January 2004

Liz Miller

hollywood madam

A Letter to Oscar

Dear Oscar,

For as long as I've known you, you gorgeous monstrosity of a popularity contest, you and I have always had our differences. Sure, there was the year Cameron Crowe won for best original screenplay -- but that was also the year that Gladiator won best picture. I got my hopes up when you dangled statuettes before David Mamet, Arthur Miller, Charlie Kaufman, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, Scott Frank, Elaine May, Gary Ross, John Sayles, but the snubs inflicted were harsh to behold. Yes, I loved you for giving Emma Thompson something shiny, but really, Oscar. Did you also have to give Akiva Goldsman an award?

I mean, come on. Akiva Goldsman, Oscar. AKIVA GOLDSMAN.

What I'm trying to say here, Oscar, is that you owe me. We've been through a lot, you and I, and I've put up with as much as I can. And now it's a shiny new year, a brand new Oscar season, and I only have five things to ask of you.

Do right by me, Oscar, at least when it comes to the Best Adapted Screenplay category. I've been loyal for so long.

1. Continue to keep the stick out of your ass when it comes to this category. You've occasionally shown independent and quirky films the grace of a nomination, and this year should be no exception. While Hulk used split-screen to attempt the feel of a comic book, American Splendor captured the spirit of Harvey Pekar's work in ways that were fresh and exciting and heartfelt despite itself. Visually engaging, inventive, and more than deserving of a little attention. You did it for Ghost World, Oscar -- please do it again here.

2. My thoughts on Cold Mountain are still coming (coming next month, in fact), and I have yet to read the book. I know, Oscar, that a nomination here looks to be inevitable. But unless predictability, tediousness, and overwrought dialogue are what we choose to honor this year, let's not give Anthony Minghella the award, hmmm?

3. Speaking of which, Oscar, surprise me. Take a look at Peter Pan, which looks too good for words, or more subtle fare like Mystic River.

4. Speaking of Brian Helgeland, however, do remember that when you give people awards, you tend to guarantee their careers for the next few years. Fantastic things do not always happen as a result. I loved L.A. Confidential as much as the next girl, but A Knight's Tale, written and directed by Academy Award Winnerô Brian Helgeland? Not so much.

5. Last but not least, Oscar -- if you could possibly find it in your heart to give Peter Jackson and his buds something shiny to take home, that'd be swell. And if that were the Best Adapted Screenplay award for Return of the King, that'd be even sweller. My friends say that movies about "elves and shit" can never win an Oscar. But the impossible can happen sometimes -- after all, someone made a totally faithful, totally engaging, visually stunning adaptation of The Lord of the Rings saga, and the second part wasn't even nominated last year for best Adapted Screenplay.

So. See if you can do something about that.


Thanks so much,

The Hollywood Madam