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92nd Oscars Making Glorious History… A Look at Previous Snubs

By HOWARD McQUITTER II

Never achieved before, in the 92 years of the Oscars, that a foreign director won for Best Director and Best Picture”““Parasite”, which is an extraordinary mark not only for the Academy but the world of film; especially for South Korea.

For me, I jumped up-and-down for the winner of those chosen Oscars, South Korean Bong Joon Ho, who won in two other categories; Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature. (Don”™t get me wrong I jumped up-and-down for other winners, too, such as Brat Pitt for supporting actor and Renee Zellweger for best actress). Some of Bong”™s other wonderful films (perhaps lesser known to the average moviegoer but seen by cinephiles) are “Mother” (2010), The Host” (2007), Memories of Murder” (2007), “Snowpiercer” (2013) and “Barking Dogs never Bite” (2000). All are must sees to get a feel from this great director.

The Oscars has a bad trail though when through the years too many cast members, directors and screenplay writers have been snubbed. Why didn”™t Alfred Hitchcock ever win for Best Director?  He”™s the master of  suspense and only his “Rebecca”(1940) won a Oscar for Best Picture. Mr. Hitchcock, nominated 5 times for Best Director, had to settle for the Honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968. Looking back at some of Hitchcock”™s stellar films such as “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), “Spellbound” (1945), “Rope” (1948), “North by Northwest” (1959), “No- torious” (1946), “Rear Window” (1954), “Psycho” ((1960) and “The Birds” (1963) to my sentiments would have stacked as well as ”“if better than”“ “The Apartment” (1960), “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956) and “Oliver” (1969), yet didn”™t win best picture. Politics has played in many Oscar favorites over the 92 years the royal event has been in our midst.

Many critics cite “Citzen Kane,”
directed-written-produced-acted by the great Orson Welles, in 1941, as the greatest movie ever made”“yet John Ford”™s “How Green Was My Valley” won Best Picture. Is the latter a better movie…or is it politics that superseded the win? Maybe it has some thing to do with Orson Welles”™ fictional character as a wealthy newspaper man who mirrors the real-life newspaper tycoon, William  Randolph Hearst, and retaliates against Welles by trying to destroy all the copies of the film. 

I”™m still smothering from last year”™s snubbing of Glen Close for “The Wife” in favor of Olivia Colman for “The Favourite.” Don”™t get me wrong, Ms. Colman gives a fine performance. I just think far too often older actresses get stiffed for younger women. Close is an ex- ceptional actress, I remember her in her earlier career in”The World According to Garp” (1982), “The Big Chill” (1983) and “The Natural”(1984). 

A woeful year (and there”™s others), 1999, when “Shakespeare in Love” won over “Saving Private Ryan”, “Elizabeth”, “Life is Beautiful” and “Thin Red Line” for Best Picture. That year the voters had to have been drunk to make such a colossal blunder. To this day, an African American director has never won Best Director. Remember Spike Lee is nominated only once for Best Director, for “BlacKkKlansman”, and that”™s only last year. The late John Singleton is the first African American to be nominated for Best Director (and youngest nominated) and best screenplay in 1991, for” Boyz ”˜n Hood.”   I think of the late great director Stanley Kubrick who augmented film culture in critical ways with movies such as “Spartacus” (1959), “Killer”™s Kiss” (1955), “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), “A Clockwiork Orange”(1971) and “The Shining” (1980) and although nominated 4 times for Best Director he never won. 

Thelma Ritter, Peter O”™ Toole, Richard Burton, all three excellent Thespians,  (nominated 5, nominated 8,and nominated 7, respectively) never won the golden statuette. Snubbing deserving cast members and directors by Hollywood is itself an art form. (Peter O”™ Toole did win a honorary Oscar in 2003; Richard Burton also wins a Honorary Oscar. 

 I have said paraphrasing from the 2006 film “Art School Confidential””“ “When white men did their best work they weren”™t dead yet.” What I mean is don”™t try to throw them out like the proverbial “baby with the bathwater,” but women and people of color must be brought in to be nominated and, hopefully, win as directors and screenwriters. In the 92 years of the royal film event only 5 women have been nominated for Best Director which is an egregious mark on the Academy. The 5 women nominated for Best Director are: Lina Wertmuller, “Seven Beauties (1977); Jane Campion, “The Piano” (1994); Sofia Coppola, “Lost in Translation” (2004); Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” (2010); Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” (2018). Only Kathryn Bigelow won for “The Hurt Locker” (2010).

Whoever passed up “Brokeback Mountain” for “Crash,” in 2006, for best picture must have been broke. Three African Americans are nominated in one year, in 1973, the first time in Academy history that happened: Cicely Tyson for “Sounder”; Diana Ross for “Lady Sing the Blues”; and Paul Winfield for “Sounder”. All three Black nominees whited-out for a white “winner,” Liza Minnelli, for “Cabaret” inferior to the performances by Tyson, Ross and Winfield. 

Seeing South Korean Bong Joon Ho win in elegant fashion is more than enough to not only see the Oscars but an attribute to international films anywhere and everywhere they”™re made.

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