The Oscar scorecard: Your cheat sheet

ARGO

‘Argo’ is the unlikely frontrunner for best picture.

For years, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has tried to add some drama to the Oscarcast — hard, since by the time Oscar night rolls around, so many other groups have presented their awards, few surprises remain.

Well, this year, they finally may have achieved their goal — if for the wrong reasons.

With nine films nominated for best picture, but only five nominated for best director, there were bound to be some shut-outs, but the snubs of directors Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Top Hooper (Les Miserables) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) — all prior Oscar winners — in favor or two newcomers sent predictions into a tailspin. Add to that the continuing success of Argo in best picture competitions (Golden Globes and BAFTAs; the Screen Actors Guild’s equivalent, best ensemble) and Affleck’s own victory as director, not only is Argo the unlikely frontrunner for best picture, there is no frontrunner for best director.

So what’s gonna happen?

That’s what the Academy hoped you’d ask.

When the world goes upside down like this, almost anything is possible — especially in the best actress category, which is wide open, and best supporting actor, which looks like a two-man race but which could allow a spoiler. Here are your best bets to win the office Oscar pool (the Oscars will be presented Sunday night, broadcast on ABC):

NOTE: If you wanna challenge yourself with Oscar trivia from me, I’ll be hosting a show Sat., Feb. 23 on Facebook’s Hollywood Babylon fan site starting at 1 p.m. Central!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Film award nominations: Golden Globes, SAGs and more

In the last 24 hours, two major groups have announced their nominations for some of the film awards of the season — the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Add to that Film Independent Spirit Awards, and the landscape is shaping up.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, of which I am a voting member, will announce our winners next Tuesday.

More on the nominations after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Ladies and gents, we give you the worst film of the year

In Silver Linings Playbook, Pat (Bradley Cooper) — a mentally unstable romantic and Philadelphia Eagles fan (as if those aren’t all the same thing) — gets out of the loony bin a skosh too soon. He went in due to his nervous condition, to-wit: He nearly murdered a man who was buggering his wife, and went to a mental hospital rather than jail. But mom wants his home for the holidays and checks him out. Bad idea. Pat delusionally believes his wife still wants him back, and goes ape-shit all over the depressing ‘burb where his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, both slumming it shamefully) to prove he’s worth having back. Problem is, every time he hears the song “My Cheri Amour,” he gets violent. (The Stevie Wonder song that should set him off, though, is “Superstition” — his dad is a bookie who blames losses on the TV remotes not being properly aligned.)

Even the thumbnail description of this execrable piece of cinematic detritus sounds banal, and I’m not exaggerating to say my write-up is 10 times better than any 30-second stretch of SLP, which defiantly sets out from the opening scene to be the unchallenged Worst Film of the Year. It wins by a landslide.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones