In this interview series, we ask famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Let's give a big Oscar night welcome to Canadian cartoonist, film critic and filmmaker Rick Trembles. Rick Trembles' illustrated movie review column Motion Picture Purgatory has been published weekly in the Montreal Mirror since 1998. His second "incomparable collection of comic-strip concoctions configured to critique film" compiling the best of these articles was just released by fabpress.com. He is obsessed with obsolete old-school special effects stop-motion animation.
Rick, if you were in charge of academy voting this year, who'd get the Oscar?
Best bedwetting prevention PSA award goes to "2012" (stick with the film up to the punchline and you'll see what I mean). Best loving tribute to '70s Italian Giallo goes to Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's "Amer." "Where the Wild Things Are" will win for film that most sucked the childhood out of a children's story. "Borat" vehicle "District 9" will win for worst racist jokes. Worst compilation of America's Funniest Home Videos goes to "Paranormal Activity" (with a special nod to the marketing department for masterful hoaxing). Best hitting-below-the-belt special effects award will go to Charlotte Gainsbourg's scissor sequence during the "climax" (negatory pun intended) of Lars von Trier's "Antichrist." And best thinly veiled-tussle-contrived-to-loosen-heaving-cleavage sequence will go to Beyoncé Knowles for her frustratingly anticlimactic catfight in "Obsessed" (the kind of cagey strip-tease unseen since Raquel Welch's incremental unzippering in 1966's "Fantastic Voyage"). Said upper body parts will be replicated onto the Oscar statuette just for the occasion.
I'd give John Turturro an award for best line in "Transformers 2:" "I am directly beneath enemy scrotum." But for the most part, 2009 was a year that revealed the nitpicking snob lurking inside me. I'd give "Inglorious Basterds" the award for the film I'd most like to see that all my friends whose opinions I truly regard in the highest esteem have pleaded with me to go check out but I stubbornly refuse since I'm deathly allergic to Brad Pitt. Same goes for "Precious" because of Oprah's attachment. And I'd give "Avatar" the award for the highest-grossing film ever in the history of the world that I have absolutely no interest in viewing because it's too long, looks like a bad video game and is sanctimonious to boot. It's been a year of boycotts.
Which films and performers from the past deserved the Oscar but didn't receive one? And are there winners that you'd contest?
I'd take away the best special effects award for the 1976 version of "King Kong" (the one with Dino De Laurentiis's clunky "life-sized" dysfunctional robot) and give it to stop-motion animator and Ray Harryhausen protégé Jim ("When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth") Danforth for resigning from the academy in protest when he heard this news. And I'd add a miniature King Kong figurine on top of our Beyoncé Knowles heaving cleavage Oscar statuette as if he was perched over the Empire State building, because if the original 1933 "King Kong" can't have an Oscar he might as well lord over it while he can before the biplanes shoot him down. I'm with Ann Magnuson; give "Kong," my all-time favorite film, its due (especially to his pappy, animator Willis O'Brien).
Which categories would you add? Which need deleting?
I'd add a Rube Goldberg Contraption award category for best gimmicky chain-reaction exterminations in recent splatter flick franchises like "Final Destination" and the "Saw" franchise. I'd add a movie-that-made-you-feel-the-most-skeevy-about-yourself category in honor of the inklings the little girls in "The Lovely Bones" had towards the film's child molester based on his peculiar demeanor. They described him as "skeevy," but the only counterbalance these "prestige-picture" kinds of depraved serial-killer portrayals usually ever offer as the "healthy" relationships are vapid and perfunctory, which I can't relate to. So I guess that makes me skeevy too. Then I'd remove all other categories except for best foreign film (I'm not from the U.S.).
What part of the telecast would you remove? And what would you replace it with?
Keep church and state separate: Prohibit any winners from ever thanking God again. Wait -- is that the Grammies where they keep thanking "God"?
Which part of the Oscars would you never change?
The strained looks on the losers' faces and the panicked looks on long-winded winners' faces as the orchestra slowly creeps in to nudge the wrapping up of their laundry lists.
Who would be your dream host or presenters? How about musical performers?
Hosted by John Waters (that's a no-brainer) and presented by the orphans of Haiti with voodoo doll pins to poke into the miniature King Kong and Beyoncé Knowles heaving cleavage adorned Oscar statuette. Musical numbers by the Shaggs (wasn't their story optioned by Tom Cruise? No joke). Choreography by the late Ray Dennis Steckler (brought back to life as an "incredibly strange creature who stopped living and became a mixed up zombie" just for the occasion).
Who would receive your honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement?
Don "Alien Factor" Dohler (posthumously), Bill "Sleazoid Express" Landis (posthumously) and the Kuchar Brothers (still very much alive).
All worthy picks. Do you have a favorite (good or bad) Oscar moment from the past?
Good: Stop-motion animation special effects genius Ray Harryhausen receiving an award in 1992. Bad: Tom Hanks, who presented it to him, saying, "Some say 'Citizen Kane' is the greatest motion picture of all time, others say it's 'Casablanca.' For me, the greatest picture of all time is (Harryhausen's) 'Jason and the Argonauts'." That doesn't make any sense. As much as I worship Harryhausen, the films as a whole aren't the masterpieces, his creature sequences in them are. Hanks was being patronizing. Or maybe he doesn't know anything about films.
Oh, and that streaker from the '70s.
Lastly, Rick, let's give you an Oscar for all your hard work this year. Let the world know how much you appreciate this award.
"I would like to thank God that I will never win an Oscar."