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Sunday, March 2, 2014


The Oscar has slightly changed over the years.  Above to the right is the first one Katherine Hepburn won in 1934 for best actress, co-starring with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in Morning Glory.  The original was gold-plated bronze, but was lost in a hurricane and later found, thus the darkness.  That was 80 years ago, and I didn't think she was that old, having passed away only a decade ago.

She won three more, now made of britannia, a metal alloy mostly of tin and coated in 24-karat gold, on a higher platform.  Oscar is 13.5 inches tall, weighing in at 8.5 pounds.  In comparison, Meryl Streep has won "only" two best actress awards, plus one for best supporting actress.  In 1927 Janet Gayner (right) was the first actress to receive an Oscar for Seventh Heaven/Street Angel/Sunrise.

The first Academy Awards televised, hosted (here are seven memorable moments), of course, by Bob Hope (18 times), was in 1953 when The Greatest Show on Earth (TGSOE) upset High Noon, with Singing in the Rain, which much later went on to become the greatest American musical film of all time (2007 by the American Film Institute--#2 was West Side Story and #3 The Wizard of Oz), not even nominated.    How big was this boo-boo?  Rotten Tomatoes has ratings for the 81 films to win Best Picture, and TGSOE has the lowest score, 41 by reviewers.  High Noon?  96.  Singing in the Rain received a 100 rating!!!  High Noon by Tex Ritter (father of John Ritter), incidentally, was the best song that year.

I was planning to post on Singing in the Rain later, but let me insert it here.  The song was rated #3 by the American Film Institute (Somewhere Over the Rainbow was #1 and As Time Goes By #2).  However, that 1952 film was, maybe, only the 6th time that tune was used in a movie:
  • 1929:  Doris Eaton Travis in The Hollywood Music Box Revue (that's her to the the age 14 in 1918 she became the youngest Ziegfield Girl)
  • 1929:  Cliff Edwards and the Bronx Sisters in The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (the quality of the ukulele sound was terrific...and guess where the choreographer of the popular 1952 version got ideas?)
  • 1930:  as background music for Norma Shearer's The Divorcee (she won the Best Actress Oscar for this performance)
  • 1932:  Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily (this is the whole film, with Buster Keaton)
  • 1940:  Judy Garland in Little Nellie Kelly
Getting back to the Academy Awards, there will be a salute to the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.  That was the year Gone with the Wind won the Oscar, and the other seven nominated films also remain memorable.

There are twenty individuals who have never won an Oscar, headed by Leonardo Dicaprio.  Maybe this time's the charm.  Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, Peter O'Toole, Angela Lansbury, Richard Burton and Albert Finney haven't either.  Here is one view of the five greatest surprises:
  • 2002:  Adrien Brody beating Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Nicholson and Nicolas Cage for Best Actor.
  • 1995:  Emma Thompson, who had won Best Actress in 1992, won for Best Screenplay.
  • 1999:  Shakespeare in Love prevailing over Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture.
  • 1994:  Tommy Lee Jones edging out Ralph Fiennes for Best Supporting Actor
  • 1991:  Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves winning Best Picture from Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas.
The 86th Academy Awards will be on ABC tonight.   A 30-second ad is not quite the $4 million of the Super Bowl, but Cuba Gooding Jr. will end a Pepsi commercial that will cost  just about that much.  In an obvious link to Jerry Maguire, he utters, "show me the mini," as the one-minute clip introduces the new 7.5 ounce can.

The Oscar telecast last year had 40 million TV viewers.  The Super Bowl this year drew 53 million FEMALE viewers, 108 million total.  However, 62% of Academy Award watchers are female.  Homes with incomes higher than $100,000 tend to be drawn to this program.

The 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Pictures are 94% white and 77% male.  The median age is 62.  Myself, I went to more movies this year than anytime in the past.  I actually saw all nine Best Picture nominees.  Although my sense is that 12 Years a Slave will win the Oscar, I most enjoyed Gravity this year, and fell in love with Her.

Matthew McConaughey from Dallas Buyers Club I think was best actor. He also made a nice cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street.  Losing 47 pounds might help his cause.  His sidekick, Jared Leto, is a cinch for Best Supporting Actor.  Cate Blanchett from Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine should win Best Actress.  But my predictions for Oscars are not particularly prescient.

You will want to of course then traipse to the Governor's Ball on the property (Dolby Theater) featuring Wolfgang Puck (his 20th) and Matt Bencivenga.  While 50 separate dishes are mentioned, the chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles and miniature American Wagyu burger with aged cheddar caught my attention.  They will sip Champagne Thienot and Sterling cabs and chards, although other options include Baileys vanilla cinnamon and Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps rimmed with gold flakes.  Unfortunately, you need to be on the A-Guest list of 1500.

Wow, after the four hour program, ALL my predictions came true.  Sometimes I amaze even myself.


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