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January 23, 2009

Backing 'Button'

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The lone cheerleader for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" as the best picture Oscar winner surrounded by a pack of rabid "Slumdog" fans -- such was the scene today for your resident Gold Rusher on an Oscar roundtable at the L.A. Times, sticking up for the technologically amazing, weepy wonder that is "Button" while a bunch of awards bloggers/film critics -- OK, there were just four -- extolled the virtues of the Mumbai orphan-makes-good love story.

Truth is, we completely agree that it's a thrilling, gorgeous, fresh, unforgettable movie. It's just not Oscar. 

Important caveat: If and when "Slumdog" cleans up at the various guild awards this weekend, we'll have to be prepared to rethink our decision. So much for the courage of our convictions but, hey, there is a batting average to consider here.

34b47bc3-920d-4c8c-8f13-26e635131ca9 The purpose of the panel, organized by TheEnvelope.com's Tom O'Neil, was to discuss what will win, not what each participant hopes will win or thinks should win. To that end, The Envelope's Buzzmeter prognosticators O'Neil, Scott Feinberg (Feinberg Files), Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season) and Greg Ellwood (Hitfix) said it doesn't matter that the Academy voters weren't hip enough to give "The Dark Knight" an invitation to The Big Show. They'll go for the $14 million Hindi-laced drama that nearly went straight to DVD.

We, on the obstinate hand, still see them leaning toward the super "Gump"-y epic based on the work of a quintessential American writer, however loosely "Button" adheres to F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story. And, we get it that there's a brewing "Button" backlash -- people have called it maudlin and sappy. (Full disclosure: We cried at "Bolt" so maybe we're not the best judge of movie manipulation. Resistance, for us, can be futile).

Even Stephen Colbert got in a back-handed compliment during his intro last night, congratulating "Button" on its 13 nominations by saying, "See? Americans do support torture."

Come back later for a link to the roundtable, where most everyone agreed that Robert Downey Jr. can't win, that Kate Winslet can't lose and that "Gran Torino" should've opened a week earlier (and cast some real actors).


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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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