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By Brad Laidman | January 29, 2004

Survivor isn’t the greatest reality show of all time. Award shows are, and everybody knows that The Academy Awards, which give out those cherished Oscars they beg you not to sell, the King of the genre. As a TV viewer, I wouldn’t miss a second of it. As someone with half a brain, it means about as much to me as whether or not Bible sales are going well in China these days.  

Winning an Oscar supposedly anoints one with the label serious artist. Someone go tell Van Gogh that Hollywood finally figured out how to make art into a competition and how everyone loved it. Forget for a second that the whole thing is a shallow plot to make more money for last year’s movies by trying to tell you what you should have appreciated the first time round.  

So let’s all look down on Harvey Weinstein, because he figured out a way to buy the competition, while we applaud Kevin Spacey for being heroic enough to pay $156,875 for a 60-year-old hunk of metal they gave to some composer no one has ever heard of and thus saving the Academy the grief of having one of their prizes owned by a “normal” person. Good thing with all the poor people in the world that Kevin Spacey has some extra cash to make his award seem that much more special. 

Sometime during the show they’ll explain who got to decide what was good this year and what sucked, and sadly none of them will be named Beavis or Butthead. It’ll be during the explanation of the rules, traditionally the most boring part of the show until they decided to spunk it up with animation and dancing girls.  

Most Oscar winners are so fascinating that they offered an expensive TV set to the one with the shortest acceptance speech a while back, but again that’s the genius of the Oscars. They make us watch four hours of boring crap just to see the 5 maybe 6 awards we really care about. They even make jokes about it throughout the show as if you were so stupid that they could mock you even as you sit at home exhibiting said stupidity.  

When someone interesting does get one of these artistic gold stars, it’s all about – what were they wearing? How stupid was their statement? Did they thank their spouse? Did they thank their boyfriend so much you knew he was soon to be history (Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt)? How did they arrive on stage (over other seats, doing cartwheels, crying)? Did they do something stupid when they were up there? Did they nearly rape Halle Berry? Did they send an Indian to accept their award?  

In this young century alone the Academy Awards managed to give a standing ovation to an accused pedophile (Woody Allen) just a couple years before giving one of its top honors to a convicted one (Roman Polanski).  

The meat of these shows are of course the acting awards. It’s not hard to figure out how to win an acting award especially if you’re a woman. To win best actress you have to be a really beautiful woman who transforms herself into someone plain, frumpy, or even downright ugly. Allow me to congratulate Charlize Theron on her win this March. I’m sure she’ll be well hugged by Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Hillary Swank, and Jessica Lange. Sometimes you just win one because you are so beautiful no one can figure out why you haven’t won one yet like Nicole Kidman.  

The men’s category is sort of the same, but they need to take it one step further by playing a drunk, a retard, a psychotic, a cripple, someone dying slowly and painfully – you know the serious roles. Some years the academy is even fortunate enough to give an award to a real cripple or retard and that always goes down really well with the folks at home.  

I know hindsight is perfect (after all I still have pictures of the clothes I used to wear years ago and it isn’t pretty), but let’s take a look at some recent winners all the while remembering that these morons gave one of these to Roberto Begnini!! 

2002 – Adrian Brody – The Pianist – Foreigner in a holocaust movie – killer combo

2001 – Not significant for who won (the brilliant Denzel Washington as a psycho cop) but for the fact that apparently Russell Crowe is so unlikable that he can be deprived the award despite starring in a film that wins every other major award all the while playing a psychotic. Amazing stuff.

2000 – Russell Crowe – Gladiator – Really an apology for not winning the previous year for The Insider

1999 – Kevin Spacey – American Beauty – Reasonably deserved although God knows it should be taken away after what he’s done with the last 3 years. Will he ever make a good movie again?

1998 – Roberto Begnini!!!!!

1997 – Jack Nicholson – As Good As It Gets – Hey Jack is great, but is he really America’s great rebel when he has the same seats at the Oscar’s that he does at Laker games?

1996 – Geoffrey Rush – “Shine” – Psychotic

1995 – Nicolas Cage – “Leaving Las Vegas” – Suicidal drunk and soon to star in “Con-Air”

1994 – Tom Hanks – “Forrest Gump” – Retard

1993 – Tom Hanks – “Philidelohia” – Died very ugly with mass weight loss (always a crowd favorite)

1992 – Al Pacino – “Scent of a Woman” – Career award although it must be noted one for a role almost as annoying as Roberto Begnini 


Other recent misfires go to Paul Newman, who wasn’t even as good as Tom Cruise, in “The Color of Money” and Dustin Hoffman, who was really annoying as a retard and not even as good as Tom Cruise in “Rain Man.”  

If you ask me, the greatest winner of the best actor award of all time was George C. Scott, who did the same thing Keith Richards suggested Mick Jagger do when they offered to Knight him, he didn’t show up and scoffed at the idea that he should. Sure, he’d in time be stuck in “Taps” parodying himself, but Marlin Brando was so impressed he started interviewing Indians and would in fact parody his own award winning turn in “The Freshman.”     

So in the sprit of George C., my choice as Best Actor for 2003 is someone who has no chance in hell of winning. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.  

Johnny Depp is everything an actor should be.  

He chooses his roles based on his interest in playing the parts rather than whether there is big sequel money in his future. 

He’s shown time and again to care little with how well his movies do at the box office as long as he is allowed to continue his work to the best of his ability.  

He manages to be brilliantly obscure and different in every role he plays despite the fact that he is so good looking he could walk through hundreds of romantic comedies with Meg Ryan if he so wished.  

Try imagining anyone else as Edward Scissorhands or Ed Wood. It’s not even possible anymore.  

He’s so good he made Robert Downey’s performance in “Chaplin,” which was received as if the guy had cured, if not Cancer, some other semi-important disease, look cardboard with his tossed off masterstroke in “Benny and Joon,” where he not only outdid Downy’s Chaplin work, but casually upped the ante by tossing in a letter perfect Buster Keaton as well.  

But most importantly, he deserves the award he will never win because as Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp did nothing less than hijack a big money blockbuster based on, of all things, a Disneyland ride, and made it subversive and cool. At the extremely finite risk of coming off as completely ridiculous, he took a stock dime a dozen role and made it special, memorable and unique. Isn’t that what acting is supposed to really be about?  

In my dreams, I see Depp following George C. Scott’s lead and blowing off the big event to stay in France despite the fact that he isn’t wanted by the LAPD for statutory rape.

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