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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

All-night ceremonies

Imagine my surprise when I opened the pages of the Sunday New York Times a week and a half ago and saw my intellectual property plagiarized!

Right there on page 3 of the special Oscar Films supplement to the Arts & Leisure section was a huge chart, looking strangely like the one I have done every year for five years now. The chart had rows for each of the six major awards, and the columns were labeled as follows: “Will win,” “Should win” and “Should’ve been a contender.” I rest my case. The only way they could have copied my work more exactly is if it turns out that 70 percent of their predictions are dead wrong.

Sure, the Times chart has more color than mine—not to mention photos of all the various actors and directors in question. And it’s a lot bigger and busier, mainly because they included the opinions of three Times staff film critics: Stephen Holden, Elvis Mitchell and A.O. Scott.

I was all set to have my attorney fire off an indignant letter to the Times corporate offices when a couple of things occurred to me. For one thing, I don’t have an attorney. For another, if I got an attorney, it might cost money. But, most importantly, if I actually researched the matter, I might find that the Times has been using the very same chart for 25 years and, if I brought my web site to their attention, they might sue me! (I suspect that the Times may have one or two attorneys on its staff.) No, it’s better not to know and just let the matter lie.

So, what did the Times critics decide about the Oscar race? Well, it turns out that they didn’t agree on much. In fact, there were only two items on which they were unanimous. They all think that Sissy Spacek will win the statue for Best Actress, and they all believe that Robert Altman should win the Best Director award. Holden is the only one who thinks he will actually get it, while the other two split on Ron Howard and Peter Jackson for that award. In the other five categories, there was at least a consensus of two for the winners. In addition to Spacek for Best Actress, at least two of the Times guys think the winners will be as follows: A Beautiful Mind for Best Picture, Russell Crowe for Best Actor, Ian McKellen for Best Supporting Actor and Jennifer Connelly for Best Supporting Actress. Interestingly, like myself, they all seemed to assume that in most cases the most deserving nominee would not win. Sheesh. Not only did this newspaper shamelessly copy my chart, but it also copied my cynicism.

In any event, we will all know who the winners are this Sunday (or Monday, depending on what time zone you are in). Once again, I will be watching from Ireland, and I was thrilled to learn that BBC 2 once more will be broadcasting the festivities. As I have ranted in this space before, the past couple of years the merciless Rupert Murdoch had gotten the rights to the broadcast for the British Isles market, and he broadcast it on some pay satellite channel that, apparently, no one in Ireland gets. BBC 2, on the other hand, is available to virtually everyone in Ireland, and lots of people get it. People in The North get it beamed directly to their TV antennas, and people in The Republic also receive it, some even paying to get it legally.

The return of the Oscars to “the Beeb” means that I can resume my old Irish tradition of staying up all night to watch the awards, since they come on at 1:30 in the morning and run until 5:00 or later. Fortunately, I have recently had a chance to train for keeping these sorts of hours, since one of my Irish brothers-in-law got married over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. It had been nearly a year and a half since my last Irish wedding (another brother-in-law), and my body still had not recovered from that one. The thing went on for about three days, and I must have had a really good time since I remember very little about it. I hope that I can recuperate before I have to do this again. I have only two single Irish brothers-in-law left, and I hope neither of them is in too big a hurry to tie the knot.

Of course, Irish weddings and St. Patrick’s Day always put me in mind of The Quiet Man. I have it on my “to do” list to see this classic about Irish wedded bliss again and put it into perspective, given my own four years of wedded bliss with an Irish woman. Stay tuned.

Also, even though you have been too shy to email me, I know that you are dying for me to pick up on the discussion I began of the old Dark Shadows series back at the end of January. Rest assured, I will get back to it, just as soon as I have run out of other things to write about.

But I won’t be getting back to it next week since I will, as I always do at this time of year, be providing my own unique assessment and analysis of the Academy Awards. Unless, of course, it turns out that I slept through them.

-S.L., 21 March 2002

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