Oscar madness: try to remember Cary Grant & ‘Rocky’

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It’s the movie buff’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.

A huge TV event that is anticipated for weeks — months? — and then forgotten almost immediately.

At two recent Oscar library discussions that I led, I asked those who attended if they could name the man who won best actor last year, and it took a while for one participant to remember Jean Dujardin of “The Artist.”

When I went further back in time and asked if anyone could recall the film that earned Goldie Hawn an Oscar, both groups were stumped (It was “Cactus Flower” in 1969.)

Of course, Oscar wins in major categories mean a boost at the box office — and in DVD rentals and downloads — but to get angry because your favorite film or performer is overlooked is a bit foolish when you consider the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual award ceremony.

Lots of wonderful movies went into the Hollywood history books with best picture Oscar citations — foremost among them the first two “Godfather” films, “Lawrence of Arabia,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Midnight Cowboy” and several others I could mention.

But, does anyone now believe that “Rocky” was the best film of 1976? Or that it should have beaten “All the President’s Men,” “Taxi Driver” and “Network”?

Is it right that Hilary Swank has won two best actress Oscars and that the long list of women who never won includes Carole Lombard, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, Jean Arthur, Jill Clayburgh, Greta Garbo?…you get the idea.

Time generally straightens things out when it comes to the reputations of films and their stars. “On Golden Pond” won the top acting prize for Henry Fonda in 1982 — mostly because everyone knew he was dying and he had never won — but Burt Lancaster did infinitely more interesting (and challenging) work that year in “Atlantic City.”

How seriously can you take the Oscars when Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock were never honored with competitive Academy Awards and Stanley Kubrick’s sole win was not for directing but for supervising the special effects in “2001: A Space Odyssey”?

Between now and Sunday night’s television shindig, I’ll be blogging here on some of my predictions, some Oscar history, and whatever else crosses my mind.

I’ll also be live Tweeting during the ceremony at @joesview as part of the Hearst Oscar team that you can find on Twitter at #ouroscars.

Joe Meyers

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