BootLeg Betty

BetteBack April 11, 1982: Bette Midler Is Oscar Gold

Galveston Daily News
April 11, 1982

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Those of us who live for the movies are rarely caught off-guard on Oscar night, but when the final announcement was made on March 29,1 doubt that many people were collecting bets.

A foreign film being voted Best Picture of the Year was surprise enough. And no one was probably more
surprised than Chariots of Fire producer David Puttnam. Unless, perhaps, it was Warren Beatty.

Just as everyone was SURE Henry Fonda would be given his overdue honor as Best Actor, everyone was sure that Beatty’s” oneman-wonder Reds would be honored as Best Picture… a suspicion which became embarrassingly obvious as the words Chariots of Fire fell on a gasping crowd.

In all fairness, I must say that Chariots was a beautiful film. It had all the right qualities for Best
Picture: a wonderful plot, a gorgeous cast, superb photography, and a happilyever-after ending.

But it had one thing that traditionally would have excluded it from the competition: foreign credits.

Reds, following in the epic footsteps of Gone With the Wind, seemed a much more likely candidate. And, the overflow of Hollywood favorites like Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton made it a shoe-in. Or so everyone thought.

I wasn’t convinced. But I was surprised.

If any film had a prayer of upsetting Reds, I thought surely it was On Golden Pond. But once Beatty had
accepted his award for Best Director, I even cancelled that possibility.

Best Director and Best Picture ALWAYS go to the same people. It’s a tradition; largely based on the
assumption that the director ‘makes’ the film. If the picture is a smashing success, the director rarely has to share much of the credit.

If it’s a failure, you can bet the director is blamed.

Well, I doubt that too many people are blaming Warren Beatty right now; Reds was still a great success, and will undoubtedly go down (unlike Chariots) in Americam film history.

It was a fluke. And that’s all you can say.

There were a few other surprises this year. Especially in the supporting acting categories. Maureen
Stapleton was probably last on my list for Best Supporting Actress — but then, Chariots of Fire was last on my list as well. Not that Stapleton isn’t a fine actress, but this wasn’t her year. She should have won two years ago for Woody Allen’s first dramatic film Interiors.”

This year’s award should have gone to Melinda Dillon.

Now, I take no exception with the fact that Absence of Malice got zilch. But it seems unfair that such a wonderful actress (and such a fine performance) should have to suffer the fallout.

Likewise, the Best Supporting Actor award was a surprise.

True, a supporting acting award would have been wasted on so established an actor as Jack Nicholson —
just as one would have been wasted on Jane Fonda for her role in On Golden Pond, but I would have gone with the next best thing.

In most of these major categories I had at least two personal favorites and would not have been disappointed to see either of them win. But the one category in which I was dead set on who I wanted to win was the Best Song category.

The winner came as a pleasant surprise. Almost as pleasant as the presentation of the award.

Last year’s Grammy Award s s w e e p e r Christopher Cross added another trophy to his growing collection for Arthur’s Theme. (Of course he shared the glory with Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen for their writing contributions, but the credit is clearly’ Cross’. His tranquil voice is all but hypnotic, and his popularity gave the rest of his company an enormous edge.

The presentation I spoke of was made by Bette Midler; the absolute highlight of the entire evening.

Those competing in the Best Song category would probably argue with me since she hurled several insults at all of them, but it was obvious that everyone else in attendance shared my opinion. If there were an
Oscar for Best Presentation of an Oscar, she would surely have gotten it!

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