With the 85th Academy Awards right around the corner, a temporary exhibition at Frankfurt’s Deutsches Filmmuseum pays homage to winners and nominees from years past.
“And the Oscar goes to … 85 years of Best Pictures” runs through April 28, at Frankfurt’s German Film Museum, on the south bank of the Main River in the heart of the city’s museum district.
Organizers of the exhibit, which is in cooperation with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, say it’s the world’s first comprehensive exhibition on the Oscar.
The exhibit is anchored by a timeline that winds along the walls and lists every nominee and Oscar winner in the best picture category. Along with listings, there are still images on the display along with a small video screen that plays a scene from the winning movie of each year, dating to the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929.
Just the timeline alone is enough to keep film buffs and casual movie fans occupied for hours. I came home from my afternoon at the museum longing to see some of the mentioned movies, some forgotten classics and some that I’d never heard of.
Interspersed throughout the exhibit are fascinating and unique movie memorabilia, such as 10 original Oscar statuettes.
One of the more interesting Oscars on display is one that was given to Harold Russell for best supporting actor in the 1946 drama “The Best Years of Our Lives.” In the film, Russell played a character much like himself, a veteran who lost both hands in World War II. A picture in the exhibit shows Russell clutching his award with metal claws. Looking at the Oscar on display beside the photo, you can see scratch marks matching where he grasped the Oscar with his makeshift hands.
There’s plenty of other eye candy on display as well, such as original movie posters, authentic props used in movies, storyboards, scribbled-on scripts and costume design drawings. Every description of the objects displayed throughout the museum is in German and English, which makes a guided tour unnecessary; in fact, it’s refreshing to go at your own pace.
Some of the more quirky items to see include a handwritten letter from Audrey Hepburn to George Cukor, her director in the 1964 film “My Fair Lady.” In her seven-page letter, Hepburn expressed concern over having uncomfortable feet. She urged Cukor to allow her shoes for the film to be made by her private shoemaker in Paris.
Being an Alfred Hitchcock fan, I enjoyed seeing his comments about actresses auditioning for a lead role in his 1940 thriller “Rebecca,” which won two Academy Awards, including best picture.
His comments about Joan Fontaine, who eventually got the part, read “Tested. Possibility. But has to show fair amount of nervousness to get any effect. Further test to see how much we can underplay her without losing anything.”
Other hopeful actresses weren’t so lucky with the master of suspense. “Homely,” Hitchcock commented on one actress. “Too ordinary — too chocolate box,” he wrote about another.
Another fun thing to watch near the end of the exhibit is a big screen that shows clips from best picture winners over the years as well as memorable acceptance speeches by actors and directors.
For a few extra euros, guests can tour the permanent parts of the museum, including historical exhibits on film, first ideas of 3-D use in movies, editing and other items.
Academy Awards junkies can get in on the action by participating in the museum’s Oscar pool of nominees for this year’s awards, which were announced Jan. 10. The museum will also host an Oscar party during the awards show on Feb. 24. Further details on the pool and party will be available on the museum’s website or by calling for information.
The address is Schaumainkai 41, 60596 Frankfurt am Main. If driving, the museum is along the Main River and parking is available on the street. If taking public transportation, take bus 46 (Museumsuferlinie) and get off at the Untermainbrücke stop. It’s also possible to take the U1, U2, U3 and U8 underground lines, getting off at Schweizer Platz or the U4 or U5 lines, getting off at Willy-Brandt-Platz. By streetcar, take No. 15, 16 or 19 and get off at Schweizer-/Gartenstraße.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Closed Mondays.
Adult tickets are 7 euros for the exhibit and 10 euros for a combined exhibit and museum ticket. Children from the age of 6, students, severely handicapped and unemployed visitors pay 5 euros for the exhibit and 6 euros for a combined ticket. Only cash or a German bank card are accepted.
There is a small cafe in the museum. There are also plenty of restaurants within a short walking distance of the museum.