The 2017 Oscars & The In Memoriam Segment

Oscars In MemoriamUsually I do an uneducated, crap shoot of predictions for the Oscars every year. However, this year I’m skipping with that tradition trying to guess the winners. The main reason is that I haven’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees and I’m not feeling even remotely invested in the show.

It’s not that I’m not interested in any of the movies, there are  plenty that I eventually plan on watching. It’s not in the Best Picture running, but I’ve really been wanting to see Jackie since I first heard about it. It comes out on DVD soon so I’m looking forward that one.

As for who will win Best Picture – no idea. I don’t even know what is supposed to be the front runner in any of the categories. I could take some guesses, but I feel it’s really pointless this year. I’d have to read what people are saying and what the buzz is to get a good handle on a decent educated guess and I really don’t feel like doing that. There’s not one specific film I’m rooting for, so I’m skipping the prediction thing this year.

The one film I have seen is O.J.: Made in America that’s up for Best Documentary. I’d like to see that win since it was so incredibly good! Maybe the fact it showed on TV will hurt its chances, but it deserves some kind of an award. It might be a long doc, but it just flew by for me.

I wasn’t even going to bother watching the Oscars (I seriously don’t even know who’s hosting it this year). That is until someone mentioned the annual ‘In Memoriam’ portion the Oscars do where they remember those who have died in the past year and suddenly it got me thinking about it.

Oscars In Memoriam Leonard NimoyThe In Memoriam seems to be an increasingly popular segment. Years ago I don’t remember it getting as much attention as it does nowadays. This montage of actors and filmmakers who have died over the past year elicits some emotion (more so than anything else in the show). There’s always someone who I’ll see and be hit with the realization of, “Oh I didn’t know they died”.

One weird thing that used to happen with the In Memoriam segment is there would be awkward applause by the audience during portions of it. There will naturally be more famous and popular actors featured in the round-up and when their images come up the Oscar audience would break into spontaneous clapping upon seeing them. Then when someone who worked behind the scenes and is lesser known in the film industry would fade into view there would be no reaction.

It was unintentional, but it gave the impression that some deaths were more significant than others. Like you’d hear the clapping and it would send the message from this Oscar audience they were thinking, ‘oh boy we’re going to miss that person, what a huge loss’. Then that would be contrasted by silence for some others and it would be like now the audience is conveying, ‘I don’t know who that person is, so they’re dead now huh?’.

This used to be something of a game to see which celebrity would draw the most applause every year. It was kind of a morbid game. At some point the Oscars realized how tacky the applause by the audience was during this and now they either mute the crowd noise or tell the audience not to clap during this segment. It’s too bad they’re suddenly trying to act classy about it.

Someone got me thinking about the upcoming In Memoriam segment this year. 2016 was big with celebrity deaths. It seemed like at the end of the year everyone loved talking about how many famous people died in 2016. It became almost like a twisted fascinating parlor game counting them all up and perpetuating the belief there was this unnatural sinister force that was scooping up as many celebrities as it could before the year ended. People were wondering who would be next!

Grim Reaper death 2016There was even a campaign to save Betty White from 2016. I’m not sure how raising some money would stop the grim reaper from taking the life away from an elderly actress, but people tried it. Is it possible you can bribe death for a little more time? Does he even use money? It never looked like that cloak had any pockets to keep change in.

Anyway, now with the In Memoriam portion of the Oscars on my mind I started wondering who would be included in it this year. The Oscars have occasionally run into controversy for the absence of of many celebrities in their death roll call This is a bloated broadcast that’s meant to be about the motion picture industry. Some celebrities are more famous for other areas of entertainment, so they’re dropped.

I think it was Farrah Fawcett whose absence that one year in the Memoriam segment that caught a lot of flak. She wasn’t mentioned and people complained. The Oscars argued that she was more known for her work in television and not film so that was the excuse. I guess her performance in Cannonball Run didn’t warrant her inclusion.

Their rules get to be a bit hazy. There doesn’t appear to be any strict guidelines of admittance into the death roster. Some people are more closely associated with television, music, or other areas of entertainment, but then they just move the line enough for certain people to get them onscreen, while others would appear to be just as qualified, but they get nixed.

Plus, the Oscars only have a certain amount of time to honor the dead so they have to make some cuts. Remember they have to squeeze in more insipid jokes by the host, endless movie montages and cheesy musical numbers that leave the television audience shaking their heads and looking at the clock to spend too much time on the deaths of people.

Embarassing Oscar momentsCould you imagine if they dropped some of that stuff? What kind of radical idea would be to make the In Memoriam montage longer one year? Whoa! That’s an idea. For those that watch the telecast try to pick out five minutes of meaningless produced segment that they could have dropped in favor of spending the time elsewhere. That will be so easy, you’ll probably find it in the first seven minutes of the broadcast.

So, instead of predicting any of the Oscar winners I’m going to predict some of the celebs that will and will not show up in the In Memoriam segment. I believe you can find out on their website who the producers have decided to feature, but really what fun is that? I haven’t looked at it and am just doing guess work now and will see if I’m right when I tune into the show. This is the only reason I’ve decided to watch the show this year. This is more exciting than waiting to see who will win any of the awards.

And for fans of the Oscars In Memoriam segment you should really watch Turner Classic Movies version called ‘TCM Remembers’. It’s always very well done, much more stylish, much more inclusive and always leaves me with a heavy heart.

The In Memoriam doesn’t exactly include the entire past year. It encompasses deaths in the time between the last Oscar show. So many people who died in January and February can squeaked into the years show.

George Kennedy Cool Hand LukeGeorge Kennedy – The great iron horse character actor died last February and just missed the cut off for last years In Memoriam. In fact I think he died the day of the telecast. There was no time to put him in there last year, so he’s a shoo in for this years. Guaranteed they’ll be showing a clip of him from Cool Hand Luke in his Oscar winning performance. Even money they show something from The Naked Gun. Twenty to one they show anything remotely from The Delta Force.

Nancy Reagan and John Glenn – I highly doubt it. Sure Nancy was an actress back in the day, but nothing Oscar worthy. And Glenn was an astronaut. Ok, Ed Harris played him in The Right Stuff, but that’s really stretching things. If I see either of them show up I’ll be confused.

Muhammad Ali – Yeah he’s an icon, but a sports one. There might have been some documentaries about him and he showed up at the Oscars a few times, but no one associates him with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

Garry Shandling, Noel Neill, Florence Henderson, Alan Young. Nope! All their legacies are in television.

Mary Tyler Moore – Now if I was producing the show I would exclude Mary for the same reason as all the above folks. HOWEVER, there’s a catch with Mary. She appeared in Ordinary People, a film that plays more like a TV movie, yet the Academy felt it was more deserving of the highest honor for a film award that year than competitor Raging Bull. Whether they regret it now or not, they have to live with that. So that one movie will open the door for her admittance to the Memoriam Club. Folks will be hard pressed to think of another theatrical film Mary appeared in. They won’t be showing clips of Six Weeks during this, but that one movie will be enough.

Patty Duke – she’s an Oscar winner, that’s all there is to it.

Chyna – Nope. The snooty Academy doesn’t respect wrestlers. Even when they show up in movies. Maybe the Rock will break that prejudice one day.

Prince – He will certainly be remembered more for music, but the film Purple Rain and its Oscar nom for music will get him in here, unlike other musicians who died and won’t be included in this. The wildcard will be if they list him as Prince or use that symbol thingie.

Anton Yelchin – Yep. Surprising death of a young actor. See, to me his death was more unexpected in 2016 than so many actors who died who were in their 80’s and 90’s.

Michael Cimino OscarMichael Ciminio – Yep, he’s an Oscar winner. Along with clips of The Deer Hunter they’ll probably show a snippet of Heaven’s Gate even though everyone loved kicking it when it came out originally and got him ostracized.

Ken Adam – Yeppers. Most likely we’ll see shots from Strangelove and The Spy Who Loved Me.

Garry Marshall – He’s mainly tv, but he did enough movies to get him in here. They’ll probably show one of those tired clips from Pretty Woman. I still don’t understand why that flick is so beloved. Give me The Odd Couple show over any of Marshall’s movie work any day!

Kenny Baker – I would think R2-D2 will be up there. It would be great if they showed a Time Bandits clip too.

Gene Wilder – You can bank on it, the only thing to guess is what roles of his they’ll show, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka – probably all three of them.

Curtis Hanson – Definitely. The Oscar heavy L.A. Confidential we’ll see. Maybe briefly Wonder Boys. It’s unlikely they’ll feature any of Hanson’s Losin’ It though.

Leonard Cohen – I highly doubt it.

Robert Vaughn – He’s mainly known for TV with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but he’s the last of The Magnificent Seven and did enough movies he’ll be here. They’ll probably use that shot from Seven as the door opens and he’s sitting on the bed. No Superman III clip.

Zsa Zsa Gabor Queen of Outer SpaceZsa Zsa Gabor – If it was a lighter year they might have put Zsa Zsa in just to pad out this segment. Just for the novelty show a clip from Queen of Outer Space, but it was heavy year with a lot of deaths so we won’t be seeing her.

If they did include her for whatever strange reason she would be the person who people would gripe about. The complaints of not having so and so, but having Zsa Zsa would rain down on the Academy. They’ll avoid that and there will probably be someone else in this montage that people will say, “Well, if you included them why not this person!”.

It’s funny how this silly montage can invoke such anger. People place too much importance on this show.

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds – If there’s any sure fire bet you want to make for this years Oscars, GUARANTEED we’ll see them during this In Memoriam. They’ll probably use the both of them to end the segment on and leave the audience applauding as they go to the commercial break.

Here’s TCM’s 2016 Memoriam. Definitely worth watching!

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