Sunday, February 24, 2013

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

One of the Monkey's favorite fixtures on the Washington Post op-ed page is Alexandra Petri, who is, by turns, amusing, thoughtful, insightful and deep but always non-ax-grinding, which is why the non-ax-grinding Monkey likes to read her.

Today, Ms. Petri suggests that the Academy Awards ceremony would improve with "better categories than Best Actor and Best Actress." Categories such as "Best Performance in an Arty Movie No One Saw" and "Best Appearance in Movie Where the Dog Dies." It's a funny column and you can read it for yourself here.

But, of course, I couldn't help but start wondering who in movie history might actually deserve to win these awards. Here are my suggestions. Feel free to offer up your own in the comments section below.

Although there are 34 categories in the online edition, I'm strictly a read-the-paper-over-breakfast-print-man, so I'm going with the Sunday edition's 26 (assuming I counted correctly). This is going to take the rest of the week.

Best Performance by Someone Old Who Deserves to Win Something
There have been many such Oscars handed out over the years, some deserved, some not (Don Ameche's win for Cocoon being perhaps the most egregious—to quote my late mother: "Don Ameche?! He never could act!"). The best such Oscar-winning performance was probably by Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful. Did you know she was nominated eight times, winning in her last chance? She died the next year.
Of those who were nominated but didn't win, I'd probably go with Peter O'Toole in Venus—hard to believe the guy has never won anything. But then the Academy has a history of neglecting great actors—not only did Cary Grant never win, Edward G. Robinson was never even nominated! Imagine that.

Best Performance in a Biopic of a Person the Audience Actually Recognizes
Which counts out Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, I'd think. Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc is pushing it—we all know who Joan of Arc was, but would we actually recognize her if we saw her on the street? So I'm going with George C. Scott in Patton.

Best Performance in an Arty Movie No One Saw
Now that would be Maria Falconetti. No one saw The Passion of Joan of Arc upon its release, then the negative was destroyed in a fire and the film was presumed lost for decades. In 1981, it was rediscovered in a janitor's closet in a Norwegian insane asylum. Great movie, great performance.

Least Embarrassing Golden Globes Speech
Honestly, I've never watched the Golden Globes, so I couldn't say, and let's face it, on some level, all awards speeches are embarrassing. Instead, I'll go in the other direction and guess that the most embarrassing Golden Globes speech was when Ving Rhames gave away his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon. Actually dragged Lemmon on stage in a moment of enthusiastic self-deprecation and shoved the award into his hands, to Lemmon's mortification. And I say this as a guy who loves both Ving Rhames and Jack Lemmon. Haven't seen nearly enough of ol' Ving since then, by the way.

Best Acting With a Green Screen
Without doing an extensive search, I'm going with Naomi Watts in the remake of King Kong. She made the relationship between her character and the forty-foot CGI monkey not just plausible but touching.

Best Performance for Which You Gained Weight Intentionally
Given that it's one of the best performances by anybody ever anyway, I'm going with Robert De Niro in Raging Bull.

Tomorrow: awards for heartstring-tugging children, difficult directors, James Franco and recovering addicts.

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