Each year, I get excited by the selection of the Academy Board of Governors for the Honorary Oscar.
I think removing the Honorary Oscar acceptances from the main Oscar telecast into their own private celebration was a masterstroke, as it now allows multiple recipients of the Award each year, and a true appreciation of the body of work.
Lately, the Board of Governors have been very brave in their selection of recipients.
Take for instance, Jean Luc Godard – the French-Swiss film director who stubbornly refused to come to America to accept his award, in part because of the lack of recognition by the Academy in the past (they have never bestowed to him a competitive Oscar)
In particular, his award was one of the bravest decisions of the Academy, and to me, one of their proudest. So in early preparation for the Honorary Oscar come 2012 – I wanted to reveal who I think the Academy should consider.
And across the coming months I will continue to post my thoughts on who should receive the award.
My first selection is a man who has received five Oscar nominations across four decades, and never won.
Finney has been an actor who has provided the screen with some wonderful performances, and manages to leave an imprint in our mind with each of them. Lately, playing strong supporting roles, he went through the 1960’s and 1970’s giving strong lead performance, that deservedly received critical acclaim.His performance in the Oscar Best Picture Winner , Tom Jones as the title character is endearing, charming and witty.
He won the New York Film Critic’s Best Actor, received an Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and won the Venice Film Festival award.
In ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ , he became the first actor to date , to receive an Oscar nomination for his role as Hercule Poirot.
Finney injected his own style into the character, full of flair and bravado – a fair cry to the older tottering style of Peter Ustinov, or the precision of David Suchet.
The following year Finney received his fourth Oscar nomination, as the alcoholic former British consul in ‘Under the Volcano’ , another film in the Finney canon that requires more recognition from the industry.
It took another 16 years, but Finney made it back into the Oscar spotlight, as the lawyer who learns more than he bargains for in ‘Erin Brokovich’. This is the film that brought Finney but into the minds of movie goers. He reinvented himself in his fifth decade on film.
Now he could play supporting roles in other quirky films, like the underrated ‘Big Fish’ , and the very underrated ‘Another Year’ opposite Russell Crowe.
Consider as well appearances in The Bourne Ultimatum, Traffic, The Browning Version (for which he received a Boston Society of Film Critic Awards), Shoot The Moon (a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination) and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – the film that started his career, garnering the National Board of Review Best Actor.
In every film Albert Finney has been in, he has reinvented himself and left a lasting imprint in your mind.
The memories of his scenes seem to always involve just himself. My thoughts of him, are never as part of an ensemble.
Here he is as the solo actor, delivering the soliloquy, standing up for what he believes is right or saying a tearful goodbye. Even his supporting roles overshadow the lead role, because he that damn good.
And it is for that, for his six decades of service to the screen, for his five failed attempts to take home the Oscar statuette, for being a BAFTA, Venice Film Festival, National Board of Review, Berlin Film Festival, Golden Globe, Boston Film Society, London Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics and New York Film Critics winner, that Albert Finney, now in his 70’s, deserve an Honorary Oscar.
– Rhett Bartlett