Anniversary Post: 36th Academy Awards

Sidney Poitier

Each year, I watch in confusion as people start talking about the Academy Awards. I just don’t get it. Film festivals can be interesting because you’ll be introduced to films you didn’t know about. But I just don’t see what the point is of the Academy Awards. And for that matter, I don’t see the point of the Cannes Film Festival.

The only films that you will see nominated for Academy Awards are ones that anyone who follows film seriously will already have heard of, if not seen, long before they are nominated. So what is the point? Well, we know: it’s an opportunity for Hollywood to fellatiate itself.

And when Hollywood doesn’t do the obvious thing, it spends the next year (or decade) congratulating itself. This is something I’ve long marveled at about Hollywood. As much as people believe Hollywood’s myths, it doesn’t compare to how much Hollywood believes them itself.

So watching Hollywood behave this way is just embarrassing to me. But it is worth noting that they occasionally do interesting things. The 36th Academy Awards occurred on this day, 13 April, in 1963. And they gave the award to Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field (a wonderful film but also a telling choice). This was the first time that the award went to an African-American man.

Of course, this was just another example of Hollywood patting itself on the back for being so enlightened. It would not be until the 74th Academy Awards (38 years later) that another person of color (Denzel Washington) won again.

It makes sense, though. It’s not just that #OscarsSoWhite; Hollywood is so white. The Academy Awards are an excellent indicator of Hollywood. And that’s the problem with them.

Also on 13 April

Actor Howard Keel (Annie Get Your Gun) was born in 1919 and Don Adams (Get Smart) in 1923.

Edward Fox (The Day of the Jackal) is 83 today, Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) is 81, Tony Dow (Leave It to Beaver) is 75, Ron Perlman (Hellboy) is 70, Peter Davison (Dr Who) is 69, Ricky Schroder (The Champ) is 50, and Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is 44.

Director Stanley Donen (Charade) was born in 1924 and Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep) is 76.

Image cropped from Sidney Poitier by unknown author via Wikipedia in the public domain.

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