Kirk A.C. Marshall

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High & Beautiful: The Sane Person's Column for Coping With the Demands of the New Century (#2)

*Oscar Omissions, 2005*
Published: 16 / 02 / 05 (c)

I’m a resilient, conciliatory and malleable kinda guy. Which is why, when that antiquated branch of cinematic ignorance known as the Academy opted towards omitting Paul “I can out-perform any of you even when I’m portraying a naked, blue-spattered malcontent in Big Fat Liar” Giamatti for Best Actor, I accepted this with the sporting, good grace I’m blessed with. See, I have this capacity to take collective idiocy seriously sometimes (I’m funny like that), and thus it was, after the involuntary red mist had subsided and I awoke from one of those silly little rage black-outs I have a tendency to indulge, I decided to be nice about it. The justification for such groundless dumb-ass clemency proceeded from my opinion that putting the underpants on my head for a day, acclimatising myself to the Academy’s level, might very well illuminate a reason as to why Paul “I was the only watchable element of the intergalactic abortion that was Duets” Giamatti failed to receive a nomination. It would be an empathic argument to suggest that simply because of my love for Alexander Payne’s Sideways I need not stake a personal involvement in this act of criminality befalling Giamatti. I mean: you didn’t take up arms when they allowed Gwyneth Paltrow to give birth, did you Kirk? And I would cogitate upon such precedent for a time, and note that, indeed, you very well might be onto something – but no quantity of church-bound fervour will ever allow me to forgive myself for that plum (or should it be Apple?) mistake. Hence, in not willing the same turgid path of inaction to spawn more, ehm, bad fruit, I strapped on my proverbial dancing boots and hit the streets to extract some variety of solution to my metaphysical quandary, asking the layman his perspective on this Paul “Even when I’m playing a guy named ‘Pig Vomit’, I’m classier than Howard Stern in his own movie” Giamatti tragedy.

                It’s felt, then, that the transcript for the subsequent interview best encapsulates the general public’s fascination and anxiety over this debauched issue:


                K: How do you feel about Paul “I’m cooler than the other side of the pillow” Giamatti getting snubbed for an Oscar nomination?

                Strange Woman on the Bus: The Dark Prince, He come for you!

                K: And what do you feel – yes, that’s my sleeve – what do you feel persuaded the Academy to fail to recognise his masterful work in Sideways?

                Strange Woman on the Bus: Zacchariah eats little boys’ toes!

                K: Okay.

                Strange Woman on the Bus: Zacchariah eats little boys’ toes!

                K: Yes – yes, alright, alright, Zacchariah eats little boy’s toes. Fine, I get it. There was no need to bite me.

                Strange Woman on the Bus: I used to be famous! A wolf is only a sheep not wanting grass!

                K: Right. Any concluding sentiments?

                Strange Woman on the Bus: Leonardo DiCaprio will win it, you know.


                Seemingly, there was nothing for it but to contact a member of the Academy and ask them directly:


                K: Er, hi. My name’s Kirk Marshall and I’m –

                Executive Committee Chairman Kathy Bates: Who’d you go and say your name was?

                K: Kirk Marshall – I’m writing an article for a small Australian publication concerning the Academy Awards. More specifically, my subjective concern that the AMPAS are fast becoming a bastion for outmoded and outdated embarrassment.

                Executive Committee Chairman Kathy Bates: You’re calling our enduring establishment “shit”, then. I’m sorry, I may be a little slow, what with it being 4 am in Los Angeles right now…

                K: I don’t mind that you’re slow. Now, my evidence relates to Paul “It’s too late to offer apologies for defiling my little thespian heart” Giamatti. I’ve been compiling justification for his snub, but I still can’t seem to maintain any definitive reason…

                Executive Committee Chairman Kathy Bates: Look, I might have to go, Craig.

                K: Kirk. You don’t need to do that, Kathy. Just tell us why Paul “Understated Performance of the Year” Giamatti lost out to, well, Johnny Depp, par example? I comprehend the collaborative process behind votership and that it doesn’t rely singularly upon any sole or individual member of the Actor’s Branch, granted, but c’mon now Kathy. This is ole’ Kirky. You must have some vague intuition as to why Paul “I’m funny just by being fat” Giamatti didn’t get in, in deference to Johnny Depp?

                Executive Committee Chairman Kathy Bates: See here Consuelo, Mr Depp’s enactment of J.M. Barrie was an emboldened, light-touched performance displaying the best of his personalised whimsicalities and sardonic sensibilities…

                K: Cut the mustard, Misery. We both know it was crap.

                Executive Committee Chairman Kathy Bates: How dare you!

                K: Honestly, I empathise with the developing pockets of Depp support. But think about it, will you: Sideways is the affecting satiric buddy movie as envisioned and perceived through the eyes of central protagonist Miles, who institutes himself as the lynchpin for the premise, and for all the alternating characters. He’s the stolid constant of the entire shebang. If Sideways scores five nominations, including Best Picture – when it’s about Miles, effectively – why does the film garner respective Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress nods, and yet allow Paul “the successor to Jerry Lewis” Giamatti to be wholly neglected? I’m downwind of some very obvious, heavy-handed political machinations now, Kathy. C’mon. You can spill the beans.

                Executive Committee Chairman Kathy Bates: Please Maneesh, I have no inkling whatsoever of any sort of pre-existing conspiracy amongst AMPAS votership.

                K: Okay. I dig that. [Pause] Before I go, can I tell you what I think’s funny? What I think’s funny is that Alexander Payne, the director of Sideways, has acquired nominations before from the Academy. Specifically for About Schmidt, which you were in. And you received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for that. Jack Nicholson received a Best Actor nomination. The comedy comes into it when you think, “but Paul Giamatti did a better performance than both of you”. [Another pause] You’re not laughing, Mrs Bates. Well, I thought it was funny. [End of call].


                As can be observed, the Academy has often made a clerical mistake, but none so big as Paul “Poster boy for Chubby Martyrdom” Giamatti. Hence in the gonzo effort to understand voting in the Academy upon the advent of 2006, we diligently proffer forth The True Key to Predicting the Academy Awards’ Nomination Procedure, or more simply:


Rewarding Mediocrity the Red Carpet Way.


n       If it’s a film about dead people (Gandhi / Amadeus / The Last Emperor / Schindler’s List / Braveheart / Titanic / Shakespeare In Love / Gladiator), it’ll win.

n       If it’s a film with a hot female in the central role portraying an emasculated, troubled, overlooked woman seeking solace either from or in a man of dark internal conflict (The Silence of the Lambs / Howard’s End / The Piano / Blue Sky / As Good As It Gets / Shakespeare In Love / Boys Don’t Cry / Erin Brockovich / Monster’s Ball / Monster), it’ll win.

n       If it’s a film with either / all Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in it (Big / Forrest Gump / Saving Private Ryan / The Hurricane / Training Day), it’ll probably win.

n       If it’s a film with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington as messianic, homo-erotic supermen in it, even moreso than is common - (Philadelphia), it will win.

n       If it’s a film that provides the ideal opportunity for Jack Nicholson to grin or get mad (The Last Detail / One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest / Terms of Endearment / Prizzi’s Honour / As Good As It Gets / About Schmidt), it’ll win.

n       If it’s a film about a dog, preferably one that talks (Lassie Come Home / Babe / Pretty Woman), it’ll win.

n       If it’s a film with Renee Zellwegger surviving the end (Bridget Jones’s Diary / Chicago / Cold Mountain), no-one wins.

n       If it’s a film romanticising the vagaries and developments of life without depicting a single human ugliness that goes unresolved, or where the hero is the sort of person who might indeed curse the same Academy Awards because of its blatant and malicious self-regard (1927 - ?), it’ll win.

n       If it’s an epic about struggling female euthanasia patients who are befriended by a band of pirates lead by an endearingly mad cancer-suffering revolutionary (played with comedic softness by Johnny Depp), and there’s a sub-plot involving African slave migration, feminine coming-of-age by uniting to make a quilt, or a sand & sword battle in the defence of a decadent mythic empire, it’ll win.


                This is what the divined and recurring patterns of the Academy illuminate for us. Of course, Paul “I represent the unsentimental and unsatisfied working class, a minority that gives Uncle Oscar the cloying willy-willies” Giamatti will have to avoid being in this one too. The only genus of misery the AMPAS ingratiate themselves to is the aesthetically pretty kind.


And if it has a radiant and maturing Kathy Bates in it, you’re home and dripping.