Omar Sharif was disheartened as he could not win an Oscar for his lifetime performances in Dr. Zhivago. He however did receive a nomination. He was consoled by Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren, who confessed that racial issues dominated the Oscars. In those days Oscars were truly coveted like Golden Palme O Dour at Cannes or Golden Lotus at Berlin Film Festivals. David Lean and William Wyler were critical of the Oscars when Satyajit Ray’s Devi did not receive an Oscar nomination.
Six decades later the scenario is worse. It is astonishing how RRR received accolades at the New York critics circle and is almost ready to officially compete for a Best Foreign Language Oscar. Director S. S. Rajamouli has even won an award in New York. A sensible mind which is cine-literate is skeptical about how such a content-less film filled with special effects, gimmicks and unnecessary gesticulations can compete for the legendary Oscars.
Last year a brilliant film like Ticket to Paradise went unnoticed in many countries. An aesthetically rich content-oriented film with excellent direction by Ol Parker, and memorable performances by George Clooney and Julia Roberts, it made many remember earlier classics like Brief Encounter, Indiscreet and Never Say Goodbye. Julia Roberts has gone on record stating it as one of her favorite movies. Is the golden charm of classic Hollywood ending with a tragic note? Only time will tell.
From the 30s to the 80s, the Oscar charm held sway. The situation started deteriorating from the mid-90s. In this millennium there are many controversies about the Oscars. Many conscious minds connected with the cinema medium are questioning the authenticity and impartiality of the Oscar jury. Both Sophia Loren and Peter O’ Toole after winning their lifetime Oscars have officially stated on stage that Hollywood films and Oscars were losing sheen.
There is an interesting anecdote about the Oscars. Sean Connery did tell Richard Attenborough, he was never surprised he did not win an Oscar either for Marne or Forever Forester. He also confessed his winning a Supporting actor’s Oscar for Brian D’ Palma’s, The Untouchables was by sheer coincidence as acting-wise he did not have much to contribute to the film. It also remains a wonder why superb films like A Bridge Too Far or Cry Freedom did not get Oscars. The mention of A Bridge Too Far brings to light how war epics like Longest Day, Tora Tora Tora among others. never won Oscars. George C Scott refused an Oscar for his haunting performance in Patton saying he was not interested in awards which were not always justified. Paul Newman after winning an Oscar for Color of Money never termed it a great achievement.
Let us come to a point. Meryl Streep received thirteen Oscar nominations and won it twice. Her third Oscar if she wins one will surpass the earlier record of the inimitable Catherine Hepburn. The million-dollar question remains how Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren and Ava Gardner did not receive so many nominations.
Joan of Arc, Snows of Kilimanjaro and Voyage prove beyond doubt, the trio were better performers compared to Meryl Streep, Gregory Peck (Keys to Wisdom), Anthony Quinn (Old Man And The Sea), Richard Burton (Becket) stand testimonies of acting leagues ahead than any of today’s Hollywood actors.
Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan are top-notch directors of the past three decades. Spielberg has himself agreed he is no match for a John Ford or David Lean. Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan have also stated it is too difficult for them to match a Frank Capra or a William Wyler.
From India, Bhanu Athaiya or Satyajit Ray winning Oscars is appreciable. For Slumdog Millionaire (2008), A.R. Rahman or Resul Pookutty won Oscars for music and sound recording.
But Mrinal Sen, Adur Gopalakrishnan, and Girish Karnad were not happy with Slumdog Millionaire’s music and sound recording winning Oscars. Mrinal Sen had said that he lost faith in the Oscars. According to him, the original score of Ali Akbar Khan in Devi, Satyajit Ray’s music of Charulata, and the sound recording of Mangesh Desai deserved Oscars. Many such examples prove My Oscar; My Beloved Awards are losing credibility.