Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On Oscar Snubs

Joel McCrea was such a big and beloved Hollywood star that, when Maureen Stapleton won her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for 1981's Reds, she thanked him in her acceptance speech for the joy his performances gave her.  McCrea's great performance in the 1962 western, Ride the High Country, was referenced in Annie Proulx's acclaimed short story, Brokeback Mountain.  McCrea was terrific in two of the top Preston Sturges screwball comedies.  He was the broke husband who gets irritated when his loving wife sets out to turn his fortunes around by separating and attracting a generous millionaire in The Palm Beach Story (1942).
In Sturges' Sullivan's Travels (1941), a true Hollywood classic, he's the Hollywood mogul who dresses down and hits the road to anonymously learn about hardship.  Every road seems to lead back to the beginning -- Hollywood.  He meets a disillusioned Hollywood blonde with a heart of gold.  She thinks he's a hobo and buys him a hot meal.
Together they'll learn great lessons about this "cockeyed caravan" we call Life.
Director Preston Sturges also gave us The Lady Eve starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek starring Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton.  Both are considered to be amongst the best of Hollywood's screwball comedies.  Actor Joel McCrea was never ever nominated for an Academy Award.  The legendary and brilliant Preston Sturges was never ever nominated for Best Director.  As a Paramount studio screenwriter who won the ability to direct his own material, he opened a door for future Oscar winner writer/directors such as Billy Wilder and Woody Allen.
He was nominated for his screenplays.  He won a screenwriting Oscar for 1940's The Great McGinty.  But Preston Sturges was never nominated for his unique and highly influential direction.  When entertainment reporters on TV are aghast at Ben Affleck not getting a Best Director nomination for Argo, tell them that.  Sturges wrote and directed movies that I studied in university film courses.  Remind them too about Barbra Streisand.  Just like Ben Affleck with Argo, she starred in and directed a film that became a Best Picture nominee -- 1991's The Prince of Tides.
It got seven Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor shot for Nick Nolte and a Best Supporting Actress nod for Kate Nelligan.  Streisand did not get a nomination for Best Director.  But, like Affleck with Argo, she was nominated as producer of a Best Picture nominee.  Look at Edward G. Robinson (Little Caesar, The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, Tales of Manhattan, Key Largo, The Cincinnati Kid).  He's great in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity as the boss whose favorite employee becomes a killer because he had the hots for a cold-hearted blonde who hates her husband.
Neither Edward G. Robinson nor Joel McCrea ever received an Academy Award nomination. Another totally snubbed film actor was Marilyn Monroe, star of Billy Wilder's comedy classic Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis...
...and John Huston's drama The Misfits with Clark Gable, written by Arthur Miller.
Also legendary film actor/screenwriter/director Buster Keaton, Myrna Loy, actress and groundbreaking film director Ida Lupino, Fred MacMurray (Double Indemnity, The Apartment, The Caine Mutiny), Tyrone Power (Nightmare Alley, Witness for the Prosecution), Donald Sutherland, Richard Gere and Mia Farrow.  None of those actors was as lucky as L.A. Confidential star and Oscar winner, Kim Basinger.  Look at the fine film work Mia's done.  There was her stunning gradual breakdown in the modern-day Manhattan horror story, Rosemary's Baby (1968).  Critics hailed her hit film portrayal.
Then there were those wonderful performances she gave in Woody Allen movies.  She does absolutely beautiful work as the shy, abused wife and film fan who finds brief happiness when her favorite 1930s movie character comes off the big screen and into her Depression era life.  This sweet fantasy is Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo.
Add to that her her comedy turn as the lovable bubblehead who lacks acting talent and becomes an entertainment reporter in Radio Days....her always-dependable oldest child whose own needs are ignored by family in the heartwarming Hannah and Her Sisters...the tough New Jersey dame who may have mob connections and helps a neurotic talent agent called Broadway Danny Rose...
...and her exquisite comedy work as the pampered, flighty Manhattan wife who re-evaluates what is truly important in her life.  She sees a lot of things, and her husband, differently after some special Chinese herbs make her invisible in Alice.
She's fabulous in this 1990 Fellini-esque Woody Allen fantasy.  As Alice, she's silly, sexy and ultimately very sensible.  Versatile actress Mia Farrow has never been nominated for an Academy Award.  More on Mia:  I have loved her work and compassion for years.  She and one of her closest friends, her mother, worked together onscreen.  Mia Farrow and her mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, gave one of their best major movie performances as mother/daughter actresses in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).
At MGM in the 1930s, Maureen O'Sullivan (seated) added to the comedy murder mystery fun in The Thin Man, a big hit starring Myrna Loy and William Powell.
She went out on a limb and gained fame as Jane, the perfect jungle wife and mother in MGM's successful Tarzan adventure movie franchise starring Johnny Weissmuller.
She starred opposite Ray Milland in The Big Clock.  This 1948 film noir thriller was directed by her husband and Mia's father, John Farrow.
Maureen was never nominated for an Oscar either.  Before Mia's movie career skyrocketed, she was a sensation with young TV viewers thanks to her work on ABC's prime time weekly adaptation of the scandalous best-selling novel and box office hit movie Peyton Place.  Just like the novel and the movie, the series was also a success.
Maureen O'Sullivan's young daughter was proving her acting chops as a Peyton Place daughter.  Her mom in the prime time soap was played by Oscar winner Dorothy Malone.
In the 1957 movie, these were the roles that put Lana Turner in the Best Actress Oscar category and newcomer Diane Varsi in the Best Supporting Actress category.  Mia went from TV role to film roles.  She married singer/Oscar-winning actor Frank Sinatra.
The marriage was short.  The friendship was long, lasting until his death.  With her film triumphs came top magazine covers.  Take a Look.
She was one of the hot new and very talented young stars.
She won the coveted role of Daisy in the previous remake of The Great Gatsby (1974).
In later years, like the well-off lady she played in a Woody Allen comedy, she got actively involved in helping the under-privileged and disenfranchised all over the world.
Last Sunday, Ms. Farrow arrived in Beirut, traveling to give aid to Syrian refugees. She's a UNICEF ambassador who's never been an Oscar nominee for any of her outstanding acting work.  But the Academy really should consider her for one of its honorary Oscars for her passionate international humanitarian work.  It gave Oprah one.  Give Mia one.
Oprah Winfrey was a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for The Color Purple (1985), her screen debut after becoming a syndicated talk show host and TV star.

Ben Affleck did not receive a Best Director Oscar nomination for Argo.   But he is nominated as producer in the Best Picture category for it.
He and Matt Damon struck gold for their 1997 original screenplay, Good Will Hunting.
Kathryn Bigelow did not get a Best Director Oscar nomination for Zero Dark Thirty.  But she is nominated as producer in the Best Picture category for it.  She made history as the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director thanks to The Hurt Locker.  She won another Oscar as a producer of it when it was voted Best Picture.
The extremely talented Mr. Affleck and Ms. Bigelow may not have scored nominations in a specific category this year, but they do have Oscars at home.  Some artists did great work for years and years and never got nominated at all.  Now THAT'S a snub.

1 comment:

  1. Did you ever mention anything about Dorothy Malone's snub in the 2000 Oscar telecast of former winners? Supposedly she was not invited.


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