01/22/2014 05:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Redford's LIFE Is His Oscar -- the Academy Can Keep Theirs


So, no Oscar for Robert Redford this year?

Big deal.

I just saw All Is Lost last night. I don't see movies in theaters too much anymore--yes, I'm one of those people. Now that I'm older, I'm all about the movie itself. And I prefer to be at home where I can watch it deeply, carefully. Think it though.

This one was hard to watch. I was riveted, don't get me wrong. But for the first few minutes, especially when things started to get really dicey on that boat, I was thinking about the actor as much as the acting. And how I really, really, really hope I'm half as strong as he has to be, still, in his 77th year.

Of course, that wasn't the point of the film. The point, or the first one I thought of at the very end, was pretty simple. It wasn't until the protagonist lost all hope that he was rescued--very Zen, really. "Let go, let God." All that.

And Redford was in it--totally there, totally real. So real that after a while I actually did forget it was Redford. I just sat there feeling utterly helpless as if all those awful things were really happening to someone I cared about. I even caught myself yelling, "DAMMIT!" when that first ship passed him by.

I gave up 'way before the character did.

But then, when it was over and I finally exhaled...I thought about the Academy Awards. And I thought about all Redford has done for the film business, and that if anyone deserved to at least be nominated this year, surely Redford did. And though I got pretty angry, I was able to put two and two together pretty quickly.

Robert Redford doesn't need an Oscar. His life is his Oscar. And I bet that just makes some Hollywood "insiders" pretty envious.

They oughta be.

Look at the man. The man, not the movie star. What we know of him anyway--he's done a great job of staying out of the tabloids and such, so we only know him by his work. And good work it has been, from his love of the "craft" of movie making to his tireless campaign to save the whole damned planet, one endangered species and habitat at a time.

So it's not just how hale and hearty he is at 77 that should amaze us. It's also how much he has accomplished with such a sense of purpose, such a clear vision.

He always stood a little apart from the star thing--from the Hollywood "thing," in general. Didn't appeal to him somehow, the sex symbol act. And if anyone could've milked that for all it was worth, Redford could've.

He was almost too beautiful. There's a character in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever who blames Redford for making the local Italian girls prefer hunky blond "WASPs."

I knew men who got pissed off at him, too. Especially because they couldn't just write him off as another Hollywood pretty boy. Even early on, he was busy doing things a so-called "man's man" had to respect.

I think being pretty probably pissed Redford off a little, too, actually. Which may be why he kept his distance. And kept busy buying up the land in Utah that would become the Sundance Institute. And then creating the film festival of the same name. So that future filmmakers would have a serious alternative to Hollywood.

Sure, the festival has become almost mainstream now--maybe he did a little too well. But it is still one of the noblest experiments in the world of film. Its heart is in the right place.

So is Redford's. He steered his course toward a life he could be proud of as deftly as the protagonist in All is Lost steered that raft into the shipping lane with that survival sextant. And his aim is almost always true. Oscar this year?

Oh, I'm sure it smarted a bit--he said as much. At Sundance. That festival he created. To prove there was another way to make movies. A better way.

Which...leads me to my next point. You know that George Herbert saying that goes, "Living well is the best revenge?"

Redford has lived very, very well.

That's his prize. The Academy can keep theirs.

Image credit: Steve Jurvetson (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons