Here’s a money-making idea if you’ve got an extra bit of time this weekend: print up a bunch of little gold stickers shaped like the Oscar statue, with text that reads: “From Academy Award Winning Filmmaker Roger Corman.” Then sell them to the distributors who are going to have to revamp the box art on literally hundreds of DVDs after the Academy bestows an honorary Oscar upon the prolific and influential producer.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that Corman will be one of four people to receive special awards this year. Corman will receive an Honorary Award with two others: cinematographer Gordon Willis and actress Lauren Bacall. Producer John Calley will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. All but Corman have previously been nominated for Oscars, but have never won. (Which is a crime; how can the guy who shot the first two Godfather movies not have an Oscar?) Roger Corman, no surprise, has never been nominated for an Oscar. But many filmmakers and actors he mentored and gave early breaks to have: Guys like Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.
And if you think the guy who made The Wasp Woman doesn’t deserve an Oscar, first up, what are you thinking? Then, consider that he also made Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000 and enough great drive-in movies to entertain the entire country for weeks running. Beyond that, Corman’s famously fast, down and dirty production methods were taught to the directors listed above and many more. His influence, both in a creative and business sense, reaches far beyond the already impressive list of films on his producer’s resume. (Almost 400 movies bear that credit.) There isn’t a genre filmmaker working today who hasn’t been influenced by Corman, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any major US director who hasn’t been influenced by him in some manner. This award is well-deserved.