Hey everybody. Michael C. here. Growing up in the dark days before Twitter, back before I could get my Oscar gripe on 24/7, I had to focus all that emotion on Siskel and Ebert’s annual "Memo to the Academy" special. Watching year after year, one of the refrains the duo drilled into my head was that the Academy should expand their idea of what constitutes an Oscar-worthy performance. Don’t lazily jot down the names of those appearing in best picture contenders. Evaluate each performance on its own merits, apart from the film that contains it. They were adamant on the subject.
Or at least they were, until the 1998/99 episode when Gene found the limits of Roger’s open-mindedness by suggesting James Woods receive a Best Actor nod for John Carpenter’s Vampires. After Gene went on for a bit about Woods’ talent for commanding the screen, Roger demurred, “Yeah, but if you’re gonna nominate someone for Best Actor you kinda want them to be in a little better movie, don’t you think?”
Gene wasn’t having it: “No. I want the performance. I don’t care about the movie.”
This altercation zeroed in on a question that has always nagged at me. If even a harsh critic of stodgy thinking like Ebert has to draw the line somewhere, is the issue that cut and dry? Is it really possible to separate the performance from the film? [more]