Saturday, January 10, 2004

Will Someone Give Bill Murray An Oscar Already?

Oscar is fickle about comedians (unless you, like me, found William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman to be inexplicably hilarious ... and don't even get me to do my impression of Daniel Day Louis in My Left Foot... I'll knock over this computer).

Oscar only rewards drama, goes the theory ... Oscar feels that comedy isn't really acting. Oscar eludes all those who seek him. Oscar believes comedians are too contrived in their performances. Oscar, Oscar, blah blah. blah. What about Bill? What about his oft-spoken of "nuanced irony" (makes bracket gesture with frostbitten fingers)?

Will someone give the Oscar to Bill Murray already? His performance in Sophia Copolla's Lost In Translation was the most winning of the year.

Imagine a Best Oscar going to an underplayed performance, a bittersweetly comic performance, gentle man going through the inevitable motions of decline. And Bill Murray -- for lack of Oscar nominations -- is an actor in decline yet at his peak. How better to reward irony than with irony? Give the subtly nuanced rendering of decline a thumbs up, Hollywood.

Denzel Washington's dirty cop in Training Day was the most powerful and full-on, cut all the stops performance in recent years. Septemeber 11th, to a degree, fueled our need for catharsis: a big evil wolfish lead villain exterminated by his own excess. In contrast with that performance, would be wonderful to have Bill Murray's muted Hollywood actor jetlagged in a foreign land win it this time around.

Murray has been snubbed by Oscar before (The Corsair shakes his head balefully at man's base nature). The fact that Murray has never been nominated and that is a crime. Murray was simultaneously straightforward and emotionally complex in Rushmore. He created a rich, if conflicted personality in The Razor's Edge. And Murray was overlooked as the subtle (that word again) but funny cuckolded psychiatrist in The Mighty Tennenbaum's.

My favorite Bill Murray flic is Meatballs, which is also the first film I ever saw, so take my suggestion with a grain of salt ("spazz ... spazz ... spazz"). There will never be a time quite like the 70s, in Canada, no less. There was an innocence (notwithstanding Murray's very un-PC manhandling of fellow counselor Roxanne, played a bit on the butch side, by Kate Lynch). And for the kids who don't get the ad libbed sex jokes, thereis the cockles-warming relationship between Murray and the affable Chris Makepeace character. That relationship would never happen today as a result of the cynicism arising from the Catholic Church and internet sex fiends. If Bill Murray showed that much interest in a camper nowadays, he's be serving a three year sentence!

Anyhoo: To me, Bill Murray is the coolest man on the planet earth, so there.

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