Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

My alternative Oscars, again ....

Its an all-night show here in the UK, I may record it and see it Monday morning over breakfast .....
Slick show, not watching it live means one can speed up the boring bits!  Loved the "Everything is Awesome" number, and the clever use of clips in Neil Patrick Harris's opening number, plus Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews ..... Scarlett Johansson ruled the red carpet, and I am generally happy with the results, at least THE IMITATION GAME got best adapted screenplay, and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL scored 4 technical awards. Though again of course several major films (MR TURNER, NIGHTCRAWLER and even PADDINGTON) were snubbed, or ignored, and its fun seeing actors, even you Julianne, turn into dribbling wrecks once they get that award.... If only the artists were prepared to send up the pomposity of being named better than their peers for a year, but they probably feel its their turn to get one (no doubt Cate Blanchett will be launching her next Oscar campaign once CAROL. from Highsmith via Todd Haynes, finally opens). Thankfully its all over for another year, it got rather wearying seeing Eddie gulp his way through another acceptance speech ... but really at four hours or so, it becomes an endurance test and needs to be tightened up, groups of people making speeches gets boring after a while and the emphasis on gowns and jewelry and red carpet posturing somehow lacks gravitas. Just saying ... 
A favourite Oscar photo: 1961's Best Actress Sophia Loren presented Gregory Peck with his 1962 Best Actor award, while 1961's Best Actor Maximilian Schell presented the 1962 Best Actress statuette - but winner Anne Bancroft was on Broadway so Joan Crawford had arranged to accept her award if she had won, Bette Davis who had been nominated (for WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? with Joan) was left fuming backstage as Joan, not nominated but clutching an Oscar (so what if it was Anne Bancroft's) and looking marvellous, joins the winners .... with Max looking like her hot date for the night! 

 I am reprinting this 2011 post of mine, with my main alternative Oscar awards ! as today's "Sunday Times" had a list of their top 100 Oscar movies: 50 that won and 50 that did not win anything .... so lets play Alternate Oscars !

Danny Peary’s book ALTERNATE OSCARS has been well thumbed over the years, with its alternative suggestions for best film, actor and actress choices since the Academy Awards began. We all have our own list of Oscar injustices, though one would be hard pressed to list last year's winners, it was a different story though back in the '50s and '60s...

Also, there has only been one tie, in my lifetime, in 1968 with Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand, which seemed entirely appropriate at the time. I have a few more!
Here are my own top 12 alternative choices:

• 1950 – Bette Davis & Gloria Swanson. Davis and particularly Swanson must have been regarded as old timers back in 1950, thus allowing the new girl [Judy Holliday] to win (as new girls Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly did in '53 and '54, and a decade later those two new Julies), but for me 1950 has to be the year of Bette and Gloria. SUNSET BOULEVARD and ALL ABOUT EVE remain imperishable.

• 1954 – Judy Garland. I like Grace but it seems she won for looking dowdy in a cardigan and glasses. THE COUNTRY GIRL isn't that revered today, A STAR IS BORN certainly is - Enough said! In retrospect though we can see that there was no way Garland who was perceived as "difficult" and washed-up could have won then. [This is the year I came in, seeing movies aged 8 and STAR was one of those first unforgettable choices...]  It was of course Brando's year but James Mason as Norman Maine is my winner.

• 1955 – Ernest Borgnine was worthy but how could they ignore James Dean ?

• 1959 – Stephen Boyd for Best Supporting Actor for BEN HUR - his Messala is the black heart of the film and he must have trained as hard as Heston for that chariot race .... We like Hugh Griffiths who won for his arab sheik but he really is comic relief for a few scenes.
Or how about Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis tying for Best Actor for SOME LIKE IT HOT ?

• 1960 – Deborah Kerr & Jean Simmons. The two British girls who went to Hollywood and were very big stars indeed. The '50s was their heyday (Kerr did 3 films in 1959 and usually averaged two a year). It would have been the culmination of their great years if the friends and three-time co-stars had tied in 1960, for THE SUNDOWNERS (Kerr) and ELMER GANTRY where Simmons was not even nominated (her co-stars Lancaster and Shirley Jones got their awards here). Taylor would still have her 1966 win which she richly deserved.
[Alternatively, Kerr could have won in 1957 for her lovely portrayal of Sister Angela in Huston's HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON, and Simmons to win in 1960 for ELMER GANTRY - '57's winner Joanne Woodward, nominated in 1973 could win then - Glenda Jackson didn't need a second oscar (in '73) for a comedy which I had no interest in seeing!]

• 1960 – Peter Finch. We have to acknowledge Peter Finch's towering performance as Oscar Wilde in the 1960 THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE where he is richly witty and affecting - it's a great performance.

• 1962 – Lee Remick. All 5 female nominees in 1962 (as in '61) were richly deserving (Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Geraldine Page, Lee Remick and winner Anne Bancroft) , but for me it has to be Lee Remick for her totally brilliant performance as the wife taking to alcoholism in DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES. Seeing it again lately, it is as affecting as ever.

 1963 – Dirk Bogarde & Maurice Ronet. Sidney Poitier won in 1963 - he should have won at some stage (1967 maybe, he had 3 big movies that year), but was this his best role? Dirk Bogarde in THE SERVANT and Maurice Ronet in LE FEU FOLLET both re-defined themselves with their mesmerising performances [though of course in the real world these British and French films could not be nominated, but can in my alternate universe]. There's also Burt Lancaster re-defining himself in THE LEOPARD ....

 1967 – Audrey Hepburn. The wrong Hepburn won in 1967! Kate seems to stroll through that Kramer film, whereas Audrey re-defines herself in Donen's TWO FOR THE ROAD, and was also in WAIT UNTIL DARK. Of course it was the first time Katharine had been back on screen in years and with Tracy - who knew she would come storming back the next year with the very deserving win for THE LION IN WINTER? Faye Dunaway's BONNIE is also a major contender ...

 1971 – Dirk Bogarde & Peter Finch. Instead of Gene Hackman this year, I would honour career best performances by Bogarde in DEATH IN VENICE and Finch in SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY, both of which are acting on the grand scale and totally affecting. (Gene could have his for THE CONVERSATION).

 1974 – Faye Dunaway & Ellen Burstyn. Instead of winning for NETWORK, I would give Faye her win for her endlessly fascinating Evelyn Mulwray in CHINATOWN, which is as much her film as it is Nicholson's. Ellen has to share it with her...

• 1976 – Robert De Niro. As I have already honoured Peter Finch twice, I would make the sole winner in 1976 Robert De Niro for his unforgettable Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER.

• 1978 – Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann. For their astonishing mother and daughter act in Ingmar's AUTUMN SONATA, one cannot take one's eyes off them during that piano playing scene, a masterclass in screen acting.

• 1980 – Romy Schneider. For me THE female performance this year is Romy Schneider as the woman who is told she is dying in DEATH WATCH (LE MORT EN DIRECT) and her dying days are observed for a television show by Harvey Keitel (with a camera in his brain) as they flee to remote Scotland in this odd sci-fi tale [with Max Von Sydow and Harry Dean Stanton to complete its odd mix of indie and arthouse]. Romy is totally affecting, and would die two years later ...

• 2006 – Julie Christie. It would have been perfect if Julie had won for her Alzheimers role in  AWAY FROM HER, 40+ years after her first win for DARLING in 1965. Only Hepburn could have matched that distance between major wins, but it was not to be ... It looks like Julianne Moore is sure to win this year for her woman succumbing to Alzheimers, with Marion Cotillard (who won in 2006) also nominated again. 

2012 – Surely any actress would have been embarrassed to have been chosen over Emmanuele Riva in AMOUR .....

Some of the Best Picture wins seem incomprehensible now (GOING MY WAY, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS) but they were the biggies of their day - even more incomprehensible is no Best Picture awards for CITIZEN KANE, 2001, RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS or ....

These have been discussed further here, as per labels on those named...


  1. Excellent alternative choices. Not sure about the Bergman/Ullmann picks though; it's a very well acted picture but I didn't 'like' it. Still to see DEATH WATCH. I will look out for it.

  2. Thanks Martin, AUTUMN SONATA does not seem a 'major' Bergman, but I just love Ingrid here and Liv is equally compelling. They work perfectly together.

  3. In 1967, Audrey Hepburn had two movies released: TWO FOR THE ROAD and WAIT UNTIL DARK. TWO FOR THE ROAD offered her a more complex part, as she had to show her character at different ages in the various flash-backs/flash-forwards. But Hepburn asked 20th Century Fox NOT to submit her name for Best Actress, because she had made WAIT UNTIL DARK as a last-ditch effort to save her marriage to Mel Ferrer (he produced WAIT UNTIL DARK). Hepburn did get nominated for WAIT UNTIL DARK, but lost to that other Hepburn, and it didn't save her marriage either. But it was Audrey Hepburn's choice not to be nominated for TWO FOR THE ROAD.

  4. More fascinating facts which I did not know. Many thanks.

  5. PADDINGTON wasn't released in the US until 2015 so of course it did not figure in the 2014 Oscars. Maybe next year? Tain't likely but one never knows.