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Gold Derby nuggets: Can Jeff Bridges win with sentiment? | Greg Ellwood: 'Avatar' wows HFPA | Oscarcast producer takes to Twitter

December 8, 2009 |  3:19 pm

Crazy Heart PosterRobert Abele looks at the role of sentiment in the awarding of Oscars. As he writes, "compassion for those who have never won and who find their work again in the running becomes an issue once more. For instance, four-time nominee Jeff Bridges has a lauded turn as an alcoholic country singer in the December release 'Crazy Heart.' Is this his year, finally? Might he win because he's 'due'?" Vogue film critic John Powers thinks, "He's the great actor of that generation. Actors want to act with him. Directors want him because he has weight. He's the kind of person you could imagine the sentiment for, if it weren't for the fact that the industry has all the sentiment of a slot machine." However, film critic Leonard Maltin warns, "If you want to know whether or not so-called sentiment trumps other feelings at the academy, talk to Lauren Bacall and Juliette Binoche. They were the two most shocked people at the Academy Awards that night." VARIETY

Scott Bowles sits down with two of the stars of "The Lovely Bones" for a revealing conversation. As Scott writes, "For Saoirse Ronan, a knowing 15-year-old Irish girl already drawn to adult dramas, the movie is her grimmest yet -- and she was in 'Atonement.' 'This was the first time I felt like a grown-up and really absorbed the material,' she says." And for Stanley Tucci, "the 49-year-old who lost his wife, Kate, to breast cancer in April, 'Bones' was a test of how dark he could take a character and not let it invade a personal life already set on its ear. 'I've seen the finished movie. But to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how many times I'll be able to see it again.'" USA TODAY

Scott Feinberg recaps the Nov. 9 episode of Oscar hopeful Mo'Nique's BET talkfest: "Her guests are 2 of the mere 42 black actors who have ever received Oscar nominations: her good friends Terrence Howard ('Hustle and Flow,' 2005) and Taraji P. Henson ('The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,' 2008), and before long the conversation shifts to a frank discussion about the good, bad and ugly aspects of an Oscar campaign." Scott thinks, "this may have been a turning point in Mo’Nique’s personal outlook/willingness to do the work necessary to snag an Oscar, as it provided her with answers to questions that apparently kept her from joining her 'Precious' castmates at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals and from doing some of the other promotional duties that come with a full-fledged awards push -- things that she has subsequently seemed more willing to do." AND THE WINNER IS

Avatar PosterGreg Ellwood reports that the HFPA screening of "Avatar" Monday went so well that it is "now very likely to be nominated in both the best picture (drama) and best director categories when the Golden Globe nominations are announced next Tuesday. This was almost unthinkable a week ago and may push expected Globe nominees such as 'The Hurt Locker' or 'An Education' out of the best picture -- drama race. Additionally, this could (emphasis on 'could') find 'Avatar"' seriously being considered for one of the 10 nominees for Oscar's best picture trophy -- especially considering the eighth to 10th slots hardly seem secure at this point in the race." HIT FIX

Danielle Lawler details the extraordinary meeting between Lady Gaga and Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at the annual Royal Variety Performance. "The singer who loves to shock had hoped to perform the stunt -- in which she 'stabs' herself and is drenched in fake blood -- but panicking organizers of the Blackpool extravaganza ordered her to water down her routine. GaGa said: 'I wanted to do the suicide scene I did at the MTV Awards, but I was told it wouldn’t be appropriate. And not only has that been vetoed, but I have had to tone down my act generally. But all of that doesn’t matter because I’m a massive fan of the queen -- I was so excited and have even been practicing my curtsy.'" DAILY MIRROR

Lynn Elber says that Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais is promising gentle ribbing of the bold-faced names in attendance, telling "a teleconference Tuesday he'll avoid anything cruel or distasteful, but those younger, thinner or more attractive than him will face teasing. George Clooney, whom Gervais called a handsome, kind man and a fine actor, likely is safe. Gervais said poking fun at him would be like 'having a go at Mother Teresa.'" AP

Adam-shankman-sytycd • While the Globes have a new host in Gervais, the Oscarcast is being produced by a pair of  first-timers, and one of them -- helmer Adam Shankman -- asked his 48,000 followers on Twitter: "Curious: what and who do u wanna see on the oscars? What would make u watch?" Reports Gregg Kilday: "The fans responded in a frenzy. Lots of requests for 'High School Musical' stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, scattered calls for the kids from 'Glee' and Neil Patrick Harris as well as impassioned pleas for 'Twilight's" Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. And lots of Adam Lambert's fans demanded he be included." And Gregg says, "when Shankman posed the follow-up question, 'would u watch the oscars with more excitement if I cast some sytycd dancers if there are musical #s,' the fans went nearly berserk with excitement." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Dave Karger thinks, "Shankman is just having a little fun here, and certainly most of these ideas are unlikely at best." Then he notes, "it raises an interesting question: Should the Academy Awards, whose ratings have been slipping over the years, pander to younger fans by including tween stars and reality-show dancers even though they don’t truly belong at the telecast? (Let’s not forget that Robert Pattinson presented last year.) Or should the academy be most concerned with upholding its integrity even if that means lower viewership? Will you only watch the Oscars if Vanessa Hudgens is there? Or is Gabby Sidibe enough to get you to tune in?" ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Photos: "Crazy Heart" poster (Fox Searchlight); "Avatar" poster (Fox); Adam Shankman (Fox TV)

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