It’s Oscar time, when carpets are red, modest stars are few, and pools are entered with pencils not diving into waters of blue.  A little further down we’ll get to the first annual Great Oscar Quiz where you could win a special ITF prize, but first let me comment on Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast.  

I am as guilty as the next critic of getting wrapped up in the Oscar race but not enough to rant about jilted films or individuals who didn’t receive a nomination or my picks vs. those of Academy members — there are plenty of others doing that around the country.  I just want to comment on the ceremony itself and its place within our culture.

For years, the Oscars were simply a blip on the radar with only those in the industry and really hard-nosed fans caring at all.  Only after Jaws brought in the era of the blockbuster and magazines, such as People, and entertainment news programs began proliferating did the awards “show” begin to gain more attention from regular Joes and Janes who began to take an interest in the nominations and watch to see who wins on the big night.  That’s when the ceremony became an institution and began to be beamed around the globe as a sort of three-hour commercial for American culture.  

The awards were started, as all awards are, as a sort of slap on the back for those making movies.  The founding fathers of the Academy, many of which were pioneers in the medium, came up with an excuse to put on a fancy dinner party, get drunk, and show off to each other.  It has now become big business for a lot of folks, least of which are the filmmakers themselves.  More money is spent just on campaigning for nominations than some countries’ total GNP. The show also reflects the American way of life on many different levels.  It propagates our image of wealth and grandioseness.  It reflects our democratic system of government but at the same time our cultural emphasis on the individual. It promotes what is our largest export — entertainment — but also how we are a people who, for the most part, come from emigrant families and continue to welcome those from other countries to reap the rewards of a free society.  And lastly, the ceremony is something that binds us as a nation, even for those who do not watch. It is a ritual, much like the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, that is both unique to us and a comfort because it is a reminder that our way of life continues to be strong, vibrant, and envied throughout the world.

Okay, now to the quiz.  There are 15 questions — some are very difficult and others, not so. All years in the questions or answers reflect the year the films were released, not the year the actual ceremony takes place, unless otherwise stated.  For instance, if I asked what film won Best Picture in 2004, your answer would be Million Dollar Baby even though the ceremony took place in 2005.  Please email your answers to by Sunday, March 5, 2006, 5 p.m. PT.  The winner(s) will be notified by email and, at that point, asked for a mailing address to send your special ITF prize.  Anyone can enter, but only one entry is allowed per email address.  Unfortunately, only emailed entries will be accepted.  Please write your name and email address along with your answers within your email to make sure we know whom to contact.  In the words of Edward R. Murrow — or should I say Best Actor nominee, David Strathairn — good night and good luck.

The 2005 Great Oscar Quiz

1. What 2005 nominated actor appeared in a 1991 film that also featured an actor nominated in the same category?

2. Which 1960 winner was Debbie Reynolds referring to when she said, “Hell, I even voted for her”?

3. Two of this year’s Best Picture nominees were filmed in black and white. What was the last black and white film to win Best Picture?

4. What star of NBC’s The West Wing performed a rendition of Proud Mary with Snow White (Eileen Bowman) on an Oscar telecast that came to epitomize the over-produced musical numbers that since have been curtailed, and what was the date on which the telecast took place?

5. What 1975 winner was escorted to the ceremony by twin sons he or she had not seen since 1968?

6. What was the original category title for what is now Best Picture, used for the first three ceremonies beginning in 1927?

7. Walt Disney has the record for most nominations ever at 59, but what living individual (Oscar night categories only) has the most career nominations on his or her resume (45 and counting), including this year’s nominations?

8. What presenter revealed to Joan Rivers on the red carpet before the 1994 awards that “I just got over excited in the car”?

9. What 1946 Best Picture loser but now classic film was praised by a New York Daily News editorial saying, “It momentarily restored this reporter’s faith in human nature — quite some achievement after you’ve spent some time in the newspaper game”?

10. What was the only television film to be adapted to the big screen and win Best Picture?

11. Who is the only Oscar to win an Oscar?

12. What film holds the record for the most nominations without a single loss?

13. Who was the first Best Actor nominee to be nominated for portraying another Best Actor nominee?

14. Who are the only twins to win Oscars together and for what film?

15. Which 2005 double-nominated individual began his or her career on the TV sitcom One Day at a Time?

Tie-Breaker Questions — only used if multiple winners for above:

What Oscar-winning actor, presenting at the 1994 awards ceremony, was brought to the stage by the announcer saying he is, “Unique. Original. His nationality is Actor”?

Who will win the 2005 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film?
a) Ausreisser (The Runaway)
b) Cashback  
c) The Last Farm  
d) Our Time is Up  
e) Six Shooter

Rich Burlingham

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