Now that a certain amount of time has elapsed, I am prepared to look back on the Academy Awards calmly and rationally. At the time they took place, I was simply too giddy. You see, once again my wife and I had made our annual 25-cent wager covering the 24 categories and, thanks to my having guessed that the perfectly awful “No Country for Old Men” would be chosen Best Picture and the geeky Coen brothers would cop the Oscar for Best Direction, I managed to eke out a last-second victory.
For openers, I thought Jon Stewart did a good job of hosting the show, although I still think it’s a dumb idea to insist that a comedian be at the mike. That’s especially true of a comedian who, aside from possibly watching them, has nothing to do with the movies. I understand that the sponsors and the network hope to attract younger viewers, but the kids are far more interested in watching the Emmys, the Grammys and the People’s Choice awards. Most normal teenagers would rather be doing homework than having to spend an entire evening watching the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Tilda Swinton and Javier Bardem, collect statuary.
I mean, unless they also have bets down with my wife, what do they care whether a bunch of foreigners they never heard of win awards for performances they have no intention of ever seeing?
The main reason that the Academy feels they require a comedian is simply because Bob Hope was the host for so many years. If it had been Bing Crosby, I guess Harry Connick or Barry Manilow would have landed the gig by now. It would actually make more sense if they broke with tradition entirely and just hired a person with some natural wit and charm, and maybe even a couple of Oscars on their own mantel. Michael Caine, Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, all come to mind. And if it weren’t for the requisite wit, charm and Oscars, I’d volunteer to handle the job.
Many years ago, soon after George C. Scott had been nominated for “Patton,” a magazine sent me to Spain, where Scott was shooting a turkey called “The Last Run,” to interview him. He had garnered a lot of attention because he announced that if he won the Oscar, he’d refuse to accept it. He said it was unseemly for actors to compete for awards.