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The Art of Actressin' and Michael Murray's Tiger Hemlock Awards

By Michael Murray | Miscellaneous | March 2, 2012 |

By Michael Murray | Miscellaneous | March 2, 2012 |

The thing I find frustrating about the Oscars is that I never really know what I’m hoping for from the spectacle. Sometimes I want my favorite films and actors to be recognized, but other times I need the Academy to botch it so badly that I’m filled with a rage that’s actually very pleasing to experience, kind of like how I imagine an Oxycontin high.

Similarly, I need all the movie stars to be drop-dead gorgeous, but many hideously attired. There should also be a full spectrum of the witty, gracious, vain, obnoxious, insincerely political and stupid on display in the speeches. Even though the Academy usually gives me a wide enough range of these schizophrenic needs I’m still always disappointed, never having received enough, or sometimes too much, of whatever it was I thought I wanted.

We’ve long since given up the notion that the Academy Awards have anything to do with artistic excellence. It’s not out there on the cutting edge shining a light on brave and obscure works of art, but neither is it just handing out awards to the most popular dross floating in the pool. It’s always been almost heartbreakingly middlebrow, a pageant dedicated to the self-satisfied aesthetic of people who will always feel 20 years older than you are.

Still, none of us really know what “good” acting is. I mean, we all carry our biases. Traditionally, the Academy awards performances that are imagined to be the most distant from the life of the mainstream. They tend give gold to those who look like they’re acting. If you notice it, then it must be good. Personally, I’ve always felt the opposite. I like the persuasive, understated performances that seem so natural and effortless you hardly notice. The star fades into their character, and we feel that we’re merely invested in a really interesting person unaware that “acting” is taking place. Whenever I notice “acting,” it always rankles me, getting in the way of the movie and serving the star rather than a collaborative artistic end. This is Hollywood, of course, and often we go to see the movie star just as much as we go to see the artistic product, but surely dialing down a performance has to be as important and likely more sincere, than dialing one up, no?

bp.jpgAs much as I was charmed by The Artist and the broad, over-sized performance of Best Actor Jean Dujardin, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that what he was doing wasn’t my idea of acting. It was something else. I wanted somebody like Brad Pitt or George Clooney to win, a person whose performance was smooth, almost internal, with the mechanics of the acting taking place underneath the surface rather than on it.

No matter, the Academy Awards were designed by the industry to promote and market the industry. Hollywood has a commercial rather than artistic connection to the outside world, and we the public exist only to be fed by the great and beautiful beast.

Fair enough.

With that in mind— and hoping only to promote my personal interests and generate some revenue — I have decided to stage an annual award ceremony in which I celebrate ordinary, non-actorly events in my life. They will be called The Tiger Hemlock Awards, as Tiger was my first pet cat and Hemlock was the first street I lived on. You know, my porn name.

There are only three categories in this inaugural year.

Best Moment in a Sports Documentary:

1) Getting physically tossed-out of a bowling alley.

2) My completion of Angry Birds Rio.

3) Accidentally throwing my Bocce Ball into dog shit.

4) Leading my fantasy baseball team A Fury of Pigeons to the league championship.

5) Playing tennis with a pretty Russian girl until her boyfriend showed-up.

Best Costume Design:

1) Christmas Party: Black tuxedo and Biltmore hat—referred to as The Cat In The Hat by all the gay men present.

2) Toronto Maple Leafs Game: Shirtless and painted blue—briefly spotted on sports high-lite reel later that night.

3) First Drivers Class: Wearing skull and bones sweater and bicycle helmet.

4) Anniversary Dinner: Vintage three-piece pin stripe suit that prompted waitress to tell me I looked like “a rich banker, like the guy on the Monopoly board.”

5) First Yoga Lesson: Montreal Expos baseball hat, Lululemon lycra pants and converse high tops. I looked good, even if I couldn’t bend.

Best Dream Sequence

stag.jpg1) Bigfoot and I running swiftly through a field of green.

2) I was about to get attacked by a good friend and then I flew away.

3) Refusing a pass Natalie Portman made at me over dinner and then telling her she wasn’t a very good actress.

4) I am pursued by mice that keep growing larger and larger. I run and run, and eventually find a hole in a wall that I disappear into. It smells faintly of pumpkins in there and then my grandmother appears, smiling and young, sunlight suddenly caught in her hair.

5) My wife Rachelle and I are fleeing the law for a crime neither one of us can remember committing. We are sexy superstars in love.

I will tabulate all the write-in ballots, and then accepting the awards I give to myself, thank all of the members for their support, make a weird political statement and then offer my support to the Save Natalie’s Parts Foundation. One of our own, Natalie Friedberg, is now called upon to punch cancer in the face, throat and armpit, as well as absorb the medical costs of so doing. She’s doing God’s work, she is, let’s see if we can help her:


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