By Dennis Minich
There has been a lot of controversy about the Academy Awards. I read where actor Sam Elliott had some less-than-favorable remarks about some movie in contention for best picture, but not having seen the movie nor do I plan on seeing it in the future, I will simply depend on Elliott’s judgment to guide me on the issue.
What movie wins an Academy Award means nothing to me anymore. There was a time I was glued to the TV for the big awards ceremonies. My favorite was the Emmys because those were all about TV. The Oscars were next because I went to a lot of movies, so I had opinions. I even tried to watch the Tony Awards, although I had never been to a Broadway show and knew few of the actors, but it was an awards show on TV with a red carpet so I figured it must be a big deal.
I never watched the Tonys again. I lost interest in the Emmys when cable shows started winning all of the awards. And the Academy Awards simply lost my interest totally. I can say I have seen none of the shows nominated this year. I can also say I never saw one of the shows that have won in recent years. Just for the fun of it, I went back and checked the Academy Award winners through the years and figured out the last one I saw was “Gladiator,” which came out in 2000. Incidentally, I was on the press junket for “Gladiator” and wrote in my review that it would win the Oscar and Russell Crowe would be best actor. My movie critic’s credentials are astounding.
Seeing as how I have not seen a winner in 20-plus years, I then decided it might be interesting to see how many best picture nominees I had actually seen. Going back to 2000, I have seen exactly one. That was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but even there I didn’t see it until it was on TV late last year.
I really thought we just don’t make good movies like we used to. Recently, I have found several of the “classic” movies on TV and decided to check them out. Normally, when I think of classic movies, I come up with things like “Blazing Saddles” and “Caddyshack.” But there are actually movies which are considered true pieces of art and timeless, so I have tried to expand my horizons. For many years I have heard about the great movie, “Citizen Kane.” I really didn’t know much about it except it starred Orson Wells and was about a newspaper publisher. I had high expectations. But after watching it, I could only wonder why it was so celebrated. It seemed incredibly dark and lackluster.
Hoping to restore some faith in Hollywood’s Golden Age, I decided to check out some Humphrey Bogart flicks. I had watched “Casablanca” before, but now having watched it and “To Have and Have Not” back-to-back, it seemed the two movies were in fact just one movie with different actors other than Bogie. I guess even in the 1940s it was popular to recycle plots. Where I really got disappointed was watching “Key Largo.” I had always heard about the movie and of course there is a song which invites us to “be just like Bogie and Becall: Sail away to Key Largo.” But again, the movie was a major disappointment. It was on my to-do list to watch “The African Queen” and “The Maltese Falcon,” but after these previous disappointments, that plan has fallen far down my priority list.
Now realizing I don’t like the modern classics, nor the older classics, I will continue on with my pursuit of merely average movies. When I go to the black-and-white era, westerns will fit the bill. John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart knew how to make the silver screen shine. When I move to the more modern era, “Die Hard,” “Field of Dreams” and “Star Wars” will work just fine. If Sam Elliott doesn’t like a movie, chances are I probably wouldn’t care for it either and I am OK with that.