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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' as Oscars underdog? | Defending Taylor Swift | Sassy and savvy Sandra Bullock

February 4, 2010 |  2:45 pm

Avatar Golden Globes winner James Cameron Zoe Saldana Sam Worthington • Positioning all-time box office champ "Avatar" as the underdog at the Oscars is a bold strategy. As Stephen Galloway reports, "That's the way Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman saw the best picture race last month in an interview with the New York Times and that was before 'Avatar' lost to 'The Hurt Locker' at the PGA and DGA awards." Stephen then details the various factors at play, including the precursor awards; the age of academy members (averages out to 57.7 years); the division of membership (actors are 1,205 of the 5,777 voters); the preferential ballot; and the other Oscar nominations garnered. THR

Nathaniel Rogers offers an interesting take on this year's Oscar race by literally mapping out many of the contenders. As Nathaniel notes, "It appears that after years of Australian dominance Canada wants revenge! And that's just one story embedded herein. You can find out where the 'Precious' players were born, see that Kathryn Bigelow and Jeremy Renner were in close proximity long before they made 'The Hurt Locker' 'The Sexy Locker,' and note how lonely Penelope Cruz looks all by herself in Spain. There's so much to see." THE FILM EXPERIENCE

• And Steve Pond says that the Oscars can put nominees on the map metaphorically. "For the filmmakers behind most of the Oscar-nominated films, recognition from the Academy is a valuable way to get attention, bring viewers into the theaters, and add to their films’ box office or home video revenues. For the directors behind the nominated documentaries, the stakes are higher than that. All five nominees in the Feature Documentary category are serious, issue-oriented films. All would like to influence not only how we view the issues they address, but would like to lead to changes." THE ODDS

Taylor Swift Stevie Nicks Performing Grammy Awards • After Taylor Swift's duet with Stevie Nicks on the Grammys got rapped by music critics, her label chief has sprung to her defense. "She is the voice of this generation. She speaks directly to (her fans), and they speak directly back to her," said Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta by phone. "This is not 'American Idol.' This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It's not about that technically perfect performance." AP

• Steve Pond also details the Oscarcast history of Jeff Margolis, newly announced director of the ABC pre-show. As Steve writes, "Margolis, a veteran television director and producer who for the past 12 years has overseen the Screen Actors Guild Awards, directed the Academy Awards show for eight consecutive years, beginning in 1989. His first Oscar experience came on the legendarily disastrous Oscars produced by Allan Carr, the show that included a 12-minute opening number in which Rob Lowe sang 'Proud Mary' with an actress dressed, without Disney's permission, as Snow White. When producer Gil Cates overhauled the Oscar show in the aftermath of Carr's fiasco, he kept Margolis on board, and the director helmed the first four Billy Crystal-hosted Oscar shows, plus David Letterman's widely panned show and two from Whoopi Goldberg." THE ODDS

Sasha Stone reviews the eight years beginning in 1936 when the academy had 10 best picture nominees and discovers that "If tradition held, the best actor would have to be from a nominated film -- in this case, there are only two: George Clooney for 'Up in the Air' and Jeremy Renner for 'The Hurt Locker.' So if one assumed that 'The Hurt Locker' would win Best Pic, George Clooney would win Best Actor. If one assumed 'Up in the Air' would win, Renner would win Best Actor. If neither of these movies won, either of them could win. It’s just a lot of nonsense, I know, but we have a whole month, folks." AWARDS DAILY

Dave Karger kicks off a six-week series of video chats with colleague Missy Schwartz on the top Oscar races. In the first installment, they analyze the battle between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" for the best picture Oscar and the duel between Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") for the best actress Academy Award. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Sandra Bullock All About Steve Razzie Awards • While Sandra Bullock may be a front-runner at the Oscars, she is also in contention for the worst actress of the year award from the Razzies for her performance in "All About Steve." Good sport that she is, Sandra told Ann Oldenburg, "Thank God, that film is finally being recognized for something. They don't get it now, but in 10 years it is going to have a cult following. If I win, I am so showing up. I have to enjoy that as much as getting an Oscar nomination. It is the great balance in our business." USA TODAY

Jeff Wells wonders whether last month's DVD release of "All About Steve" hurts Sandra Bullock's Oscar hopes. Jeff thinks not, though he does believe if it had been released theatrically during the voting period -- as "Norbit" was in 2007, when star Eddie Murphy was nominated in the supporting race for "Dreamgirls" -- it might be a different matter. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

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Oscars poll: Will 'Avatar' or 'The Hurt Locker' win best picture?

Oscars poll: Will Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep win best actress?

Oscar nominations: Fascinating facts, figures and milestones

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Oscar nominations -- who got snubbed: Clint Eastwood, 'Star Trek,' Tobey Maguire ...

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Oscars welcome dozen first-time acting nominees, including Sandra Bullock

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Videos: Tom and Pete dish those rascally Oscar nominations

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My fearless, peerless, 100% perfect Oscar nomination predictions

Poll: Will Megan Fox, Beyonce or Miley Cyrus 'win' Razzie for worst actress?

Top photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Middle photo: Taylor Swift and  Stevie Nicks performing on the Grammys. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: "All About Steve" poster. Credit: Fortis Films

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