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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Jack Nicholson

Which winners would you force to give back their Oscars?

March 19, 2009 | 11:22 am

Come to think of it, maybe Matt Damon was right when he recently said that the Oscars "get it wrong more often than they get it right."

If I were the king of the Oscars (someday — just you wait, Derbyites!) and had the power to take away past wins, the first awards I'd yank from the clutches of undeserved winners are these: Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours"), Sean Penn ("Mystic River" — I'd let him keep the Oscar if he'd won for "21 Grams" that year), Russell Crowe ("Gladiator"), Geoffrey Rush ("Shine"), Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt ("As Good as It Gets"), Al Pacino ("Scent of a Woman" — he could keep the Oscar if he'd won it for any other nomination any other year), Sally Field ("Places in the Heart"), Glenda Jackson ("A Touch of Class"), Cliff Robertson ("Charly") and Elizabeth Taylor ("Butterfield 8").


Those are examples just among the living. If I had the monarchical powers to reach beyond the grave, all of the following would be in big trouble: Paul Newman ("The Color of Money"), Jack Lemmon ("Save the Tiger"), John Wayne ("True Grit"), Katharine Hepburn ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"), Ingrid Bergman ("Anastasia"), Lee Marvin ("Cat Ballou") and Charlton Heston ("Ben-Hur")

Oh, yeah, and I'd not only force another member of the royal class, Princess Grace of Monaco, to abdicate as Oscar queen for "Country Girl," but I'd make her give the 1954 best-actress crown to Judy Garland ("A Star Is Born") — along with an apology. Ditto Judy Holliday ("Born Yesterday") to poor Gloria Swanson ("Sunset Blvd.").

"Best pictures" that must be rescinded: "The Departed," "Braveheart," "Unforgiven," "Dances With Wolves," "Out of Africa," "Gandhi," "Rocky," "Ben-Hur," "Around the World in 80 Days," "The Greatest Show on Earth," and "An American in Paris."

All of the above are examples only since 1950. I'm too lazy right now — and too whipped up with outrage since starting to write this post— to go back further or to address the supporting races (Goldie Hawn in "Cactus Flower"!).

But the posters in The Envelope's Gold Derby forums don't shrink from any Oscar year and have been playing this same fantasy game themselves since just before the recent Academy Awards in February. Check out their fumings here. Click through the page numbers at the bottom and top of the forum thread to keep reading. And then add your own picks for an Oscar pull-back.

Caresa: "I would take away 'Crash''s BP Oscar and give it to 'Brokeback Mountain' in 2005."

Pacinofan: "'Since I think no one ever squandered their Oscar win more than Cuba Gooding Jr., I would take his Oscar and give it to ... anyone I happened to come across on the streets."

AJ: "Jack Lemmon should give his 'Save the Tiger' Oscar to Al Pacino for 'Serpico,' but Jack Lemmon deserved the lead Oscar for 'Some Like it Hot' over Charlton Heston in 'Ben-Hur.' "

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Did Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Nicholson and other stars refuse to share the spotlight at the Oscars?

March 8, 2009 | 11:10 pm

The two biggest no-shows at the Oscars were Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem. Traditionally, last year's recipients of acting awards return to bestow statuettes on the newest winners, usually of the opposite gender. This year, that procedure was switched. The previous year's champs were asked to give Oscars to winners of the same gender, and each one was joined by four other past champs in that same category who took turns addressing the nominees one by one before the envelope was opened.


However, only two of last year's winners showed up: Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton. When Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem went missing, their absence was so extraordinary that it was the topic of much gossip.

Clearly,  Bardem had a good excuse for not being present: He was suffering from a back injury. But what about Day-Lewis? A source close to the Oscarcast revealed interesting info to Gold Derby but would only speak anonymously because he feared that his future relationship with the telecast might be jeopardized.

Apparently, there were two reasons Day-Lewis didn't show up at the Oscars. Our source said he "wouldn't do the group thing" and he didn't want "to single out one person's performance for endorsement," referring to the way each of the five past winners focused attention upon one current nominee. But isn't that what Day-Lewis did in 1990 when he bestowed the lead-actress award to Kathy Bates ("Misery") one year after he won for "My Left Foot"? Wasn't he singling out just her performance?

Day-Lewis' rep tells Gold Derby that he wasn't present because he was exhausted after recently shooting the movie "Nine," "and he wanted to stay home and spend time with his family" at their residence in Ireland.

But haven't scores of other past winners been in similar situations — tired after film shoots when they were summoned to pass the Oscar crown to a new royal line? Virtually all of them managed to show up. If the "Nine" shoot was especially brutal, it didn't stop Penelope Cruz from attending. Cruz told Gold Derby that she was exhausted too, but she planned to be there.

"That's different," Day-Lewis' rep told us. "Cruz was nominated, and she hasn't won before."

Why should that matter? Don't big actors always insist that they're team players, one mere humble member of that great family of thespians?


This year, the Oscars telecast was plagued with past winners who "didn't want to do the group thing," our source says. Curiously, it seemed to be more of a problem in the supporting categories than lead. In some cases, the stars' refusals weren't due to ego but because they "couldn't wrap their heads around the concept" of a group presentation.

However, the latter didn't seem to be the case with Jack Nicholson, a past winner of both categories (lead for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "As Good as It Gets," supporting for "Terms of Endearment"). As Gold Derby reported earlier, he wasn't asked to participate in the group thing for the supporting slot, which would've been great if he'd accepted. Imagine Nicholson discussing what he thought of Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight," a role he portrayed in "Batman."

But our source says that Jack was invited to do the group thing in the lead race but declined, informing Oscarcast producers, "I present alone."

We asked Nicholson's rep Sandy Bresler to comment on this report, but he did not respond to our phone call or to an e-mail in which we presented the inquiry in detail. We also sent a detailed e-mail to Oscarcast producer Laurence Mark (he's the person Daniel Day-Lewis spoke to on the phone when declining to attend), asking him to respond to all of the claims made by our source, but he also did not reply.

After Nicholson snubbed the Oscars show, we asked Gold Derby readers what they thought he ended up doing that night. In our poll, only about 14% of respondents said they believe he watched the Oscars on TV. The other 86% said they think the three-time past Oscar winner watched the Lakers basketball game instead.


Poll: Did Jack Nicholson watch the Lakers game or the Oscars on TV?

Heath Ledger's Oscar goes to Michelle Williams, not the Ledger clan

Quiz: What Oscars champ also won the Nobel Prize?

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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Did Jack Nicholson snub the Oscars for the Lakers game?

February 26, 2009 |  1:01 pm

Oscars' king Jack Nicholson — winner of the most awards among male actors  — was conspicuously missing from his domain last Sunday.

Usually, we can count on Jack Nicholson to liven up the cackle on the red carpet or make a notable appearance on stage (remember his startled reaction when he announced that "Crash" won best picture?).


Among the three Oscars Nicholson won was best supporting actor for "Terms of Endearment" (1983). Among his past film roles was as the Joker in Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989). Noted Oscarologist Wayman Wong tells Gold Derby, "This would've been a great opportunity: If Nicholson were a supporting-actor presenter and spoke about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker."

A source close to the show tells Gold Derby that Nicholson wasn't invited to be part of the supporting-actor presentation. But why didn't he attend as a guest? Gold Derby asked Nicholson's agent, but we haven't heard boo back. All we know is that our source tells us, "Jack didn't want to come this year for whatever reason," which was not specified.

So, in the absence of any other info, Gold Derby must assume that King Jack preferred to do something else last Sunday. Now let's see . . . what was occurring at the exact same time as the Oscarcast that might be of more interest to that notorious wag? Hmmmm . . . is it a mere coincidence that the Lakers game was entering the fourth quarter just as the Oscars ceremony began? Which one do you think was on Jack's TV screen just then?


Gold Derby nuggets: Is Mickey Rourke a sore Oscars loser? Fury over Oscarcast snub of Eartha Kitt!

Can 'Watchmen' win over the Oscars?

Oscars censored in 53 Asian nations

Why didn't Kate Winslet thank Harvey Weinstein at the Oscars?

Cheers and boos for the Oscars show

Journos clash over sizing up the Oscarcast

Live blogging the Oscars

Photos: Warner Bros.

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Is 'The Dark Knight's' Heath Ledger doomed at the Oscars?

July 18, 2008 |  8:46 am

Don't get carried away with all of the Oscar buzz for Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" that you see in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, everywhere. Remember: Only one star has won an Oscar from the grave (Peter Finch, "Network") and roles like the Joker are rarely even nominated.

Maybe this next Oscars factoid may help to put things in more clear perspective. After the beloved Spencer Tracy died in 1967 after giving a dynamic, heartfelt performance in best picture nominee "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," he was widely expected to win best actor, but lost to Rod Steiger ("In the Heat of the Night"). However, Tracy's de facto widow Katharine Hepburn won best actress for a rather tame turn with little screen time in "Dinner."


Bottom line: Oscar voters wanted to bestow a hug after losing Tracy, yes — but they just didn't want to hug the dead guy.

When Peter Finch passed away, the situation was very different from Tracy's and Ledger's. The latter stars died more than six months before the Oscarcast. Finch died from a heart attack just two weeks before the Golden Globes while he was actively campaigning to stop that juggernaut Robert DeNiro ("Taxi Driver"), who'd swept the film-critics' awards. Oscar and Globe voters were still stunned by Finch's loss when they inked their ballots and they couldn't resist checking off his name.

Heath Ledger bears a striking similarity to James Dean. Both were heartthrob thespians whose promising careers were cut short by tragedy.  Dean had two posthumous Oscar nominations. The first — for "East of Eden" — came nearly half a year after Dean died in a car wreck. The next year he was nommed for "Giant" and he lost both times.

When Oscar nominations come out next January, Heath Ledger will have been dead for a year. Given all of the Oscar hubbub he's generating now, I'm sure he'll be on that list of contenders, but can he really win?

Oscar voters aren't wild about campy villain roles in popcorn flicks like "Dark Knight." The only time one got nominated was Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice in "Dick Tracy" (1990). Jack Nicholson's widely celebrated Joker in "Batman" (1989) — the same role now played by Heath Ledger — was nominated for a Golden Globe, but not an Oscar, which is odd considering how nuts academy members are for Jack. (Nicholson holds the records for most nominations and wins among male actors.)

And Oscar voters don't usually like villainous roles unless the actor rides to victory atop a best-picture sweep like Anthony Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs."

But — wait — that old trend may be changing. Just this past year we saw the trophies for best actor and supporting actor go to stars portraying bloodthirsty monsters: Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem.

And maybe the whole world, even Hollywood, is different today than it was when those other posthumous Oscar examples occurred. If so, then maybe this joker can get the last laugh. Especially if he holds an ole Oscar I.O.U. from academy members. Does he? (READ MORE, CLICK HERE ). If he does have a serious hope of prevailing, then which category should he enter, lead or supporting? Read more about that great debate — CLICK HERE!

(Warner Bros.)


Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp play dirty to win at the MTV Movie Awards

June 1, 2008 | 10:38 am


One of three Academy Awards winners — Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington or Javier Bardem — could add an MTV Movie Award tonight to their kudos collection if voters find them good enough at playing bad.

The three Oscar champs are competing with three-time Oscar loser Johnny Depp and Emmy-snubbed Topher Grace (never even nominated for "That '70s Show") for the best villain prize at tonight's MTV Movie Awards gala at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Last year, it was three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson who won the award for his version of a vengeful mob boss in "The Departed."

Angelina Jolie came out on top in the best-fight race two years ago, winning with her then-co-star now consort Brad Pitt for their battle of the sexes in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." Since then, she has proven she can take down tabloid reporters with her bare hands. Tonight, she will see if a virtual version of herself in "Beowulf" can make winning a reality. And a tasty treat that voters may find irresistible.

Entertainment Weekly described her role as "Grendel's mother, a mystic siren who rises out of her cave in the person of a nude Angelina Jolie, dripping water off her body like golden chocolate."

Denzel Washington was nominated for this same prize in 2002 for the same movie –- "Training Day" –- that won him his second Academy Award. While he was snubbed by the golden boy Oscar this year for "American Gangster," he could win a golden bucket at the MTV Movie Awards.

Javier Bardem is up for his first MTV Movie Award for his chilling portrayal of evil in "No Country for Old Men." The role has already won him a host of kudos, capped off by the supporting actor Oscar at the Academy Awards in February.


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The flopped Oscarcast 'doesn't sadden me,' Jack Nicholson says

March 6, 2008 |  6:35 pm

That's what Hollywood's real Golden Boy told about the record low TV ratings suffered by the last Oscar telecast.

"I like the spirit of the Oscars," he added. "I think what happened this year was the Oscars had an indigenous quality. The acting categories were tremendous. The pictures themselves were not necessarily pictures that the public connected with. I like the Oscars because it's not exactly the way I want it. [He laughs.] It's basically good for everybody. Every kind of actor is represented in there. I do think there are too many other awards shows. There are too many self-congratulations."


When asked if the Oscar ceremony should keep the same structure it has now, Jack recalls a good defense: "I once asked Mr. [John] Huston why he was very ardent for them, and he said something that covers it for me: 'Out of respect for those who came before me.'

"I've come to resent the fact that it takes three months of the year [to deal with the Oscars] if you're involved," he adds. "I'm a nervous wreck when I'm around any public occurrence, actually. Most times [when nominated] I felt I knew whether I was going to win or not. It's the nights when you don't really know that are nerve-racking. [He laughs.] . . . . I have a good time, but it's the fact that if you're a nominee, you may have to make a speech. That's the thing that makes me really nervous."

Jack does take issue with one glitch this year — an oversight in the song category: "The song in my picture ['The Bucket List'], John [Mayer]'s song ['Say'], was a very good song. As far as the show goes, I don't know how they get the song nominees. You could make a living lampooning them. There are always good songs in the movies. I don't know how they get to that list. That I can criticize. If you're going to have musical numbers, let's get some good songs."

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Quelle horreur! 'The Shining' was not only snubbed, it was Razzed!

February 1, 2008 |  7:40 pm

Now I'm really ticked off — we're talking Jack Nicholson kind of irked — that a classic like "The Shining" was not only snubbed in the Oscar best-picture race, but it was nominated for two 1980 Razzie Awards: worst actress (Shelley Duvall) and worst director (Stanley Kubrick!). Luckily, they "lost" to Brooke Shields ("The Blue Lagoon") and Robert Greenwald ("Xanadu"). Do you think that "Shining" deserved even to be considered for such a hatchet job?


POLL: Who'll win Globes for best director & actor?

January 10, 2008 |  1:18 am

The Golden Globe races for best director and drama actor are two of the toughest to forecast. Sure, you may think: Daniel Day-Lewis is waaaaaay out front for the acting trophy because he's won so many precursor prizes, but he's never won a Globe and, to be perfectly blunt, he ain't no George Clooney. Globe voters love swashbuckling matinee stars so much that the award's biggest male winner happens to be Hollywood's bawdiest buckaneer: Jack Nicholson. Clooney is the new Nicholson in town, let's face it. If you think the Coens have the directors' laurels locked up, you've forgotten how often the foreign press love to hail artsy helmers, sometimes ones who make foreign-language pix. Personally, I'm betting on Julian Schnabel.

Oscars' Outrages Poll: Who really was the best actor of 1973?

January 2, 2008 | 10:14 pm

Attention Oscars fans who've not yet suffered through a viewing of "Save the Tiger": save yourself from enduring the agony of Lemmon_oscar_white_topwatching Jack Lemmon's Oscar-winning performance as an annoying businessman going through a never-ending mid-life meltdown. It's not just over the top, it's over-bearing, unwatchable. The only reason he won that award in 1973 was because voters suddenly felt guilty that the only other Oscar they ever gave him was in the supporting slot for "Mr. Roberts" nearly 20 years earlier. He deserved that Oscar, no question. But too bad they didn't give Lemmon a lead trophy for one of his interim nominations like "The Apartment" (winner of best picture of 1960) or "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962).

Now consider who Lemmon robbed in 1973: Marlon Brando in "Last Tango in Paris" and Al Pacino in "Serpico." (Somebody, please, call the kudos cops!) Also darn good were Jack Nicholson in "The Last Detail" and Robert Redford in best-picture champ "The Sting." Gee, I wonder if voters would've given "Ordinary People" those Oscars for best picture and Redford's direction seven years later if they'd given him this best-actor trophy over Jack Lemmon!

But never mind all that. Who do you believe really deserved to win back in 1973?

Critics kick 'The Bucket List'

December 26, 2007 |  1:18 pm

The combination of two acting titans — 3-time Oscar champ Jack Nicholson and one-time winner Morgan Freeman — one respected director in the form of Rob Reiner, and an inspiring story about a final road trip seemed to be tailor made for the Academy Awards. But just as it takes a deft hand to make a souffle so it does to pull off a film like this one about two dying men looking to now travel the road not taken. That it ultimately fell flat with the critics was foretold by the absence of any early awards recognition.

At Meta Critic, the 15 reviews surveyed so far yielded a score of 49 while the 34 notices compiled to date by Rotten Tomatoes came to an equally dismissive 47.

Jack (Nicholson) is wild

December 9, 2007 |  7:40 pm

Watch out! Jack Nicholson is running loose across Hollywood, just like in his randy young-buck days. While he normally lives a rather reclusive life, shunning tub-thumping on the awards beat, he's actually out there campaigning for "The Bucket List" these days. Following up on the Q&A screening he did last week at the TV academy with our Enveloper Pete Hammond as moderator, Jack actually did another Q&A this past weekend, joining BAFTA members on Saturday night! Unprecedented!

OSCARS THEORY: Does the sole Yankee always beat 4 foreigners?

November 29, 2007 |  6:56 am

With so many foreigners competing in the Oscars race for best actress this year — Helena Bonham Carter ("Sweeney Todd"), Julie Christie ("Away from Her"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), Keira Knightley ("Atonement") and Ellen Page ("Juno"), among others — it's possible that we may again see a sole Yankee in the race. Perhaps only Angelina Jolie ("A Might Heart") or Laura Linney ("The Savages")?

If so, we'll hear lots of chatter among Oscarologists about that ole chestnut that a sole Yankee always prevails against a foreign invasion. But is the theory really true?


Believers use this theory to explain the seemingly unexplainable, including Marisa Tomei's 1992 supporting-actress win for "My Cousin Vinny." While Helen Hunt ("As Good As It Gets") beat four foreign lasses, she had won several awards leading up to the Oscars. Tomei had not. On Oscar night, the frontrunner in that supporting race figured to be Aussie Judy Davis who had picked up several critics prizes for her work in Woody Allen's domestic drama "Husbands and Wives." Nipping at her heels were thought to be the three Brits — Dame Joan Plowright, Laurence Olivier's widow, who had won the Globe for "Enchanted April", New York critics choice Miranda Richardson ("Damage"), and Vanessa Redgrave ("Howards End").

But just how parochial are the Academy Awards? Before 1997, the last time a lone American actress prevailed over four foreigners in the lead-actress race was back in 1971 when Jane Fonda won for "Klute." Her competition? South African Janet Suzman ("Nicholas and Alexandra"), and three Brits - Vanessa Redgrave ("Mary, Queen of Scots"), the previous year's winner Glenda Jackson ("Sunday Bloody Sunday"), and one Julie Christie ("McCabe and Mrs. Miller").

Interestingly, when Christie won in 1965, she beat two other Brits — the previous year's winner Julie Andrews ("The Sound of Music") and Samantha Eggar ("The Collector") as well as France's only best actress winner Simone Signoret ("Ship of Fools") and the sole American nominee, newcomer Elizabeth Hartman ("A Patch of Blue").

The following year, 1966, was the only one in Oscar history that all five lead actress nominees hailed from foreign lands. British born Elizabeth Taylor won her second Oscar for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" beating out both British Redgrave sisters — Vanessa ("Morgan!") and Lynn ("Georgy Girl") as well as French beauty Anouk Aimee ("A Man and a Woman") and Ukrainian Ida Kaminska ("The Shop on Main Street").

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