Page 4 -The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. -March 4, 1993
Judy Davis combines the intensity of old movie stars like Bette Davis with a modern feminist sensibility.
The Groeat Australian One...
Hypocrisy at th(
by Chris Lepley That's all well and good, but that's
It's Oscar time once again. A time not how the Academy works, child.
when the rest of the free world gets a Hundreds of thousands of films come
glimpse into just how those wacky outinoneyearandthosepoorAcademy
people in Hollywood think. A time for members have to narrow the nomina-
those egomaniacal actors, writers and tions down to just five in each category.
directors (and all those other unneces- They can't possibly hope to include
sary people who alsohappen to workon every fine performance, and some just
movies like editors, composers, cin- get overlooked. So you really shouldn't
ematographers, etc.) to drop their pre- complain - they do the best they can.
tensions and give credit where credit is Bullshit. Their best just isn't good
due. After all, the ballots are secret, enough, that's the plain truth. And to
right? There's no popularity contest at solve the problem they use a little con-
work here, the Oscars are based entirely vention known as tokenism. This year,
on merit. the token independent film is "The Cry-
It'd be nice if it worked that way. ing Game." By sheer luck Hollywood
Unfortunately, Oscar time is just an- has managed to find one film to take out
other time during the year when the several token categories: they have their
movie-viewing public gets its collec- token British actors, their token low-
tive intelligence insulted. It's alsoa time budget film and, joy of joys, their token
for snubs, glaring omissions and, above homosexuals. Luckily, "The Crying
all: gracious humility. That's right. In Game" deserves all of its nominations,
the land that turned the word "ego" into and probably should've gotten a few
something Freud never intended, any- more.
one who gets left out on March 29 is British independent films were
expected to grin and bear it. But why? treated more than fairly this year.
Why not hit the talk show circuit and "Howard's End" grabbed a handful of
nominations, and four of the five Best
Not that all of the Supporting Actress nominees are for-
nominees aren't eigners. Where are the American inde-
pendent films? Not that all of the nomi-
nees aren't deserving, but this was abig
a big year for American year for American filmmakers and the
filmmakers and the nominations don't reflect that in the
nominations don't least. If the Academy offers no recogni-
reflect that in the least. tionofyoung,independent,homegrown
If the Academy offers talent-the future Demmes, Scorseses,
. and Sayles - these budding filmmak-
no recognition of ers may never reach audiences outside
young, independent, of the N. Y.-L. A. arthouse circuit. How
homegrown talent ... about some recognition for filmmakers
these budding like Quentin Tarantino or Abel Ferrara
filmmakers may never or Carl Franklin? Time was when gutsy
audiences outside American movies could find their way
reach uinto the Best Picture category, such as
of the N. Y.-L. A. "Taxi Driver" or "Midnight Cowboy."
arthouse circuit. Now, to get the token "art film"nomina-
tion the movie has to be British, from
"My LeftFoot" to"The Crying Game."
Maybe that explains why the actors
who frequent independent films got the
shaft in the acting categories. Where the
hell is Harvey Keitel? Sure "Bad Lieu-
tenant" is rated NC-17, and that's per-
sona non grata at the Oscars, but what
about "Reservoir Dogs"? Speaking of
the Quentin Tarantino masterpiece that
nomination? WhataboutSteve Buscemi
for Best Supporting Actor? Other inde-
pendents deserved nods. Bill Paxton in
"One False Move" is Best Actor mate-
rial, and both "Reservoir Dogs" and
"One False Move"deserved BestOrigi-
nal Screenplay kudos.
As usual, comedies got the short
stick this year. No one's suggesting a
Best Actor nomination for Mike Myers
or Dana Carvey, but comedy has been
considered undeserving of Academy
recognition for too long. Warren Beatty
can win Best Director for "Reds" buthe
can't even pull off "Ishtar" with Dustin
Hoffman's help? And they say comedy
isn't art? Maybe that explains why
"Aladdin" didn't come close to a Best
Picture nod. The highest grossing ani-
mated film of all time has been sadly
relegated to the tried and true Best Song
and Best Original Score categories of
And speaking ofBestSong, where is
the bulk of the immensely popular
"Singles" soundtrack? If Prince could
win an Oscar for "Purple Rain" why
can't Alicein Chains take home a statu-
ette for "Would?" Or even Screaming
Trees for "I Nearly Lost You?," Pearl
Jam for either "State of Love and Trust"
The rule of thumb in Hollywood is
"it's nice to be nominated, but if you're
not, don'tbitchaboutit."Does this seem
hypocritical to anyone else?
There are probably few actors in
Hollywood who have such a unique
cult following as Judy Davis. Stars like
Kevin Costner and Julia Roberts have
Aheir fans, but nothing can compare to
thie sheer adulation received by the Great
Does Judy Davis really deserve all
this attention? As aproud card-carrying
member of the Judy Davis cult, my
answer is a resounding YES.
Davis is not new to American film
films like "Kangaroo" and "High Tide."
In 1991, however, Davis took the
arthouse crowd by storm, appearing in
three instant artsy-fartsy classics about
writers andartists.Firstcame herexplo-
sive performance as Georges Sand in
the romantic farce "Impromptu."Davis'
exuberantbanter brings back memories
of Katharine Hepburn in the best of the
great screwball romances like "Bring-
ing Up Baby" and "The Philadelphia
Story."Like the GreatKate, Davisdomi-
nates the screen with her commanding
manner and intelligence.
Davis surfaced again in "Barton
Fink," the Coen brothers' ode to weird-
ness. As the ghostwriting secretary to
JohnMahoney's William Faulkner-like
author, Davis exhibits an unusual touch-
ing vulnerability. Despite hercharacter's
reticence, we are glued to Davis every
frame she's in, as if we want to make
sure we know what she's up to. This
direct association with the audience is a
trademark of Davis' work.
Next came "Naked Lunch," where
Davis not only had to play two different
characters, but had the added challenge
of competing with the genius of David
Cronenberg sex muppetcreations. Davis
more than holds her own in a part that
might have been a mere gratuitous love
audiences. Though herelevation to saint-
hood has evolved in the past two years,
Davis made her smashing debutin Aus-
Brilliant Career." She was even nomi-
nated for an Oscar for her low-key (in
comparison to her later performances)
portrayal of Miss Quested in David
Lean's "A Passage to India."
Even though the critics liked Davis'
work, the actor never really made a
name for herself in the States and re-
turned to Australia where she starred in
interestin anyone else's hands. Who can'
forget the scene where she kills a row of
insects by breathing on them?
Having conquered Hollywood, there
was nothing else to do but appear in a
Woody Allen film. After biding time in
a forgettable adaptation of E. M.
Forester's "Where Angels Fear to
Tread," Davis rocked "Husbands and
Wives" off its foundation with the sheer
energy with which she imbues her char-
acter. Everything about her, the way she
paces about the apartment of a date,
yelling at her estranged husband over
the phone, or how she pins her chin to
her chest and stares out at the other
characters in the film with her burrow-
ing eyes, screams out intensity.
What is it about Davis that makes
her performances so special? The an-
swer may not lie with Judy herself, but
with a screen icon of the thirties and
forties, also named Davis: Bette. The
two Davises have the same gripping
fortitude and iron will that drubs the
viewer into submission. You get the
feeling that they are volatile volcanoes,
ready to explode at any moment, which
makes them stand out from their placid
surroundings. The two Davises are part
of a rare breed of actors that can yell at
the top of their lungs without seeming
bitchy or insane. Instead they are pas-
Now it seems that even Oscar is
jumping on the GreatJude bandwagon.
Aftersweeping thecritics' awards, Davis
received a nomination for Best Sup-
porting Actress for her turn in "Hus-
bands and Wives." Hopefully, the mo-
mentum from all this attention will en-
able Davis to get alead role in apart she
can really sink her teeth into.
rail about the injustice of it all?
Forone thing, if yourmoviedoes get
ignored and then you make no secret
that you're very annoyed about that;
you risk getting snubbed again and again.
Take Spike Lee. "Do The Right Thing"
gets overlooked and Lee pouts in a
corner for a while. The Academy sure
seems to hate a crybaby, so "Malcolm
X," unarguably one of the best films of
the year, doesn't get the attention it
deserves. Sure Denzel Washington is
up for Best Actor, an Oscar he very
much deserves, but where are the other
nominations? Best Costumes? What
about Best Adapted Screenplay? What
about a Best Song nomination for Ar-
rested Development's "Revolution"?
What about, God forbid, Best Director?
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