I’ll never forget that day. The joy, the pride, the accolade. The day my dear friend Erin, Photoshop dominatrix, digitally replaced the glass of wine in my hand with a shiny golden Oscar and sent me the image via email with the message ‘Don’t give up!’ I printed it out and tacked it up on my vision board.
My vision board is a mess for the most part, but half the mess is images of the desired statuette. I know a lot about Oscar. I know it was designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, and the first was crafted for $500 by out-of-work sculptor George Stanley in 1927. It comes in a box just a bit bigger than a shoebox. It’s 13 and a half inches tall. It weighs 8 and a half pounds – that’s twice as heavy as those little dogs starlets carry in their Prada handbags! And I want one. Not the little dog, not the Prada handbag. I want an Oscar.
Yet, as I drove Academy Award-winning producer Ed Saxon (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) to a seminar held by Seattle’s screenwriting program TheFilmSchool the other day, he talked of the importance of the journey on the way to Oscar, and the road back. ”Yeah, it was a memorable night, to say the least,” he said of his 1991 victory, ”But when I got home, I still had to feed the cat. And I still had to look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I would ever be able to achieve that level of success again.”
In short, he said, the hunger and drive doesn’t go away. Which is a good thing.
The Oscars hold special cache’ for me this year, as my all-time favorite actor has finally been nominated for a long-deserved Academy Award: Gary Oldman, nominated for Best Actor for the breathtaking (in my humble opinion) TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY. This role was a superb balancing act of subtlety, reserve, anger, resentment, and even charm, all smoldering beneath the stoic face of Oldman’s George Smiley. I would like to give the virtual finger to the author of this nay-saying piece from CliqueClack that claims the Academy was trying to “play catch-up” by nominating Oldman this year in what the author wrongly and laughably calls Oldman’s “least challenging role.” I take it the author missed Oldman as Dr. Smith in LOST IN SPACE, a role Oldman reportedly took in order to finance his amazing and under-celebrated masterpiece NIL BY MOUTH, which he both wrote and directed. Kudos to Gary, as ridiculous as LOST IN SPACE was, he transformed Dr. Smith, a role he could perform in his sleep, using the same signature all-or-nothing Oldman touch he has given time and time again to characters such as Sid Vicious and Ludwig Van Beethoven.
More upsetting, the aforementioned Ed Saxon declared to me, as I returned him to SeaTac to catch his flight back to LA, that my man Gary has “No chance in Hell.”
We shall see.
As for my chances, a crumpled roster of nominees from 2004′s Oscar line-up is also tacked to my vision board, on which all attendees of a last-minute Oscar party I threw that year signed their agreement that I would, one day, be at the Really Big Ceremony as a nominee for Best Original Screenplay. I haven’t made it there so far, but I figure that’s because I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to wear. Once I make that decision, all the puzzle pieces will undoubtedly fall into place.
I’ve got a spot on my shelf all cleared out and ready for you, Oscar.