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January 13, 2009

Six weeks to Oscar: Do you know where your pulse is?


It's six weeks until the Oscars and veteran blogger David Poland over at Movie City News is bored. Bored stiff!

Why? Because there weren't that many good movies in '08, to start with, and even a "surprise" nomination for Clint Eastwood and/or his good-neighbor drama "Gran Torino" would fail to get Poland's blood circulating.

Expected nods for Anne Hathaway, Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, even newcomer Viola Davis -- no shockers among that crew, Poland says. "WALL-E" in the best picture category, Richard Jenkins for best actor and Michael Shannon for best supporting -- now that's something to get excited about.

Since we have both Gold Rush Q&A victims Jenkins and Shannon among our Oscar nominees -- looking at this race, as we do, from as much a fan perspective as an "official" prognosticator -- we agree with Poland on that score. But not on his overall, overwhelming sense of ennui. 

We think there's still plenty of juice left in this derby.

84263557 Just seeing "The Dark Knight" get a best picture nod, even though it's seeming more and more like a foregone conclusion, will be a thrill for a number of reasons. (Topline: Comic book flicks and Major Awards don't usually mix). Watching just-christened Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins go toe-to-toe with a veteran A-lister like Meryl Streep, which we honestly think could happen, will be a highlight of the season.

"Slumdog" vs. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?" David vs. Goliath? Come on, there's heat there.

A win by "Slumdog" director Boyle -- he of "Trainspotting," "Millions" and "28 Days Later" -- will reaffirm our faith that innovative work on beautiful "little" films that could've easily been lost in the shuffle can prevail. (Yes, he seems a lock, but for our money, that's no less a testament to what he accomplished).

And now that Mickey Rourke, fresh off his Globe win Sunday night, might have just ingratiated himself anew to Hollywood and, more important, Academy voters, there's a lot of potential for unfiltered moments of truthiness and emotion. (For an insightful rumination of Rourke, his tendency to color outside the lines, and his current better boy phase, check out this post from the Carpetbagger).

Call us pie-eyed, but we're still in. How about the rest of you?


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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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