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The strangeness of that John Hughes tribute.

Nothing in last night's Oscar ceremony showed quite the lapse in judgment of the epically long John Hughes tribute montage, in the face of which everyone fell silent and wondered what they were watching. Sure, Hughes is widely beloved by '80s teens and even by '90s kids -- his death sparked an internet outpouring of emotion to almost rival Michael Jackson's. But that didn't seem to merit the separate montage and subsequent parade of oral tributes from Hughes' unofficial acting...

How Kathryn Bigelow's non-political movie has gotten politicized.

"The Hurt Locker"'s biggest achievement has been to get people to talk honestly about how we depict war on screen in a way that hasn't happened in a long time, with everyone's cards and biases on the table. That effect is helped by the vicious feedback loop of Oscar season, where the need to generate daily content about the same material leads to all kinds of weird, non-critical voices being unleashed -- which may be the only good thing about awards season. In the case of "The...

Revolution at the Oscars!

Two things to keep in mind as we race down the final stretch of awards season. One: "The Hurt Locker" is almost certainly a lock, having won other Best Picture prizes over and over and over. I favor the conspiracy theory where Kathryn Bigelow gets Best Director and "Avatar" wins Picture, but it's definitely a more fun horse race than usual. Two: please remember that this year everything we know about the Oscars will be upended. "You've never seen OscarĀ® like this...

Snubs, Stalin and stagnation amidst early Oscar reactions.

Last night, per tradition, there was a fake leaked list of Oscar nominations ("It's Complicated"!). This morning was the real thing, none of which struck me as particularly surprising, but what do I know? I'm no Oscar pundit! Okay, there were some small surprises. In the now doubled Best Picture field, the Coen brothers "A Serious Man" crept in over the more awards-baiting likes of "Invictus" and "A Single Man," serving as a Serious source of glee for...

Oscars 2010: The armed forces vs the alien insurgents.

Despite the early buzz around "Precious" and the timely subject matter of "Up in the Air," it's looking more and more like this year's Oscar race is going to come down to a battle of the exes, of the alien insurgents versus the armed forces, the most expensive film ever made against a particularly well-funded indie. The Academy Awards are going to war, and it's "Avatar" versus "The Hurt Locker" -- unless, of course, "The Blind Side" sneaks...

When the Honorary Oscar was cool.

Writing in appreciation of why Doris Day deserves to receive her honorary Oscar this year, the New York Times Douglas McGrath decides there are basically three kinds of honorary Oscars: those for inexplicably overlooked legends (Welles, Chaplin); those created by top-down friendship (Karl Malden lobbying for an honorary Oscar for Elia Kazan when he'd already won two); and those for people whose strengths were invaluable but hard to recognize within the existing categories (Fred Astaire's...

The late Roy Scheider guns for an Oscar.

Like many notable actors fallen on tougher times, the last decades of the late Roy Scheider's career -- pretty much everything after 1991's "Naked Lunch" -- went from the respectable paycheck (time on "SeaQuest DSV") to the rock-bottom video remainder pile ("Dark Honeymoon," starring Tia Carrere). Which is entirely too bad. Presumably, though, neither the director of, say, "Dracula II: Ascension" nor Scheider, who appeared in that film (and its sequel...

Awards season, the ultimate in existential challenges.

For the next three months, many film sites will be sucked into the awards-season horse-races, spewing thousands of words that'll date and curdle quicker than last year's "Daily Show." There are, in fact, whole careers built around the prognostication of the irrelevant. Over at the New York Times, David Carr's passed the baton of four years' worth of "The Carpetbagger" Oscar commentary to Melena Ryzik in video form, which makes for amusing yet grim viewing. It begins...

For your consideration: Sandra Bullock...?

This weekend, for complicated work-related reasons, I had to watch "All About Steve," the most-maligned of Sandra Bullock's three releases this year. If "The Proposal" is Bullock's straight-up romantic comedy and "The Blind Side" is a rare foray into playing middle-aged matron, "All About Steve" is a bizarrely misbegotten anti-romcom. She deploys crazed intensity in turning Mary, the ostensible protagonist, into a mass of twitches in a performance that...

Oscars Doc shortlist: same as it ever was.

Bemoaning the failures of the Oscars in the Best Documentary department has become an annual ritual, like spazzing about filing your income taxes or dusting off stale jokes about March Madness obsessions. So the news that this year's doc shortlist of 15 potential nominees is full of omissions and small obscurities is not a surprise. Many folks would've liked to have seen "Anvil! The Story Of Anvil," "Collapse," "Crude," "Tyson," "We Live In Public...

The death of the original screenplay...?

This week's favorite Oscar topic, besides last night's announcement that Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will be co-hosting the awards, is where all the original screenplays have gone. The Hollywood Reporter's Steven Zeitchik points out the a dearth of obvious candidates for the "Best Original Screenplay" category. If "Up," "Inglourious Basterds" and "A Serious Man" are virtual locks, what else does that leave us with? Zeitchik proposes "(500...