I’ve been meaning to write this small article as a way to encourage the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to include Roger Ebert in their Oscar telecast. But now, with the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman it seems fitting to broach this subject.
AMPAS puts together a memorial section during the Oscars, to commemorate and celebrate the lives of those that have passed the previous year. We would normally see a montage of movie stars and famous directors accompanied by stirring music. Once in a while you’d see a famous producer, and that was OK also. This year I expect to see the big names such as Peter O’Toole and Paul Walker.
But recently this memorial presentation has been getting strange. We’ve been getting listings for publicists, agents, technical tradesmen and even some writers (gasp!). I understand losing someone like Jerry Goldsmith (for music) or someone like Edith Head (for wardrobe) and including them in the montage makes sense. But a publicist? What’s next, casting directors?1 And stop putting in people that made 1 film but were famous in some other field (Michael Jackson comes to mind).
Movies are a visual medium. Unless the person is in front of the camera, or controlling that camera, or making news outside of the movie industry (say, TV or music) so that they are familiar to us, don’t include them. Wardrobe and art direction are something we can see on the screen; include those folks.
Having said that, now I have to make a case to include Roger Ebert2. He was an amazing writer and he wrote about movies. Even in his non-movie essays, he’d find a way to reference movies, to show how movies changed his life. He championed good movies and good movie-viewing technology. He fought against the evils of colorization and Bowdlerization and was a promoter of film to the very end. He should be included.
And what the heck, put Phillip Seymour Hoffman in also, event though his passing was in 2014 and outside of the scope of the memorial.
- Jiminy, they put in a casting director and omit some of the stars from Star Trek? Heresy !! [↩]
- His website RogerEbert.com is still one of the best places to read about film (both new and old) and essays about diverse interesting subjects. If you miss his writing, like I do, go over there and feast on decades of his brilliant essays and reviews. [↩]