Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alexandra Petri's New Oscar Categories (Taken More Seriously Than She Intended) (Part Four)

(What is this? Read here.)

Best Performance in a Movie That Involves Running Away From No Fewer Than Two Explosions
How many explosions were there in the first Die Hard movie—well, let's see, there was one on the roof, and one in the elevator and—well, that's two right there. So I'm going with Bruce Willis in Die Hard, which is not just a great action picture, but a great picture, period.

Best Musician Trying To Cross Over Into Acting
If singers count as musicians, it'd be either Will Smith or Frank Sinatra, and since I've already gone with Smith in an answer, let's say Sinatra in From Here To Eternity, The Man with the Golden Arm and The Manchurian Candidate.
If, on the other hand, an actual musical instrument must be played, then I'm going with a personal favorite, pianist Oscar Levant, who was hilarious in Humoresque and An American in Paris. "I'm a concert pianist. That's a pretentious way of saying I'm ... unemployed at the moment." I can dig it, Oscar. It works the same for writers, too.

Best Performance as an Aging Character Who Wants to Prove He or She's Still Got It
There are a lot of good ones to choose from—Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Bette Davis in All About Eve, John Wayne in The Shootist, Orson Welles in Touch of Evil, and that's just off the top of my head—but I'm going with William Holden in The Wild Bunch. As I wrote a year ago, "I don't know anybody over the age of fifty who isn't a little startled, dismayed and embarrassed to realize that the upward trajectory of the life that they so took for granted has nosed over and is now on a permanent downward spiral toward the grave. For Pike Bishop (William Holden), the aging leader of a gang of Old West desperados, it's not just that he no longer understands the world that has changed around him; it's the realization that even if he did understand it, he no longer has the energy, stamina or reflexes to do anything about it. But as Dylan Thomas pointed out, there's more than one way to grow old: you can go quietly into the night, or you can rage, rage against the dying of the light. Pike chooses to rage. And oh how he rages."

Best Performance Involving a Single Manly Tear
That's easy—the native American in the that late-1960s public service ad lamenting the casual littering of the American landscape. Really, people used to throw their trash out the car window without a second thought. This one ad did more to change attitudes than probably all the other ads and speeches on the subject combined.

And no, I have no evidence to support that. Just my personal impression.

Best Performance Where You Have to Age Citizen-Kane-Style Over Years and Years
Another easy one—Orson Welles in Citizen Kane! Sometimes they just softball it in there for you.

Tomorrow: dogs, gays, boats, sandals and parents.

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