Gold Derby nuggets: Five reviews of 'Nine' | 'Up in the Air' flying high | Reax to 'Precious' NBR snub | Raking over 'The Lovely Bones'
• Richard Rushfield reviews the first American reviews of "Nine" and thinks the musical may not strike the right notes with Oscar voters. Says Richard, "On paper, the film had everything an awards race could want; directed by Oscar winner Rob Marshall, revisiting the musical soil from which propelled 'Chicago' to a million trophies; a cast filled with more Oscar bait than you can count including Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson and led by Oscar's golden boy himself Daniel Day-Lewis; a story adapted from a cinema classic. It should have been 'Nine''s year, but the first indications are, it very much won't be. Of the three reviews out on the streets, two are tepid at best." GAWKER
• However, Steve Pond looks over the pond to the first two notices on "Nine" from the British broadsheets and sees that they liked what they saw. "The Times Online calls it 'one of those rare things: a sombre musical, as gritty as it is glittery.' They mean that in a good way. And the Telegraph says it’s 'a ravishing looking beast' and concludes, 'All concerned should take a bow.'" THE ODDS
• Oscar voters finally got their screeners of "The Hurt Locker" Thursday.
• In surveying this year's Grammy nominations, Todd Martens says, "the true surprises lie beyond the mainstream grip of the major categories." Among these oddities, Todd wonders why, "four previously unheard songs from Death Cab for Cutie warrants a best alternative album nomination over full-fledged releases from the likes of Jack White's blues revivalists the Dead Weather, or Lily Allen's coming-of-age pop effort 'It's Not Me, It's You,' just to name two worthy contenders? Nothing against Death Cab, but Grammy voters seem to have went with brand loyalty here." POP & HISS
• Sasha Stone gathers a dozen pundits around her virtual roundtable to discuss this year's best picture race. The consensus of the group, such as it is, predicts "Up in the Air" as the probable winner of the big prize but "Precious" and "The Hurt Locker" also figure in the race. AWARDS DAILY
• Lane Brown's latest Oscar futures have "Up in the Air" up in the best picture race -- "The season's 500-pound gorilla finally arrives with solid reviews and the top prize from the National Board of Review" -- but down in the best director category -- "If one were to make a pie chart of how Jason Reitman comes off in this Times profile of Tom Ford, the biggest slice would be labeled 'pretty bad' " NEW YORK
• Brent Lang reports on the shenanigans of Howard Stern who was randomly selected from the 120,000 members of SAG to be among the 2,100 voters on the nominating committee.The shock jock "says he's using his slot to only vote for people who have appeared on his show. 'I'm going to take this seriously, and reward our friends. I don’t give a s--- if they were good or not,' Stern announced on his radio show this morning, citing Kevin Bacon as someone who would earn his vote because he appeared on Stern's show." THE WRAP
• Jeff Wells reflects on the good old days when big budget epics would often land in the top Oscar race regardless of their quality. Asks Jeff, "in a fair and just world shouldn't 'Avatar' get Best Picture nominated for the simple fact that it's a big-gamble movie that has cost $300 million? In a compassionate world shouldn't the community rally round and do as much as it can to help out poor 20th Century Fox and Tom Rothman and James Cameron and all the other guys whose members are on the chopping block...no? Presuming it doesn't blow chunks, of course, and I strongly doubt that it will. If you had green-lighted 'Avatar' wouldn't you feel gratified and comforted if the town voted to support you and yours with a Best Picture nomination? Isn't a community supposed to take care of its own?" HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE
• Regarding Thursday's NBR announcement, Roger Friedman says, "What’s most upsetting this year: the absence of Lee Daniels' 'Precious.' It’s not a total surprise. The NBR is not a multicultural organization. They completely ignored 'Dreamgirls' in 2006. Snubbing 'Precious' fits in with Annie Schulhof’s track record perfectly. Let’s just say it: They do not like black movies, period. To make up for it, they threw Gabby Sidibe a bone with Breakthrough Performance. This is what they did to Jennifer Hudson from 'Dreamgirls.' It’s pathetic. But the Oscars remedied this. She wound up winning Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars." As Roger notes, "'Precious' screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher used to be on the board of the NBR. He resigned last year. And when he did, sources say that Schulhof decided to ban him and the movie from competition. How utterly bizarre." SHOWBIZ 411
• Marshall Fine recently sat down with Fletcher who, "knows that not everyone is enamored of 'Precious,' the film whose screenplay he adapted from the novel 'Push' by Sapphire. Even before it opened, he was steadying himself for criticisms of a film that was also winning some of the most glowing reviews of the year. 'It's always healthy to be taken down a notch, even though it's humbling,' he said over dinner recently. 'For any film, it's inevitable.'" HUFFINGTON POST
• Michael Fleming reports that Stephen Spielberg has bowed out of the remake of Mary Chase's Pulitzer-winning "Harvey." Says Michael, " One of the biggest challenges has been setting a star to play Elwood P. Dowd, the character played by James Stewart in the 1950 film. Spielberg’s first choice was Tom Hanks, but the actor who is often regarded as a modern day Stewart wanted no part of taking over a role played by the iconic star. Spielberg and Fox spent several months courting Robert Downey Jr. While the star didn’t commit, he made suggestions on rewrites of the Jonathan Tropper script. He and Spielberg never found themselves in creative sync on the script, and the director finally called the whole thing off." VARIETY
• Talking to Bennett Marcus about "The Lovely Bones, Oscar-winning helmer Peter Jackson admits, "I’m hopeful that people will look very closely at Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci’s performances in particular, you know. That’s who I think are really deserving of serious consideration. NEW YORK
• Stanley Tucci chats with Melena Ryzik about his reluctance to take on the role in "The Lovely Bones" admitting, "I don’t like to see movies or read books where children are harmed. And I’m not the guy who watches those serial killer documentaries that are on every other channel every other day." Writes Melena, "he was persuaded to become nearly unrecognizable in a sparse wig, mustache and false teeth" though Tucci told her, "“I knew I couldn’t just put stuff on to hide myself, it had to be right for the person. You had to believe that this was just a normal person. I couldn’t wait to take it off." NEW YORK TIMES
Photos: "Nine" poster (The Weinstein Co.); "Up in the Air" poster (Paramount); "Precious" poster (Lionsgate); "The Lovely Bones" poster (DreamWorks)