I’ve been watching the Academy Awards program on television since the 20-something time they were broadcast. The first televised program was the 25th Academy Awards in 1953. I’ve missed a few programs over the years. Two tours of duty in Vietnam and a couple other overseas assignments got in the way. Like most serial viewers, I continue to watch them because they’re a lot of entertainment in a concentrated package; and, because they are live, anything can happen. Beyond that, I want to see who younger Americans are looking up to these days. Like most people who have been watching them for decades, I’ve never seen nor heard of half of this year’s nominated movies and individuals. They only nominated movies I’ve seen are “American Sniper” and “The Judge.”
So why bother to watch the 87th Academy Awards tonight? Besides addiction, I suppose it’s because I hope to see young stars emerge that remind me of the great stars of decades past—Clark Gabel, Gary Cooper, Carry Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Havilland (who is still alive at 98), just to name a few. They were stars in an era when most people went to the movies because of who was in them, not because of what the movie was about. Today the stars in most movies are almost an afterthought; and few of the better ones hit home runs almost every time at bat.
I still am an avid viewer of Turner Classic Movies, and I usually decide which ones I watch because of who’s in them. With the Watch TCM app on your smart phone or tablet you can watch dozens of movies on-demand not just the ones currently showing.
I don’t mean to be overly critical of today’s crop of actors and directors. There are many fine actors; and Clint Eastwood at 84 is still at the top of his game. Of this year’s nominees, I like Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly and Rosamund Pike, three of which are British.
With all the nasty things going on in the world these days, the Academy Awards program, like any other form of entertainment, is an opportunity to escape reality for a few hours. I just hope the winners accept their awards graciously without making political statements and gestures. What I dislike most about the Oscars are the political statements made by recipients. They are totally unnecessary. I have a long list of Hollywood personalities, headed by Jane Fonda, that I will no longer watch because of their political views. If someone holds their hands in the air and says “Don’t shoot,” or suggests that I’m likely a racist, Islamophobe or homophobe, I’ll switch the channel to TCM.
Finally, I’m hoping “American Sniper” wins all six of the Oscars it’s been nominated for. It’s one of the best war movies ever made. It says a lot about the 0.45 percent of the American population that serve their country in the U.S. Armed Forces and the spouses that support them.