When nominations are announced every year, they are immediately met with WTF! outbursts over perceived snubs. This year, we bemoaned the omissions of such hopefuls as Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, Michael Keaton and Jacob Tremblay. And, loudest of al, where were all the black actors?
It’s not until the show itself is over that we wonder about another snub.
Where were all the dead actors?
Nominee snubs, we understand. The process of nominating is highly subjective and beholding to mob rule. But dying is about as objective as things get, and the death of one of Hollywood’s own is pretty hard to overlook. There are published obits in the trades, in guild newsletters, in the L.A. Times for crissakes.
Sometimes, all you have to do is look around.
“Anybody seen Abe Vigoda lately?”
“Abe? He died 30 years ago.”
“No, he didn’t. He was just in a movie last year.”
Abe Vigoda, the likable lug from “Barney Miller” and ill-fated Tessio in “The Godfather,” had been reminding people that he wasn’t dead for about 30 years before he actually died in January, at age 94.
He wasn’t alone in Snub Heaven.
George Gaynes, the breath-spraying lothario stalking Jessica Lange in “Tootsie” and Commandant Lassard in the dreadful but profitable “Police Academy” movies, died two weeks ago and didn’t make the cut, either. What, too soon?
There were other notables notable for their absence, including;
Jeffrey Lewis, a frequent cast member of Clint Eastwood movies and father of actress Juliette Lewis. He died last April, leaving his last performance (for “High and Outside”) in the can;
Joan Leslie, a reigning beauty in her days alongside co-stars Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, James Cagney and Ronald Reagan. She was 90 when she passed last October;
And given the “Oscars-so-white” hashtag hung on the academy, it was fairly remarkable that they failed to mention black movie veteran Tony Burton, whose 90 credits include six turns as the corner man for Rocky Balboa.
I didn’t notice these omissions during the show. Your mind is always trying to process the last name mentioned on the Memoriam scroll.
What I did notice was the inclusion of Richard Corliss.
Corliss was a friend of mine and his sudden death last April at age 71 was a personal jolt. It was also a personal jolt to see his name and image sandwiched between a pair of industry craft veterans on the Memoriam. Corliss did not work in the film industry. He was a journalist, a magazine editor, a film critic and an author of books about the movies.
I hate to say he didn’t belong in the company he was with, but he didn’t.
I don’t remember if the academy paid the same tribute to the late Roger Ebert, but I would have had the same reaction. Movie critics are by definition outside of the film making process. We sit on our asses in dark rooms and judge them.
Ebert fans might argue that he does have screen credits. Yes, he does. He co-wrote three titty movies with Russ Meyer in the 1970s. Otherwise, his credits are all for being himself in documentaries about movies. Corliss has appeared in a couple of those, too, as have many other critics, none of whose relatives can expect to see them in future ‘In Memoriams.’
It’s fine if they run out of names of their own recently deceased, but let’s let us critics dig our own graves.