Before I respond to Stu Van Airsdale‘s Vanity Fair “In Memoriam” questionaire (who will be emphasized, omitted, specially honored with audio or video clips?), let’s take a moment to remember once more the revolting failure three years ago of Oscar show producers Gil Cates and Lou Horvitz to offer a special tribute to the great Marlon Brando, going instead with a special trumpet blast for the departed Johnny Carson. This was the single most shameful oversight in Oscar telecast history.
Will They Make It? (Choose One): Norman Mailer (+5)…of course Mailer wiil make it! He directed several movies, anticipated the flip sardonic trash-talk of the Tarantino crime film with ’87’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, and his books were adapted into bad films (The Naked and the Dead, An American Dream). Merv Griffin is doubtful, ditto Charles Nelson Reilly, forget Anna Nicole Smith.
Will Open the Montage: No opinion about whether the late Delbert Mann (+10), Jane Wyman (+10), Suzanne Pleshette (+15) or Michel Serrault (+20) will lead off.
Will End the Montage: Heath Ledger is my guess — the most recent, saddest & most tragic. Also-rans: Jack Valenti (+10). Roy Scheider (+15), Deborah Kerr (+20)
Will Get Montage’s First Video Clip: Ledger again. Also-rans: Deborah Kerr (+5), Laszlo Kovacs (+10), Peter Zinner (+15), Jack Valenti (+20)
Will Get Montage’s First Sound Clip: Roy Scheider (“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”). Also-rans: Betty Hutton (+5), Deborah Kerr (+10), Brad Renfro (+15) Roy Scheider (+20).
First Actor/Actress Named: The great Lives of Others star Ulrich Muhe (+10) should be the first one out of the gate, but who knows? Also-rans: Michel Serrault (+10), Jane Wyman (+15), Brad Renfro (+20)
First American Director Named: Delbert Mann (+15) because he was local. Also-rans: Stuart Rosenberg (+5), Norman Mailer (+10).
First International Auteur Named: Ingmar Bergman first, I suspect, then Michelangelo Antonioni — really a toss-up. Also-rans: Ousmane Sembene (+5), Kon Ichikawa (+10)
Oldest Selection: William J. Tuttle, age 95 (+10). Also-Rans: Michelangelo Antonioni, age 94 (+15), Jane Wyman, age 90 (+20)
Will Get His Own Montage Elsewhere in Oscarcast: Both Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni should share this honor. Heath Ledger (+20) may prevail as a sop to the under-30 audience, but let’s remember again that a tree didn’t fall on him and that actions have consequences.
Here, by the way, is a mock memoriam tribute video put together by Vanity Fair contributor Nell Scovell, film editor Stuart Bass and composer Gary Stockdale.