Tuesday, September 02, 2014

2014 Honorary Oscar Winners

Oscar Winner-to-be Maureen O'Hara
Sorry for a bit of the radio silence over the past few days.  I decided to have a proper Labor Day holiday and spent some time relaxing and getting a bevy of things done around the house (it's amazing how going through your closets can sometimes feel like an archeological dig), so I wasn't able to spend as much time on the blog as I was hoping for, but I am now back and throughout September we'll be having posts every day, finishing up a couple of series (including the 2013 OVP and getting the final three installments of my favorite television shows done), as well as hitting the fall movie season and getting back to a few more film reviews and maybe even a Bechdel Test, so stick around!

However, to make up for me being gone, I figured it was a good time to point out a major Oscar story that I missed while I was out: the announcement of this year's honorary Oscar winners.  AMPAS announced that this year Maureen O'Hara, Hayao Miyazaki, and Jean-Claude Carriere will receive the Honorary Academy Awards, while Harry Belafonte will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (given in recognition of Humanitarian Efforts from an individual in the world of cinema).

We were just discussing O'Hara the other day, and it's an absolute joy that she's getting this Oscar at long last.  Never nominated despite roles in such pictures as How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Quiet Man, O'Hara becomes only the second actress ever to receive the Honorary Award without a previous nomination (the only other actress being Myrna Loy, who is appropriately also listed in that link).  I look forward to her speech, and the likely references to the two John's of her career: Wayne and Ford.

Belafonte is also a wonderful choice for an Honorary Award for his longtime contribution to a number of causes in Hollywood.  Though more noted for his musical career, Belafonte has starred in a number of films including Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge, Island in the Sun with Joan Fontaine, and Odds Against Tomorrow with Robert Ryan.  Belafonte is probably most known in his career for his humanitarian work, though, being a major force in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's and the fight against AIDS in the 1980's.  Being an extremely outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy (particularly in regards to Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Iraq), his speech could also be quite memorable (even though, and I know this is something we complain about every year and I will complain every year to infinity or until they correct, but why aren't they including these awards in the telecast?  At least get Turner Classic Movies to show the Governor's Awards!).

Miyazaki and Carriere are both wonderful choices too, but I say that with a caveat that I don't share for Belafonte and O'Hara.  Miyazaki is the groundbreaking and legendary director of such films as The Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises, and Carriere was the screenwriter of The Tin Drum, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Birth, as well as most of Luis Bunuel's most classic films including Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.  My only problem with giving either of these two men an Honorary Oscar is that they both already have a competitive one (Miyazaki for Spirited Away in 2002 and Carriere for Happy Anniversary in 1962), so what's the need to give them a second one for career achievement?  If this were for a specific recent achievement or for the Jean Hersholt or something I'd buy it, but career achievement seems slightly inappropriate considering both men already have trophies and so many talented individuals are still waiting for their moment in the sun.  Save the Honorary Awards for people who have never won a competitive Oscar, says I.

Those are my thoughts-how about yours?  What are your favorite films of Carriere's, O'Hara's, Belafonte's, and Miyazaki's?  Whose speech are you most looking forward to seeing (on YouTube, grumble, grumble)?  And whom should the Academy recognize next year with an Honorary Oscar?

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