Bill Murray Is Better Than The Oscars

About 10 months ago, Gawker's Rich Juzwiak put together on his personal site what has to be the most useful, repeatedly entertaining animated GIF I've ever seen. It's simple, basic, and genius: merely a look at the reaction shots of every Best Actor and Best Actress nominees in the seconds after they've found out whether or not they've won an Oscar. Seriously, watch it. I sorta find myself staring at it randomly every few minutes. Every glance brings something new.

My favorites:

Bill Murray Is Better Than The Oscars

• Sally Kirkland, nominated for Anna, displaying the worst poker face in recorded history upon losing to Cher for Moonstruck.

Bill Murray Is Better Than The Oscars

• Anne Hathaway's trademark practiced theatricality—now I am playing "classy!"—after losing to Kate Winslet.

Bill Murray Is Better Than The Oscars

• Burt Reynolds's fuck-all clap when Robin Williams wins for Good Will Hunting.

Bill Murray Is Better Than The Oscars

• Judy Davis's obvious surprise when Marisa Tomei takes her much-deserved Oscar for Husbands and Wives away from her.

Bill Murray Is Better Than The Oscars

• When Sean Penn wins for Mystic River, exactly what Bill Murray does.

That last one is the best and, at least by my Murray-loving lights, the only genuine reaction on here. Disappointment, nod of acknowledgement, a general air of understanding the ridiculousness of it all while still, you know, being a little bit hurt to lose. He's above it ... but not really, and knows it.

That's the last time Murray was nominated for an Oscar. I'd argue he has deserved it five times: Best Supporting Actor for Tootsie (this montage just kills me), Kingpin and Rushmore, and Best Actor for Groundhog Day and Lost In Translation. I'm a sucker for Quick Change, too, the most underrated great Bill Murray movie. But I'm not sure he's ever going to get nominated again. Next week, he plays FDR in Hyde Park On Hudson, a role that practically screams "Oscar bait." (Watching the trailer, you half expect the title card to read The King's Speech 2.) I haven't seen the film yet, but while Murray has received mostly positive notices, he's not showing up on any of the Oscar prediction charts, and the general sense is that the movie is too small to make much of an Oscar mark.

Murray has spoken in the past about how saddened he was, surprising even himself, to lose the Best Actor Oscar in 2003 to Penn. I always enjoyed the skit he got out of it on Letterman.

But I say: Good. I don't think I want Bill Murray to win an Oscar. At this point, it'd require him to take more roles like the FDR one—more Oscar bait, if you will. (It's just strange to imagine a personality as distinct as Bill Murray's portraying another real-life human being. It's like Superman dressing up as Batman.) Murray's career has been so quixotic—random cameos in zombie movies, popping up opposite Charlie Sheen, organizing dance parties with my New York magazine colleagues—and Murray himself so difficult to pin down that I don't want it to follow any conventional path, even if it might lead to an Oscar nomination.

I don't want to see him make any more of those sad death marches of publicity that Joaquin Phoenix was lamenting, the six-month campaign of hotel rooms and sad buffets. I want Bill Murray to continue to be Bill Murray, showing up at parties for no reason, cheering for Illini basketball, deciding to walk in slow motion through a hallway rather than signing an autograph. I want to see those things not only because they make me love Bill Murray—though there's obviously that—but because it's that sensibility that makes him Bill Murray in films; everything is done from a weird angle that no one could have seen coming. That's not how Oscars are won. Everybody sees Oscars coming.

So I hope Murray's great in Hyde Park On Hudson, but secretly, I'm kind of glad Murray's unlikely to get an Oscar nomination for it. Bill Murray is too good for an Oscar; let Jude Law have those, or somebody like that. I'd rather see Murray make coffee for the Wu-Tang Clan.

Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.