The rush is on to make sure Glenn Close gets her Academy Award, or suffers another one of the Un-Oscared Veteran Actor Slights.
We'll find out the night of Sunday, Feb. 24, when the 91st edition of the world's top movie honors will tell us what was the best of this year. Close, who has never won an Oscar, is the favorite to claim the acting award for her role in “The Wife.”
But we don't really think the Oscars are right, do we? We remember the lists of the slighted among nominees longer than we retain lists of the winners.
Maybe it's because we love rooting for the underappreciated underdogs, and enjoy feeling as though we're a little smarter than the people who made the choices.
Close probably is the actor with the most impressive resume who doesn't have an Oscar. But someone has always been in that position. Before Close, holding that place on my lists was Jeff Bridges, who had the spot for a year before winning in 2009 for “Crazy Heart.” He supplanted Kate Winslet, who finally won for “The Reader.” An overwhelming head-shaker for years was how Oscar eluded Al Pacino in “The Scent of a Woman” (1992). Peter O'Toole was nominated for eight Best Actor Oscars, but never won.
We've also seen some of these sure things go astray in the last 20 years. Tales of redemption don't play well if there's no victory at the end, as there probably should have been for Burt Reynolds, Tom Cruise and Eddie Murphy.
Instead, Robin Williams got his moment in the spotlight in 1997 when his “Good Will Hunting” performance was voted over Reynolds' “Boogie Nights.” Two years later, Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) topped Cruise's “Magnolia.” And in 2006, Alan Arkin won for “Little Miss Sunshine” over Murphy's “Dream Girls.”
Three actors escaped, but three actors were imprisoned as Un-Oscared Veteran Actor Slights.
If Close walks away with her trophy later this month, there will be room for the best living Oscar-less actor. The leaders appear to be Edward Norton and Tom Cruise. Cruise in my estimation is the greatest actor of his generation. If you disagree, think about the variety of roles he's played. Start with “Magnolia” and “Eyes Wide Shut” and even “Tropic Thunder,” and concentrate a little less on impossible missions and Jack Reacher and his action movies.
And as you're watching the Academy Awards (if you are going to), keep in mind that the Hollywood being presented to you is exactly the version Hollywood wants to present. They're glad to take your money with blockbusters, but they'd rather be remembered for art.
Every once in a while, something comes out that's both, but Hollywood lost any taste for honoring popcorn films since 2003 when giving the last film of the trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," the best picture Oscar. If the majority of the winners are films you've never heard of, that's not out of the ordinary. Are they the best? They might be. Or they might be makeup votes for previous errors.
And if you need any more proof that the Oscars are a combination of fate, timing, chance and fortune keep this in mind:
Alan Rickman was never nominated.
A look at the Oscar best picture nominees ranked by box office totals
Contact Tim Cain at (217) 421-6908. Follow him on Twitter: @timcainhr