to me! My God!!!!!!!!! Finally, after all these years, Lewis gets the award he probably has always really wanted. This is reason enough to tune in to the 2009 Oscars. There won't be a dry eye in the house. Kudos to the Academy for seeing what dearly needed to be done! Again, thank you, Tony! You're the best! Wow! I feel so great!!!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS, MR. LEWIS! YOU'RE THE GREATEST!

Joel Bocko said...

When does the Honorary get announced? I won't be able to do a post anytime soon on the subject, but I may do one afterthe recipient is revealed, as per your suggestion, Dean.

I read Gordon Willis and thought, yeah, that would be great. I'd love that. But then you reminded me of Albert Maysles. He should absolutely get the award and, man, that would be so perfect if he did. I had the honor of meeting him once, after a small screening of the Beatles' First U.S. Visit on the 40th anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan. An old man wandered to the front of the room - I thought it was an audience member looking for the bathroom, but it turned out to be Al Maysles himself!

He talked about his experience of making the movie, and as always (I've seen him since in many interviews) was warm, funny, generous, and observant. But beneath this grandfatherly visage is one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century (I believe Godard called him the "best American cameraman" of the 60s). Everything I've seen by the Maysles brothers has blown me away. They had a unique ability, coupled with the editing skills of Charlotte Zwerin, to capture cinema's most compelling side, the home movie, and make it seem larger than life and intimate simultaneously.

I just directed Tony to a Maysles documentary on Brando; I'll direct you too:

An Honorary for Maysles would not only be extremely well-deserved, and a long time coming, but recognition of potentials for cinema which Hollywood and the Oscars generally ignore. And you can be sure that his acceptance speech would be outstanding.