When we got together in a hotel bar on the Costa Brava, I broke the ice by telling him that his statement was a lot of hooey. For one thing, he’d already been nominated twice before and had never objected. I suggested that because he had lost both times, he was now simply covering his bases. If he lost again, he could always claim it was because he said he wouldn’t accept the Oscar. And if he won, as I and everybody else assumed he would, it would merely show that even after renouncing the competition, they had no recourse but to give him the trophy because he was just so wonderful.
Furthermore, he didn’t seem to have any problem accepting Tony awards or even showing up in New York to hand them out. The only difference, so far as I could see, is that whereas millions of people around the world knew who won or lost in the Oscar Derby, only about 83 gay people in Manhattan knew or cared about the Tonys.
And, finally, I pointed out that actors don’t really win Oscars, roles do. That’s why the same 10 or 20 actors aren’t competing year after year. That’s why so often a person who wins an Academy Award -- even people as talented as Yul Brynner, Simone Signoret, Ernest Borgnine, Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Martin Balsam, Donna Reed, Gloria Grahame, Dorothy Malone, David Niven, Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Cagney -- not only never win another Oscar, they never again even get nominated.
In parting, I assured Scott he wouldn’t have to worry about getting nominated for “The Last Run.” He wasn’t. In fact, he never was again.
You also have to take into consideration that the Academy voters place such a premium on drama that Katherine Hepburn, in spite of winning four Oscars, never won one for a comedy role. Cary Grant was nominated twice, but both times it was for a drama. Fred Astaire was nominated just once, and that wasn’t for a musical comedy, but for a turkey called “Towering Inferno.” Steve Martin, for God’s sake, has never even been nominated and never will be, unless, in his dotage, he does “King Lear.”
But to get back to this year’s ceremony, I was reminded once again that they should have retired the Best Song category years ago. There was a time when great songs were commonplace in the movies, but in the words of one of the best, that was long ago and far away. On those rare occasions when a decent song comes along, it should be acknowledged with a special award. But it’s just silly to go on pretending that there are five decent songs to choose from in any given year.
To be fair, this year’s winner, “Falling Slowly” wasn’t as terrible as a recent winner, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” but, then, neither is scarlet fever. The problem is that the team of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, had three of their terrific songs from “Enchanted” in the running, and, as a result, “So Close,” “Happy Working Song,” and “That’s How You Know,” clearly canceled each other out. It was fairly predictable that it would happen. After all, in 1935, Clark Gable, Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone, of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” were all competing for Best Actor, and, so, Victor McLaglen won for “The Informer.”
In 1954, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger, were all nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “On the Waterfront,” which was why Edmond O’Brien won for “The Barefoot Contessa.”
It was 65 years ago, when composer Harold Arlen had the bad fortune to have “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe,” “My Shining Hour” and “That Old Black Magic,” all competing for the Oscar, Harry Warren got to take home the gold for “You’ll Never Know.” And just last year, Henry Krieger suffered a similar fate when three of his songs for “Dream Girls” were nominated, thus allowing gay activist Melissa Etheridge to snag an Oscar for her contribution to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” the very forgettable “I Need to Wake Up.”
So, while it was to be expected that Menken and Schwartz would go home empty-handed, I thought it showed a remarkable lack of class for Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, when accepting the Oscar for their rather pedestrian tune, “Falling Slowly,” not to have taken a moment at the mike to acknowledge that if Menken and Schwartz had written perhaps one less song, they, Hansard and Irglova, would very likely have ended up with two fewer Oscars.