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Let's take a bite out of Vulture's Oscars predictions

August 31, 2009 | 11:24 am

Whenever I make award pontifications, I think it's important to sell them with P.T. Barnum-like brio, braggadocio and guts. Assure readers that they're "100% perfect predictions" — "can't be wrong!" Make the bombastic experience fun and thus invite readers to roar right back at you: "An Oscar for Miley Cyrus? You're an idiot!"

Oh, isn't that why we're all here at Gold Derby, dear friends?

New York mag vulture oscars

Now I see that Lane Brown is hyping "Vulture's Infallible, Late-August Oscar Predictions!" Oh, ecstasy! Brown admits, "We've seen almost none of the probable contenders yet, we have absolutely no idea," Brown adds, but still sallies forth to make brazen forecasts "based on films' trailers and pedigree, things we read on Twitter, and our own infallible intuition."

Hooray! That's our invitation to attack. Now let's go at it. I freely confess that I haven't seen 95% of these films either and I don't follow Twitter as closely as Vulture, but, hey, Oscarology is bloodsport and we're all in it for the bath.

Yes, of course, Clint Eastwood's biopic starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, "Invictus," will automatically make the best picture list and could even win ("Gandhi," that bland hymn to India's champion of nonviolence, beat the beans out of "E.T."), but "Where the Wild Things Are"? Oh, Vulture. The air is thin up on your mountaintop perch. Have you seen the trailer? It looks like Benny Hill meets Teletubbies.

You can probably strike Charlize Theron off your short list for best actress. "The Burning Plain" was supposed to be a hot Oscar ticket last year, but apparently it fizzles now. Variety calls the directorial debut of celebrated scripter Guillermo Arriaga ("Amores Perros," "21 Grams," "Babel") a "head-scratcher" with "few emotional hooks" performed by an "OK-to-good cast."

There are lots of other little things I could peck at. "The Road" got detoured off last year's derby track too. Does that portend problems this year — or were they fixed in the editing room? Terrence Malick ("Tree of Life") deflated Oscar expectations in the recent past ("The New World," 2005).

I love the fact that Vulture put "In the Loop" on its best pic list. Yes, we can dream! (Even if it's delusional — snobbish Oscar voters are notorious for having no sense of humor. Suddenly, there's optimism this year, though, because the best picture list expands to 10 entries.)

All in all, Vulture actually did quite a good rundown. Yes, and 100% perfectly infallible, I'm sure! So I recommend it, with gusto, to all fellow kudos nuts.

Beware, though: humble reminder to us all. At this point on the calendar in past years we had no idea "Slumdog Millionaire" would be a factor or "Million Dollar Baby" would even be released within its derby year.

Oh, and one last thing. Believe it or not, Miley Cyrus came thisclose to getting an Oscar nomination last year. Not for acting, you idiot! But as the co-writer of "I Thought I Lost You," the theme song to "Bolt" that was nominated for best song at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.

So, OK, I was only 96% correct. Sue me.

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The Academy Awards, more and more, have less to do with substance and more to do with popularity. Consider Mickey Rourke's loss last year.

I, too, was broken hearted when little ET was beaten to a pulp. But consider, also, that Ben Kingsley bested Paul Newman in 1983. Gandhi vs the Verdict. Sorry, that was the best performance of Paul Newman's career, and that's saying something. The Verdict was a much better movie than (yawn) Gandhi, as was ET.

Hollywood traditionally is a year behind the curve in giving out the Oscar. Cher in Mask was superb, but she was for Moonstruck. Paul Newman was at the top of his game in The Verdict, but won for The Color of Money (boring).

I think Kate Wislet won mostly to shut her up. But that's just me...

About Where the Wild Things Are

1. It's one of the most beloved kids' books of all time.

2. Spike Jonze is a former nominee and directed Chris Cooper to an Oscar to boot.

3. If the film turns out to be good, it will be perceived as overcoming great odds. The fact that Jonze fought as hard as he did for final cut will earn him some respect points from the Directors' Branch

4. Dave Eggers, the screenwriter, couldn't be any hotter in literary circles.

5. In what universe did the trailer look like Benny Hill? Did your desire to get out a cute one-liner cause your catty ignorance to rise to the surface?

What's so bad about them predicting Up in the Air? Its not just another stupid comedy. It stars George Clooney and was written/directed by Jason Reitman... you know, the man that the Academy surprisingly nominated for Best Director for Juno. Clooney and Reitman are both in the club, and their film deserves to taken just a little more seriously. Especially when there's room for 10.



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