Do dead people deserve Oscars?

the-dark-knight_the-joker_why-so-serious1Confession: I am one of those losers who actually care who wins Oscars. I will sit through six hours of rambling speeches and corny jokes to see if my favourite guy or gal wins (screw highlights). I may even shed a tear. I am open to mockery, so feel free.

Last night the list of nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Awards was announced. The competition is hot in all categories, with some awesome films making the cut. And surprise surprise…Heath Ledger has been nominated in the best supporting actor category. I just wonder if he would have been nominated had he not taken the whole method acting thing too far and accidentally OD’d. It seems that so many artists throughout history have received recognition only after their deaths – Vincent Van Gogh is a classic example. Has HL been nominated purely on the merit of his performance or is it a nod of recognition for a collection of good performances (perhaps a bit of both)? And the jackpot question: did the fact that he is dead help him win a nomination? Fact: HL was an awesome actor. Fact: HL’s performance as the Joker in Dark Knight was spectacular. Fact: The dude is dead and is not around to give a shit whether he wins or not. Fact: Robert Downey Jnr should win the Oscar for Tropic Thunder. Okay…so maybe the last one might be a little subjective. HL has already won the Golden Globe – oh wait! In case we forgot…he’s dead. So what then? His parents won the Globe for spawning Talent? Michelle Williams won the Globe for boning Talent and spawning its daughter? Matilda won the Oscar for being the spawn of Talent? It’s really kind of random – the whole ‘dead guy winning award thing’. Strangely, I think HL would probably have my vote if he was alive. But he’s not. It’s over. Let someone else be acknowledged for their talent – someone who is alive to revel in the attention and status.

I was about to apologise for any disrespect but then I thought, “No way José!” Apology not required. This is not a personal attack against HL. My opinion is in no way meant to undermine the tragedy of his death and the sadness it has caused to those who love him. It is a rant about an Academy that often seems to make the politically correct decision (and this is a whole other topic of conversation). There has, in any case, been only one actor who has won an Oscar posthumously – Peter Finch, for best actor in a leading role for his performance in the 1976 film Network. Being nominated is a far cry from winning. If HL would have been nominated had he lived to tell the tale, then awesome. That’s great news. But I guess we will never know anyway. Excellence should be acknlowedged for its own sake and not for any other reason. If HL wins the Oscar on this premise then…more power to the Academy. However, Mr Ledger does not need an Oscar in order to achieve recognition for his talent. We all know how brilliant he was.