I'm not fond of Fonda in terms of politics. She, to her credit, has kept a consistency in her thinking: from Hanoi Jane to Baghdad Barbarella. However, I will be the first to say that as an actress, few have come better. Over her career she has remarkable performances: Klute, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, On Golden Pond, The China Syndrome, Coming Home, Monster-In-Law (OK, maybe that wasn't her finest hour). Still, in spite of her views, she's still remained a star and a consummate actress.
How can it be that Harrison Ford has been nominated for an Oscar only once? Think of the films he wasn't nominated for: the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones trilogy, The Fugitive, Blade Runner, Air Force One, American Grafitti, The Mosquito Coast. His only nod came for Witness, and the fact that he didn't win isn't shocking--it's the fact that he's been consistently overlooked. Through it all, he's always been professional, a hallmark of a great actor as opposed to a great star (even if he is both).
Few directors have been as well-respected as Lumet. The extent of his work is among the best of any American director, one that hasn't been as well-appreciated as perhaps it should.
12 Angry Men. Long Day's Journey Into Night. The Pawnbroker. Fail-Safe. Murder on the Orient Express. Dog Day Afternoon. Network. The Verdict. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
On this one, I'm going by reputation more than anything else. She is a Broadway legend. Her career has been made on the stage as one of the premiere divas of the Great White Way, and her résumé includes a galaxy of legendary shows: Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods, A Little Night Music. Now I confess, I don't know that much about stage musicals, but I do know that the name Bernadette Peters is held in high regard by critics and Broadway audiences. Therefore, I think this is a safe choice.
This choice has nothing to do with the fact that You're So Vain. It's just that Nobody Does It Better. She holds her audiences in Anticipation and no matter how far one would Let The River Run her voice and songwriting are both inspiring new generations and remarkably current.
Cantankerous contrarian Canadian, isn't he? Whether mourning "four dead in Ohio", telling us of how The Needle & The Damage Done, or calling on us to "Let's Roll" after September 11th (especially given most artists still shy from addressing that particular event), he certainly hasn't been anything but brilliant in his songwriting. I have no idea if he has found one with a Heart of Gold under that Harvest Moon, but so long as he has anything to say (and he has plenty to say), we'll all keep on Rockin' In the Free World.
I don't know if we'll see any of these people get the Kennedy Center Honors they deserve this year, next year, or ever. I just think it's nice that we not forget that when it comes to the arts, we haven't done all that bad.
May 2017 Update: Sidney Lumet died April 9, 2011 at age 86. As of 2016 the others have yet to be honored.