It’s been a little over two weeks since the 88th Academy Awards bought the film season of 2015 to a close. Although we’re now well into the 2016 film season, I didn’t want to move past the most recent Oscars without mention of a disturbing thing I noticed on the show this year. Long time readers of mine will recall that, about a year or two ago, I did an article called “Out Of The In Memoriam”, where I mentioned 10 former Oscar winners who were not included in the Oscars’ In Memoriam segment when they passed. Their passings were spread throughout multiple ceremonies, but this year, there were a whopping seven Oscar winners who died within the year, and who were excluded from the ceremony despite winning Oscars. I would like to give them a final salute before I think ahead to the 2017 Oscars.
In order of their passing, we begin with cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, who won the Best Cinematography Oscar in 2002 for The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.
The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was very popular at the Oscars from 2002 to 2004, winning a combined total of 17 Oscars. It all began with The Fellowship Of The Ring, though, and a fellowship was what Peter Jackson and his cast and crew were, with the same talents sticking together throughout the trilogy. Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography was something wonderful to behold as it took us into Middle Earth and allowed us a chance to see what was previously only viewed in relatively short animated movies made real. Look at this trailer, and you’ll get an idea of how Lesnie’s cinematography made the movie so amazing to look at:
I was truly puzzled at Lesnie’s exclusion. I was thinking for sure they would’ve included him after Christopher Lee, who was mentioned in the In Memoriam, although the film clip for him came from The Man With The Golden Gun. I wonder what Cate Blanchett, who presented the Best Costume Design Oscar that evening, had to say about Lesnie’s exclusion. I was very disappointed. That will be a common theme in this article.
We now move on to Michael Blake, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for Dances With Wolves, being presented with his Oscar in this video by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, who will be guaranteed to be included in the In Memoriam when they pass as they won acting Oscars, which tend to be more respected than Oscars in most other categories as shown by Blake’s exclusion.
It’s true that Dances With Wolves has caught quite a lot of flack for winning Oscars that many felt should’ve gone to Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas. That makes me wonder if they excluded Blake from the In Memoriam as a way of apologizing to Scorcese and crew for all the Oscars that Goodfellas lost. That’s probably a dark way of looking at it, but if you’ll recall my first “Out Of The In Memoriam”, you’ll recall the rumor that Martin Richards, who actually won the Best Picture Oscar for Chicago, was excluded from the 2013 In Memoriam out of spite by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who executive-produced Chicago and produced the 2013 Oscars. As campaigning for inclusion in the In Memoriam can get as vicious as campaigning for actual Oscars, perhaps there was some foul play involved.
As for Blake, I feel he deserved a slot in the In Memoriam. I probably would’ve gone for an instrumental composition from James Horner, who was included in the In Memoriam this year, and I would’ve made sure that Blake was included. Say what you will about Dances With Wolves, and many people have…It was a movie that earned people Oscars and put them to work, as opposed to Kirk Kerkorian, the late casino mogul who bought and sold MGM three times and wrecked it completely, yet was included in the In Memoriam over Oscar winners like Lesnie, Blake and the next people on our list, the first of whom is…
Julie Harris. I’m not talking about the actress who was included in the 2014 In Memoriam. I’m talking about the Oscar-winning costume designer of the Julie Christie drama Darling who died last year.
The 60s was a unique period for fashion, and many of the most important styles of the decade came from London. Julie Harris designed some of the most memorable costumes of the decade, and Darling was a great showcase for her work. The movie is about how the sweet life of Swinging London was not always so sweet, and Julie Christie’s costumes were reflective of how big an influence London was on world fashion. Take a look at the trailer for the movie’s European Blu-Ray release, and you’ll see those fashions for yourself:
I know for a fact that Julie Christie will be included in the Oscars In Memoriam when she passes. I just wish that Julie Harris had been accorded the same respect. As I’ve said before, it takes a lot of people to make a movie memorable. It’s not just the people on-screen. It’s the people behind the scenes as well, and I respect and admire them as much as the stars. If only the Academy did the same. After all, they’ll play music at the 45 second mark when winners in the technical categories are giving their speeches to get them off the stage, but the actors aren’t limited by that. Rather unfair, if you ask me.
Speaking of unfair, we come to our fourth Oscar winner excluded from the In Memoriam at the 2016 Oscars. That would be Seth Winston, who won Best Live Action Short in 1992 for Session Man. Here’s the footage of Seth winning his Oscar:
When you talk about disrespected Oscar categories, I think the Live Action Short winners tend to be the most disrespected of all when it comes to the In Memoriam. Winners in this category like Claire Wilbur and Lisa Blount were ignored by the Oscars when they passed away. Seth Winston is the latest addition to that category. It makes me wonder: If Best Picture-winning producers like Martin Richards or Kenneth Utt (who won for Silence Of The Lambs) were ignored by the Oscars when they passed, what hope do Best Live Action Short winners have? It’s rather saddening. For me, all Oscar winners deserve respect for their work, no matter what category it’s in. Perhaps they felt that Mr. Winston didn’t have enough credits to merit inclusion in the In Memoriam, but to win an Oscar for a short means that you were able to make an impact on an audience’s heart and mind in about a third of the time as a feature-length movie, and that should count for something.
We return to the world of screenwriting for our fifth Oscar winner who lost out on inclusion in the In Memoriam. That would be D.M Marshman Jr., who co-wrote a little movie you classic film buffs may have heard of, a small movie known as Sunset Boulevard.
Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett may be the names most associated with this classic Hollywood satire, but Mr. Marshman was the third man to make the screenplay the classic it was. According to Wikipedia: “(Marshman) suggested that a gigolo be introduced to the story as a romantic interest for the heroine. Characteristics of the main character can be attributed to Marshman, such as name similarity, personality, and identical birthday”. Sunset Boulevard is remembered today as a classic black comedy satire of Hollywood in the 50s. How sad that Mr. Marshman was disrespected in the same manner as Norma Desmond. Billy Wilder was included in the In Memoriam when he passed, while Charles Brackett passed away decades before the In Memoriam was a regular thing. If they had included Marshman in the In Memoriam, it would’ve been a salute to an era of Hollywood that isn’t around anymore, for better or for worse.
The aforementioned Seth Winston was not the only Best Live Action Short winner to be excluded from the In Memoriam this year. Another individual who got the shaft was Christopher Chapman, a winner in 1968 for his short film A Place To Stand.
A Place To Stand was a short film that played at Ontario’s Expo 67, and it showcased life in that Canadian city. It did so in a unique manner, as the screen was split up into multiple frames in 70MM. Your eyes darted about back and forth to see all the images. It would’ve been a much longer short if all the images played out in a sequential order in single frames, but Mr. Chapman’s editing technique compressed a long documentary into about 20 minutes or so. Chapman’s technique was so innovative that he was later asked to help out with the visual style of movies like The Thomas Crown Affair, which also made usage of the technique. Some may laugh at the concept of the montage, especially as it was used in the 80s (which I personally don’t mind), but when looking at the past, one can see how unique a style the montage can be.
Our last Oscar winner who was excluded from the In Memoriam was tremendously depressing, especially as this year marks the 35th anniversary of the movie’s release. That would be Colin Welland, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Chariots Of Fire.
Chariots Of Fire is another one of those movies denounced by modern film critics as overrated and undeserving of its’ awards. I saw it in 2005, and I was impressed. I thought it was a riveting tale that even a non-athlete could find intriguing. Welland’s script went a large way towards making it the intriguing film it was. I was never very athletic, and of all the subjects I was lousy at in my school years, physical education was the worst. Having to do 5 laps around the field before the class actually started was painful. I was always more about book learning than physical learning. Despite this, though, Welland’s script for Chariots Of Fire made me think, watching it as an adult, that perhaps it might not be too late to get physical. I’m planning on investing in a treadmill soon, and perhaps I might listen to the Chariots Of Fire soundtrack when on it.
In summation, 2016 saw the most exclusions of Oscar winners from the In Memoriam that there has ever been in the almost quarter-of-a-century that this has been a regular part of the Oscar telecast. I concluded my “Out Of The In Memoriam” with a paraphrase from Animal Farm: “All Oscar winners are equal, but some are more equal than others”. I hope that eventually there will come a day when all Oscar winners will truly be equal, and with that, will be included in the In Memoriam when they pass, no matter what category they won for. One can dream…