Out in the cold
EVEN a veteran like Jeff Bridges was overcome with emotion over his first Oscar win, for best actor in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart, showing the importance a performer attaches to the recognition from the industry for his work.
But apart from the prestige, awards such as an Oscar or an Emmy also open doors for work for most winners as well as a rise in acting fee, adding to their marketability. The award ceremony itself is often a money-spinner thanks to its large audience base as fans get to see all the movers and shakers under one roof.
Each award ceremony brings with it reams of newsprint and plenty of airtime, but other than the focus on the wins and the losses, the coverage often zooms celebrities don’t just fail to be nominated for awards – they get snubbed. in on those who should have made it but didn’t, and the most over-used word in articles of this genre is “snub”.
Reading such stories invariably brings to mind this short but memorable anecdote, told years ago by a friend in Chinese, that goes something like this: A man was giving a party at the weekend for his new colleagues, but not everyone he invited turned up. Thinking of the attractive executive who wasn’t among the guests who came, he sighed and lamented to those who were there: “Those who should have come didn’t turn up.”
Feeling most offended by his seemingly less-than-welcoming words, half of those in his audience decided to leave. The host, watching the more lively members from his office walk out, then blurted out: “Those who shouldn’t have left are gone.”
With that, the remaining half of his guests also upped and left, leaving the poor man with a ton of food and drinks, no one to play the music to, and a whole lot of deflated egos to assuage come Monday.
Calling the failure to be nominated for awards a snub to a celebrity is akin to saying that the ones who do get the nod are not quite worthy or that those who should have been in the shortlist are not.
Take the recently-concluded 63rd edition of the Emmy Awards, an annual event that honours the best in television. Or does it? Writers who do not share this opinion expressed their indignation when the nominations came out on the morning of July 14. What ... no Lea Michele and Matthew Morrisson in the list? Isn’t it time for Anna Paquin to be rewarded for her brilliant turn as a telepathic barmaid in True Blood?
And who left out the excellent cast members that lifted Fringe, The Walking Dead, The Killing and Sons Of Anarchy to both popular and critical acclaim? Don’t members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences actually have to watch television before they make their nominations?
It makes for good copy, and drama, if nothing else. Those who make the list are hardly going to cock a snook at an Emmy nomination – it can be quite painful to read about or listen to their claims of modesty. It will be too soon if I have to hear another actor claim to be a winner already just by being nominated or by being in the august company of fellow nominees with greater star power.
So the quotable quotes often come from those who fail to be nominated, aided and abetted by writers who, for the sake of spicing up the coverage of the repetitive event, trumpet the injustice of it all, making it oh-so-easy for the inflated egos to say their piece.
The Academy Awards, which celebrates the achievements of those in film, is also a hotbed of missed chances and institutional prejudice, if one is to believe the hype surrounding the who-itshould-have-been each year on nomination day.
The man of the moment in the annals of getting snubbed is supposed to be Chris Nolan, whose good work over the years has resulted in zero nomination for the man as a director.
The mind-bending Memento, the Batman franchise reboot and his latest, the dream blockbuster Inception, have all received critical acclaim as well as achieved box-office success, yet he is nowhere to be found when it comes to honouring the best in directing in the years his films are eligible for the awards.
Nolan, the story continues, replaces Martin Scorsese as the new poster boy for snubs. Scorsese’s first Oscar-worthy film was way back in 1976, with Taxi Driver, and he had even earned several nominations over the years, but never won, until 30 years later in 2006, with The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs.
While Scorsese and Nolan are no doubt good directors, I believe it is going too far to say that they have been snubbed. They make good movies, but so do many other directors. The King’s Speech, Inception’s contemporary which won Tom Hooper the Academy Award for Best Director, is no slouch in the good-movie department.
I would also argue that entertainment writers who described Harry Potter lead Daniel Radcliffe’s exclusion from the nominee list for a Tony Award for Best Actor in his successful musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying as a snub were wrong. Radcliffe was up against stage actors who have been honing their craft for years.
A snub, to me, would be when the late Marlon Brando refused to accept his Oscar for Best Actor for The Godfather in 1973, dispatching American Indian Sacheen Littlefeather, clothed in traditional dress, to take the podium on his behalf to reject the Oscar in protest against the negative depiction of American Indians on screen.
Snub stories appeal especially to fans who think the world of their idols and cannot understand why others can’t see their stars the way they do. There is also an element of the tendency for people to support the underdog, although it beats me how people earning millions would fall under such a category.
It ought to be a crime to stroke the egos of un-nominated celebrities by making them believe that they failed to garner any nominations because they were snubbed and not because in a crowded field, some would just have to lose. n In this column, writer Hau Boon Lai ponders the lives, loves and liberties of celebrities.