As we learned yesterday, by way of a quote in Interview magazine, Joaquin Phoenix thinks the Oscars are "the stupidest thing in the whole world." Does insulting the Academy mean he won't receive a nomination for his performance in The Master? And should it? It's not suddenly a surprise that Phoenix has low regard for a lot of the "bull--" that comes with being a famous actor. He spent a recent period of his life secretly lampooning Hollywood and its machinations for the performative, prankish documentary I'm Still Here.
Speaking of that film, its mockery might have already turned off many of Phoenix's peers in the Academy. Honestly, I didn't think he would be nominated anyway, because of I'm Still Here alone. Perhaps he expected as much, as well. But now there's so much Oscar buzz surrounding his acting in the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie that he's having to stress the fact that he does not care and does not want a little gold man.
So, should we just let him do his thing, and keep doing it well, but not honor it? The Olympics doesn't award medals to an obviously deserving athlete if that person's country boycotts the event. We don't keep recounting election results in an effort to award a man the U.S. presidency if he's already conceded. Okay, neither is a very good comparison. With the Oscars, it's a matter of honoring the best, even if they've died or don't care or otherwise might not show up to graciously receive the prize.
That's a tweet I got yesterday, and it has inspired this discussion. Is it as much, if not more, for us than them? Is it about celebrating the actor rather than giving him a gift? It's not a question that arose with Phoenix's actions or statements. Woody Allen has never shown up to collect an Oscar and even refused membership to the Academy (he had to pay them to stop asking), yet they still kept on nominating him, and he won another for screenwriting this year.
Other famous snubbers include Katherine Hepburn, who didn't care for the Academy Awards and didn't pick up any of her four statues, George C. Scott, who called it a "two-hour meat parade" (obviously he's never sat through an entire telecast if he thinks they're so short), Marlon Brando, who made a memorable moment out of refusing his second win, and screenwriter Dudley Nichols (The Informer), who refused as part of a boycott by the striking Writer's Guild of America.
So, J.P., while you might not appear at the Dolby Theatre come February 24, there is a possibilty you'll "get" an Oscar anyway. Too bad, I guess. Maybe you can start acting badly on purpose from now on to keep the accolades away?
Should filmmakers and performers be honored with awards they don't want?
Here some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twiter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).