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October 06, 2008

Oscar gets a recount

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What if you stripped away the aggressive military-precision multimillion-dollar campaigns, the industry buzz, the pressure to Say Something Timely, and The Harvey Weinstein Factor.

What would you have?

Not Oscar season, that's for sure.

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A number of people, notably Spike Lee, claim the Academy does make-goods. You know, giving an award for a somewhat undeserving movie/performance as a way to smooth over a prior snub. (Scorsese for "The Departed" when he'd clearly been dissed on "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas," for instance).

Entertainment Weekly, per Anne Thompson's blog today, wants to go the whole hindsight thing one better by allowing people to re-vote on Oscar winners of the past. Do they still hold up? Or was their Golden Guy a result of skillful PR, heavy ad spending and zeitgeisty subject matter?

It won't be the same people voting this time (though there's likely to be some overlap). So, will these 7,000 EW-handpicked industry heavyweights decide that Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny") really should've won over a quartet of British A-listers (Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave)? Or that Clint Eastwood ("Unforgiven") rightly lost to Al Pacino ("Scent of a Woman")? This was the 1993 Oscars, one of the years that EW will re-do.

And of course there's the age-old "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" debate. It'll get settled by this group, but it still won't change the Weinstein-generated tsunami that nabbed the Golden Guy for the affable period piece over the seminal war drama. (No one will have to give back their Oscars, no matter how many of these voters think they didn't deserve them in the first place).

Participants will start receiving their "Recall the Gold" ballots soon (six categories, five Oscar derbies, five years apart), and results are expected to be published in January.

Gives all those "Crash" haters something to look forward to.

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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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