Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards (1971) (Revised)

Ah, screw it. I exchanged a couple of comments with Erik Beck (of the Boston Becks) whose methodical, analytical approach to Oscar history makes my own efforts look like the slapdash noodlings of a weekend amateur. Then I took the dog for a walk. Came home, read some more comments. Then I decided to go with my first impulse, which was to treat A Clockwork Orange as a comedy and hand out awards accordingly.

My apologies to Walter Matthau and Arthur Hiller (the latter of whom is still with us and is no doubt at this very moment celebrating his earlier award with a champagne brunch).

Because A Clockwork Orange really is a comedy—or in any event, a brutally dark satire—about the clash between the two primary impulses underlying Western democracy, personal freedom and collective responsibility. Here, you see those two impulses at their very worst and have to decide whether you'd rather live in fear of vicious thugs or a government that can brainwash you into behaving however it wants you to behave.

Author Anthony Burgess came down firmly in favor of the former. Me, I don't want to live with either, which is why I live in Ellicott City, a land of the well-behaved that also boasts the oldest surviving passenger train station in the country.

I can't actually say I get much pleasure from A Clockwork Orange, though. I read the book in school and loved it, saw the movie in college and loved it, then saw the movie again with Katie-Bar-The-Door at a revival theater fifteen or so years ago, and found myself looking at my watch thinking, "I didn't realize this movie was three hours long." It isn't; it just felt that way.

But it is hugely influential and I would be remiss for not acknowledging that, much as I acknowledged Joan Fontaine's performance in Rebecca even though I am definitely not a Joan Fontaine fan.

P.S. Resist your temptation to leave a comment explaining how personal freedom versus collective responsibility is the province of one political party or the other. Each favors personal freedom in those areas it thinks you should be free, and each wants to tell you what to do in those areas it thinks it should be able to tell you what to do.

Anyway, such arguments miss the point. Big Brother starts with a "G"—not for "government" but for "Google." We're all going to choose to live in a gulag someday because the gulag will offer free wi-fi.

Remember, you heard it here first.

winner: The Last Picture Show (prod. Stephen J. Friedman)
Must-See Drama:

PICTURE (Comedy/Musical)
winner: A Clockwork Orange (prod. Stanley Kubrick)
Must-See Comedy/Musical:

PICTURE (Foreign Language)
winner: Szerelem (Love) (prod. Hungarofilm and MAFILM Stúdió 1)
Must-See Foreign Language:

ACTOR (Drama)
winner: Gene Hackman (The French Connection)

ACTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)

winner: Jane Fonda (Klute)

ACTRESS (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Ruth Gordon (Harold and Maude)

winner: Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show)

DIRECTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange)

winner: Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show)

winner: Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show)

winner: Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich, from the novel by Larry McMurtry (The Last Picture Show)

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