Monday, March 06, 2006

A Proposal For Next Year's Lifetime Achievement Oscar

Last night, the Academy finally found the time to give a lifetime achievement award to Robert Altman. Frankly, Altman deserved the real trophy back at the 2002 ceremony for "Gosford Park," but the Oscar voters felt that Opie was somehow more deserving. They were wrong, but at least Altman got his honorary Oscar at a time when he could appreciate it and also deliver a heartfelt and intelligent speech.

On the shuttle going back to the parking garage, a colleague, discussing people who didn't have Oscars, mentioned cinematographer Gordon Willis. It's not too early to begin planting the seeds to get Willis an honorary Oscar in 2007.

Willis is currently 74 and hasn't shot a film since 1997's forgettable "The Devil's Own" and 1993's somewhat more memorable "Malice." The Academy has had problems recognizing Willis in a timely fashion. His only two Oscar nominations have come for "The Godfather III" and "Zelig," both splendid pieces of filmic photography.

However, here are a few of the films shot by Willis without proper Oscar recognition, even in the form of a nomination: "Klute," "The Godfather," "The Parallax View," "The Paper Chase," "The Godfather II," "All the President's Men," "Annie Hall," "Interiors," "Manhattan," "Pennies From Heaven" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo." That group includes a trio of best picture Oscar winners, some best picture nominees and an assortment of Oscar winning performances.

You need only watch the seminal cinematography documentary "Visions of Light" for some inkling of the man's importance to his craft.

Willis has had some difficulties getting recognition across the board. The American Society of Cinematographers only nominated him for their top feature prize in 1991 for "The Godfather III," though the guild gave him a lifetime achievement award in 1995.

If I figured anybody was reading, I'd ask for votes as to other deserving lifetime achievement honorees....

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