Sunday night is Oscar night. They will roll out the red carpet in Hollywood and all the beautiful people will show up, hoping against hope to go home with one of the golden statuettes. Everyone’s real skill as an actor will be measured when the camera pans the faces of those who do not win. It has to be tough to pretend you are happy for the person who did.
Billy Crystal is back as host for this year's festivities, a fact for which I am grateful. He may be the best emcee since Bob Hope stopped doing the show, well before the turn of the century. Billy Crystal is not as tall as last year's co-host, Anne Hathaway, and his legs aren't as pretty to look at, but he is the consummate professional and much more likely to mention Mickey Mantle than any of his predecessors. Plus, he's not Whitney Houston.
As usual, I have seen very few of the pictures nominated for this year's top prizes. In the Best Picture category I did see "War Horse" and "Moneyball." The latter made me wish it were baseball season and the former made me very wary of barbed-wire fences. I could completely follow the plot of each, so that probably precludes either of them from winning.
Oh, yes. I also saw "The Help." Not only did I understand "The Help," I lived through it in the 1960s. It may or may not win the Oscar but if it does, I bet nobody orders the chocolate pie at the victory party.
I am pulling for Michelle Williams to win Best Actress. It would be ironic if someone won an award for playing Marilyn Monroe when Marilyn never won one for being herself. Beyond that, I don't really have a favorite in any of the other categories and won't be awake to see the awards given out anyway.
But in the spirit of the evening, I would like to offer a few awards of my own. Movies and I go way back, you see. I used to ride the Calloway Coach from Porterdale to Covington every Saturday for the matinee at the Strand Theater. To this day, every time I see that MGM lion roar I get a craving for hot buttered popcorn and a giant Coke. And to this day I refuse to sit right under the balcony, if I happen to find myself in a theater that has one.
But without further ado, my very own All-Time Favorite Movie Moment Awards.
Most Shocking Scary Ending. Without a doubt the award goes to Brian De Palma's "Carrie." I don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen the film yourself, but [SPOILER ALERT!] when Amy Irving's character stoops down to put flowers on Carrie's grave and that hand comes up and grabs her, well, let's just say that my date wasn't the only one still shaking when we left the theater.
Most Shocking Non-Scary Ending. "The Sting," and what a great movie it was from start to finish. Everyone I knew was excited to see Redford and Newman back together again after "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and everyone I knew fell for the ending, hook, line and sinker. We all knew that the two stars had died in the shootout at the end. I left laughing.
And, no, I didn't forget about "The Sixth Sense." I figured out that Bruce Willis was dead halfway through the movie.
Most Surprising Line in the Middle of a Movie. Actually it wasn't a line. It was two words and they came in the classic, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," when Jack Nicholson's character offered a piece of gum to the Indian "chief," who hadn't spoken during the whole film and he grunted and said, "Juicy Fruit."
Greatest Speech at the Beginning of a Movie. Hands down, George C. Scott's soliloquy in "Patton." I still get goose bumps when I see him stride out in front of that giant American flag. When the movie came out, in 1970, I went to see it four nights in a row with four different people and by the next week had memorized that opening speech by heart.
Most Embarrassing Movie Moment. It was 1966. I was watching "Gone With the Wind" at the above-mentioned Strand Theater and was sitting with Karen Meadors. It had taken me until the scene where Sherman was burning Atlanta to get up enough nerve to hold her hand. As soon as I did Foy Harper shone his flashlight right in my face and proclaimed, to my mother who had come two hours early to pick me up, "Here he is, Mrs. Huckaby, and he's holding some girl's hand!"
Second Most Embarrassing Movie Moment. Back at the Strand, with Terri Hubbard, watching "The French Connection." Right in the middle of the most famous chase scene in the history of American cinema I got a terribly painful leg cramp and went running up the aisle of the theater, to the delight of the entire audience, except Terri, of course.
Favorite Movie Star Whose Hand I Have Held While Walking on the Beach at Malibu. It's a tie between Dakota and Elle Fanning. Who cares if they were 10 and 6. It still counts.
Enjoy the Oscars, and give my regards to Hollywood.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.newtoncitizen.com.