This year, host Ellen DeGeneres made a comment that the person in the audience who looked like Liza Minnelli was the best male Liza impersonator she had ever seen. Of course that person was really Liza Minnelli. I thought it was kind of mean. If Bob Hope had said that, Mom and Dad would have chuckled. But then again, Bob Hope would never have “gone there.”
I remember the stars that night in 1965. I was struck at how many foreign actors were up for what I then considered an American award. Of the 20 movie stars up for acting awards, 10 were from the United Kingdom. Plus, Simone Signoret was French and Oskar Werner was Australian. Of the four winners though, three were from the U.S., including New Yorkers Lee Marvin and Martin Balsam and a country girl from the Midwest named Shelley Winters.
At this year’s Oscars, the geopolitical shift was in full evidence, at least in the names of the contenders. Three of the strongest contenders in the acting categories were Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejofor (“12 Years a Slave”) and Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”). Nyong’o, from Kenya, won. Alfonso Cuaron, from Mexico, became the first Latino to ever win the Best Director award.
So, times have changed for Oscar. A little. In 1965 there was no red carpet. This year the red-carpet interviews played ad nauseam as a sort of pre-game run-up to the big event.
In 1965, the Oscar for Best Visual Effects went to the James Bond flick “Thunderball” for its introduction of the Bell Rocket Belt that propelled 007 up and out of harm’s way. The 2014 Oscar in the same category went to the film “Gravity” for its multimillion-dollar replication of a spacewalk at the International Space station thousands of miles above earth.