Monday, February 20, 2017

THE LE CINEMA AWARDS or The Alternative Oscars®

Since I was a kid, The Academy Awards has been my Super Bowl. Then, with only three major televised award shows representing the arts: music (GRAMMY), theater (TONY), & film (OSCAR); the Academy Awards had the cachet of representing real, old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. Because I wasn't allowed to stay up to watch The Tonight Show, or play hooky from school and watch The Mike Douglas Show, the presence of movie stars on the small screen was still enough of a rarity to make Oscar Night an occasion of near-religious ritual for my sisters and me.

Searchlights scanned the Los Angeles/Santa Monica skies, fans screamed from bleachers, Army Archerd asked industry-centric fluff questions (still preferable to that tedious "Who are you wearing?" crap), and movie starsdefinitely "on" with their scripted casual bantergave acceptance speeches devoid of laundry-list recitations thanking publicists, agents, and hairstylists. The atmosphere of the broadcast was by turns glamorous, cheesy, self-congratulatory, fun, reverent, and phony as hell. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Even in my youth I could tell awards were handed out for artistic achievement as much as for popularity, cronyism, and moneymaking; but its inconsistencies and lapses in taste all just seemed to fit with my concept of the movies, anyhow. Part pop-culture diversion, part art form, movies and the film industry have always been a captivating contradiction. You'd have to look to politics to find a larger collection of phonies and anything-for-a-dollar sellouts; but at the same time it's an industry capable of producing some of the most moving, enduring, exhilarating, and life-altering art. Go figure.

These days I still get excited about The Oscars, but I've lost my youthful naiveté. Watching it has become a ritual of tradition more than devotion. I enjoy the pomp, the spectacle, and self-parody (there is no soul more self-serious than the movie star transmogrified into an artist), and I certainly enjoy the ever-present potential for disaster or an unexpectedly memorable moment. But my best contemporary Oscar Night experiences have been when my partner and I take advantage of the ghost town atmosphere of Los Angeles on Oscar Day and spend it out and about, DVRing the Oscar telecast for viewing later in the evening when we can fast-forward past the windy acceptance speeches or sound-alike Best Song nominees.
My earliest memory of The Oscars is 1967 when I was nine-years-old and my family and I watched the 39th Academy Awards in the living room on our ginormous black & white Console TV set. It was the year Elizabeth Taylor won for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the year I remember vividly because I had to give a Current Events report on the telecast in front of the class in school the following day. I also remember it for this Las Vegas-y rendering of the theme song from Georgy Girl by Mitzi Gaynor (this is my first time seeing it color). I've never missed an Oscar telecast since.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of my first known exposure to the The Academy Awards, I offer my non-essential alternative: The Le Cinema Awards. An obdurately subjective prize of merit awarded exclusively to films, performances, and artistic contributions which failed to garner an Oscar nomination. And so as not to encompass the entire history of cinema from its inception, the only films eligible for consideration of a Le Cinema Award are movies from my personal DVD collection. I haven't included any comments with the films listed, as many have already been written about on this blog (highlighted) or will be in the future.
There is no individual "Best" prize awarded, each of the five films entered in each category granted WINNER status by virtue of inclusion.


Best Picture
Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Roman Polanski
One of the most incisively chilling contemporary horror/suspense films ever made

Eve's Bayou (1997) - Kasi Lemmons
A sensitive, mystical coming-of-age story of extraordinary beauty
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - Peter Bogdanovich
One of funniest films of the '70s. One of the funniest films ever made
The Day of the Locust (1975) - John Schlesinger
An epic vision of a Hollywood nightmare
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) - Vincente Minnelli
A thoroughly enchanting musical with plenty of heart and humor 

Best Actress
Mia Farrow - Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Shelley Duvall - 3 Women (1977)
Debbi Morgan - Eve's Bayou (1997)
Audrey Hepburn - Two For The Road (1967)
Deborah Kerr - The Innocents (1961)

Best Actor
Gene Wilder - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Gene Hackman - The Conversation (1974)
Jeremy Irons - Dead Ringers (1988)
Ivan Dixon - Nothing But A Man (1964)
Dirk Bogarde - Our Mother's House (1967)

Best Supporting Actress
Madeline Kahn - What's Up, Doc? (1972) 
Tsai Chin - The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Diana Rigg - A Little Night Music (1977)
Paula Prentiss - Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972)
Katharine Bard - Inside Daisy Clover (1965)

Best Supporting Actor
Harry Belafonte - Kansas City (1996)
Brian Keith - Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
Marty Feldman - Young Frankenstein (1974)
Robert Walker - Strangers on a Train (1951)
Kenneth Mars - What's Up, Doc? (1972)
Best Director
Roman Polanski - Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Kasi Lemmons  - Eve's Bayou (1997)
Peter Bogdanovich - What's Up, Doc? (1972)
Martin Scorsese - Taxi Driver (1976)
Charles Laughton - The Night of the Hunter  (1955)

Best Foreign Film
Europa '51 (1952) - Roberto Rossellini 
8 Femmes (2002) - Francois Ozon
The Bride Wore Black (1968) - Francois Truffaut
Suspiria (1977) - Dario Argento
Death in Venice (1971) - Luchino Visconti 

Best Original Song
"Theme from New York, New York" - New York, New York (1977)
John Kander & Fred Ebb
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Ralph Blane & Hugh Martin
"Love With All The Trimmings" - On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
Alan Jay Lerner & Barton Lane
"Theme from Valley of the Dolls" - Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Andre Previn & Dory Previn
"Xanadu" - Xanadu (1980)
Jeff Lynne
Best Original Score
Barbarella (1967) - Charles Fox, Bob Crewe
Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970) - Lynn Carey, Igor Kantor, William Loose
Casino Royale (1967) - Burt Bacharach
Sparkle (1976) - Curtis Mayfield
Two for the Road (1967) - Henry Mancini

Best Cinematography
Manhattan (1979) - Gordon Willis
Petulia (1968) - Nicolas Roeg
New York, New York (1977) - Lazlo Kovacs
Casino (1995) - Robert Richardson
Eve's Bayou (1997) - Amy Vincent

 Best Costume Design
Barbarella (1967) - Jacques Foneray, Paco Rabanne
The Boy Friend (1971) - Shirley Russell
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) - Cecil Beaton, Arnold Scaasi
New York, New York (1977) - Theadora Van Runkle
Evil Under the Sun (1982) -  Anthony Powell

Best Original Screenplay
Eve's Bayou (1997) - Kasi Lemmons

This is Spinal Tap (1984) - C. Guest, M. McKean, H. Shearer, R. Reiner
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - P. Bogdanovich, B. Henry, D. Newman, R. Benton
The Out-Of-Towners (1970) - Neil Simon
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Best Adapted Screenplay
That Cold Day in the Park (1969) - Gillian Freeman from a novel by Richard Miles
The Hireling (1973) - Wolf Mankowitz from a novel by L. P. Hartley

Starting Over (1979) - James L. Brooks from a novel by Dan Wakefield
The Joy Luck Club (1993) - Amy Tan, Ronald Bass from a novel by Amy Tan
Last Summer (1969) - Eleanor Perry from a novel by Evan Hunter

Best Choreography
Cabaret (1972) - Bob Fosse
Hair (1979) - Twyla Tharp
It's Always Fair Weather (1955) - Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen
Can't Stop The Music (1979) - Arlene Phillips 
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) - Robert Iscove

Winner's Roster
Eve's Bayou    5
What's Up, Doc?    5
Rosemary's Baby    3
New York, New York    3
Two For The Road     2
Barbarella      2
The Joy Luck Club   2
Meet Me In St. Louis    2
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever  2

Do you have a favorite film, performance, or behind-the-scenes artistic contribution that failed to get a much-deserved Academy nod? Would love to hear about it. What's on YOUR list?

Copyright © Ken Anderson