The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1966
I liken 1966 to 1999. I think it’s because the film that won Best Picture that year is a very — stagy — film. Not that it’s a bad film, but — it goes back to that old cinematic vs. theatrical distinction. By and large, I usually prefer films to be cinematic, because, cinema is a different entity than plays. Which, also — here’s the difference, if you don’t get it — Martin Scorsese movie, like, The Departed — cinematic. There are irises, zoom ins, tracking shots, all of it. (Also, another great example people will recognize quickly — Fight Club — very cinematic.) Doubt — theatrical film. Revolutionary Road — theatrical film. Films that feel like plays. Because, very often, they were. They’re often directed by actors or actual playwrights. Ya follah?
And therein lies the rub. When your favorite film of the year (or at least, of the nominees. One you feel is deserving of winning Best Picture) is a very stagy film — more so than the usual standards — and a fellow nominee is a very cinematic film, but you just didn’t love it as much — what do you do? Bringing it back to a primordial level — say you always sided with good, but, in one instance, evil actually was right. (I’m not calling one thing out and out “evil” — though I will say, you don’t want a movie to be like a play, just like you don’t want a play to be like a movie. It’s like reading a novel that’s written like a movie. (Looking at you, Dan Brown.) It’s a fun read (for most), but you’re not giving it a book award. Shit. I could have saved all that space if I made that analogy first. But, I’ll get more into this issue when I deal with the year itself.
Now, this cinematic vs. theatrical problem does extend over to the acting categories as well. Which person would you rather see win an Academy Award — the dude who plays Hamlet in a film, and basically just takes the entire text of the play as he’s done it on stage and puts it on film, or the dude who plays a migrant worker who goes down to Mexico with his friend and an old prospector, finds lots of gold and slowly loses his mind because he starts to think the other two are going to kill him and steal his share of the gold? See what I mean? Who you gonna wanna vote for — Othello or Atticus Finch? It’s a tough choice to make, and is exponentially tougher when, you actually kinda want to vote for Othello.