Articles

9 Military Categories The Oscars Forgot

Sure, the Academy Awards have categories like "Best Actor" and "Best Adapted Screenplay,' and, yes, military movies like "American Sniper" and "The Imitation Game" are in the mix this year. But all of that falls somewhat short of capturing the true military cinematic essence that this year's crop of films produced. Here are nine categories that the Oscars forgot and the winners in each:


1. Best Misuse Of Government Property By A Leading Man: Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper"

Because Bradley Cooper's Chris Kyle was a super badass sniper, he had a phone so that generals and even the president could call him to tell him who he should put the crosshairs on next. What did Cooper's Kyle use the phone for?  To call his wife, usually right before a firefight was about to break out.  And once it did he wouldn't hang up (in order not to alarm her or anything).

2. Best Use of Kristen Stewart's Bitch Face By An Actress In A Leading Role: Kristen Stewart, "Camp X-Ray"

Kristen Stewart plays a U.S. Army guard at Gitmo who develops a sympathetic relationship – through a prison door – with one of the detainees.  But her sympathy is buried under the same expression she's used in every movie she's ever been in, that signature bitchy pouty girl face, so it's hard to tell when she's sympathetic and when she's bored or pissed off. But, hey, like B.B. King said, "You can play just one note if it's the right one." We say bravo, Ms. Stewart.

3. Best Supporting Actor In A Role About The Fact All Vets Are Doomed: Brad Hawkins, "Boyhood"

Brilliantly filmed over a 12-year period, director Richard Linklater's gem focuses on the life of a sometimes single mom and her two kids.  The mom's third love interest is a returning vet who's just back from Iraq. He seems like a nice, well-adjusted guy, but after a while he's holding down a job as a prison guard and sitting on the front porch guzzling beer and yelling at the son about being a good-for-nothing, which is to say they got it exactly right because that's what always happens to returning vets.

4. Best Portrayal Of The Perils Of Having Sex In Combat: "Fury"

Brad Pitt's Sherman tank crew stumble across the home of a war-weary German family with a hot daughter, and they enjoy a bit of normalcy. One of the crew hooks up with the daughter, and once they're done the crew leaves and minutes later the family's house gets blown to smithereens by an air strike.

5. Best WTFO? Moment: "300 - Rise of Empires"

In the middle of a kick ass war-at-sea between ancient sailing ships, General Themistocles suddenly produces a horse that he rides all over the deck while slashing and stabbing his foe.  But it really gets good when the horse – without any hesitation – gallops through flaming wreckage, leaps into the water, and then jumps onto an enemy ship where Themistocles continues his savaging of the enemy – truly the year's best WTFO? military movie moment.

6. Most Dramatic Flame-out Of A Military Movie Franchise: "Jarhead 2"

Three words: Straight. To. DVD.

7. Best Actress In A Role About The Joys Of Being A Military Mom: Michelle Monaghan "Ft. Bliss"

Michelle Monaghan plays a single mom soldier who returns home after 15 months in Iraq only to find that her 6-year-old son has forgotten who she is.  (What, did the rest of family hide all the pictures of her? And no Skype?) About the point her son starts to warm to her she's sent back to Iraq because that's how the Army rolls.  If the military wanted you to have a kid they would have issued you one.

8. Most Groundbreaking Guerrilla Warfare Sequence: "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

One of the conniving chimps uses cute chimp moves to mollify two humans just long enough to get one of their automatic weapons and blow them away with it.

9. Best Actor In A Role About The Tortured Souls Of Those In The Intelligence Community: Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"

Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the intel genius who knows a thing or two about code breaking.  Cumberbatch's Turing is at odds with his sexual orientation and anti-social and basically pained by everything in his life – in other words, he's a lot like most of those in the intel community.

History

This pilot shot down an enemy fighter at Pearl Harbor in his pajamas

Comfort is important when doing a hard job. If it's hot on the work site, it's important to stay cool. If it's hazardous, proper protection needs to be worn. And comfort is apparently key when the Japanese sneak attack the Navy. Just ask Lt. Phil Rasmussen, who was one of four pilots who managed to get off the ground to fight the Japanese in the air.

Rasmussen, like many other American GIs in Hawaii that day, was still asleep when the Japanese launched the attack at 0755. The Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant was still groggy and in his pajamas when the attacking wave of enemy fighters swarmed Wheeler Field and destroyed many of the Army's aircraft on the ground.

Damaged aircraft on Hickam Field, Hawaii, after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

There were still a number of outdated Curtiss P-36A Hawk fighters that were relatively untouched by the attack. Lieutenant Rasmussen strapped on a .45 pistol and ran out to the flightline, still in his pajamas, determined to meet the sucker-punching Japanese onslaught.

By the time the attack ended, Wheeler and Hickam Fields were both devastated. Bellows Field also took a lot of damage, its living quarters, mess halls, and chapels strafed by Japanese Zeros. American troops threw back everything they could muster – from anti-aircraft guns to their sidearms. But Rasmussen and a handful of other daring American pilots managed to get in the air, ready to take the fight right back to Japan in the Hawks if they had to. They took off under fire, but were still airborne.

Pearl Harbor pilots Harry Brown, Phil Rasmussen, Ken Taylor, George Welch, and Lewis Sanders.

They made it as far as Kaneohe Bay.

The four brave pilots were led by radio to Kaneohe, where they engaged 11 enemy fighters in a vicious dogfight. Even in his obsolete old fighter, Rasmussen proved that technology is no match for good ol' martial skills and courage under fire. He managed to shoot down one of the 11, but was double-teamed by two attacking Zeros.

Gunfire and 20mm shells shattered his canopy, destroyed his radio, and took out his hydraulic lines and rudder cables. He was forced out of the fighting, escaping into nearby clouds and making his way back to Wheeler Field. When he landed, he did it without brakes, a rudder, or a tailwheel.

There were 500 bullet holes in the P-36A's fuselage.

Skillz.

Lieutenant Rasmussen earned the Silver Star for his boldness and would survive the war, getting his second kill in 1943. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1965, but will live on in the Museum of the United States Air Force, forever immortalized as he hops into an outdated aircraft in his pajamas.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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