Gender-Neutral Acting Awards


gender-neutralThe recent article in The Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood Women’s Group Cautiously Receptive to Gender-Neutral Acting Awards, I found intriguing.

Specifically, “the Independent Spirit Awards were the latest Hollywood voting body to go genderless with its awards, announcing on Aug. 23 that the best lead actress and best supporting actress awards were being retired forever. To make up for the two eliminated categories, a new category, honoring a ‘breakthrough performance in film,” was added…”

One factor is the visibility of openly trans actors. Trace Lysette Is First Trans Actress to Lead a Competition Film at the Venice Film Festival.

Meanwhile, regarding “the Academy Awards — which are voted on by a body of over 10,000 members — …new Academy CEO Bill Kramer said the organization is ‘conducting due diligence’ on gender neutrality, ‘but there’s no plan right now to activate that.'”

The Conventional Wisdom when I was actively paying attention to the Oscars last century was that the awards would disproportionally be won by men. I’m not opposed to such a change, but it would take me a moment to get used to it.

I wondered how the last couple dozen Oscars would have turned out if there were no gendered categories. Of course, I have no idea. Tell me what you think of gender-neutral movie awards.

2000 LEADING ROLE: Russell Crowe — Gladiator* v. Julia Roberts — Erin Brockovich
SUPPORTING ROLE: Benicio Del Toro — Traffic v. Marcia Gay Harden — Pollock
I think both men win. On the other hand, if Ellen Burstyn had won for Requiem For A Dream, which she should have instead of Roberts, I’d have picked her.


2001 LEADING ROLE Denzel Washington — Training Day* v. Halle Berry — Monster’s Ball
SUPPORTING ROLE Jim Broadbent — Iris v. Jennifer Connelly — A Beautiful Mind
This was hardly Denzel’s best role.

2002 LEADING ROLE Adrien Brody — The Pianist* v. Nicole Kidman — The Hours
SUPPORTING ROLE Chris Cooper — Adaptation v. Catherine Zeta-Jones — Chicago
I think it’s Zeta-Jones, who was more integral to her movie.

2003 LEADING ROLE Sean Penn — Mystic River* v. Charlize Theron — Monster
SUPPORTING ROLE Tim Robbins — Mystic River* v. Renée Zellweger — Cold Mountain
If there are only two awards, would BOTH go to the same movie? Theron was transformative in the role.

2004 LEADING ROLE Jamie Foxx — Ray v. Hilary Swank — Million Dollar Baby
SUPPORTING ROLE Morgan Freeman — Million Dollar Baby v. Cate Blanchett — The Aviator*
Now we’re in the period when my daughter was a baby/toddler and missed lots of films.

2005 LEADING ROLE Philip Seymour Hoffman — Capote v. Reese Witherspoon — Walk the Line*
SUPPORTING ROLE George Clooney — Syriana* v. Rachel Weisz — The Constant Gardener*
In a contest of performers playing real people, my guess is Hoffman.

“Royal” competition

2006 LEADING ROLE Forest Whitaker — The Last King of Scotland* v. Helen Mirren — The Queen
SUPPORTING ROLE Alan Arkin — Little Miss Sunshine v. Jennifer Hudson — Dreamgirls
Whitaker and Hudson, I’d think, though Hudson’s barely a supporting role.

2007 LEADING ROLE Daniel Day-Lewis — There Will Be Blood* v. Marion Cotillard — La Vie en Rose
SUPPORTING ROLE Javier Bardem — No Country for Old Men* v. Tilda Swinton — Michael Clayton*

2008 LEADING ROLE Sean Penn — Milk v. Kate Winslet — The Reader*
SUPPORTING ROLE Heath Ledger — The Dark Knight* v. Penélope Cruz — Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Ledger was good, and he died.

2009 LEADING ROLE Jeff Bridges — Crazy Heart v. Sandra Bullock — The Blind Side
SUPPORTING ROLE Christoph Waltz — Inglourious Basterds* v. Mo’Nique — Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire*

2010 LEADING ROLE Colin Firth — The King’s Speech v. Natalie Portman — Black Swan*
SUPPORTING ROLE Christian Bale — The Fighter v. Melissa Leo — The Fighter


2011 LEADING ROLE Jean Dujardin — The Artist v. Meryl Streep — The Iron Lady
SUPPORTING ROLE Christopher Plummer — Beginners v. Octavia Spencer — The Help

2012 LEADING ROLE Daniel Day-Lewis — Lincoln v. Jennifer Lawrence — Silver Linings Playbook
SUPPORTING ROLE Christoph Waltz — Django Unchained* v. Anne Hathaway — Les Misérables
Day-Lewis for certain.

2013 LEADING ROLE Matthew McConaughey — Dallas Buyers Club v. Cate Blanchett — Blue Jasmine
SUPPORTING ROLE Jared Leto — Dallas Buyers Club v. Lupita Nyong’o — 12 Years a Slave*

2014 LEADING ROLE Eddie Redmayne — The Theory of Everything v. Julianne Moore — Still Alice
SUPPORTING ROLE J.K. Simmons — Whiplash v. Patricia Arquette — Boyhood
I’m inclined to think both women would win.

2015 LEADING ROLE Leonardo DiCaprio — The Revenant* v. Brie Larson — Room
SUPPORTING ROLE Mark Rylance — Bridge of Spies* v. Alicia Vikander — The Danish Girl

M. Ali

2016 LEADING ROLE Casey Affleck — Manchester by the Sea v. Emma Stone — La La Land
SUPPORTING ROLE Mahershala Ali — Moonlight v. Viola Davis — Fences
Ali was a breakout star, whereas Davis won a Tony for the same role.

2017 LEADING ROLE Gary Oldman — Darkest Hour v. Frances McDormand — Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
SUPPORTING ROLE Sam Rockwell — Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri v. Allison Janney — I, Tonya
I loved McDormand in the role.

2018 LEADING ROLE Rami Malek — Bohemian Rhapsody v. Olivia Colman — The Favourite
SUPPORTING ROLE Mahershala Ali — Green Book v. Regina King — If Beale Street Could Talk
If Ali had won in 2016, he wouldn’t win for this role in a lesser film.

2019 LEADING ROLE Joaquin Phoenix — Joker* v. Renée Zellweger — Judy
SUPPORTING ROLE Brad Pitt — Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood v. Laura Dern — Marriage Story

2020 LEADING ROLE Anthony Hopkins — The Father v. Frances McDormand — Nomadland
SUPPORTING ROLE Daniel Kaluuya — Judas and the Black Messiah v. Yuh-Jung Youn — Minari
Kaluuya’s was much closer to a starring role.

2021 LEADING ROLE Will Smith — King Richard* v. Jessica Chastain — The Eyes of Tammy Faye*
SUPPORTING ROLE Troy Kotsur — CODA v. Ariana DeBose — West Side Story

A is for Albany High School awards

Albany High School was up for six awards in an event fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards®

Hairspray Director Gregory Theodore Marsh, Annabelle Duffy , Theatre Ensemble Director Ward Dales
Back on Saturday, May 19, the family went to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady to attend the 2nd Annual High School Musical Theatre Awards for New York’s Capital Region in partnership with The Broadway League.

Albany High School was up for six awards in an event fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards®. The evening celebrated “the achievements of the region’s theatre students from 23 area high schools, highlighting the importance of arts and theatre education.”

The AHS March production of “Hairspray” won for best musical, best technical execution and best choreography execution. Moreover, “Albany High junior Annabelle Duffy won best actress for her portrayal of feisty Tracy Turnblad.”

She received an all expenses paid trip to New York City to receive training from working Broadway professionals. Annabelle and a young man from the area participated in the Jimmy Awards, the national stage in which high school performers across the nation acted and sang, on June 25.

At Proctors, our family applauded wildly for AHS and also my young niece’s high school; one of the supporting characters in their The Music Man was nominated, which somehow meant that the niece got to perform in the energetic opening and closing numbers.

Truth is that some of the Albany High School rooting was a bit of chip on the collective shoulders of the city dwellers. On the standardized tests, the urban schools don’t fare nearly as well as the ones in the suburban districts. But as someone wrote on a Facebook listserv:

“What I do know is my children will have experiences like many others won’t. They are exposed to the world thanks to classmates, teachers, and courses not available in many locations… Remember money talks and those districts with most living in poverty are underfunded and inundated with unfunded state mandates.”

Not incidentally:

Grammy-nominated jazz artist Stefon Harris (Albany High School ’91) was named a recipient of a 2018 Doris Duke Artist Award – “one of the most prestigious arts grants in the country – for his continuing contribution to jazz.

“Harris is one of seven performing artists that will receive $250,000 in flexible funding, along with up to an additional $25,000 to encourage contribution to his retirement account.”

For ABC Wednesday

The Lydster: Academic Achievement

kidsheaderThe Daughter just graduated from sixth grade. It was really nice having her attend at a building that was literally a stone’s throw or two from our house for a half dozen years.

This fall, she will be taking the bus, as she moves on to middle school, what they used to call junior high when I was of age.

In June, there were a lot of awards given. She was recognized by the school board for being first in First in Math in the state of New York, the only person in the Empire State to be in the Top 100 in the country. She gave the board two terse sentences of explanation.

Her school gave out a set of achievement recognition. There were LOTS of these – I’m guessing a couple reams of paper worth – and I could see from a distance that she was disappointed that she got only three awards, two for honor role, and one for music, while some of her classmates were collecting quantities in double digits. She thought she might get one for citizenship, as the only active student in the PTA, e.g. She didn’t even get the award for math, which we both had expected.

Finally, there was graduation. There were awards from the state comptroller, the attorney general and other luminaries. A couple kids, including her best school friend, received The President’s Award for Educational Excellence, which “recognizes a student’s academic success in the classroom.”
Then The Daughter and another student received The President’s Award for Educational Achievement, which “recognizes students who show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment to or intellectual development in their academic subjects.”

It goes on to say in the description on the website: “This Achievement award should not be compared to the President’s Award for Educational Excellence or be seen as a second tier award; it recognizes a very different type of academic achievement. It is meant to encourage and reward students who work hard and give their best effort in school, often in the face of special obstacles to learning.”

I do not know what “special obstacles” the award is referring to, but no matter. The Daughter is thrilled by the award, “signed” by President Obama, which totally eliminated the disappointment of four days earlier.

I should note she got a paper certificate, rather than the pin.

Steve Martin is 70

For better or worse, Steve Martin helped to popularize the air quotes gesture.

Steve MartinYears back, I found it weird and strange that, in some circles, people decided that Steve Martin was not funny because he wasn’t angry enough, was inauthentic, too oblique, or whatever.

This bit from a February 18, 1982, Ben Fong-Torres Rolling Stone Interview, somewhat explains his humor:

“[College] changed what I believe and what I think about everything. I majored in philosophy. Something about non-sequiturs appealed to me. In philosophy, I started studying logic, and they were talking about cause and effect, and you start to realize, ‘Hey, there is no cause and effect! There is no logic! There is no anything!’ Then it gets real easy to write this stuff because all you have to do is twist everything hard—you twist the punch line, you twist the non sequitur so hard away from the things that set it up.”

Martin further describes the development of his humor in this 2008 Smithsonian interview.

WATCH 1976 Standup Comedy.

Success came early for him, from working as a magician at Disneyland when he was 15 to getting an Emmy as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour when he was 23. He also wrote for the shows of Glen Campbell and Sonny & Cher.

On his TV appearances, on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and, most notably, on Saturday Night Live, which he’s hosted 15 times, he created catchphrases such as “Excuuuuuse Me.” He was one of the wild and crazy guys with Dan Aykroyd, who played a “couple of bumbling Czechoslovak would-be playboys.” For better or worse, Martin helped to popularized the air quotes gesture.

WATCH Steve Martin Has to Leave – Johnny Carson, 1978.

On JEOPARDY! a couple of weeks ago, there was a clue about King Tut, and the contestant mimicked the hand gestures from the Steve Martin song that debuted on SNL, featuring the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which only went to #17 on the pop charts in 1978, but ultimately sold a million copies.

WATCH King Tut SNL, 1978 and Live, 1979.

But he really wanted to be in pictures, and I’ve seen him in several films.

1979 The Muppet Movie, as a waiter
1984 All of Me, with Lily Tomlin
1986 Little Shop of Horrors, as the dentist
1987 Roxanne, which he also wrote and executive produced; I was quite fond
1987 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, by far my favorite John Hughes movie
1989 Parenthood

1991 L.A. Story, for which he was also a writer and executive producer.
1991 Grand Canyon, which has my favorite quote about cinema: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”
1992 Housesitter
1992 Leap of Faith, as a faux faith healer
1995 Father of the Bride Part II – an awful film
1997 The Spanish Prisoner – a decent drama
1998 The Prince of Egypt (voice)
1999 Fantasia 2000 (introductory host)

2008 Baby Mama
2009 It’s Complicated
2011 The Big Year, about birdwatching

He’s also been writing plays, articles, screenplays, and a very well-received 2007 memoir, Born Standing Up.

More recently, I’ve seen him on TV playing his banjo. In the comedy years, he’d play it mostly as a diversion for the joke. But now he, primarily with the band the Steep Canyon Rangers, has been playing a number of banjo gigs.

WATCH Steve Martin and Kermit the Frog in “Dueling Banjos”, 2013.

He’s won several honors, including the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the Kennedy Center Honors, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, the AFI Life Achievement Award, and an Academy Honorary Award. He became a father for the first time at the age of 67.

WATCH an interview with David Letterman – May 1, 2015.

Half a Bupkis is better than nothing

Bupkis means nothing. I mean literally nothing.

DVD.DTOne of the very few Facebook “fan” items I follow is The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. As you may, or may not recall:
1) The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the two TV shows of which I own the complete set on DVD; I’ve been slowly watching it with The Daughter, and
2) I really liked this book, as I noted here.

The book’s fan page posted recently:

I thought I’d pose a follow-up question to my recent post about Danny Thomas’s legendary cameo on “It May Look Like a Walnut!” For a super-sized supercilious and super-invisible Bupkis Award, name the one other time Danny appeared on screen in a scene with at least one character from the show?

As always with our trivia challenges on this page, this is “closed book” quiz–so no fair googling!

Of course, if you don’t know the answer, there’s never a penalty for just making something up! — with Danny Thomas and Richard W Van Dyke.

Do any of you know? I sort of half-remembered the plot of a Danny Thomas Show episode, which was included in the DVDS box set.

Someone had previously written: “The character of Buddy Sorrel [Morey Amsterdam] was a guest on the Danny Thomas show.” That didn’t sound right, so I dashed off a response to that: “I thought Buddy was a writer for the Danny Williams [Danny Thomas] character.” Some guy named Ian noted: “Buddy crossed over to The Danny Thomas Show, writing for Danny and his wife.”

The response:

Actually, Ian and Roger, you’re both partially correct. In the crossover show, Kathy hires Buddy to write for her, at which point it’s established that Buddy has an exclusive contract to write material for Danny’s nightclub act. What Alan Brady’s lawyers would’ve thought about that arrangement remains unexplored. I’ll write more about this episode when I have a minute. But for now, your partially correct answers have earned you a shared Bupkis Award. (You can decide between yourselves on whose non-existent mantle you’ll display your non-existent award.)

Bupkis, BTW, means nothing. I mean literally nothing of value. The award is named after a later episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show when Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) hears a song on the radio and discovers an old army buddy of his has left Rob off the songwriting credits. It gets even more complicated by the end of the show.

So I’ll be placing my half a Bupkis award over the mantle proudly.
Then I got a FULL Bupkis related to this pic:
It is, of course, Barbara Bain, who played Cinnamon Carter on Mission: Impossible; her then-husband Martin Landau played Rollin Hand. Bain was replaced by Lesley Ann Warren, Landau by Leonard Nimoy. And while I watched them on MI, I’ll bet others know Landau and Bain best from Space: 1999, though I never actually saw it.

I did not know this: during the Van Dyke show’s early days, Bain and Landau were personal friends of Carl and Estelle Reiner, and Bain regularly attended the show’s Tuesday night filming at Desilu Cahuenga. So when the part of Rob’s sultry ex-fiancee came up in season two’s “Will You Two Be My Wife?”, casting Barbara in the role seemed only natural.

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