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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
Heath Ledger as The Joker
With so much talk of Heath Ledger deserving a posthumous Oscar nod for his role in the no-need-to-mention movie Dark Knight, the Oscars are being placed between in a bit of a peculiar position. The Oscars, as well as the Grammys, have a history of ignoring the fan favorites - overlooking the latest big thing for the safer choice (see my article, Not-So-Easy Easy Listening). By awarding whatever is potentialy the least offensive, least controversial, there's been a long history of the truly deserving going unawarded. A recent example would be Jim Carey who has yet to win an Oscar, despite stellar performances in Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show, Jim Carey has always been ignored - I'll leave you to come up with the reasons.

This has often put these award shows in awkward positions. The Grammy's are particularly well known for often ignoring a break out artist that released an album that topped the charts, for some (perhaps not-so-honorable) reasons - and then later, realizing their mistake, have awarded the same musician for a less notable piece of work. The Oscar's have been no different, often accused of being prejudiced to African-American actors. For a long time, Sidney Poitier was the only African-American actor to have won an Oscar for Best Actor, back in 1963. Recently however, three more African-Americans have won Oscars - Denzel Washington in 2001, Jamie Foxx in 2004 and Forest Whitaker in 2006. Morgan Freeman has only ever won Best Supporting Actor, though in my mind he is long overdue for an Oscar.

Does Heath Ledger deserve an Oscar? He definitely put on a great performance, there's no denying that. It's hard to say whether he should get the award, as there are many films left to be released between now and the next Oscars. The better question is, will the Academy award Heath Leder with an Oscar?

And there lies the quandry of the Academy. Heath Ledger was a very talented actor - won who had never won an Oscar, but had been nominated. In some ways, it's possible the Academy thought they could put off awarding Heath Ledger, expecting him to have a long acting career. But now the Academy will be faced with awarding Heath Ledger at least once, or otherwise never having the opportunity again.

Which raises the issue - should all good actors get an Oscar? While it's an obvious nod to their talent, and perhaps a slight to not award the great ones, would it not undermine the entire award process, if everyone knew they'd eventually get an Oscar? Peter O'Toole had never won an Oscar, despite his 8 nominations. He was only ever given an Honorary award for his entire body of work. The Honorary award is, if you ask me, the Academy's cop out. It's the Academy's way of giving the nod, without giving the award. It's how they get around their previous mistakes, and a way of telling an actor that they'll no longer produce anything Oscar-worthy, so they'll be getting a nod of recognition instead. And this is how the Academy is able to give all good actors an Oscar. This is how the Oscar can side step public pressure to award one an actor who does not fit into their moldy mold of Best Actor, or does - but not with their kind of film.

And this, I imagine, is how Heath Ledger will be awarded. Not with an award for Dark Knight, but with an Honorary Award. It's how the Academy can say "Heath Ledger was a great actor. Had he only done a movie we approve of..."

And that is why I imagine the MTV Movie Awards are likely to gain in popularity once more - they do not limit themselves to awarding a particular kind of actor, for a particular kind of film. When they recognize talent, they award it.
Responses:

Alamir
"I'm really not feeling very well..." Ledger says at one point during his last moments in front of a camera. Many believe that Heath Ledger's la...



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