Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Night Guide

Get ready to be nostalgic for the writers’ strike tonight. Another Academy Awards ceremony is preparing to lumber onto the airwaves. At J.B. Spins, we caution the kids out there about playing Oscar drinking games. Drink for every time someone kisses up to Clooney and you risk blackouts. A drink for every time somebody says something to offend church going, Iraqi Freedom supporting Americans could lead to fatal alcohol poisoning. Better to drink for every time Jon Stewart says something funny—you’ll be stone sober and could safely drive home.

As for the categories, it is the weakest field of nominees seen in years, particularly best score. Frankly, the music was the only aspect of Kite Runner I was not impressed by. Really, how many people have you heard humming the themes from Atonement or Michael Clayton? Grown adults seem insistent on showing their love for Ratatoille, so I expect to follow up its Grammy with a win here.

As for the documentary nominations, could they find a drearier lot of propaganda? In a year with great docs like The Rape of Europa, The Singing Revolution, and Manda Bala, the doc division seems intent on honoring anybody willing to whine about Pres. Bush into a camera. I’ll be pulling for Operation Homecoming, but fully expect the statuette to go to No End in Sight or Taxi to the Dark Side.

Many commentators have complained about the foreign film category this year. I agree 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days was robbed. Ordinarily, a nominee from Israel would have no shot, but as a film designed to weaken Israeli resolve to fight in the face of terror, I predict Beaufort will win out. However, The Counterfeiters is a great film with a decent shot. It might be too challenging for Academy voters if they actually see it, but if they simply vote on capsule reviews, it could win as a Holocaust film. Even though I have not seen Katyn, I am still pulling for it. Andrzej Wajda is a brilliant filmmaker, already an honorary Oscar winner, and Katyn is seen as his masterwork. Will a distributor pick this up already?

I am only making three predictions tonight. Most I hope will be wrong. A final prediction would be that the downward spiraling ratings trend will continue for tonight’s broadcast. With this slate of nominees, there just is not much to root for.