If I ran the Oscars: Andy Kindler
In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Now presenting: comedian Andy Kindler.
Andy, who's going to win this year's Oscar race?
I would like it if there was an actual race. I would like to see James Cameron run for 100 yards. Would his long, flowing hair slow him down? And would his ego somehow be brought back to a normal range by being winded? That's what I'm hoping.
So in the great tradition of gym class, it should all be settled by physical competition.
That's what I'd l like to see. It could also be an arm-wrestling match. Or who could say the most obnoxious thing -- we already know that James Cameron has his "King of the World."
Will "Up" get nominated for best picture?
It'll probably get nominated for best animated feature.
I loved that movie. I cried within the first 10 seconds, and I'm not joking. I didn't even see it in 3D -- can you imagine how much I would have wept if I'd seen it in 3D?
Which performers would you like to see win the Oscar this year?
I'm interested in Jeff Bridges. I love that guy. And I did like Carey Mulligan in "An Education." And I love Meryl Streep, but if they could ban "Julie & Julia," I'd be in favor of that.
Find out why after the break.
Why is that?
I never want to see Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci have sex. Ever. I don't want a movie that celebrates Julia Child's sex life. I don't want it, and I don't need it. I think it's better in written form. And Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side" -- that is the worst movie ever made, and I've never seen it. That's how convinced I am. I saw her do that accent. ... The football player who's portrayed in that movie, even he doesn't seem thrilled about it. I can't stand feel-good movies that are done in a simplistic way, and again, having not seen it, I'm absolutely sure in my opinion.
I wanted to like "Up in the Air" -- I like Jason Reitman -- but Vera Farmiga left me cold.
What about for supporting actors? Christoph Waltz seems to be leading that race.
I don't want anything else to increase Quentin Tarantino's ego. I saw "Inglourious Basterds" win at the SAG Awards, and I assume that the win was based on the most amount of acting -- they added up the number of gestures and voices and that's how they decided. And I reject Alec Baldwin as a nominee for "It's Complicated" -- that's a movie that will leave you laughing only if you watch something funny afterward.
I want to stress at this point that my choices are not only unscientific, but based on ignorance. It's a combo thing.
But I want to start a campaign to have James Cameron barred from the Academy Awards. I'm already sick of him -- I was sick of him after "Titanic." He can't get through an interview without mentioning how large the budget was on "Avatar." I saw that interview in the Los Angeles Times with the five leading directors, and James Cameron had to go out of his way to mention that he holds two-hour auditions. I think anyone who has to spend that much time in the room with him deserves not only the part, but a severance package. And if he spends two hours on an audition, why doesn't he spend that much time on his horrible scripts?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that he is not your leading contender for best director.
No. Do they have a category for most egomaniacal director? I think he'd win hands down.
So who is your top pick for director?
Everyone seems to like "The Hurt Locker," so I'd vote for Kathryn Bigelow. I also like Jason Reitman, but I wouldn't vote for him for "Up in the Air." I'd like to give him an honorary Oscar.
OK, let's get down to your taking over the Oscars. Which films and performers do you feel deserved an Oscar but didn't win one?
"The Graduate" should have won best picture over "In the Heat of the Night." That was just OK (laughs). And "Five Easy Pieces" should have won too. I would like Albert Brooks to have received the Oscars for best actor, best director and best screenplay for "Modern Romance." I love that movie.
Oh, and the one that sticks in my craw was the year that Sean Connery won for "The Untouchables," and it should have been Vincent Gardenia for "Moonlighting." He was unbelievable. I like Sean Connery -- if I was a woman, I'd sleep with him, or if I was a gay man, I'd sleep with him. As a straight man, I might sleep with him. And he's done excellent work, but not for that movie. I don't think anyone can remember one scene from "The Untouchables."
Which categories would you add or delete from the ceremony?
I would add more costuming, set design -- I would try to give awards to more obscure areas of the production that people aren't familiar with. Maybe a best stand-in category, and best lighting of the areas that are the dressing rooms. I'd like to see if the show could be longer. Also, I think best host of the Academy Awards over the years would be a great category.
So who would be your winners?
Steve Martin is fantastic. I think that the pair-up with Alec Baldwin will be fantastic. Johnny Carson was great too. I think we should have a "yea" or "nay" award on Whoopi Goldberg's career. I vote nay. And I think there should be a category for stand-up comedian who has been cast in too many movies, and that would be Dane Cook.
I do think that, on a serious note -- as if I've been funny so far -- that more animated movies should be nominated for best picture. I don't think they should be kept separate -- that's unfair. And I think that there's something about the best-song nominations that seem odd to me. Maybe it's the songs that they pick. What won last year?
"Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire."
There should be a category for movies that will leave your mind completely one year later. "Slumdog Millionaire" would win that -- I have no memory of that now. Some people have said that "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" wasn't a great choice for best song, but the thing that they don't realize about that is that, very often, it is hard out there for a pimp.
Any song by Phil Collins should be barred from contention. I thought he was the worst Tarzan we've ever had. He doesn't look like Tarzan. ... I hope my opinions won't come across as too intellectual. I'm very nervous about that.
What parts of the ceremony would you change?
I would change any introduction of any category that sounds like bad news copy, or the language becomes flowery or would put you to sleep: "Lights. Camera. Action. These are all words that we have heard..." Anything that's pre-written should be eliminated, category-wise, although then, we're left with actors ad-libbing, which isn't so good either.
So what's the solution?
Maybe if they sent the writers to Cliche Workshop. Or Trite Boot Camp. The writing seems particularly egregious during the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It's almost like they try to create a magical introduction to the category, but it never works. And I don't know if I've emphasized this enough, but there should be a No Whoopi Hosting rule. If she could receive a lifetime ban from hosting, that would be nice. I thought they were supposed to have a comedian host. ...
Is there a part of the ceremony that you would leave intact?
No, there's nothing about the Academy Awards that makes me say, "If they ever change this, I will be infuriated." I like the parts where they show celebrities in the audience. I like to see them eating or looking like they've been caught on camera. I like to see them concerned about how they're coming across on camera. I like to see them when they don't know I'm looking at them. I don't know if that's a Peeping Tom thing. And yet, I can't stand TMZ.
I do cry like a baby during the In Memoriam part. I'm a sucker for that. I also love any time Errol Morris does anything. He's a great director, and anything he produces, I like.
Who are your dream host or presenters?
I'm a huge Ricky Gervais fan, so I was thrilled that he did the Golden Globes. I loved Letterman when he hosted, though I'm in the minority there. Jack Black and Will Ferrell are always funny to me. Dustin Hoffman is always interesting to me. And Albert Brooks I love, of course. Garry Shandling.
Who would receive your honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement?
I'd like Stephen Colbert to win an award somehow, because I love his show so much, but I don't know how I could do that. He could win for humorous person who transcends genres, including movies. I think that there's too much emphasis on the movie part of the Academy Awards. Why don't we open up the field to TV? Maybe we can combine all the award shows into one and be done with it.
That would be a daylong affair.
If there was a constitutional amendment against the People's Choice Awards, I would be for that.
I love Woody Allen as a director, though he's already won in that category (for "Annie Hall"). I'd like to see Albert Brooks get something. I tend to gravitate towards comedians. I'd love to see W.C. Fields win something posthumously, and Laurel and Hardy too. You know who I love? Nicole Holofcener, who did "Lovely and Amazing" and "Friends With Money." And I love Peter Falk and James Garner. Oh, and Alan Arkin. He brings it. No one's ever said that about me. I don't bring it.
What are your favorite Oscar moments (good or bad) from the past?
I love the first seven Jack Palance jokes that Billy Crystal did that year. By the 30th Jack Palance joke, I was out. And I liked when Adrian Brody kissed Halle Berry, because I would like to kiss Halle Berry. I support as much cleavage at the Academy Awards as they can provide, and any technical screw-ups.
I also loved when Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to the Oscars. We need more people sending odd people, or hunger strikes during the awards.
Who would you send?
I would send Carrot Top. Or Gallagher. Whoever was available. There could be some visuals.
I just want to say that if I was nominated, I wouldn't send anyone. I'm going. I'm not like Woody Allen who feels that it's just an award show. I love the opportunity to be the center of attention. I'd go if I was contagious, if I had leprosy. Or maybe I'd send Sacheen Littlefeather.
And lastly, let's give you an Oscar for all your hard work this year. Let's hear your acceptance speech.
Teachers, fellow students, actors ... I am overwhelmed tonight by this award. There are so many emotions I'm having. I think what comes to mind first is that it's especially meaningful that I got an award, having not been in a movie this year. I can't imagine how my acceptance award would be if I was in something.
I would like to thank the academy, but I would also like to thank the person whom I feel I could not have done any of this without, and that would be me. I am so tired of people thanking others, when really, it all begins and ends with me. I've had help along the way -- mostly, other people have hurt me. And not only could I have not done it without me, I think that I've brought my own career to a different level. I would put this right on my mantle if I had a home, and wasn't renting.
I hope that what I've said will be a template for future acceptances.
-- Paul Gaita
Photo: Andy Kindler. Credit: Susan Maljan
More from the Circuit: