Leave it to the Oscars to frustrate me even when they’re properly awarded. On Friday, I loudly declared my belief in inavataribility, arguing that, given the Academy's lifelong emphasis on movies' commercial success, there was no way it would give Best Picture to a $12.6 million-grossing indie (The Hurt Locker) over a well-reviewed juggernaut that made 50 times as much (Avatar). On Sunday, it gave Best Picture to a $12.6 million-grossing, etc., etc. How did this act of cinematic sanity come about?
As we approach this weekend’s Oscars, there are two predominant takes on the Best Picture category: Either it will be a close race between James Cameron’s 3-D (and nearly 3-hour) money-mill Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq indie The Hurt Locker, with the latter a slight favorite (as this gambling site submits); or Bigelow’s picture already has the award in the bag.
The Oscar nominations rolled on out this week, but with a difference: In a rather explicit admission that it does not trust its own judgment, the Academy has upped the number of Best Picture nominees from the usual five to ten. Let’s begin there. Best Picture Last year, there was widespread disgruntlement that critical and popular hits Wall-E and The Dark Knight missed the cut for this award. So the Academy decided, in essence, to protect itself from its own ineptitude by nominating more pictures.
What does it say that three of the top five films on my list this year--and another that could easily have made the top ten, Coraline--are “kid’s movies”? In the end not much, I think. Two of the three, Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox, were directed by talented indie auteurs (Spike Jonze and Wes Andersen, respectively) who merely happened to adapt children’s books in the same year.
The jury may still be out, but this photograph of Michael Steele trading a terrorist fist jab with an RNC intern is certainly suggestive. For the love of God, Mike, he's only a child! Do you want him to grow up to be a suicide bomber? (As with most things Steele-related, the whole slide show is worth perusing.)
Though the story is set in South Africa, Clint Eastwood’s Invictus is a hybrid of classic American forms, the triumphant sports movie and the high-minded political film. There is much to like in the film, and a fair amount one might dislike as well, but in the end one’s overall feelings are likely depend on one’s enthusiasm for these genres in general and for their peculiar marriage in this instance. Invictus tells the story of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the first major international sporting event to take place in South Africa following the collapse of apartheid.
What could be better than a signed poster of David Hasselhoff that features the words of your choosing in his own handwriting? Just type in your message and it appears, like magic, on the poster, above the Hoff's inimitable, happy-face signature. There's even an obscenity filter--the dirty words get rendered as asterisks--to keep you from getting (understandably) carried away. With nine poses to choose from, who can resist? (via Movieline)
Alberto Gonzalez is strikingly blunt (and arguably stupid) in an interview with Esquire: We should have abandoned the idea of removing the U. S. attorneys once the Democrats took the Senate. Because at that point we could really not count on Republicans to cut off investigations or help us at all with investigations. We didn't see that at the Department of Justice. Nor did the White House see that. Karl didn't see it. If we could do something over again, that would be it. In other words, we should have stopped conducting a potentially illegal activity once we lost the ability to cover it up.
In her review of Brothers, Slate's Dana Stevens discloses Here I come up against what I'm fully willing to admit may be a personal limitation: I can't stand Natalie Portman. I've never believed her in a single role. She evokes no emotional response in me beyond, "Oh, there's Natalie Portman." She doesn't overact or underact; she just stands around with whatever the appropriate expression for the scene seems to be on her sweet, pretty, childlike face.
If Sarah Palin fails to win the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 (or declines to try), will she consider mounting a third-party bid? I don't know and, at this point, neither does she. And it seems awfully unlikely for all the obvious reasons.