Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Triple Crown of Cinematic Life Achievement

Yesterday the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced that movie star and frequent Sexiest Man Alive George Clooney was chosen to be their recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award.  Clooney, a fixture at the Globes, will surely give a great, funny speech, probably with more than one joke about how, at only 53 and as one of the biggest stars on the planet, he's hardly ready to be getting a lifetime achievement award.

And quite frankly, I'm kind of with hypothetical Clooney on this one.  I know that trying to figure out what is going on in the heads of the HFPA is a fool's errand, but seriously?  George Clooney?  He's not even Jodie Foster where he's been acting in major films since he was a teenager and so there's decades of work to rely on, covering up the fact that she also was far too young.  You just know that Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt are coming in the next couple of years at this rate, and even they have all had more important cinematic careers than Clooney's!  There are so many other names that should have been listed, and so in honor of these missing names, I figured it was high time that we check in on the Triple Crown of Cinematic Life Achievement.

The Triple Crown of Life Achievement, for those of you too lazy to go to the above link (just kidding-love you!), is my name for those rare entertainers that have won the Kennedy Center Honor, AFI Life Achievement Award and the Cecil B. DeMille Award (I skip the SAG Life Achievement Award because it is pretty evenly split with television actors and because it is more for services to the industry than straight-up life achievement, though it's also a big deal-congratulations age-appropriate Debbie Reynolds on winning this year!).  In the past year (since we last checked in on this topic), we've seen an odd amount of movement on the list.  In the great news column, we had our 21st performer (and fourth woman) hit the triple crown, the one-and-only Shirley MacLaine, who got the Kennedy Center Honor this past year.  We also saw Tom Hanks complete his second leg of the tour, getting the Kennedy Center Honor (just the DeMille, oddly enough, is left, despite him being relatively young and that being the first leg for most performers).  And most exciting of all, we saw Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Woody Allen, and yes, George Clooney, begin their journey toward the title.

On the other side, though, proving that there's a ticking clock for even the most accomplished of stars on completing the trio, we had four people pass away without completing the list: Lauren Bacall (missing AFI), Robin Williams (missing AFI/Kennedy), Shirley Temple Black (missing AFI/DeMille), and Ruby Dee (missing AFI/DeMille).  You have to assume that Williams in particular would have been able to complete at least one more award in the collection, maybe completing the circle.  Sadly, they all left us before we could finish honoring them.

Looking ahead, though, I want to take a peak at where we're at for the remaining contenders, starting with the eight people that are just one award away from completing the set.  Here we go!

Missing Only the DeMille: We'll start here since I'm royally peeved that George Clooney (who should have won in like fifteen years-I'm not a complete grump and wanting to deny him wholly) got what could have gone to a number of other, more age appropriate stars.  There are still four people that have somehow never won the DeMille (I'll put everyone's ages in parantheses): Tom Hanks (58), Meryl Streep (65), Mel Brooks (88), and Mike Nichols (82).  Of the four, I am certain that Meryl will win it at some point, even though Meryl has almost enough Golden Globe statues to make her own chess set with them (the DeMille could be the King!).  I am also confident that Hanks will win as soon as HFPA remembers they haven't given him a statue (I genuinely believe that they think they've already given him one-that's the only explanation for him winning after Clooney).  I am far more doubtful of both Brooks and Nichols, though Brooks especially is a huge miss for the Globes, considering he's been nominated four times and never won, and this would be a brilliant way to honor a comedic legend.

Missing Only the Kennedy Center: With Shirley MacLaine off of this list, we're now down to three men: Michael Douglas (69), Al Pacino (74), and Harrison Ford (72).  Last year I said MacLaine was the least likely to win of the four, and she was the first to do it, so this proves I know little, and so I'm going to second guess my thoughts from last year with Al Pacino are wrong, as he is slowly becoming less and less relevant and hasn't done what his peers like Robert Redford or Robert de Niro have done: staged an awards comeback.  However, Ford/Douglas/Pacino are incredibly famous movie stars and the Kennedy Center Honors has five recipients each year, including two typically for film, so this isn't particularly hard for them, but I think that Pacino is least likely to win this, with Douglas actually the most likely; he consistently makes movies and is extremely well-regarded in the industry (and for what it's worth, he's the youngest).  Ford doesn't have any Oscar-loving, which probably hurts him.  If he ever made a genuine play for another nomination, I think the accolades would come pouring in and he'd pull this off in the same way that Meryl did with The Iron Lady.

Missing Only the AFI Award: With the death of Lauren Bacall, we now only have one person who has won the DeMille and the Kennedy Center Honor but lost the AFI: Robert Redford (78).  Honestly, what's the hold-up here?  Redford's been a movie star for decades, is great behind-the-camera as well, continues to make important pictures like All is Lost and reinvented the independent cinema scene with Sundance.  Plus, he seems to be relatively well-liked.  I honestly don't get this-they need to jump on honoring him immediately (they haven't announced the 2015 winner-let's make it Redford).

Only has the Kennedy Center Honor: Here we run into a conundrum: the Kennedy Center Honors (and to a lesser extent, the DeMille Awards), honor not only for cinema but also television, theater, and the world of comedy.  As a result, we have people who are most noted for Broadway (James Earl Jones (83), Angela Lansbury (88)), stand-up (Lily Tomlin (75), Steve Martin (69)), and television (Oprah Winfrey (60)) who also have made significant contributions to cinema, though that may not be their primary claim to fame.  Because of this split in mediums, many of these people may stay in this first position indefinitely (though Martin could probably advance to at least the DeMille).  There's also Joanne Woodward (84), who won this award in conjunction with her husband Paul Newman (not to impugn Ms. Woodward, but that probably helped), as well as John Williams (82) who probably isn't famous enough with the mass public to win one of the other two awards.  Your best bet other than Martin to advance would surely be Julie Andrews (78), who would give a perfectly divine speech with the Globes if they let her, and is famous enough with the mass public to get them the ratings they're hoping to win.

Only has the DeMille: Considering that they generally go young with this award you have people like George Clooney (53) and Jodie Foster (51) who are infants in terms of these honors and have hopefully a couple of decades to inevitably win the next two trophies.  Time isn't necessarily the friend for reclusive stars like Doris Day (either 90 or 92, and don't you love that someone as famous as she can still hide her real age?), Gene Hackman (84), and Woody Allen (78), none of which would probably show up even if the Kennedy Center or AFI came a-knocking.  Anthony Hopkins (76) is getting up there in years and surprisingly hasn't parlayed his English sophistication into a Kennedy Center Honor, but considering he works constantly (we saw him earlier this year in Noah) he may just get there.  Finally, there's legendary Sophia Loren (79), whose lack of a Kennedy Center Honor is probably the strangest thing in this article after Tom Hanks missing the DeMille-surely the Kennedy Center Honors, which love to give trophies to artists from around the world, would like to honor the most famous Italian actress of all-time?

Only has the AFI Award: Tom Hanks moved on up from this classification, but in a bold move, we had a new name to this list (the AFI is the least likely of the three to go first): Jane Fonda (76) finally got some love for her many decades of filmmaking this past year with her win.  She's joined by George Lucas (70) as someone who has only won the AFI trophy, and while I suspect that Fonda will never get this entire circle (she's too controversial to get a government-issued award like the Kennedy Center Honor), she could still grab the DeMille and Lucas will surely get the Kennedy Center Honor before his career is over.

Hasn't Started Yet: I could list the likes of Roberts, Cruise, Bullock, Washington, and Pitt, but I'm going to stick with only people over the age of sixty (though Denzel actually hits that number in December so maybe it's about time to add him to the roster?).  Some names off the top of my head (there are surely more-share them in the comments): Diane Keaton (68), Samuel L. Jackson (65), Julie Christie (73/74-another mystery!), Glenn Close (67), Robert Duvall (83), Cher (68), Jeff Bridges (64), Maggie Smith (79), Faye Dunaway (73), Michael Caine (81), Judi Dench (79), Ellen Burstyn (81), Christopher Plummer (84), Bette Midler (68), Jessica Lange (65), Helen Mirren (69), Francis Ford Coppola (75), Catherine Deneuve (70), Sissy Spacek (64), Kathy Bates (66), Vanessa Redgrave (77), Arnold Schwarzenegger (67), Goldie Hawn (68), Norman Jewison (88), Rita Morena (82), Milos Forman (82), and Liza Minnelli (68).  And there are surely others...which again is why it is so sad that George Clooney, young, spritely, decades-left-of-his-career George Clooney was chosen this year.

But seriously, congratulations.

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