Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Another Oscar ceremony is the can and another record low for viewership. For those of you keeping track I came out at a respectable 8 of 11 in my prediction of the major award catagories (what can I say I voted with my heart for "War/Dance" for best doc). In my final parting shot at the whole thing, I just want to bring up one burning question: where the hell was Brad Renfro?

To give a little background; the highlight of every Oscar ceremony for me (aside from the sardonic red carpet barbs of Joan and Melissa Rivers) is the "people who died in the past year" montage. As an aficionado of celebrity passings, the death montage always manages to surprise me with people who I had forgotten died earlier in the year (Jack Valenti), people I had no idea passed (Roscoe Lee Brown), or people who I thought were already dead (Barry Nelson). Also for a lot of the honorees, especially those behind the scenes players who had to have the films they've worked on along side their pictures, it is probably the only time they will have ever have the spotlight on them. What's also kind of amusing is the awkward, perverse, postmortem popularity contest that goes on as some people get more applause and cheers than others. For me, applauding for the deceased, seemed like they were celebrating the fact that person was dead.

In contrast to previous years, 2007's in memoriam class to me seemed to be lacking in overall star power. It did have some major icons like Antonioni and Bergmann; Deborah Kerr and Jane Wyman were big stars in their day; and of course there was the tragedy of Heath Ledger. However, in the end it just seemed like a highly disproportionate number of forgotten directors, make-up artists, studio executives, and even two agents. Which makes the omission of the recent death of Brad Renfro all the more puzzling.

It's not like Renfro's brief body of work was completely ignored by the Academy. I recall he was in at least three films that where nominated for Oscars (The Client, Ghost World, and yes even Sleepers). I remember they gave a shout out to Jim "Earnest" Varney in 2001 and his decades long career had no role that was anywhere near Oscar consideration (aside from his two cameos as the Slinky dog in the Toy Story movies). So it probably wasn't related to his past output.

Was it possible snow job by the Academy to hide the fact that Renfro had a sorted death of a drug overdose? It can be said that Heath Ledger did die as well of a drug overdose but accidentally popping too many sleeping pills seems a lot more innocent than overdosing on heroin and morphine. However, the Academy doesn't seem to have had problems with overdoses and suicides in the past. Chris Farley died in one of the most notorious ways possible after a day long orgy or alcohol, drugs, and food; but when the '98 Oscars came around he was up there on the screen. Robert Pastorelli was remembered in 2005, Chris Penn in 2007 (I seem to sense a trend about fat people and cocaine). On top of that, these guys hardly had a career full of Oscar gold.

So if it wasn't his career as an actor nor his dark demise, what could it have been? A personal vendetta? An editing mistake? An unspoken quota on young blonde actor deaths? An indirect chastising of Larry Clarke and anyone who participates in his movies? Or maybe like most of the world when we first heard he had died, they had just forgotten about him.

Brad Renfro

1 comment:

  1. Officially, the Academy is claiming that he was not included due to time restraints...bullshit.