Harold Ramis never won an Oscar.
Yet, I’m willing to bet quite a few people who will be watching tonight’s 86th Academy Awards were fans of Ramis and his films. 
As you’ve likely heard, Ramis died last week from complications with auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis, a disease he had been fighting for several years. Reports indicate he died at his Chicago home, surrounded by friends and family. He was 69.
While he wasn’t, at this stage, a household name, Ramis was a standout for true film fans, especially those who love comedies. His work as a comedy writer, director and actor in the late 1970s and into the 1980s was particularly notable.


In 1978 — the year I was born — he co-wrote “Animal  House,” and things took off from there. He went on to co-write “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “Meatballs,” “Back to School,” “Ghostbusters,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Analyze This,” among many others.
He also served as the director on “Caddyshack,” and he directed a number of other films, perhaps most notably 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”
While he focused mostly on writing and directing comedies, Ramis also worked semi-regularly as an actor, most famously as Dr. Egon Spengler in the “Ghostbusters” movies.
In later years, whenever he would appear on the big screen in some small acting role, I found it oddly comforting. It was like seeing an old friend. He popped up in a small role in “Knocked Up” a few years back, in what was considered by some as a baton-passing type of comedy moment. It brought me a smile.
As you can tell from his writing and directing credits, Ramis was a master of comedies that were silly and smart at the same time. He worked with Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield (“I get no respect!”) and Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd and a whole host of guys whose work in the 1980s was both dumb and clever all at once, as impossible as that might seem.
I miss those kind of comedies. Remember when they made big studio comedies that were just FUNNY? 
There are some funny movies coming out these days, to be sure. But many of them are either extraordinarily foul-mouthed (like Judd Apatow’s movies, for example) or have some weird high-concept formula (the “Anchorman” films come to mind).
Now, I like Apatow’s films (such as the aforementioned “Knocked Up”) and I like the “Anchorman” movies. 
But there was just something special about Ramis’ movies. They were filled with sly turns-of-phrase and subtle jokes layered under broad, low-brow gags.
If you aren’t a movie fan, I’ve probably been speaking French to you for the last 400 or so words. If you want a crash course in Harold Ramis, I would recommend seeking out the following DVDs: “Caddyshack,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day.” 
Be prepared to laugh. Unless you don’t have a pulse. 
And, let’s face it, if you don’t have a pulse, your problems likely extend far beyond unfamiliarity with Harold Ramis movies. 

SO, THE ACADEMY AWARDS are on tonight. 
Some friends and I have a rather odd Oscar night tradition: We get together for a meal and, before the Oscars come on, we watch the worst movie we can possibly get our hands on.
I do not remember how the tradition started, but we’ve been doing it for years now.
Last year’s pre-Oscars bad movie was “Miami Connection,” an absolutely preposterous 1987 kung-fu movie starring a martial arts instructor named Y.K. Kim. If you like bad movies, you’ll love “Miami Connection.” The Internet Movie Database describes it as such: “A martial arts rock band goes up against a band of motorcycle ninjas who have tightened their grip on Florida’s narcotics trade.”
Yes, “a martial arts rock band” and “motorcycle ninjas.” What else do you really need?
Tonight’s pre-Oscars selection is “The Room,” a film hailed by many as possibly the worst movie of all time.  
I’ve seen “The Room” several times, including once in Atlanta with director and star Tommy Wiseau in attendance. It’s the type of movie that has soared far beyond just being terrible, into cult territory. It’s type of movie where audience members get dressed up and throw spoons at the screen.
Seek it out, if you dare. Just know it is absolutely horrible.
As for films that are not horrible, there are several great ones up for Academy Awards tonight. I’ll leave you with my picks for the big winners. You can bet these in Las Vegas and get rich:
* Best Picture: “12 Years a Slave.”
* Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity.”
* Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
* Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine.”
* Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
* Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle.”

Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-943-5650; email ctrainor@indexjournal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.