For 90th Academy Awards the Honorary Oscar recipients will be Agnès Varda, Donald Sutherland, Owen Roizman, and Charles Burnett. Don’t know who they are? That’s why I’ve hyperlinked their names with their IMDb’s so you can educate yourself (because I’m nice like that).
The Honorary Oscar is meant to bestow recognition on deserving auteurs, actors, actresses, producers, make-up, costume designers, editors, cinematographers etc. The award can go to anyone, technically; however, those who have never won a competitive Oscar typically get bumped to the head of the line. All of this got me wondering: who should be the next 5 people to receive an Honorary Oscar. Here they are as followed:
Believe it or not, Harrison Ford has never won an Academy Award. In fact, he’s only been nominated once (Witness, a film you need to see if you haven’t already). Many of the most memorial scenes in film history would feature him, and many of the greatest lines would be attributed to Ford too. Though he’s known for large tentpole franchises, such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, “Jack Ryan” and now, Blade Runner, you’ve missed out on a colorful career if those are the only films you know by him. You can find Ford in films, such as Air Force One, 42, The Fugitive, and American Graffiti. Next time you watch a Harrison Ford scene, look at his eyes. No actor is more emotive with his eyes than Ford. And while some may say Ford’s career lacks risks, they ignore the immense risk of Star Wars. They also ignore Blade Runner: a film that was far beyond its time when it was released, and still is now. With six decades in the business, Ford should be rewarded.
Favorite moment: The golden idol scene –Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
She is one of the all-time great actresses, who is often “forgotten” among her peers. Though she has been nominated for an outstanding 6 Academy Awards, she has never won. Her nominations, include Albert Nobbs, Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction, The Natural, The Big Chill, and the World According to Garp. Never mind that she should have won for Albert Nobbs (an award take away and given to Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady), she was the most decorated actress in 1980’s (with only Streep receiving more nominations). Close is also acclaimed among children and adults, as no other person could be Cruella de Vil except her. She can also be found in other gems, such as Tarzan, The Paper, Air Force One, Cookie’s Fortune, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Her impressive resume is buttressed by a stellar background on both stage and television. One of the most talented actresses of her generation should be awarded one her industry’s highest honors.
Favorite moment: Cruella De Vil introduction –101 Dalmatians
Previously nominated for 4 Academy Awards (The Martian, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, and Thelma and Louise), Ridley Scott is one the great auteurs. Most directors find a niche and stick with it. From sci-fi to war, from historical to buddy comedy, from gangster to suspense, Scott might be the most versatile among his peers. The same man who made Thelma and Louise also made Alien. However, his versatility isn’t confined to genres, they’re also dependent on character. While Scott can make masculine films like Black Hawk Down and Gladiator, he has a number of films with strong heroines: G.I. Jane, Thelma and Louise, Prometheus, and Alien.
His filmography is so immense, I’ve yet to mention Blade Runner, Body of Lies, and American Gangster. In fact, I also haven’t included his latest work, All the Money in the World, where Scott dispensed with the cesspool that is Spacey and re-shot his film in 10 days without delaying the release. He’s a superhero in a director’s chair. The only thing that has kept Scott from the Oscar he so richly deserves is the unfortunate luck of having his most endearing films being sci-fi. The Academy has rarely awarded sci-fi films with the “big” awards, mostly relegating them to the technical achievements. The Academy could right that wrong by finally awarding Scott, a man who has pushed our understanding of what’s possible in film, his Oscar.
Favorite Moment: Alien birth scene –Alien
Samuel L. Jackson
Don’t you dare motherf*ckin’ @ me. Samuel L. Jackson, known for foul mouth funny vulgarity, is often overlooked for his acting ability. With the acting landscape proliferated by mostly method actors, performers like Jackson are hard to find. Jackson is a throwback to the Hollywood Studio era, where you didn’t go to a film to see an actor sleep in a dead bear, you went to see the actor. Humphrey Bogart was Bogart whether he played a night club owner in Casablanca or a river boat captain in the Africa Queen.
While Jackson has starred in hits, such as Kong: Skull Island, The Avengers, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Django Unchained, Star Wars, The Incredibles, Jackie Brown, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Jurassic Park, and a Menace II Society, his only Academy Award nomination comes from Pulp Fiction. He’s mostly been hurt because he almost exclusively stars in either franchises or action films, but that’s partly why the Honorary Oscar was created: to award successful actors whose work doesn’t always fall under the typical Academy purview (the most recent example is Jackie Chan receiving his Honorary Academy Award). While Jackson can sometimes get caught playing a caricature of himself, Django Unchained, he has spawned the most memorial lines in film history, “Where’s my super suit?!?,” “I’m trying to be the Shepard,” “It’s the one that says bad motherfucker on it,” and “Say ‘what’ one more God damn time! I dare you! I double dare you motherfucker.” Give that man his motherf*ckin’ Oscar.
Favorite moment: “Say what again” scene –Pulp Fiction
The person on my list who has the biggest uphill climb is by far Doris Day. Day is currently 95 years old, and while her name may ring a bell, most of her staunchest advocates have passed away. During her time, Day was an out-and-out movie star. A true triple threat, she was an accomplished actor, dancer, and singer. Name the biggest male film stars of her era, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, James Cagney, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, she acted alongside all of them. During that time she also recorded hit-song-after-hit-song, such as “Sentimental Journey,” “Love Somebody,” “It’s Magic,” “My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time,” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be),” which was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (a film that Day also starred in).
Unfortunately for Day, many of these achievements have become footnotes to some. While she only received 1 Oscar Nomination for her career (Pillow Talk opposite Rock Hudson), she was also distinguished with 5 Golden Globe nominations for her feature film work. Nevertheless, many of her biggest films, Pillow Talk, The Man Who Knew Too Much, I’ll See You In My Dreams, and Love Me or Leave Me were forgotten with changing tastes. As said above, Day’s other deterrence is her age. At 95, many of her contemporaries who should be campaigning for her are no longer with us. In fact, none of the major actors or actresses who starred alongside of her are still alive. Couple that with the fact that she retired from acting around 1973, and we find that there are a few generations who have forgotten her work.
One of the main goals of the Academy should be to act as a museum of sorts. It should say to future generations that these are the films, performances, and expertise that should be revisited by future cinephiles and film lovers. The Academy must use that same power to look back in the past and return glory to those who were wrongly neglected. That power is the reason the Honorary Oscar exists. Of all the talents on my list, I can think of no one who deserves one last day in the sunshine more than Doris Day.
Favorite moment: Que Sera Sera –The Man Who Knew Too Much
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Photo Credit: HollywoodReporter