First a quick update on Earl the Dog, the hero of the last piece: Earl is fine and ran around the block with me yesterday.
It's Oscar season once again, and it's the one time of year when I put my money into a pool. This year, I've got the Oscar Pool Blues. Yes, I know, not even Yoda can predict the future.
When I make my Oscar picks, I try not to think about who should win or who I want to win. I think about who will win. All ideas about artistic achievement and film aesthetics go out the window when I do an Oscar pool.
This year, my hardest question is the last category of the night. Will the Best Picture be Babel or The Departed? I've seen them both, and they're both good. They are about the same thing---people who are displaced or not where they belong. Babel explores this theme internationally with three interlocking stories set in different countries. The Departed uses the cops and gangsters template to create heightened tragedy.
Then, there's Little Miss Sunshine, and we sunshines have to stick together. And how many movies have two Proust scholars (who meet in a gas station) and a boy who reads Nietzche?
Best picture thinking aside, here are my Oscar pool picks:
Actor: Forest Whitaker If you want to be a little crazy, pick Peter O'Toole. He's never won one, but he does have a lifetime achievement Oscar.
Actress: Helen Mirren
Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy It's either him or Alan Arkin as Grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine.
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson
Director: Martin Scorsese Apparently, Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppola will be presenting the Best Director this year. Kodak moment.
Foreign Language: Pan's Labyrinth However, The Lives of Others could also take it.
Adapted Screenplay: The Departed
Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine
Animated Feature Film: Cars or Happy Feet Do you go with the victims of global warming (the penguins) or the cause of global warming (the cars)?
Art Direction: Dreamgirls or Pan's Labyrinth
Cinematography: Children of Men Grim, this movie is so beautifully grim. Even the yellows and reds are muted.
Sound Mixing: Dreamgirls
Sound Editing: Letters from Iwo Jima
Original Score: The Queen
Original Song: ‘Listen' from Dreamgirls The song will be from Dreamgirls. I'm going with ‘Listen' about a woman finding her voice. However, ‘Patience' about times being bad has a chance too.
Costume: Dreamgirls or Marie Antoinette
Documentary Feature: An Inconvenient Truth Enough with the recount jokes already.
Documentary Short: Two Hands I saw all the Documentary Shorts at the Aero. It's either going to be Two Hands or The Blood of Yingzhou District.
Editing: Babel The Departed and Babel tied for the ACE Eddie award for drama. Just one of those little facts that mean absolutely nothing, but you could throw it out when you fill in your office pool and sound like you know what you're doing.
Makeup: Pan's Labyrinth
Animated Short: The Little Matchgirl
Live Action Short: Eramos Pocos
Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
So after all that thinking and predicting, my final question is: what do the Oscars measure anyway? A level of achievement? A moment? A talent? Yes, they might just be hype for the Academy. Yes, great films don't win Oscars. Still, there's something magical about the Oscars beyond the comedian host and the pretty dresses and the agent thank-yous. I just think they're fun.