May I have the envelope?

It’s Oscar time.

The Big Show is Sunday night. Every newspaper, TV station and blogger has put together a list of expected winners, so why don’t I just follow the crowd, join the bandwagon, run with the herd and anything else involving being one of many with little to say on a not-overwhelmingly-important topic.

Hopefully, the Academy Award broadcast won’t be like the Super Bowl, which compared the event to recovering from the Great Depression, winning World War II, Martin Luther King’s speech at the March on Washington and the 1969 moon landing.


I’ve seen 8 of the 10 nominees here. Didn’t get around to “127 Hours” or “The Kids Are Alright.” Nothing very appealing about a movie about a guy who gets himself in a life threatening situation because of pure arrogance. I don’t find that uplifting. And when you name a movie after a song by The Who, it immediately says the demographic is people my age, which means it’s serious, yet witty. Blah.

“Inception” and “Black Swan” were whacked out insane so they’re out of the running (but I loved them both). “Toy Story 3” is going to win the Best Animated Film, so don’t expect a two-fer, even if it was the most appealing movie of the year.

All you need to know about “Winter’s Bone”: meth labs in the Ozarks. Which actually is a very important issue, but definitely not fun for the whole family. All you need to know about “The Fighter”: crack houses in working class Massachusetts. Not an important issue, but shades of “Rocky.”

That leaves “True Grit,” The Social Network,” and “The King’s Speech.” Now “True Grit” is infinitely better than the thing John Wayne got the Oscar for all those years ago. Jeff Bridges is “The Dude” as drunken sheriff. Matt Damon is a far better LeBoeuf than Glenn Campbell was. And Hailee Steinfeld should have been nominated for Best Actress because she carries the movie. But the Coens already have a couple of Oscars, so let’s share the wealth.

And this is what it comes down to: wealth. A movie about an arrogant little prick who becomes a billionaire in his 20s while screwing over his best friend, or a movie about an old money guy with a stammer who takes over a country from an arrogant little prick who feels his enjoyment of a raucous sex life is more important that rallying people against Hitler. “The King’s Speech” it is.


Rule out Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco, because you should never reward people who try to make arrogant dillwads lovable. Javier Bardem is speaking Spanish the whole time, and we all know how much Americans love to read subtitles. Jeff Bridges won last year, but this year’s performance was better (as I’ve said, I don’t like movies where you’re supposed to feel sorry for a screw up, and last year’s “Crazy Heart” offended me just because of that). Now Colin Firth should have won last year for “A Single Man” so all indications are he’ll get it this year for being overlooked last year. Kind of like when they gave the Academy Award to James Stewart for “The Philadelphia Story” when they should have given it to him the previous year for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”


Why bother going through the list. It’s going to be Natalie Portman. “The Black Swan” was a totally great insane performance. I left it thinking “Did she die or was it all a hallucination?”


There are really only two choices here. Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush. As much as I hated Christian Bale’s character (once again, a screw up you’re supposed to feel sorry for), he is “The Fighter.” The movie doesn’t get the attention it did without him in it.


I really hope it’s Hailee Steinfeld, because she had “True Grit.” Please don’t give it to anyone from “The Fighter.” Those accents were driving me up the wall. And Helena Bonham Carter is fine as the Queen Mum, but she should have to pay for butchering “Sweeney Todd.”

Times’ whitewash

Whoopi Goldberg in New York City protesting th...

Whoopi Goldberg (Image via Wikipedia)

I’m trying to figure out why the New York Times is being so pissy after Whoopi Goldberg criticized it for not including her in a list of black people who have won an Academy Award for acting.

Here’s the sequence of events, as far as I can tell:

The Times published a Sunday piece headlined Hollywood’s Whiteout that began:

CRAMMED into this year’s field of 10 best picture Oscar nominees are British aristocrats, Volvo-driving Los Angeles lesbians, a flock of swans, a gaggle of Harvard computer geeks, clans of Massachusetts fighters and Missouri meth dealers, as well as 19th-century bounty hunters, dream detectives and animated toys. It’s a fairly diverse selection in terms of genre, topic, sensibility, style and ambition. But it’s also more racially homogenous — more white — than the 10 films that were up for best picture in 1940, when Hattie McDaniel became the first black American to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.” In view of recent history the whiteness of the 2011 Academy Awards is a little blinding.

The story went onto say that in 2002, the best actor Oscar went to Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) and the best actress Oscar went to Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball). The story then named the African-Americans who won after 2002.

Now the women on “The View,” the daily morning talk show, were riled because the Times story didn’t mention Whoopi, who won an Academy Award as best supporting actress in 1990’s “Ghost.” Whoopi is part of “The View” crew. She said the story was hurtful and sloppy.

The Times fires back that there’s nothing wrong with the story. Apparently, the point wasn’t to name every black actor who won an Oscar. and they specified that before 2002, only seven got an acting prize, either in the best or the supporting categories.

OK. So after 2002, five African-Americans got Oscars: Jamie Fox (“Ray”), Forest Whitacre (“The Last King of Scotland”), Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”), Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”) and Mo’nique (“Precious”).

Halle Berry and Denzel Washington are named as 2002 winners (but they really won for performances in 2001).

If the Times says seven won before 2002, it must be including Berry and Washington. Now the story also refers to Sidney Poitier (who won for “The Lillies of the Field”) and Hattie McDaniel (the first black to win an Oscar: best supporting actress in “Gone With the Wind.”) That’s four. Total’s up to nine.

So the Times’ argument is that the point of the story wasn’t to name every black person who won an Academy Award in a story about how few black people have won an Academy Award?

A total of 13 Oscars have gone to black actors. As far as I can tell, the Times story is missing that piece of essential information. The Times story names nine of them, but doesn’t bother to mention that Denzel Washington has two Oscars  (He was best supporting actor in “Glory”). That’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it? Anyway, the number is up to 10.

Is it really asking too much to name the remaining three?

I’ll do it: Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry McGuire”) and Louis Gossett Jr. (“An Officer and a Gentleman”).

That didn’t take up much space, did it?

Sorry. I have to side with Whoopi on this one.

Matinee madness

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.

Image via Wikipedia

The Oscar nominations were announced this week. I watched the announcement on the Internet. Here’s the link.

Of the 10 best picture nominees, I saw seven (missed “The Kids Are All Right,” “127 Hours” and “Winter’s Bone”). I’ll think about what’s up and give my opinion closer to the awards date.

Anyway, Salon has put together a list of the 10 biggest Oscar rip-offs of all time. I’m surprised they missed one. John Wayne in “True Grit” as 1969’s best actor over Dustin Hoffman or Jon Voight in “Midnight Cowboy.” (Just for the record, this year’s “True Grit” is infinitely better than the original version.)

But I’m sure you have your own Oscar outrages.