I won’t talk about last night’s Oscar awards here. We’ve already done that, to the dismay of some.
This post is about Oscars of yore. The other day at PJ, Chris Queen listed the Oscars’ 10 biggest blunders, and I agree with some of the choices.
For instance, I found Queen’s mistake #1, “Forrest Gump,” to be a dreadful film, so boring I walked out after a half hour or so, and I thought Sally Field preposterously young as Gump’s mother. And I agree that Queen’s #2, “Life is Beautiful” was pretty dreadful too, in a completely different way.
But I take issue with #5, Queen’s criticism of Al Pacino’s award for “Scent of a Woman.” Sure, it wasn’t Al Pacino’s finest hour. That may have been “The Godfather,” “Serpico,” or my personal Pacino favorites: “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Panic in Needle Park.”
But just because “Scent of a Woman” isn’t the very best Pacino ever doesn’t mean it’s not awfully good, and quite deserving of the honor. Yes, the movie’s got a schmaltzy plot, and Pacino comes perilously close to hammy in the role. But I think he always stops short of it. The film is really a somewhat unorthodox buddy movie, an acting tour de force between Pacino and another brilliant actor, Chris O’Donnell, whose understated performance makes the perfect foil for Pacino’s over-the-top one. Take a look at this especially dramatic scene (for those who haven’t seen the movie, Pacino’s character is blind):
And then there’s Queen’s #10, Whoopi Goldberg’s Supporting Actress Oscar for the movie “Ghost.” He thinks it “curious” that she won. I think it’s appropriate, because even though I’m not a great Whoopi fan ordinarily, I think she was absolutely brilliant in that role. I could post almost any scene of hers in that film as an example of her comic flair, but many of them are hard to find on YouTube, so I’ll post this one. It’s where Whoopi’s character finds out to her shock that she’s not just a flim-flam con artist, but has the medium’s true “gift,” because she can hear the ghost of Swayze’s character talking to her:
Looking back on former Oscar years, there’s little question in my mind what the best crop of all time was: in 1939, when “Gone With the Wind” won, its worthy competitors were “Dark Victory,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “Love Affair,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Ninotchka,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Stagecoach,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Wuthering Heights.”
Not only that, but the following films were also released in 1939 (a year widely acknowledged as probably the greatest in the history of film), among others:
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Babes in Arms
Drums Along the Mohawk
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Story of Irene and Vernon Castle
The Three Muskateers
Young Mr. Lincoln
Not too shabby, eh?