Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
CP “Oliver!” beat out “Funny Girl” for best picture at the Oscars in 1968. You, it is said, have not been the same since. Care to share?
RN: Bah-bra! I still carry the scars, 45 years later. It was almost as ruinous as when already-so-dated “Crash” inexplicably beat “Brokeback Mountain” for best picture in 2006.
CP: The 1960s saw four movie musicals — “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “Oliver!” and “The Sound of Music” — win for best picture. Then, nothing for 34 years, when “Chicago” won in 2002. Were there any musicals you think got robbed in that long period?
RN: Aside from “The Godfather” winning over “Cabaret” in 1972 — a choice I can’t really fault — I’d say no. The real tragedy was in 1953, when Hollywood’s most beloved musical, “Singin’ in the Rain,” wasn’t even nominated. The winner that year might be Oscar’s most pathetic best picture ever, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Am I being too “Rain Man” — by the way, best picture, 1988 — for you?
CP: Not at all. There is a special place for savants of the American musical. I gave the academy props in 2008 when it handed best picture to the terrific, outta-nowhere, Bollywood-style musical romp “Slumdog Millionaire.” Still, for every such pleasant surprise at the Oscars, there seem to be three white-bread, entirely forgettable, predictable winners.
RN: Of which there are many. There’s Susan Hayward, who chewed such vast quantities of scenery in 1958’s “I Want to Live!” that she had her agent write an unlimited dental-floss clause into her contract. Yet she bested Roz Russell in “Auntie Mame” and Liz Taylor in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Go figure.
CP: They shoulda thrown Hayward into a cage with Roz and Liz and sold tickets. Can you imagine? When the academy gives top prizes to “Chariots of Fire” or “Dances With Wolves,” they shouldn’t wonder about slumping ratings for the red-carpet-cast.
RN: At least Oscar recognized two of the most enduring pieces of film acting, ever. Both belong to Vivien Leigh, playing very different Southern belles, 12 years apart, in “Gone With the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
CP: I would relish a return of a juicy Oscars decade like the 1970s, with best-picture wins for “The French Connection,” “The Godfather” 1 and 2, and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Liza won. Jane Fonda won twice. And George C. Scott and Marlon Brando each declined their best-actor honors.
RN: Can you imagine that happening today? Melissa Leo bought out more ad space than Macy’s when she pole-danced — sorry, campaigned — for 2010’s best supporting actress statuette. It worked. She won.
CP: Are we agreed that the talky, Tony Kushner-scripted “Lincoln” should get best picture this year?
RN: Yep, along with TK’s adapted screenplay. Lord knows the man gives good acceptance speech.
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