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“a film is more like music than like fiction.” —Stanley Kubrik

Pros & Cons: Countdown to Oscar

George Clooney Up In The Air

There are so many reasons to hate the Oscars. It’s prom night for the celebrity set. It’s tediously long. It’s indulgent acceptance speeches. It’s lame hosts reaching for laughs and falling flat (John Stewart and Billy Crystal gleefully exempted). It’s often a reward for middling achievements in popular filmmaking. And more often than not, each year the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences consistently disappoints discerning audiences in choosing the best picture of the year. But…

I still find myself drawn to them–particularly in the last few years, when some truly remarkable films and performances have made the dubious Oscar grade. George Clooney and David Straithern in Good Night, and Good Luck; Tilda Swinton and George Clooney in Michael Clayton. Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan.Roger Deakins double nomination for Best Cinematography for different films in the same year (No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).

Then there’s the few unscripted award night moments that break through the artifice to reveal something genuine: Glen Hansard’s  inspiringly modest acceptance speech for Best Original Song followed by John Stewart’s decisive, utterly classy move to give co-writer Marketa Irglova her due after being rudely cut off by commercial interests.

So I must admit I’m looking forward to tonight’s events. Even though I’m worried the Academy will favor Precious to undeservedly sweep (I know, I’m an asshole) and Avatar, perhaps just a little less deservedly, will come a close second. Or is it the other way around? Either way, ho-hum… And don’t get me started on the pandering and highly offensive choice to include The Blind Side among the Best Picture candidates. Affluent white woman saves underprivileged black teen from a presumed life of poverty and crime. You fucking kidding me?

But on the flip side… an animated feature is amongst the Best Picture nominees for, I believe, the first time. The awesomely weird District 9 has not chance, but it’s up there. The Dude is nominated, this time as a drunken country singer. And George Clooney is once again nominated. He won’t win this year, but still…I love that man. Not in a gay way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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