On Alfred Hitchcock's ups and downs at the Oscars
With HBO's "The Girl" hitting the small screen recently and Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock" due in theaters this week, and with Universal's big boxed set of most of Alfred Hitchcock's great works on shelves, it seems that most identifiable of rotund maestros of the cinema is en vogue. But what has always been fascinating about "Hitch" for Oscar watchers is that, despite his legendary status -- "the premiere image-maker of the 20th century," as author Mark Cousins called him -- the man never won a competitive Oscar.
It really does seem like Oscar's big miss. Stanley Kubrick is a big deal -- my favorite filmmaker -- but there's something really strange about a guy like Hitchcock, who certainly never dallied in inaccessible realms, having never received his due. Sure, a mid-career work won Best Picture, and he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy in 1968, but Best Director eluded him throughout. As did the DGA prize, in fact (though the guild saw fit to bestow lifetime achievement recognition the very same year he received the Thalberg).
"The lack of respect from the Academy pained him," Hitchcock biographer Stephen Rebello, whose book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" was the basis for Gervasi's film, told The Hollywood Reporter last month. "He felt they resented him for being an entertainer and working in genres that weren’t perceived as worthy."
And perhaps that was true. But looking at the director's overall luck (or lack thereof) in the awards season, it's striking just how many organizations often passed him over. He never won a prize from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded him only once, for 1938's "The Lady Vanishes" rather than anything from his generally agreed-upon top-tier canon. At the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association crowned his show, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," on the TV side of things, but only nominated him once for directing features (in 1972 for "Frenzy," of all things). And that group, too, dealt him a career recognition prize, via a Cecil B. DeMille Award the year prior.
In his time, it was just never meant to be. He would wait to be truly heralded as an artist. Film critics may have collectively chosen "Vertigo" as the greatest film of all time in the recent installment of Sight & Sound's decennial poll, for instance, but it was a critical and commercial flop upon release in 1958.
On the Oscar side of things, 16 of Hitchcock's films were nominated for this or that, tallying 52 nominations over the years. But they only won six trophies total. It's a staggering statistic, and one that sparked an interest in digging through the films again and spotlighting what it was the Academy deemed worthy of recognition.
So click through the gallery below to relive Hitchcock's history with Oscar, the ups and, mostly, the downs: 23 years of Oscar heartache. Feel free to rate the titles as you go along.
"Hitchcock" opens in limited release tomorrow.
1974 | Drama | RSummary: Jack Nicholson is private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-World War II Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband's extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits,...Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez
1994 | Comedy | PG-13Summary: A man with a low IQ has accomplished great things in his life and been present during significant historic events - in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. Yet, despite all the things he has attained, his one true love eludes him. 'Forrest Gump' is the story of a man who ros...Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright, Mykelti Williamson
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the Internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes.Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Taissa Farmiga, Katie Chang
1999 | Documentary | RSummary: AMERICAN MOVIE is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, AMERICAN MOVIE is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man's quest for the American D...Director: Chris Smith
Cast: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels
2013 | Drama | RSummary: This exceptional film features Brie Larson as a young woman working a tough shift at a foster care home for at-risk teens, and watches as her work and personal lives intersect in difficult ways.Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Cast: Brie Larson, Frantz Turner, John Gallagher Jr.
2013 | Thriller | NRSummary: A seemingly homeless man insinuates himself into the daily routine of an upper-middle-class familiy in this unusual, unsettling, and darkly funny Dutch-language gem.Director: Alex van Warmerdam
Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval
2007 | Comedy | NRSummary: Canadian animated show heartily spoofs reality TV ideas as characters build bonds together, only to scheme against one another minutes later.Director: Tom McGillis, Jennifer Pertsch (creators)
Cast: Clé Bennett, Christian Potenza, Scott McCord
1953 | Thriller | PG-13Summary: Four men are hired to transport wildly unstable nitroglycerin along dangerous roads in one of the most suspenseful films ever made.Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Cast: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck
2009 | Comedy | RSummary: Kevin Hart dominates the stage in a fast-paced and highly energetic stand-up performance featuring routines based on experiences with work, race, and family.Director: Shannon Hartman
Cast: Kevin Hart
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