UPDATE, TUESDAY 10:39 PM: All 15 Academy Awards auctioned tonight by Nate D. Sanders sold for $3,060,089 (which the auctioneer calls a record-breaking amount), a total about $1 million less than some estimates for the entire lot but impressive nonetheless. Getting top dollar was Herman Mankiewicz’s 1941 Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane going for $588,455 (about $300,000 less than what Orson Welles scripting statue went for in December), How Green Was My Valley’s Best Picture Oscar went for $274,520 while another Fox Best Picture, 1933’s Cavalcade garnered $332,165. The oldest of the Oscars in the lot for 1931’s Skippy fetched $301,973 while the two acting Oscars being auctioned also did well. Ronald Colman’s 1947 Best Actor statuette for A Double Life went for $206,250 and Charles Coburn’s supporting award for 1943’s The More The Merrier took in $170,459.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: Now that all of those Academy Award nominees who didn’t win on Sunday night have had a full day to lick their wounds, there is good news: If you hurry you can get in on today’s record sale (by Nate D. Sanders Monthly Auctions) and buy an Oscar statuette. See, things are already looking up. Of course, the Academy totally frowns on this Oscar fire sale but they can’t do anything about it since the awards on the block are all pre-1950 — the year the Academy changed the rules and forged agreements with winners that they (or their estates) must first offer to sell the Oscar back to Academy for $1 before putting it on the market.
In today’s lineup of gold men — which instantly doubles the number of Oscars ever auctioned on the free market — there are some pretty historically significant awards. They include a screenwriting Oscar won by Herman Mankiewicz for co-writing Citizen Kane (its only win in 1941; the matching Orson Welles Screenplay Oscar fetched $861,000 in December) and Best Picture Oscars for the 20th Century Fox films How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Cavalcade (1933), the latter the first Best Pic Oscar for the studio. There is also director Norman Taurog’s Oscar for 1931’s Skippy, which he won at age 32, making him still the youngest to win in the category. You might want to purchase the first-ever Special Effects Academy Award for 1938’s Spawn Of The North or a Black and White Cinematography award for the 1939 classic Wuthering Heights and a color one for 1948’s The Yearling. Art Directors might like Paul Groesse’s Color Art Direction award for 1949’s Little Women. This year’s losing composers might want to consider purchasing Hugo Friedhofer’s 1946 Scoring of a Dramatic Picture Oscar or even the Film Editing award for the same movie. Actors can choose between 1947’s A Double Life Best Actor Oscar for Ronald Colman or (probably less expensive) Charles Coburn’s 1943 Supporting Actor statuette for The More The Merrier, a title that describes the spirit of this whole lot of Oscars on the block. The auction ends at 5 PM (PT) today, but there is extended bidding beginning at 5:15.
Meanwhile, in news about those who actually got their Oscars the old fashioned way and won Sunday night, Meryl Streep may not be able to auction off her collection but she could practically start a museum with those three Oscars and record 17 nomination certificates. I still don’t get why so many media reports call her The Iron Lady win a surprise. Although Viola Davis had been victorious over Meryl at the Critics Choice and SAG awards, Meryl beat her at the Globes and BAFTA. It was an even match and really a toss-up — not a big Oscar surprise. Meryl’s self-deprecating and charming acceptance speech was a show highlight: “When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no, her? Again?’ But, whatever!” The fact is when you have 17 nominations, the most of any actor, you ought to have at least three wins in that time. As she went on to acknowledge her friends in the audience, old and new, it reminded me of another great Oscar speech given by the incredibly gracious Ingrid Bergman upon winning her third Oscar in 1975 for Murder On The Orient Express. “It’s always nice to get an Oscar”, she said, before pointing out that it should have gone to fellow nominee Valentina Cortese for Day For Night. “Here I am. I am her rival and don’t like it at all. Please forgive me, Valentina. I didn’t mean to.” Streep now has only one other record to chase: Katharine Hepburn’s total of four acting wins, even as she said in her speech, “I know I will never be up here again”. Time will tell about that. Although it was a well-publicized 29 years between Oscars for Streep, she didn’t beat Hepburn’s record on that as the great Kate had to wait 34 years between her first Oscar for Morning Glory in 1934 and her second for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner in 1968.
Not everyone was thrilled with Streep’s speech. A former Margaret Thatcher aide, Lord Norman Tebbit, was furious she never once mentioned the person she played in the film, adding to controversy in some quarters within England over having an American play their country’s famous former Prime Minister. At the well-attended GREAT British Film Reception on Friday at the Consul General’s L.A. residence to honor British Oscar nominees, UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt jokingly told the crowd, “Isn’t it great that those iconic American superheroes, Batman, Superman and Spider-Man are now all being played by British actors — payback for having an American play our Margaret Thatcher”.
Incidentally, Streep’s win as part of this year’s overall results was good for the legally embattled Golden Globes, which finally came back as a strong precursor for the Oscars, with all four acting winners Sunday winning Globes first. So too did The Artist for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Music Score and Woody Allen for Best Screenplay.
Although everyone had a severe Oscar-weekend hangover, I am told big winner Harvey Weinstein was still celebrating Monday night with a special dinner for his staff, awards consultants and others who contributed to the triumphant cause of Oscar’s most dedicated campaigner. Winners from Best Documentary Undefeated and The Artist (including Best Director Michel Hazanavicius, who had just come from a Jay Leno taping) were also there telling tales of the long, hard season that began for many of them nine months earlier in Cannes and has now finally given birth to Oscar.
Finally, with all the recent talk of the advanced age of many Academy members, it is interesting to note seniors can cheer two records broken this year that put a little dent in the idea that Hollywood is completely ageist. As has been widely noted, 82-year-old Christopher Plummer became the oldest actor or actress to win an Oscar (and he had to beat another 82-year-old, Max von Sydow, to do it). Woody Allen, at age 76, is now the oldest person to ever win a Screenplay Oscar, eclipsing last year’s record achieved by The King’s Speech writer David Seidler, who was a mere 73 when he set it. So I guess it was appropiate also in a year that also included the first silent film to win Best Picture in 84 years that entertainment at the Academy’s Governors Ball was provided by 85-year-old Tony Bennett, who sounded better than ever. That was an ironic choice also because Bennett’s only acting role in a movie was in the 1966 kitsch classic The Oscar.