19 February 2009

Random Oscar Blither

For the first time in a long time, I haven't actually seen ANY of the movies [Well, I saw a snippet of WALL-E but not enough to think I've actually seen it.] up for awards this year. So my discussion of said movies is based on what I've read, combined with a whole lot of experience with reviews and award shows through the years.

Here are my predictions for some of the Oscar winners on Sunday.

Best Picture
My pick: Slumdog Millionaire
Oh, the prestige! Few awards are so hotly contested, and faddish wins may become reviled just a few short years after the fact. [See: Crash] Self-important Hollywood types like to stuff a lot of ideology into this category, as well, leading to further mis-steps by academy voters who are somehow impressed by shallow left-leaning rhetoric and attempts at moralizing (which never work if there is no solid objective basis for morality in the value system often presented by such films). [See: Crash] That being said, I'll put my hypothetical money on Slumdog Millionaire, which is a huge sleeper hit with heart appeal (which, unlike fads and politics, tends to age well), while also having indie cred and multicultural appeal ("This movie has dark-skinned people in it! Does that outrank all the gays in Milk? Oh no, I don't know how to cast my politically correct vote!").
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Too quirky and ponderous, I think, although this is the likeliest challenger for the Best Picture honor.
Frost/Nixon - YAWN. Enough with movies about Nixon and Watergate. Why are people obsessed with Watergate? BORING. I'd like to see, instead, a movie about all of Joe Kennedy's illegal and otherwise illicit activities. A blockbuster just waiting to happen.
Milk - Eh, overdone and too political for general appeal. Just by virtue of having Sean Penn.
The Reader - Sure, it's Holocaust Oscar-bait, but it had a lower profile than any other nominee except maybe Frost/Nixon. Dark horse.

My pick: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. Though if Boyle has any sense at, he will invite his Indian co-director, Loveleen Tandan, up to the platform with him, even if the award is not officially shared with her. And not to open a debate about the issue (which stems from academy rules regarding nominations), but I suspect the film would not have the same impact without her work, so such an action would be appropriate and entirely deserved.

Best Actor
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) should be clearing space on his mantel. As many others have observed, not only are the role and performance just the sort of showy underdog/comeback story that Oscar loves [See: The Champ and so forth], but they reflect Rourke's own personal and professional return to grace, a circumstance that Oscar also loves.

Best Actress
Kate Winslet should finally bring home a statue, not only for her performance in The Reader, but as compensation for all the times she's been nominated and hasn't won in the past. Among her competition, Meryl Streep has won Oscars already and so is just the prestige nomination, Melissa Leo is the obligatory indie nod but won't pull enough votes, and Anne Hathaway and Angelina Jolie round out the category as the standard "well, attractive actresses are overwrought and glum-faced, so it must be great acting"entries (although, this ploy has worked for many Best Actress winners from Mary Pickford on down).

Best Supporting Actor
Matilda, come and get your (daddy's) Oscar! Heath Ledger has the scenery-chewing AND sympathy votes locked in this category, not to mention votes from any people who are still miffed that he didn't win for Brokeback Mountain a few years ago (get over it, people; his stiff non-emoting would have gained no attention if the movie hadn't been about homosexuality, which means that it wasn't very good acting) . All the other nominees might have given brilliant performances, but unless one of them manages to die tragically before Sunday night, I don't think enough people care about them.

Best Supporting Actress
Always the most varied and interesting of the acting categories, pulling in nominees and winners from cute little kids and ingenues to seasoned veterans, featuring character roles of all kinds. [See: Too many examples to list here.] In a way, it's nice, because it gives a chance for actresses to shine even when they aren't in "leading lady" mode. I admit, this is the most difficult call of this year's Oscars. Marisa Tomei is out, simply because she already got one of them sixteen years ago. Someone mentioned that Woody Allen movies often make a good showing for actresses at award time, which puts Vicky Cristina Barcelona's Penelope Cruz in a good place. However, other buzz has placed Taraji P. Henson as the front-runner here, particularly if Benjamin Button does not win many or any other awards (the supporting acting categories often being handed to representatives of Best Picture nominees). On the other hand, Viola Davis is getting some quiet but definitely gathering support for her distraught mother role [Always an Oscar favorite, of course; see: Holy cow, can't you just believe me?], while Amy Adams has a definite chance at the Oscar because she didn't get one for her standout performance in Junebug a few years ago. Both Davis and Adams are in Doubt, so unfortunately, there is a possibility of them splitting votes from voters who favor that movie, essentially cancelling each other out and leaving the category open for one of the others. So I'm going to say that with the exception of Tomei (sorry!), this Oscar is anybody's to grab, and I'm going to just wait and see.

07 February 2009


I can't believe it has been a year since you were born. But we've had a good time together, haven't we?

Even before you made your entrance into the outside world, there were things I already knew about you. I knew you were a little boy. I knew that you were very healthy. I knew that you were active and energetic (I should have known that you weren't much for sleeping), and you really liked caffeine (you'd jump around when I drank coffee or tea).

I also had some strong suspicions about how you'd turn out, and you rarely disappoint.
  • I thought you'd be pretty smart, considering that statistics were in your favor. Nobody could doubt that you are an extremely bright little boy.
  • I believed that if you were dark, you'd look like your daddy, and if fair, you'd take after your uncles. You have gone the blonde route, and you do indeed bear a great resemblance to the baby pictures of both your Uncle Mike and Uncle Robby.
  • I am not surprised that you are strong-willed, and you want to do things your way. I am sure we will have battles as you grow older and your way begins to conflict with my way.
  • It seemed likely that you would have at least some affinity for math and science. I had no idea you would display your gifts so early: You instinctively understood doors and hinges as soon as you were old enough to scoot around and examine them. You absolutely love anything electronic. You are already very spatial. You're obviously analytical; sometimes I can almost see the wheels turning in your tiny head, as you make connections and solve problems. I think you will turn out to be a mechanical engineer, but we'll see what the Lord has for you.
There are things about you that I never, ever thought would be true.
  • I had no idea you'd turn out to be a shameless flirt. You are all about the ladies; you have an almost unerring instinct for selecting and focusing on those who will be susceptible to your charms, whenever we are out in public. It is comical to watch you after a rare misfire: You are so confused and indignant that you have not yet become the center of attention. But you have a charisma, and it is so evident, to the point of being recognized and commented on by professional actors. I have never seen a baby draw so much positive attention on a regular basis, and you already know how to work a crowd. Use your powers only for good, my son.
  • I did not know how much you would adore the kitty cats and want to be friends with them.
  • It never occurred to me that you'd love me so much, and actually want to be with me. We're going to be best buds (even though I know you won't admit it after age 12).
I always tell people how great you are, how happy and good-natured. You are Superbaby, a dream child if there ever was one. You became slightly less dreamy when you started teething (utterly normal and healthy, of course), but you are still hands-down the sunniest baby I've ever known. You make mamahood fun and comparatively easy.

I am excited to discover what adventures we'll have in your second year.

Love always,