What's the big deal about the Academy Award?
TCM tries to explain with a documentary, "And the Oscar Goes To …," debuting at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The program helps kick off TCM's annual 31 Days of Oscar festival, which offers winners and nominees through the years. Best picture nominees from 1939 will screen Saturday.
The Oscars, which will be handed out March 2, remain a pop-culture favorite after 86 years.
The documentary features George Clooney, Helen Mirren, Steven Spielberg, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher (very funny), Jane Fonda and Tom Hanks. Liza Minnelli talks about the one acting lesson she received from her mother, Judy Garland.
You'll learn a few things about moviemaking. "You cannot make a good film out of a bad screenplay. It's never been done," Clooney says.
The program, made with the academy's backing, also draws on memorable moments from Oscar night. "It's a roomful of excitement. It's a roomful of sweat," Burstyn says.
Mirren nicely sums up having conflicting feelings about the prize. "You know in your heart this is kind of wrong ... and on many levels it's fantastic," she says.
It's too bad the special didn't focus more on Oscar night and less on moviemaking. This fan's five favorite Oscar moments:
The reactions of David Niven and Elizabeth Taylor to a streaker. (Not in the special.)
Louise Fletcher's poignant best-actress speech for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. (Not in the special, and my choice for best acceptance speech. Ever.)
Jack Palance's push-ups. (Not in the special.)
William Holden's surprise salute to Barbara Stanwyck. (Poignant and not in the special.)
John Wayne's sweet victory speech. (A lovely moment for the movies' biggest star, and not in the special.)
The honorary prizes to Deborah Kerr, Cary Grant and Kirk Douglas were choice, too, and you do get to see bits of them.
You'll also see Johnny Carson and Bob Hope hosting, Marlon Brando's win for "The Godfather," Cher in various outrageous gowns, and Fred Astaire going into a lovely, impromptu dance with Ginger Rogers.
The Oscar telecast can be a chore, but the memories explain the prize's hold on the public.