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The Reeler Blog

Oscar's (Im)Potent Quotables?

Today's Times points out the riches the media establishment accrues by cynically force-feeding you 50 Oscar-related non-stories per day (my investment in the Oscar race comes down to the bottle of wine I'll score on a victory for Alan Arkin, so, um, yeah: Eddie Murphy, Norbit, classless bastard, etc), but I do have at least one honest-to-God question about all the hype: What is up with this Academy Awards ad campaign culling famous quotes from 70-something movies -- many of which don't even appear to have been major (or even minor) Oscar winners?

Perhaps the most ubiquitous quote in the campaign has been that compact standby, "Rosebud," the high-powered engine under Citizen Kane's hood. Of course, Citizen Kane won only one Oscar -- for Orson Welles' and Herman Mankewicz's screenplay -- out of nine nominations. Elsewhere you'll see famous lines from White Heat ("Made it, Ma -- top of the world!"), The Shining ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," as if that's the film's best-known quote) and Field of Dreams ("If you build it they will come"), titles that combine for four nominations and no wins. Spike Lee's new TV spots (above, via Big Screen Little Screen) now market the collection with a pleasing cross-section of New Yorkers drawing from the likes of Blazing Saddles, Taxi Driver, Dr. Strangelove and Jerry Maguire, films comprising another 16 nods and one win.

Sure -- Titanic, Gone With the Wind, The Godfather, The Silence of the Lambs and a lot of other Oscar power hitters are namechecked, but most appear to be hoi polloi staples that were largely crushed at the time beneath the gold-baiting likes of Gandhi, The English Patient, Kramer vs. Kramer and God knows what else. So I guess I'm asking you: Does this marketing blitz really endear us to the Academy Awards or just re-emphasize how out of touch Oscar culture actually is?

Posted at February 19, 2007 11:54 AM

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