Flavia & The Red cover Adele’s Skyfall theme

The Los Angeles-based band Flavia & The Red has been gaining more attention and more popularity since its 2012 appearance at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, where they won second place honors in the “Land the Big Gig” competition. Since then, they’ve been holding court twice a month at two of LA’s hottest clubs: Pour Vous in Hollywood and Nic’s Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills. They’re currently on tour through much of the US, having just wrapped up successful gigs in Sedona, Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona. You can find out more about them at their website, and sample more of their music.

Of particular interest to us here at HMSS is that the bass player for the band is none other than Max Benson, son of 007 author (and our good pal) Raymond Benson. Benson the younger is making quite a name for himself in the LA music scene, and we’re almost as proud of him as his dad is.

Here they are performing, in high style, the already-classic James Bond song Skyfall:

We think it’s pretty damn cool. We also think you will too.

Comparing 1982 and 2013 Oscars from a 007 view

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The Oscars on Oct. 24 had the biggest 007 presence since 1982. So how did the two nights compare?

For 007 fans, this year’s Oscars were a mixed bag. Skyfall won two Oscars, breaking a 47-year Oscar drought. But a promised Bond tribute seemed rushed and some fans grumbled that Skyfall should have come away with more awards.

Skyfall came away with the Oscar for Best Song after three previous 007 tries (Live And Let Die, Nobody Does it Better from The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only) as well as best sound editing in a tie with Zero Dark Thirty. But neither director of photography Roger Deakins or composer Thomas Newman scored an award, continuing their personal Oscar losing streaks.

Anyway, the 1982 and 2013 Oscars shows had one thing in common: Each had a montage of James Bond clips. In ’82, it was presented just before Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli received the Irving R. Thalberg Award, given to a producer for his or her body of work. That montage included dialogue, including different actors getting to say, “My name is Bond, James Bond.”

Thirty-one years later, there was another montage, a little snappier but clips still familiar to most 007 fans. The clips were accompanied by The James Bond Theme and an instrumental version of Live And Let Die.

The 1982 show had a big production, with Sheena Easton performing For Your Eyes Only (nominated for Best Song, but which lost) along with a Moonraker-themed dance number that included appearances by Richard Kiel as Jaws and Harold Sakata as Oddjob. In 2013, the clip montage led to Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger and drawing a standing ovation. And then….well, the 007 tribute was over. Adele performed Skyfall separately as one of the Best Song nominees.

In 1982, Roger Moore introduced Cubby Broccoli. In 2013, no Bonds appeared. Supposedly, that wasn’t the original plan, according to Nikki Finke, editor-in-chief of the Deadline entertainment news Web site. In a “LIVE SNARK” FROM THE OSCARS, she wrote:

The Academy and the show’s producers hoped to gather together all the living 007 actors. But Sean Connery refused to come because he hates the Broccoli family. Something about how he thinks they cheated him out of money he was owed. Then Pierce Brosnan refused to come because he hates the Broccoli family as well. Something about how he thinks they pulled him from the role too early. Roger Moore was dying to come because, well, he’s a sweetheart. And Daniel Craig would have come because he does what he’s told by the Broccoli family’s Eon Productions whose Bond #23 Skyfall just went through the box office global roof. So there you have it.

Finkke didn’t say how she came by this information. In mid-February, her site ran an interview with the producers of the Oscars show and that story said the six Bond film actors wouldn’t appear at the show and referred to “rampant media speculation” concerning such a joint appearance. Still, her Web site was the first to report that Sam Mendes was likely to direct Skyfall, so it can’t be disregarded completely.

In any case, the 1982 show had something not available to the producers of the Oscars show this year: Cubby Broccoli. He gave a particularly gracious speech when accepting his Thalberg award. He acknowledged both of his former partners, Irving Allen and Harry Saltzman, despite substantial differences of opinion he had with them in the past.

In the end, that speech sets the 1982 show apart from a 007 perspective despite the record two 007 wins for Skyfall. We’ve embedded it before, but here it is once more:

2013 Oscars to have biggest 007 component in 31 years

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UPDATE II (8:05 p.m.): Halle Berry said on ABC that’s she has seen some of the Bond tribute for the Oscars show and that it’s “fabulous” and that she’s proud to be part of the 007 franchise. Immediately after, Adele says on ABC she’s “really excited” to perform tonight. Obviously, nothing terribly revealing in either interview.

UPDATE (6:55 p.m.): Shirley Bassey showed up on CNN’s Oscars “red carpet” show. Nothing startling. She sang the word “Goldfinger.” She told Piers Morgan she’s going to be nervous during the show. “With all these stars, I’m going to be jelly.” She said her favorite Bond was Sean Connery.

ORIGINAL POST: Tonight’s Oscars show is guaranteed to have the biggest 007 presence in 31 years.

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, has been nominated for five awards, the most in the history of the film series. The previous 007 record was held by The Spy Who Loved Me with three nominations (and no wins).

We know that Adele will perform the Skyfall title song. That’s one of the five nominations for Skyfall (Adele and Paul Epworth are nominated as the songwriters). Shirley Bassey has been announced as appearing and there will be some kind of James Bond tribute. Tom Jones may be there as well but there appears to be no official announcement to that effect in the PRESS RELEASE ARCHIVE for the Oscars.

A Bond film hasn’t been nominated since 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, for best song. The series is 0-for-3 on best song nominations (Live And Let Die and Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me also got nominations). For the 1982 show, Sheena Easton performed For Your Eyes Only as part of an elaborate 007 dance number and Albert R. Broccoli won the Irving Thalberg award, given to a producer for his or her body of work.

We’ll Tweet @HMSSWeblog and turn those into posts here.

Some less-than-convincing 007 journalism

"What's the matter, James? You sound skeptical!"

“What’s the matter, James? You sound skeptical!”

There has been some less-than-convincing journalism recently concerning Agent 007. A few examples caught our eye:

We Got This Covered, Jan. 12: The entertainment Web site had A STORY with this headline: “All Six James Bonds May Be On Stage At Oscars.”

The evidence?

Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, and Timothy Dalton have reportedly agreed, making Sean Connery the lone hold-out. An Oscars source said he is hopeful that Connery will join the other five. Check out that comment below. (emphasis added)

“Sir Sean has been invited to take to the stage along with Daniel and the other 007s. As yet, we’ve not had a no from him. Normally he is quick to turn things down…

First “reportedly” translates roughly to “we don’t know this ourselves and we don’t want to credit those who have reported it.” Also, Connery hasn’t said no? Wake us up when he actually says yes.

Vanity Fair, Jan. 24: The magazine’s Web site had THIS STORY about the prospect of all six film 007s appearing at the Oscars. An excerpt:

A day after it was announced that Adele would perform her Oscar-nominated James Bond theme song, “Skyfall,” for the first time live at next month’s Academy Awards, a rumor is circulating the Interweb that the Academy will further pad the James Bond portion of the February 24 program. Producers have already revealed that the show, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, will feature a 50th-anniversary tribute to the iconic British spy, most likely a montage celebrating the franchise’s 23 films. A new report, however, speculates that all six of the actors who have played Bond over the years—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig—will unite for the first time ever at the Oscars as further tribute to the Ian Fleming character.

A rumor? On the Internet? Vanity Fair presents a link to THIS STORY from the Independent that says, well, there’s a rumor.

Geek Tyrant, Jan. 24: The Web site had THIS STORY that proclaimed it had been CONFIRMED the six Bond film actors would appear. Its evidence? A link to the same story in the Independent that Vanity Fair linked that said, well, there’s a rumor it will happen.

NewsRadio95.com, Jan. 24: The radio station’s Web site has THIS STORY with this excerpt:

Yesterday we brought you the news that Adele will be appearing at the 2013 Oscars to perform the Best Original Song nominated “Skyfall.” But now there’s even bigger James Bond news to share: it’s looking like every actor who has portrayed the classic character are set to appear on stage together for the first time ever to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of James Bond. This calls for a martini!

Now before we get too excited, we must remember that this is not confirmed as of yet, but it’s a rumor that has been floating and the Adele news supports it. Can’t you just picture the singer’s luscious voice ushering the Bonds on stage as the crowd loses its collective mind? (emphasis added)

Before we get too excited, let us know when you have actual information you’re willing to stand behind.

Forbes.com, Jan. 22: The financial magazine’s Web site had THIS STORY that proclaimed, “`Skyfall’ Becomes Tenth Highest-Grossing Film of All Time.” One problem: there are no actual figures to back this up.

The exact box office totals are not yet officially tabulated, but they will place Bond’s current receipts at somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.045 billion. Yesterday, Skyfall opened in China to enormous numbers, and it should finish its run as the seventh highest-grossing movie in history, bumping The Dark Knight Rises down to number eight on the all-time list.

At the time this was posted, there was exactly one day of Skyfall box office sales data in China available ($5.1 million). The author didn’t know he was estimating. Maybe he was right, but he had no actual hard data to back it up. The movie has had better-than-expected ticket sales and, as of the start of the week, was knocking on the top 10 in ticket sales unadjusted for inflation. But this reads more like an exercise in getting people to click than actual journalism.

During Skyfall’s production there were a number of stories from various sources (including U.K. tabloid newspapers) that TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE. These stories varied in how transparent the outlets obtained their information. Some had solid records in reporting scoops ahead of official press releases.

The examples cited above didn’t appear to even check things out. Instead, they were content to repeat rumors or guess.

Adele to perform Skyfall at the Oscars

Adele to perform at Oscars.

Adele to perform at Oscars.


Adele will perform Skyfall, nominated for an Oscar for best song, at this year’s awards show, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said IN A PRESS RELEASE ON ITS WEB SITE.

Here’s an excerpt:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Adele will perform the Oscar®-nominated theme song from the latest James Bond movie at the 85th Academy Awards®, the show’s producers announced today. “Skyfall,” from the film of the same name, was announced as a nominee for Original Song at the Academy’s Nominations Announcement on January 10. The song, written by Adele and Paul Epworth, is the first Bond theme ever to debut in Billboard’s Top 10 and the first to be nominated for an Oscar since “For Your Eyes Only” in 1981.

Adele’s exclusive Oscar show performance will be the first time she will have performed “Skyfall” anywhere live and will also mark her first U.S. television performance since the Grammys® last year.

If Skyfall wins the Oscar for song, Adele and Paul Epworth would receive it in their capacity as writers of the song. That’s different from the Grammys, where the performer gets the award.

With previous 007 best song nominees, a recording of Live And Let Die performed by Paul McCartney and Wings was used as part of a dance number. Carly Simon didn’t perform “Nobody Does It Better” at the 1978 Oscars. Sheena Easton did perform the title song for “For Your Eyes Only” at the 1982 Oscars, which included a big Moonraker-themed dance number.

Looking back on three Skyfall Oscar forecasts

"Well, you can't win them all."

“Well, you can’t win them all.”

This week’s announcement of Oscar nominations got us to looking back at some predictions, at least as they related to Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film. Here are three that caught our eye:

KEVIN FALLON, ATLANTIC.COM, NOV. 13: “I’d argue, then, that Skyfall should be an obvious Best Picture contender at this year’s Academy Awards. But with the Academy, nothing is ever obvious, or simple.”

First half of passage: The academy evidently didn’t think it was that obvious. Second half: yes.

In fairness, the same article also had this passage:

Skyfall could change Bond’s Oscar luck in other categories, too. A snub for Roger Deakin’s gorgeous cinematography would be sinful, and Thomas Newman’s soaring score should earn the composer his 11th career bid. The Academy’s Best Original Song category over the past few years has been a befuddling disaster (last year, only two entries made the cut), but it’s still worth hoping the organization gets its act together to nominate Adele’s sexy “Skyfall” theme, which couldn’t complement the film more perfectly.

Deakins, Newman and Adele and song writer collaborator Paul Epworth (the Best Song Oscar is given to the songwriters, not the performer) all got nominations. Skyfall captured five nominations in total, the most for any 007 film.

GREGG KILDAY, THE HOLLWYOOD REPORTER, NOV. 20: The author, while liking Skyfall a lot, indicated the voting system of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences wouldn’t help the Bond film’s chances of a Best Picture nomination.

But standing in Skyfall’s way is the Academy’s complicated preferential voting system. While Academy members are asked to list five choices for best picture, their first choice carries the most weight. As the balloting plays out, second and third choices also can influence the outcome. Realistically, though, Skyfall isn’t likely to get a lot of first-place votes — studio movies ranging from Lincoln and Les Miserables to indies such as The Master and Beasts of the Southern Wild will vie for those top slots. But what if everyone in the Academy lists Skyfall as their fifth-favorite movie? Even so, those fifth-place choices might not come into play.

Sasha Stone, editor in chief of Awards Daily, quoted in a JAN. 3 MTV.COM STORY about why Skyfall had a decent chance to get a Best Picture nomination:

Stone thinks it’s because both 007 and the Academy have shifted toward each other, Bond becoming more serious and the Academy becoming less so.

“First and foremost, [‘Skyfall’] isn’t really a Bond movie. It’s a fairly traditional superhero movie, as we like to see them now: brooding hero, somewhat depressing plot. Mostly, Bond has been stripped of his kitsch,” Stone said.

“The money is kind of off the charts, which makes it seem like a winner. Finally, our standards have been systematically lowered over the past few decades. You can’t stop what’s coming, and what’s coming in movie business is one successfully branded franchise after another. How long can Oscar stem the tide? At least in this one, no one is wearing a Batsuit, and there isn’t any performance capture.”

Skyfall and Oscar nominations: glass half full or empty?

Thomas Newman

Skyfall composer Thomas Newman

For James Bond fans, this year’s Oscars ended a long 007 drought. Yet, fans on social media had a very mixed reaction.

On the bright side, Skyfall secured five nominations, the most for any 007 film. The previous best for a Bond movie was 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me with three. Not so bright: no nomination for Best Picture and no nomination for director Sam Mendes. In other words, fans wanted more.

Here’s a look at some of the reaction we saw among 007 fans via social media.

Thomas Newman got nominated for best score but John Barry never did for a 007 movie? Outrageous! Newman has been nominated for several movies, with Skyfall being the latest. John Barry won five Oscars but never got nominated for a 007 score, even though he established the Bond music template.

A couple of thoughts: in theory, Oscar nominators are supposed to only consider scores for a single year of movies. The 2012 nominators weren’t in a position to do a “make good” for Barry because, well, he’s no longer alive. Also, there’s probably very little overlap between those who voted to nominate Newman and those who passed over Barry in the 1960s. It doesn’t mean that Newman’s score is better than Barry’s work.

Skyfall deserved a Best Picture nomination. Why didn’t it get one? There had been a buzz that Skyfall could have gotten in. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences can nominate as many as 10 movies for the Best Picture honor. U.K. BOOKIES GAVE SKYFALL EVEN ODDS. The Whatculture Web site on Jan. 3 offered up TEN REASONS IT THOUGHT SKYFALL WAS A CONTENDER FOR A NOMINATION.

It didn’t happen. The academy only nominated nine movies. The academy tends to be pretty tight lipped. But keep this in mind: Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant and Peter O’Toole never got a competitive Oscar (Grant and O’Toole did eventually get honorary Oscars). With any group, such as the academy, there are internal politics, relationships, etc., that come into play. If you really believe Skyfall (and for that matter director Sam Mendes) really deserved a nomination, well, don’t let the Oscars get you down.

It’s too bad Skyfall only got technical nominations. Cinematography (where Skyfall’s Roger Deakins got nominated) and score actually are as much artistic as they are technical. (Skyfall also got nominations for best song, best sound editing and best sound mixing.)

Lewis Gilbert, in the documentary Inside You Only Live Twice, referred to Freddie Young (who photographed the fifth 007 film) as one of the great artists of British cinema. The director frames the shot, but the director of photography, though his or her lighting, greatly affects the look of a film. It’s not uncommon for DOPs to make the jump to directing. Music, meantime, has a big impact on the emotional feel of a movie.

Skyfall sets 007 record for Oscar nominations

UPDATE II: Skyfall broke The Spy Who Loved Me’s 35-year record for 007 Oscar nominations. The 2012 007 film received five nomiantions: song, cinematography, score, sound editing and sound mixing.

The Spy Who Loved Me was the previous record holder with three: score, song and art director/set decoration. It won none. The last Bond film to get an Oscar was 1965’s Thunderball for John Stears’s special effects.

UPDATE: Skyfall’s Roger Deakins was nominated for best cinematography, according to OFFICIAL OSCAR WEB SITE. Thomas Newman was nominated for best score.

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ORIGINAL POST: Skyfall’s title song has nominated for an Oscar for best song, snapping a 007 drought for nominations. The last 007 film to get a nomination was 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, also for best song.

The song, written by Adele and Paul Epworth, was the only nomination the 23rd James Bond movie received during an announcement ceremony. There had been speculation that Skyfall might secure a best picture nomination but that didn’t occur.

The ceremony did not cover all categories.

Skyfall’s Oscar campaign and its quirks

Daniel Craig, among those being suggested for consideration in Skyfall Oscar ads.

Skyfall’s Oscar campaign puts forth Daniel Craig “for your consideration” to Oscar voters.


Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer definitely are pressing to secure Oscar nominations for Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie. The studios are buying ads on entertainment news sites such as Deadline Hollywood, with rotating banner ads listing possible Oscar-worthy performers and crew “for your consideration.”

Perhaps the most detailed list in the Skyfall Oscar campaign is a list of suggested nominees on THE FILM’S OFFICIAL WEB SITE. It urges that Skyfall be considered for:

Best Picture (Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli; producers receive the Best Picture Oscar)

Best Director (Sam Mendes)

Best Adapted Screenplay (emphasis added, which we’ll discuss in a moment, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan)

Best Actor (Daniel Craig); Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney); Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench, Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris)

Various crew categories including cinematography (Roger Deakins), editing (Stuart Baird), original score (Thomas Newman) and song (Adele and Paul Epworth).

A few questions:

Adapted screenplay? Adapted from what? The on-screen credit reads, “Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan.” Generally, you use “written by” for an original screenplay, i.e. one not based on an existing novel, play, short story, etc.

It’s pretty well known that the writing crew took parts of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun novels as a starting point, in particular Twice’s Chapter 21, an obituary of Bond written by M. But the movie’s credits don’t acknowledge this. It’s “Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007” in the main titles, but there’s no mention of other Fleming source material, unlike 2006’s Casino Royale, which mentioned Fleming twice, including the Casino Royale novel.

In the “old days,” the titles said “Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love,” or Goldfinger, Thunderball, etc. which implied it was based on a Fleming story. That was true even when chunks were thrown out, such as 1967’s You Only Live Twice or 1979’s Moonraker. This would be followed by a “Screenplay by” credit, which often implies adapting other source material.

“Screenplay by” can also be used for an original story that has been rewritten substantially such as “Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein, Story by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade,” as in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. Purvis and Wade did the original screenplay, with Feirstein doing the final rewrite. (Dana Stevens also did drafts in-between but didn’t get a credit.)

Something similar happened with Skyfall: Purvis and Wade wrote the early drafts, then Logan was brought in to rewrite. But Skyfall’s writing credit is relatively streamlined compared with TWINE’s.

UPDATE: We went to the Web site of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the SPECIAL RULES FOR THE WRITING AWARDS but that wasn’t much help. It reads:

1.An award shall be given for the best achievement in each of two categories:

Adapted Screenplay

Original Screenplay

2.A Reminder List of all pictures eligible in each category shall be made available along with nominations ballots to all members of the Writers Branch, who shall vote in the order of their preference for not more than five productions in each category.
3.The five productions in each category receiving the highest number of votes shall become the nominations for final voting for the Writing awards.
4.Final voting for the Writing awards shall be restricted to active and life Academy members.

One possibility: even though Skyfall has an original story, the character of James Bond is adapted from another medium, so therefore Skyfall’s script is considered “adapted” by the academy.

UPDATE II: The writer’s branch of the academy is also known for being prickly about what’s eligible for an original screenplay award, sometimes ruling what seem like original scripts are adapted. CLICK HERE to view a story in The Wrap Web site about a 2010 example.

Berenice Marlohe or Berenice Lim Marlohe? The Oscar push again highlights the oddity of how the actress was billed one way in ads and another in the movie’s titles.

One editor or two? As we’ve noted before, Stuart Baird was listed as sole editor in Skyfall ads, but in the main titles it listed Baird and Kate Baird as editors, with Kate Baird’s name in smaller letters. Also (which we only caught on a subsequent viewing), Kate Baird is also listed as first assistant editor in the end titles.

British bookies set odds for Skyfall’s Oscar chances

The general public hasn’t even had a chance to see Skyfall yet, but British bookies are taking bets whether the 23rd James Bond film will get nominated or win Academy Awards.

According to THIS ARTICLE AT FLICKERING MYTH.COM, the following odds are in place: 1-7 that Adele’s title song gets nominated for Best Song; 5-4 that Adele’s title song wins the Oscar in that category; 3-1 that Skyfall is nominated for Best Picture; and 33-1 that Skyfall gets the Best Picture Oscar.

An excerpt:

In terms of what defines Oscar-bait, lets just remind ourselves what has been nominated before now. Inception, Christopher Nolan’s dream-like James Bond adventure, managed to nab a nomination in 2010 whilst The Departed, a foreign-film remake with guns-and-gangsters seemed an unlikely winner upon reflection. Skyfall has actors including Ralph Fiennes (nominated for a supporting role in Schindler’s List and a lead-actor role in The English Patient), Javier Bardem (winner of Best Supporting Actor in No Country for Old Men and nominated twice for Lead Actor in Biutiful and Before Night Falls), M is again played by Judi Dench (Oscar-winner for her short-role in Shakespeare in Love and nominated for her roles in Mrs Brown, Chocolat, Iris, Mrs Henderson Presents and Notes on a Scandal) and Daniel Craig has starred in a few Oscar contenders (Munich was nominated for Best Picture and The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo had an acting-nod for Rooney Mara).

The article also notes that director Sam Mendes, director of photography Roger Deakins and composer Thomas Newman have all either won or been nominated for Oscars. Not mentioned is John Logan, one of the movie’s three credited screenwriters, who has three Oscar nominations.

To date, Bond films have won two Oscars, for sound in Goldfinger and special effects in Thunderball. A 007 film hasn’t been nominated since 1981’s For Your Eyes Only got a nomination for Best Song. “But with the barrage of positive reviews for Skyfall coming in, you have to ask yourself whether this is their time,” the Flickering Myth article says. “Indeed, if it does manage to garner a nod in any of the acting, writing, directing – or the ‘untouchable’ Best Picture category – what a day that would be.”

UPDATE: Graham Rye, publisher of 007 Magazine, is picking up on this in his TWITTER FEED:

Graham Rye ‏@GrahamRye
You can’t put a value on an intelligent coherent script, which SKYFALL most certainly has! Purvis & Wade & John Logan have excelled!.

Graham Rye ‏@GrahamRye
But more importantly for me, SKYFALL is the most perfect example of 21st Century British filmmaking at its *very best*!

Graham Rye ‏@GrahamRye
SKYFALL deserves to win a handful of Oscars.