James Bond stars of the past (Photo: Everett Collection)
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, "Dr. No," which exploded onto movie screens in 1962. It also saw the arrival of the most successful Bond adventure of all time, "Skyfall." So it was a natural that the Oscars would salute the most enduring film franchise in history.
But like a nuclear bomb at the end of a 007 movie, the tribute didn't go "Boom!" It fizzled.
Former Oscar-winner and Bond girl Halle Berry was a fine choice to introduce the segment, having straddled both worlds previously. But we should have known something was up when she said that in keeping with tonight's theme, they would be saluting the music of the Bond series (and not, you know, the movies).
This lead into a montage of clips from Bond movies of the past. There were plenty of clips of Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, but Roger Moore was pretty underrepresented considering he played 007 seven times. The editing wasn't anything special, and for a tribute to the films' music, they only featured the classic Bond theme and an instrumental version of "Live and Let Die." Then Shirley Bassey, the 76-year-old chanteuse who performed more Bond themes than any other singer, came out to sing the greatest of all title songs, "Goldfinger."
Bassey received a standing ovation from the crowd, but then the tribute ended and they went to commercial. Which left the question: Where were the Bonds? Every actor who has played 007 on screen is still alive. Connery has kept a low profile since retiring, but he's also the only Bond to have won an Oscar. All the other actors participated in last year's documentary about the series, "Everything or Nothing." And there has never been an assemblage of all 007's in one place. How great would it have been to see Connery, Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig — in tuxedos, of course — standing on stage together.
Rumor has it that Connery and Brosnan turned down the opportunity to appear, and it would have been stranger to see some of the actors than none at all. But, surely there is more that could have been done than just a clip reel and a single song. If you're saluting the music, there are plenty of other great songs to recognize as well. How about getting Carly Simon to do "Nobody Does It Better" (it's composer, Marvin Hamlisch, passed away in 2012)? Paul McCartney might have been a stretch, but they must have been able to get Duran Duran to do "View to a Kill," right?
But at least James Bond did win Oscars with a tie for Best Sound Editing (shared with "Zero Dark Thirty") and Best Original Song for Adele's theme: the first awards for a Bond film since "Thunderball" in 1965. And really, if you want a tribute to James Bond, "Skyfall" is out on Blu-ray and DVD now, and nothing honors the legacy of 007 like seeing him on screen where he belongs.