Children in Films Blogathon: A Revisionist Look at the Juvenile Award

When I learned of the Child Actor Blogathon at Comet Over Hollywood, I had two ideas for it almost right away: the Jackie Searl spotlight and this one. Not too long ago I argued for why the Juvenile Award should be re-instated. In this post I will follow up on that notion to augment my case. It’s one thing to quickly cite who won while it was around and state it never should have left, it’s quite another to show you who would have had they never gotten rid of it. Now I have decided to illustrate that in three ways, including some omissions found when it was instated (it’ll make more sense when we get there, trust me). First, I will list the young actors who since the end of the award (after 1961) were nominated for an Academy Award.

These actors obviously, had there still been a Juvenile Award, would have won that. While on occasion they were awarded the prize, more often than not they didn’t have a realistic chance. Regardless, their nomination was deemed prize enough it would seem, but I disagree and as you will see there have been plenty of instances where the Juvenile award could have been handed out either in addition to or in place of the nomination.

Based on Academy Award nominations from 1961-Present:

Little Miss Sunshine (2006, Fox Searchlight)

2012 Quvenzhané Wallis Beasts of the Southern Wild
2010 Hailee Steinfeld True Grit
2007 Saoirse Ronan Atonement
2006 Abigail Breslin Little Miss Sunshine
2002 Keisha Castle-Hughes Whale Rider
1999 Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense
1993 Anna Paquin The Piano
1979 Justin Henry Kramer vs. Kramer
1977 Quinn Cummings The Goodbye Girl
1976 Jodie Foster Taxi Driver
1973 Tatum O’ Neal Paper Moon
1968 Jack Wild Oliver!
1962 Patty Duke The Miracle Worker
Mary Badham To Kill a Mockingbird

Personal Selections

Super 8 (2011, Paramount)

In 1996, when I was 15 and the young actors of the day where my contemporaries, I started making my own award lists. Being young myself at the time I wanted to recognize young actors where most awards excluded them more often than not. These selections reflect those that were my among my BAM award selections that were eligible and the Academy bypassed. Prior to 1996, I thought of significant performances that were worthy of noting and would’ve had a strong case for the Juvenile Award had it been around.

2012 Rick Lens Kauwboy

This one is highly unlikely as Kauwboy wasn’t shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film prize. However, the fact that it was the official selection for The Netherlands did make it eligible.

My young actress choice last year, Sophie Nélisse, was a year off from the Oscar calendar but also a strong possibility for Monsieur Lazhar.

2011 Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Ryan Lee, Riley Giffiths Zach Mills, Gabe Basso Super 8

It figures that both the best young ensemble, and perhaps individual performance, of the past 25 years got overlooked. So they are all honored here.

2009 Bill Milner Is Anybody There?

2008 Bill Milner and Will Poulter Son of Rambow

A slight wrinkle here from my original selection. Since the Academy set precedent of awarding tandems, why not do so here as well?

2005 Dakota Fanning War of the Worlds

2004 Freddie Highmore Finding Neverland

My 2004 winner was one where I was awarding a film from 2003, due to my stand on release dates, which is different than the Academy’s. Having said that I then had to factor in both my nominees and who the Academy would be more likely to pick and decided if they chose anyone it would have been Highmore.

2003 Jeremy Sumpter Peter Pan

2001 Haley Joel Osment Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

2000 Haley Joel Osment Pay It Forward

1998 Vinicius de Oliveira Central Station

1997 Joseph Ashton The Education of Little Tree

Here’s another interesting case: my winner was in a TV film which the Academy would never honor. Then two more nominees were either shifted due to my interpretation of release date rules and one erroneously in my revisionist phase. That leaves two eligible: Dominic Zamprogna in The Boy’s Club and Joseph Ashton in The Education of Little Tree. Some people besides me actually saw the latter so I’d put that one up as a winner.

1996 Michelle Trachtenberg Harriet the Spy
Lucas Black Sling Blade

Michelle was my actual winner in 1996. Sling Blade in my awards was shifted to 1997 due to its release date. It being an Oscar nominated film make it a more likely retrospective candidate.

My Girl (1991, Columbia Pictures)

This section marks personal selections prior to my picking extemporaneous year-end awards.

1994 Elijah Wood The War

I recall watching E! and hearing there was some buzz being stirred by the cast/studio for Elijah. I knew it would never happen, but it was deserved buzz.

1992 Maxime Collin Leolo

I have since expunged them but for a time I did backtrack BAM Award to back before they started. Some of these picks reflect those findings.

1991 Anna Chlumsky My Girl

1990 Macaulay Culkin Home Alone

Say what you will, but you know if the award was around that this would have happened.

1988 Pelle Hvengaard Pelle the Conqueror

1987 Christian Bale Empire of the Sun

1986 River Phoenix Stand by Me

1983 Bertil Guve Fanny and Alexander

1982 Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1979 Ricky Schroeder The Champ
David Bennent The Tin Drum

1972 Nell Potts The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Who Should Have Gotten One But Didn’t

No Greater Glory (1934, Columbia Pictures)

I honestly almost scrapped this section. However, looking back through young nominees I noticed the discrepancy that some young nominees did not get a Juvenile Award while there was one. So I figured while I was at it I’d list a few notable performances that didn’t get recognized. Those that “didn’t need one” since they were nominated as in their respective categories against adult competition have denoted those with an asterisk.

1956 Patty McCormack The Bad Seed*
1953 Brandon deWilde Shane*
1952 Georges Poujouly Forbidden Games
1941 Roddy McDowall How Green Was My Valley
1936 Freddie Bartholomew Little Lord Fauntleroy
1934 George Breakston No Greater Glory
1931 Jackie Cooper Skippy*

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Rewind Review- Pufnstuf (1970)

Jack Wild and Billie Hayes in Pufnstuf (Universal)

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy! This review pertains to the DVD release.

The timing of the release of Pufnstuf, the motion picture adaptation made in 1970 of the popular TV series, was no coincidence. Across the top of the cover is blazoned from the producers of Land of the Lost. However, this kind of tie-in advertising on a cover can be misleading.

Just from seeing the trailer and a few episodes of the original Land of the Lost series anyone can tell the two are vastly different. Land of the Lost box sets are likely likewise brandished “Now a Major Motion Picture.” Even though the series and the release are as dissimilar as The Brandy Bunch renditions were it’s not necessarily a bad thing it’s just another case of caveat emptor.

Pufnstuf, as a motion picture looks almost exactly like it did as a show, puppety costumes à la Sesame Street and some times two-dimensional set pieces. That’s what the show was. Having never seen the movie what’s great to see was the occasional cinematic device thrown in to spice things up, usually during songs like fast- and slow-motion, quick cuts (like New Wave speed), matte painting (some better than others), creative use of stock footage, image flips, cuts to orange (of all colors) and even a slightly canted shot or two.

For film fans many of the voices, as you may or may not know are inspired by old movie stars, it’s the cartoon logic of funny for adults and kids but for vastly different reasons, examples being: John Wayne, W.C. Fields, Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney.

For fans of the show it’s an old-fashioned origin story basically replacing the theme song and showing how it all got started and it even answered a few questions or went slightly more in depth like: how Jimmy and Freddy the Flute first met, why a British kid is on a crazy island full of anthropomorphic Americans and adding an outsider element to make the fact that he’s alone away from his family OK, if we ever thought of it. I also appreciate the fact that the parents didn’t appear, they were ghosts. As they should be in a kids story.

The film features a pretty good cameo by Mama Cass, who of course sings but oddly you don’t mind the wait because she’s pretty funny. All the songs are pretty good and original to the film. Jack Wild carries most of them and handles them with his typical ease and flair.

Typically, when dealing with a television show being turned into a movie when I have been a fan of the show. I want to see something akin to the best episode ever, if the film is intended to be a straight remake and not a reboot or spoof. What you get with Pufnstuf is just that, everything at its absolute peak. Billie Hayes is hilarious in what is definitely her best rendition of Witchiepoo. In an episode there would be cheesy jokes that would make you roll your eyes or sigh, a lot of the jokes here are still cheesy but they work. The only thing that comes close to it was the aired only once episode, which is on the DVD of the series, where mushrooms were eaten, no lie. The music and consistency of this puts it over the top.

This DVD is a must for any Krofft fan who enjoys their creations as they were first intended, not how they’re being reintroduced to the world.

10/10