Like most Americans I haven’t seen any of the films nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year, nor do I plan to. I’ll also probably skip the Academy Awards telecast scheduled for the day after tomorrow, or as it’s known in West Hollywood, “Super Sunday” because I have this thing called a life, as well as things like books and friends and dogs and my beautiful bride to amuse me instead. All of which makes my Oscar predictions every bit as relevant and worthwhile as, say, Cindy Sheehan’s views on Israel. So let’s get started.
I don’t want to say this past year was a financial disaster for Hollywood–especially since lots of smarter people have already done so–but you know it’s a bad year at the box office when the five nominees for Best Foreign Film sell more tickets than the five nominees for Best Picture. You’ve heard box-office disasters described as “people stayed away in droves”? This year the people camped out on sidewalks overnight and were issued plastic wristbands to secure their places in line so as not to not have to sit through most of the politically correct, meticulously focus-grouped, written-and-directed-by-committee dreck ritually disgorged at a theater near you this year. I walked out halfway through Bewitched–and I was watching it on SpectraVision in my hotel room at the time (Notice how I’ve updated that joke? Years ago it would have been “I walked out on Bewitched–and it was an in-flight movie.” Yeah, I know. It’s what I do.) How bad was this year’s crop of, you should pardon the expression, “best pictures”? To paraphrase what Oscar viewers will be hearing a lot on Sunday night, this year it was a dishonor just to be nominated. Here are my synopses of the five Best Picture nominees, with thanks to the former 60 Minutes II researchers who helped me with the fact-checking:
Crash: A movie about how gay white people in Los Angeles don’t get along with gay black people in Los Angeles. Plus, there’s probably a car chase since it’s called “Crash.”
Good Night and Good Luck: Gay Communist spies in the U.S. are persecuted by gay U.S. senators. Oh, and everybody smokes.
Capote: Truman Capote, known to most Americans as the long-time, wise-cracking center square on TV’s Hollywood Squares, plays a writer who chronicles a 1950’s murder case. Couldn’t quite figure out the gay angle on this one.
Munich: Gay Palestinian terrorists are hunted down by gay Israeli commandos, so both sides are equally guilty of being gay.
Brokeback Mountain: This movie has received almost no publicity but I gather that it’s not just a western, it’s also a love story so it goes both ways in that respect. I understand that some of the sex in the film is intense.
So there you are, this year’s Best Picture field. Which raises the obvious question: Why not a gay cowboy movie? Isn’t American “ready” for that yet? Just think of the creative possibilities, especially if the gay Western became a hot new film genre. Instead of dreary big-screen rehashes of old TV shows moviegoers could be enjoying gay-ified remakes of classic westerns, including:
Butch Cassidy and His Life Partner the Sundance Kid
The Good, The Bad, and The So Five Minutes Ago
The Wild Brunch
She Wore A Red Lapel Ribbon (To Award Shows)
High Plains Choreographer
…to name just a few of the exciting movie offerings we could all be enjoying if Hollywood could just move past its rigid, old-school homophobia and embrace the gay lifestyle to the extent that middle America has. Ah, well…a fella can dream, can’t he?
So who do I think will take home the Oscar for Best Picture this year? Easy: the un-nominated Dukes Of Hazzard on a write-in vote. Hey, at least a few people have seen it.
Who should win the Oscar for Best Picture? From my Orwellian, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass perspective, that prize should logically be awarded to the best American movie of the year. Which any sentient, English-speaking person can tell you was Walk the Line. Want further proof of Walk The Line’s merit? It wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture this year. Sadly, the Cash biopic was passed over by the Academy because it shamelessly pandered to a narrow, little-understood fringe segment of the population: white, native-born heterosexual folks not seeking gender-reassignment surgery. And really, why throw that fringe population a bone?
Finally, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Annoying Empty-Headed Hollywood Gasbag goes to…the paperless envelope made entirely from recyclable materials, please…Mr. George Clooney.
Earlier this awards season Mr. Clooney, accepting one of the hundreds of awards he received during the run-up to the Oscars, pointedly ridiculed noted Democratic campaign contributor Jack Abramoff. The burden of Clooney’s light-hearted remarks was that the first syllable of Abramoff’s full name is “jack” and the last syllable of his name is “off,” which in tandem reminded Clooney of something that made him giggle. Which is roughly the level to which Clooney’s political analysis typically aspires: attacking an ideological opponent by making fun of their name.
In any case Clooney, or “George C. Looney,” as he’s known around my house, is a former TV star who once made a living pretending to be a doctor. Now he makes his living pretending to be someone with a sixth-grader’s grasp of U.S. history, to somewhat lesser effect. Good Night and Good Luck is his attempt to “set the record straight” on the McCarthy era–that is, to restate all the myths about McCarthy that have been so effectively debunked since the senator’s death. Which would put us at the “you’re glue” stage of the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” fight between McCarthy critics like Mr. Clooney and McCarthy defenders such as the various noted scholars, historians, and eyewitnesses whose first-person accounts and documentary evidence present a rather different picture of that era. But this isn’t about historical accuracy. This is about the courage George Clooney showed by bravely standing up to a mythical, long-dead historical figure universally despised in Hollywood to make his film. Much like the nominees for Best Picture I haven’t seen Good Night and Good Luck, but if I ever do I expect to find myself standing in front of the ticket-sales window afterwards loudly paraphrasing my favorite quote from the McCarthy era: “Where do I go to get my $9.50 back?”
–Ned Rice is a staff writer on the CBS talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Rice is also an NRO contributor.