Tuesday, December 16, 2008

As Awards Season Begins, A Question

Tina Turner or professional bodybuilder?

How did Holly Hunter win the Best Actress Oscar over Angela Bassett in 1993? It's not that I'm surprised the Academy made the wrong decision, because the Academy makes the wrong decisions all the time. It's more that I'm surprised they'd collectively risk pissing Bassett off. Because, well, look at those arms. One shot of her in a skimpy dress in "What's Love Got to Do With It" tells the story, and the story is this: Angela Bassett is unlike Chuck Norris in that she's a gifted actor, but very much like Chuck Norris in that she could kill you with her bare hands.

(And, frankly, I wouldn't mind her killing me with her bare hands, but that's a private matter I'd rather not discuss in front of any strangers who might find this while Googling some horrible combination of either Holly Hunter or Angela Bassett and "fucking" and Chuck Norris. The Internet is full of freaks, and I'll have enough of those to contend with next week when I get together with my family for Hanukkah.)

BTW, also more deserving of the Oscar in '93 than Hunter: Stockard Channing in "Six Degrees of Separation." I'd like to throw Debra Winger's name out there for "Shadowlands" as well, but the truth is I'd only be saying that because I've been in love with Winger since I was a child whose mom watched "An Officer and a Gentleman" all the time on TV; a nomination was probably recognition enough for her work opposite Anthony Hopkins in that film. Going strictly by what they've been nominated for, Winger should have won for "Terms of Endearment" in 1983 (that year's winner, Shirley MacLaine, should've won in 1960 for "The Apartment") and Hunter for "Broadcast News" in '87.

To make all this work out somewhat evenly, that means Cher, who won for "Moonstruck" in '87, would've needed to win Best Supporting Actress four years earlier for "Silkwood." But you can't take that year's award away from Linda Hunt in "The Year of Living Dangerously," so a tie would've been necessary. Of course, this is all overlooking the fact that Cher should've been a serious contender for Best Actress in 1985, the year of "Mask," when Meryl Streep shouldn't have been nominated for "Out of Africa" and Jessica Lange should have won for "Sweet Dreams." Instead, Lange won in '94 for "Blue Sky," the year Miranda Richardson should have won for "Tom & Viv" and Linda Fiorentino should have been nominated for "The Last Seduction," which didn't happen because of cable TV and stupid eligibility rules. (Fiorentino still hasn't gotten a consolation nod, but that's what happens when you take roles in "Unforgettable" and "Men in Black.")

That was also, unless I've completely lost my mind, the year Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey deserved some kind of recognition for "Heavenly Creatures," and the year Kathleen Turner should have been nominated for "Serial Mom" just for the hell of it. And Julianne Moore, that was her "Vanya on 42nd Street" year. She gets nominated now almost every time she sneezes, so why didn't she get anything for "Vanya"? Why was Susan Sarandon nominated for "The Client" that year? Susan Sarandon should have won the Best Actress Oscar years earlier for her work in "Bull Durham," but she wasn't even nominated for that film; a dingo stole that nomination for Meryl Streep around the same time it ate her baby.

Okay, I wrote that last part just to be obnoxious. While I do think that Streep is insanely overrated (not that it stops me from liking her), I'd have let her keep that "A Cry in the Dark" nomination in 1988 and eliminated Sigourney Weaver's "Gorillas in the Mist" nod in favor of one for Sarandon. (Weaver's another one who could have taken Sarandon's "Client" spot in '94. Is there any reason she didn't nab a nomination for "Death and the Maiden"? Not that I'm convinced she deserved one, but put a Lange or a Streep in that role and you'd have total Oscar bait.) Jodie Foster didn't need the Oscar in '88 if she was going to get one in '91 as well, but then her '91 win is another one I disagree with; of the women who were nominated that year, I'd have gone with Laura Dern in "Rambling Rose," though the real best performance by an actress in a leading role in 1991 was Madonna in that silly documentary of hers, with honorable mentions going to Emmanuelle BĂ©art in "La Belle Noiseuse" (simply for the nudity) and Theresa Russell in "Whore" for no other reason than it would've been fucking hilarious to hear an Oscar presenter say, while reading the list of nominees, "Theresa Russell - 'Whore.'"

Now that I've wasted 30 minutes writing something only I will be amused by, I'll slink back to my corner and talk to you all in another week or so...

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