Faye Dunaway says she and her “Bonnie & Clyde” co-star Warren Beatty have been tapped to present the Best Picture award at this year’s Oscars to celebrate their landmark film’s 50th anniversary. However, the academy has declined to confirm if this is to be the case. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be even more of a thrill to see Oscar’s all-time nominations champs (and two-time co-stars) Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep hand out the big prize of the night?
While Nicholson has been the academy’s go-to guy for this award a record eight times, Streep — who has starred in a couple of Best Picture champs (“Kramer versus Kramer” and “Out of Africa”) — has never had a turn. Sure, she has presented other awards, both honorary and competitive, but surely it is time for her to be given this honor, especially in the year in which she reaped her 20th Oscar nomination. And with her headline-making speeches as of late, viewers are sure to stay tuned to the end of the show to see if Streep once again goes after Donald Trump.
Nicholson was part of the last two double acts to present at the Oscars. A decade ago, he took to the stage with Diane Keaton and in 2013 he intro’d then first lady Michelle Obama who revealed the winner (“Argo”) via satellite. With the recent news that he is to make his first film since 2010 — a remake of the German comedy-drama “Toni Erdmann” — it would be a good move for this three-time Oscar winner to remind academy voters that he is back in the game.
Streep and Nicholson made two movies together — the wry comedy “Heartburn” (1986) and the downbeat drama “Ironweed” the following year. Both of them reaped Oscar bids for the latter, a stark tale of the homeless during the Depression. Surely, the 30th anniversary of those pairings is worth honoring too. And with both of them so willing to speak their minds these days, we could have the water cooler moment of the night.
Just think back to 1988 when Eddie Murphy, who was at the height of his fame, was asked to announce the winner of Best Picture. Though he had presented best visual effects five years earlier, this time round Murphy initially declined the invitation. He relented but then took the opportunity to chastise the academy for its failure to honor black actors. “I’ll probably never win an Oscar for saying this,” he said, before adding somewhat prophetically, “actually I might because the way it’s been going, it’s about every twenty years we get one, so we ain’t due until about 2004.”
And, he was almost right as Jamie Foxx (“Ray) and Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) both won in 2004. However, in between 1988 and then, Denzel Washington had won twice (“Glory,” 1989; “Training Day,” 2001) and Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball,” 2001), Whoopi Goldberg (“Ghost,” 1990) and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (“Jerry Maguire,” 1996) had each won once.
While we expect the biggest stars to present the Best Picture Oscar, that wasn’t always the case. While the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks did so in the first year of the Oscars, studio execs handled the honor for the next 19 years. Then, the academy tapped two-time Best Actor winner Fredric March for this duty at the 20th Oscars. Since then, the overwhelming majority of Best Picture presenters either have Oscars of their own or, at least, contended.
Among the notable names to reveal the big winner of the night are screen legends Audrey Hepburn (4 times), Elizabeth Taylor (3), James Cagney (2), Gary Cooper (2) and Sidney Poitier (2). More recently, Steven Spielberg has handled this part of the proceeding three times while his pals Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford have done so twice each. AndDustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand have presented Best Picture twice each, the latter time together to celebrate the success of their first film together, “Meet the Fockers.”
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