Monday, May 23, 2011
Top Ten Oscar Travesties of the Golden Age: #5
The #5 Oscar travesty of the Golden Age
James Stewart fails to win Best Actor for It's a Wonderful Life.
Forget the annual Christmas tradition, forget Clarence and his stinkin' wings, forget Gloria Grahame..oh, wait, scratch that last one...
I'm a lukewarm admirer of Frank Capra. I'm an "everyman" kind of guy, but Capra laid the sticky sentiment on with a trowel, and sometimes I can't go near any of his movies for long periods of time; I'm going through such a time right now.
But James Stewart was so darned good in It's a Wonderful Life and he really is the sole reason (not counting Gloria Grahame) to watch this every Christmas. The Academy should've been forced to live in Pottersville for denying Stewart his second Best Actor Award for this movie. Instead, it would be Fredric March who would get his second Oscar, for The Best Years of Our Lives. At one time considered the best actor...period (replacing Paul Muni, I guess), March snagged his second Oscar in a role that could not have been at all challenging to the great thespian--and he was a fine actor, indeed. I just don't see how his performance was an Oscar-winning one. Maybe Hollywood wanted to recognize the "everyman" soldier that March portrayed, adjusting to a changed home and family, but in the many times I've watched Best Years--and I love that movie--there's nothing in March's perfunctory performance that I found Oscar worthy.
Let's also not forget that Harold Russell was recognized as such when he won Best Supporting Actor *and* a special Oscar "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance in The Best Years of Our Lives."
March's winning is a most curious affair.
Furthermore, if the Academy truly wanted to recognize the common soldier, they could've awarded Stewart for that--a Bomber Pilot during WWII--but instead the Academy got carried away and awarded every statuette to Best Years as long as they didn't have to give non-nominees Dana Andrews and Myrna Loy anything, of course.
Stewart probably didn't think much one way or the other about winning or losing. After all, he was no stranger to compensation Oscars when he himself won in 1940 for The Philadelphia Story, something I've defended and which is this blog's very first post. The fact that Jimmy already had an Oscar is the only thing keeping this travesty from being higher on the list.