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September 18, 2008

Human(itas) league

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Here's how you know Humanitas award-winning writer Kirk Ellis isn't talking about the past eight years:

"It was a time when intelligent men spoke complex thoughts in complete sentences."

He means the early American statesmen depicted in the HBO miniseries "John Adams," which picked up eight Emmys last weekend and could become the winningest show in Emmy history with the expected haul on Sunday.

Ellis (pictured) was among those honored Wednesday at the 34th annual Humanitas Prize Awards, given out for TV and film writing that "explores the human condition." We take that to mean work that's insightful, touching, personal yet universal and, most important, smarm-free.

Nancy Oliver, who was robbed this year of the Oscar, snagged an award for her original screenplay for "Lars and the Real Girl," beating Diablo Cody. (The love and understanding theme of this particular award dictates we not say anything snarky about the "Juno" scribe here -- but check back later. We can hold it in for only so long.)

Ronald Harwood, an Oscar winner for "The Pianist" and nominee for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," won the Humanitas for the latter film. He adapted the screenplay from the novel by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

More details on the awards here.

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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