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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars hit sour notes with song choices | EW critic up with 'Fox'

January 13, 2010 |  3:29 pm

Oscars New President Tom SherakSteve Pond investigates the song selection process at the Oscars and discovers, "it’s a terrible system, and it doesn’t do what the Academy wants it to do. The whole idea behind requiring voters to watch film clips instead of just listening to the songs was to make sure they considered how the songs work within the film. But those clips don’t show you how the songs work within the context of the film. Instead, they show you how the songs work within those little three-minute scenes." And, as Steve notes, "in the four years since the process was instituted, 16 songs have received nominations. Nine of them, almost 60 percent, were performed onscreen, which is obviously the format that stands out the most in a string of clips. (By contrast, fewer than 20 percent of the nominees were performed onscreen in the 10 years before the process was initiated.)" THE WRAP

• And Dave Karger looks at the results of the rules of this race from a different angle -- chart success. As Dave writes, "an Oscar nominee that’s also a hit song seems a thing of the past; there hasn’t been a top 40-charting nominee since Counting Crows’ 'Accidentally in Love' (from 'Shrek 2') in 2004. So what killed the chart-topping Oscar nominee? Is today’s dance and R&B based radio climate too tough for songs from films to penetrate? Are the Academy’s qualification rules for the category just too strict? I’m fearing we may have to suffer through painful performance numbers at the Oscars for the foreseeable future." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• "Village Voice" scribe Michael Musto muses about his Oscar predictions in this hilarious column. Says Michael, "the Best Actor category made me dizzy for weeks, it’s now clearer than the look in Sean Penn’s eyes when he stepped to the podium last year. George Clooney was the front-runner for 'Up in the Air' until Morgan Freeman came around with his awesome Mandela impression in 'Invictus,' but then he was booted to the curb by Colin Firth in 'A Single Man.' (Oscar loves open straights playing woebegone gays). But now all three of those guys can spend Oscar night downing bitters at a local pub because Jeff Bridges gives a textured performance in 'Crazy Heart' that elevates the film from the routinely cornball. Besides, he’s never won! And he sings! And he mumbles a lot! Bottoms up, George, Morgan, and Colin." SUNDANCE

Anthony Breznican reports "'The Hurt Locker' is getting ready to redeploy. The film about a renegade member of a bomb squad in Iraq opened in June to near unanimous critical acclaim. But it earned a not-so-whopping $12.7 million at the box office. Still, though audiences seemed unwilling to trust the 97% positive rating from film review site RottenTomatoes.com, the awards season may help 'The Hurt Locker' turn a corner in the fight for moviegoers. The film is still playing on a handful of screens, but its potential for discovery now rests on its DVD and Blu-ray debut Tuesday and the momentum of Sunday's Golden Globes, where it is up for three prizes, including best drama. USA TODAY

Scott Feinberg offers up his final predictions in all of the film and TV races at Sunday's Golden Globes. As per Scott, "Up in the Air" will win best picture (drama) and best actor (drama) while "Nine" will do the same on the comedy/musical side, winning both best picture and actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. In the TV races, Scott sees "Mad Men" and "30 Rock" as the big winners with each taking their respective series prize and the two lead acting awards.  AND THE WINNER IS

Fantastic-mr-fox-poster• On the subject of the best animated feature race, Owen Gleiberman says: "I’m less interested in who’s going to win the Oscar than in my own personal predilection for 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' over 'Up.' You see, it’s not that I in any way disliked the Pixar film; when I saw it back in May, I totally ate it up. Yet it’s the ticklishly droll and original enchantment of 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' that, I admit, has cast my feelings about Pixar in a slightly new light. At the end of last year, trying to nail down what was going to be on my 10 Best list, I watched 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' a second time (only a few weeks after I’d seen it the first time), and I found myself even more happily addicted to its ramshackle surreal charms. The deadpan Roald Dahl-meets-Wes Anderson wit, the tactile fairy-tale diorama look, the suavely old-fashioned stop-motion technique, the delectable overlap between Mr. Fox’s world and our own, the performances of George Clooney and Meryl Streep (has Clooney ever been more charismatically…Clooney?) -- it all cast its spell again. Then I saw 'Up' a second time, a good six months after I’d seen it the first. Usually, the movies I love only grow for me upon repeated viewings, but that didn’t happen with 'Up.'" ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Neil Patrick Harris, Greg Kinnear, John Krasinski, LL Cool J, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks, Julie Bowen and Ryan Kwanten will be presenters at the PGA Awards on Jan. 24. And, per the announcement from co-chairs David Friendly and Laurence Mark, the evening at the Hollywood Palladium will also feature performances by Randy Newman and Sarah McLachlan.

Paul Gaita details the numerous nominees for the 21st annual GLAAD awards: "Among the year's 116 nominees in 24 English-language categories and 36 Spanish-language nominees in eight categories are the series 'Mad Men,' 'Modern Family,' 'Glee' and 'Grey's Anatomy'; the feature films 'A Single Man,' 'Precious' and 'Everybody's Fine'; recording artists Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert and Brandi Carlile; and publications Entertainment Weekly, The Advocate and the Los Angeles Times." The kudos are spread out over three cities: "The New York event, which will be hosted by Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming on March 13. The Los Angeles event takes place April 17 and the San Francisco ceremony June 5, with Emmy-winning writer and actor Bruce Vilanch serving as emcee for the San Francisco event." THE CIRCUIT

Adam Hetrick reports that the Tony-winning tuner "Billy Elliot" has recouped its $18-million investment. "After garnering a host of critical praise, the box office grosses have been continually among the highest of any Broadway production over the past 14 months. 'It is very satisfying to have recouped on Billy Elliot so soon in the run,' said lead Broadway producer Eric Fellner. 'Despite its setting being in the North of England, Broadway audiences accept it on a universal level. It seems to be a story that anyone can identify with and be inspired by. This result, the ten Tony Awards and the warm critical acclaim are a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the entire creative team.' " PLAYBILL

Top photo: Academy Awards statues. Credit: AMPAS

Bottom photo: "Fantastic Mr. Fox" poster. Credit: Fox

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Comments

+1 on Pond's article. In addition to firing the entire Music Branch Executive Committee (see my comment on the last post), the Academy needs to get rid of most of the new rules added in the last 5-10 years--not just the scoring system, but the 3-writer limit as well. (Only the two-nominee cap makes any sense; though controversial, it does force voters to focus on a few strong songs.) I'd also create a category for non-original soundtracks; movie music does NOT have to be original to be Oscar-worthy.


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