Handicapping the Oscar nominations

The Oscar noms come early this year, and once again as many as 10 films may be up for best picture. But which ones? And how many?

Here I have a handicapping, in descending order, of the most likely nominees in all the categories. After the nominations come out Thursday morning, check to see how well we (and you) did. My picks are below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gain the edge on the Oscar pool with shorts

In this week’s issue, I’ll be giving my predictions for the Oscars, which are on Sunday. The secret to winning the office pool? Seeing all the obscure films that no one known how to vote on.

Well, it’s not a secret how to do it — just track down the shorts programs.

For the past several years, the Magnolia Theatre has hosted screenings of the live action shorts and animated shorts — usually just for one week. This year, though, they’ve extended it — you can catch the films all weekend, up to and including Oscar night. The slate of films — the five nominated for best live action, the five nominated for best animated, and two additional animated shorts — are a hodgepodge of comic and sentimental.

But there’s an even rarer opportunity tonight only: You can see four of the five documentary shorts at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff. The docs have never been part of the Magnolia’s lineup, but the Texas Theatre has run them a few nights this week; tonight is the final chance to see them, at 7 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Some observations on my Oscar experience

Even though I’ve written a book about the Oscars, I’ve never actually attended any of their events, or come much closer than watching the show when it airs.

That changed earlier this week, when I attended the announcement ceremony from the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Hollywood. I had to wake up at 3 a.m. to get there for the media breakfast and be in place for the announcements, which took place at 5:38 a.m. (so that they were in time for the East Coast broadcasts of the morning news shows). It was a surprisingly lively event. Here are some of my thoughts at it was happening.

• The lobby is covered in red carpet — I guess that saves a lot of time laying it out every 15 seconds so celebs know where to go.

• The security is tight but the people are friendly. This is L.A. after all — you can never be sure who’s some journo from Dallas and who might be a segment producer for Access Hollywood. Or Harvey Weinstein’s personal assistant.

• An old man at my table at the media breakfast just got his foot wrapped on my bag’s strap, which was pressed next to my chair. “I’m gonna kill myself on that! Putting it under the table is better.” “Picking up your feet when you walk isn’t a bad idea, either,” I mutter. He then sat down and nearly took the table cloth with him when it gets caught on his foot. What’s the common denominator here? My bag or this guy?

• Some folks are wearing swag from previous Oscars. I am not among them. I decide this is a good thing, because then people might want to talk to you about it and I’m just a faker who bought my swag anyway.

• The breakfast looks busy and well-attended to me, but a few veterans of the event note that there are “fewer and fewer every year… They’re all going to Sundance.”

• Small world: I just bumped into Amy, a publicist for ABC. I had met her only the day before, at a friend’s house — she is the girlfriend of his roommate. She does a mean Madonna impersonation, though not here.

• I’m surprised that more people are not talking about the Oscars themselves, or even the movie business — handicapping who they think the nominees will be, what films they expect to get snubbed. I wonder if they are playing it close to the vest or really have become so bored by it this is just an inconvenient assignment. Or maybe they are afraid to look too anxious and fan-boy crazy.

• There is one exception. A guy I’m sitting near apparently has a gig as a handicapper of the visual effects category. He says Hugo isn’t feeling the love and neither is Harry Potter — those will likely be passed over. The surprise nominee, he predicts, may be Real Steel, though he wonders if it and Transformers 3 — two robot movies — will both get nominated. He does predict Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the frontrunner to win “as compensation for not nominating Andy Serkis.” Captain America also seems a lock…

• Only he’s wrong. Yes, Rise and Steel both get nods, but so does Transformers and so do Hugo and Potter. Captain America is overlooked.

• After so much cool, a few minutes before the velvet rope is removed to allow folks into the theater, and without any public announcement, the “first admit” passholders magically start lining up like airplane travelers jockeying for the shortest wait. They care…

• Finally, the ceremony is over and folks are pouring over the press release, looking not just at what movies got nods, but who. They are not all journalists here — some probably are Harvey Weinstein’s assistants, or at least folks from corporate who have bosses in the running. Or personal grudges. “No, he didn’t make the list,” one says into a cell phone. “Ohh, she got nominated — he’ll be pissed!” another observes. Half of show business is business…

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Feedback • 11.18.11

Double standard

Since the gay community and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation throw such fits when we feel we have been insulted or slighted (Wanda Sykes starring in a commercial chastising a group of teens using the term “so gay,” Blake Shelton coming under fire for anti-gay comments and most recently Brett Ratner resigning as producer of the Oscars for using the word “fag” in what was deemed a derogatory way), I am surprised and ultimately disappointed in the double standard the Dallas Voice borrows to do business their way.

In the article “Driver’s Seat” (Dallas Voice, Nov. 11), staff writer Rich Lopez actually quotes Drew Ginsburg as saying “Well, if you buy a SAAB, you’re retarded.”

First of all, I cannot believe he would use the quote and secondly, and more significantly, I cannot believe that a proofreader or the editor allowed this to go to print.

One would expect a certain level of professionalism, sensitivity, maturity and social responsibility to have prevented this from happening — not to mention human decency.

I hope others speak up about this, if only to raise awareness that the Voice needs to be more responsible and less hypocritical of what they don’t approve of, and ultimately take more caution in the future about what goes out the public. This is irresponsible journalism and further proof that Ginsberg is a jerk.

Geoffrey Bruce, via email

…………………….

TO SEND A LETTER  |  We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

—  Michael Stephens

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

In this week’s episode, Rich Lopez and I talked about former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s anti-gay tweet, the Oscars, Perez Hilton at SXSW, Equality Texas Lobby Day, the GSA controversy in Corpus Christi, and more.

—  John Wright

Queer Music News: Singer Rufus Wainwright is now a daddy; James Franco is no Cher

• I had no idea singer Rufus Wainwright was in want of a family. And now he has one — in that modern family kinda way. This was posted on his website this past Saturday. And this doesn’t makes us feel icky like another celeb and his new baby.

Feb 18, 2011

For Immediate Release:

Darling daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born on February 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California to proud parents Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt. The little angel is evidently healthy, presumably happy and certainly very very beautiful.

Daddy #1 would like to offer everyone a digital cigar and welcome the little lady in with a French phrase from his favorite folk song, A La Claire Fontaine : “Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, jamais je ne t’oublierai.”

CORRECTION: In many of the articles announcing the birth of Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, Lorca Cohen is characterized as “the surrogate.” Of course, she is no such thing. She did not carry the child for someone else. Lorca Cohen is the mother of the baby and Rufus Wainwright is the father.

Towleroad posted this track of James Franco’s version of Cher’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from Burlesque, which was to be an apparent gag drag performance for this weekend’s Oscars. Now, it isn’t — and that’s a good thing.

—  Rich Lopez

Movies: Conviction, Jackass 3D, Cleopatra, Oscar’s Foreign Film List and More


Jackass
Johnny Knoxville and the boys are up to their old tricks again.

 

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…watches trailers through fingers (too many spoilers) and waits impatiently for the feature. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


NOW PLAYING
Are you seeing JACKASS 3D? I still remember hurting from laughing at the first one. If 3D must exist, let it be attached to gimmicky pictures like this, that might have some appropriate use for it and that are only worth watching in theaters with big crowds. The MPAA, the puritanical movie ratings board, has been in the news a lot lately. First they made the huge stupid blunder of giving BLUE VALENTINE, a wrenching marital drama, an NC-17 for no defendable reason. Now they've helpfully started labelling movies with a "male nudity" descriptor and Jackass 3D is one of the first to be so shamed. Never mind that the MPAA has never in their history placed "female nudity" on a rating. Apparently "nudity", the regular acceptable kind, is entirely the province of the female sex.

Conviction CONVICTION, the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) who became a lawyer to free her brother (Sam Rockwell) from a life sentence without parole is also opening. It's a bit generic given that it's a) a courtroom drama and b) you always know where it's going –helpful hint: they tend to make movies of the true stories with happy endings — but it's quite watchable and the actors do a lot to elevate the material. My favorites were Juliette Lewis, who the world needs more of, in a showy cameo and Sam Rockwell, who could even fetch an Oscar nomination as the unpredictable convict. And yes, he drops his pants briefly…again. Rockwell loves to moon us. Where's the MPAA? "Male Nudity!"

BONUS SCENES

 road Who are these fierce bitches and what do they have to do with this year's Oscar race?

Find out AFTER THE JUMP

Dragqueensportugal

That's Cindy Scrash and Jenny Larrue, two queens from Portugal. They're starring as rival transsexual cabaret stars in the Portuguese Oscar submission TO DIE LIKE A MAN. While Oscar has handed statues to some trans-related films like All About My Mother and Boys Don't Cry in the past, it's not usually their kind of thing. Here are Cindy and Jenny doing the classic duet "I Know Him So Well". (This is not a clip from the movie.)

To Die Like a Man is directed by João Pedro Rodrigues who previously brought you the explicitly gay and rather disturbing O Fantasma (2000). To Die… didn't get much attention earlier this year at Cannes but at least one critic thought it was one of the very best of the venerated fest.

 road If you want to see the whole Foreign Film Oscar Submission List, click here for extensive information charts designed by yours truly. Each year sees around 65 films competing for the 5 coveted "Nominee" slots.

Undertow I've been covering this race in depth for ten years and generally among the sixty-plus films there will be one to three that are gay-themed or…uh… gay adjacent. This year, besides Portugal's transsexual drama, there's a Slovenian film about a cop who becomes obsessed with the life of a bisexual man who committed suicide and I assume there are gay characters sprinkled in a few others though info is still coming in. Gay festival favorite, UNDERTOW (previously reviewed here at Towleroad), from Peru was also submitted. Peru won their first nomination ever in this category just last year, so maybe they'll experience leftover goodwill from the voters?

The two most famous faces in this year's competition are Gael García Bernal who stars in Spain's EVEN THE RAIN and Javier Bardem in Mexico's BIUTIFUL which comes out in December this year… but even if you don't recognize the other names, there's a ton of beautiful actors in the submission list if you'd just like to gawk (Alexander Skarsgård's little brother is among them.)

Picture 4  road James Cameron (Avatar) is considering a Cleopatra biopic to star Angelina Jolie. It doesn't really sound like a Cameron project given his taste for boundary pushing f/x and genre films in general. But then… one can always dream. Here's mine for challenge-junkie Cameron: Dump Angelina. Convince Elizabeth Taylor to come out of retirement to recreate her signature role and develop a new technology that will make La Liz look exactly as she did back in the early 60s when she and that Cleopatra were bankrupting the studio.

 road Paul Verhoeven, infamous Dutch director of Showgirls and Basic Instinct, who recently had a critical hit with Black Book (well worth a rental), is coming back to Hollywood for Eternal, a sexy ghost story.

 roadDo you think Tom Cruise will really do this Top Gun 2 thing?

 road Amy Adams is joining the new Muppets movie. Please let her have a duet with Miss Piggy. Or Gonzo.

 road Let's end with a new image from BURLESQUE. Is Xtina is trying to bring the hand bra back?

Burlesqueimage

Will Cher be pleased or is that too much of a Barbra thing?


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Movie Monday: Heads will roll in ‘Machete’

‘Machete’ succeeds in B-movie glory

Some elitists used to think the ”B” in B-movie stood for bad.  Well, they weren’t out to win Oscars.  They were just lower-budgeted pictures without big stars and some of them were more fun than their more expensive brethren. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have made it their mission to bring back the Bs, bigger and better than ever.  The results have been mixed but still reach a pinnacle of sorts with Machete, expanded by Rodriguez and company from a fake trailer in the 2007 release of Grindhouse which featured a classic double-bill of Death Proof by Tarantino and Planet Terror by Rodriguez.

Like Russ Meyer’s films Machete works on two levels.  It has enough boobs and booms to please fans of cheap action movies, but others will see it as a hilarious spoof of that genre.  Like Avatar, it has a liberal political message that may go over conservative heads.

For the full review, click here.

DEETS: Machete starring Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Danny Trejo. Rated R. 105 minutes. Now playing in wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

And the nominees are…

I will be a guest on The Rick and R.J. Show on RationalBroadcasting.com talking about the Oscar nominations, but until then, here are the contenders for the top awards this year (and, with the exceptions of A Single Man, Precious and Nine, hardly a notable gay connection in the bunch):

Best Picture: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Best Director: James Cameron, Avatar, Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker, Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds, Lee Daniels, Precious, Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart, George Clooney, Up in the Air, Colin Firth, A Single Man, Morgan Freeman, Invictus, Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Actress: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side, Helen Mirren, The Last Station, Carey Mulligan, An Education, Gabourey Sidibe, Precious,  Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, Invictus, Woody Harrelson, The Messenger, Christopher Plummer, The Last Station, Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones, Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Nine, Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart, Anna Kendricks, Up in the Air, Mo’Nique, Precious

Animated Feature: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Grammys are gone, but the Oscars are right here

Now that the Grammys are finis, it’s time to look to the film world: Tomorrow morning, the Oscar nominations come out. And it’s kinda a crap shoot.

Last year, the Academy announced that for the first time since the 1940s, they would allow 10 best picture nominees instead of the usual five. Problem was, in October, as I looked at the slate of upcoming releases, I could only see two — Avatar and Nine, after Scorsese’s Shutter Island was pushed to this month — that looked to have “Oscar-caliber” written on them. Now, things change when the films are actually released (Nine ended up being a dreadful misfire), but who needs 10 spots when it looked hard to fill five?

More about my predictions after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones