HANSON — Who will come away with the Oscars at Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards ceremony? Have you seen any of the top nominated films — or know that one is in Korean or that another billed as a dark comedy satire features Adolf Hitler as a boy’s “idiotic imaginary friend?”
Another, from director Quentin Tarantino posits the question of what might have been had the Charles Manson “family” gone to the wrong house in 1969.
There is also a more traditional WWI epic, “1917,” a biopic of Judy Garland’s final days “Judy;” another remake of “Little Women;” a film about the development of a race car, “Ford vs Ferrari;” a film about Jimmy Hoffa, “The Irishman;” a portrait of a crumbling marriage, “Marriage Story” and an origin story of the comic book “Joker” character.
To prep residents for the Oscars, the Hanson Public Library hosted high school English teacher and film historian Frank Mandosa Friday, Jan. 31 for his talk, “The Academy Awards, the Good the Bad and the Outrageous.”
The evening came complete with a red “carpet” — really red plastic sheeting taped to the floor of the Hanson Senior Center — and popcorn to munch on during Mandosa’s talk.
If you haven’t seen all nine nominated films Mandosa hasn’t, either — he still hasn’t seen “Ford vs Ferrari” or “JoJo Rabbit” — he also discussed the origin of the nickname Oscar for the Award and its history.
Trivia questions unearthed information like Bob Hope’s record-holding 18 hosting gigs, the disastrous opening number in 1989 in which Rob Lowe danced with Snow White, John Travolta’s mangling of “good friend” Idina Menzel, 1974’s streaker, and that time Sally Field over-emoted that her second Oscar was proof that people liked her.
Mandosa said if either “1917” or “Parasite” wins the Best Picture Oscar it would be only the 11th time a film took home that prize without any nominations in the acting categories. Among the current 10 are “An American in Paris,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Braveheart.”
Celebrating the best in the cinematic arts, however, was never the reason for the Academy Awards. It was created by MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer in the 1920s as a way to stem the unionization of Hollywood. Content of movies was also inspiring calls for censorship, and the advent of sound in film was also creating challenges.
“He owned Hollywood, and when I say he owned Hollywood, I mean he owned Hollywood,” Mandosa said. “He controlled the personal lives, as well as the professional lives of his stable of actors. He ran the show.”
The Studio Basic Agreement was a contract offering a temporary answer to the union issue in January 1927 before the idea of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was discussed at a dinner between Mayer and representatives of three crafts and trades at the studio. A banquet that spring signed up 230 out of 300 people invited to be members of the Academy.
As for the name Oscar?
“There are 50 million different stories that are out there, and we’ll never know which one is true,” Mandosa said.
It took all of five minutes to hand out all the awards at the first ceremony honoring all the silent films, only, of the years 1928-29. Supporting actors were not honored in the first years of the Oscars and when they were, only plaques here handed out until 1943, and child actors were only awarded miniature Oscars until 1960.
What will be remembered this year?
On Sunday, Feb. 2, Britain’s EE BAFTA ceremony honored “1917” as best picture and director, the Korean film “Parasite” took home best original screenplay and film not in the English language, “JoJo Rabbit” and his weird friend Adolf won for best adapted screenplay. Best actor honors went to Brad Pitt — supporting role for the Tarantino film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and — Joaquin Pheonix for “The Joker.” Laura Dern won the supporting actress BAFTA for “Marriage Story” and Renée Zelweger for lead actress in “Judy.”
The Screen Actors’ Guild honored the same people in acting roles, but gave “Parasite” the top award for cast in a motion picture.
The Golden Globes also agreed with the BAFTA acting awards and gave “1917” Best Drama and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” best musical or comedy motion picture.
We sense a trend forming. The Oscars are televised on ABC at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9.