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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Oscars

    Wedged discretely between the Super Bowl and March Madness is another, oft-unsung excuse to bring gambling to the workplace. No, it’s not tennis – but if you want to start a French Open pool at the office, be my guest – it’s the Oscars!

    Yes, the 81st annual Academy Awards ceremony airs live on Sunday, Feb. 22, giving you just less than two weeks to get out and take in all the socially-relevant, cinematic splendor that defines this year’s academy nominees, or to read the IMDB synopses, which might be just as rewarding in some cases. Amidst the escalating climate of our nation’s social and economic strife, it’s little wonder that all of this year’s top nominees send messages of hope. Here is a rundown of this year’s big names:

    Slumdog Millionaire

    In one sentence: Life’s a bitch, then you win a million dollars.

    Why it’s nominated: British director Danny Boyle made a bold move by making a Bollywood love story, but it has already paid off. The underlying, moralistic theme of karma and destiny is refreshing in this story of extreme oppression, and despite the graphic violence, the film’s final act is a real crowd-pleaser.

    What it’ll win: If “”Slumdog”” doesn’t take best picture, it’ll get a screenplay nod at the very least.

    The Mysterious Case of Benjamin Button

    In one sentence: “”Forrest Gump”” in reverse.

    Why it’s nominated: America loves the story of a disadvantaged Southern boy going on wacky adventures and learning about the meaning of life and love. The visuals are stunning and the script is good’n’folksy, but overall it’s just not that compelling of a story.

    What it’ll win: Button will sweep the technical awards, but will ultimately be overshadowed by Slumdog where it counts. David Fincher may get tossed the directing Oscar as compensation.

    Milk

    In one sentence: You can fight city hall, but you can’t fight narrow-minded rednecks.

    Why it’s nominated: Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) was a champion of gay rights, but more importantly human rights. Everyone likes to see the charismatic underdog turn authority on its ear, and Penn plays that part expertly under Gus Van Sant’s superb direction.

    What it’ll win: Milk will beat a slew of comedies in the Original Screenplay category, and Penn just might steal the acting Oscar from that melancholy mass of muscle Mickey Rourke.

    Frost/Nixon

    In one sentence: “”I am not a crook; but I am a liar.””

    Why it’s nominated: Ron Howard has found his niche in inspirational, non-offensive historical fiction. Instead of outright lampooning the ex-president, Frost/Nixon shows both the title characters as sympathetic, dynamic personalities, giving the jowly Nixon a chance to redeem himself through honesty.

    What it’ll win: Probably nothing. The film just isn’t risky enough to take on its fellow nominees.

    The Reader

    In one Sentence: Things tend to go downhill once you discover that your lover is a Nazi.

    Why it’s nominated: Kate Winslet plays perhaps the most sympathetic Nazi ever, and gives heart to yet another tragic tale of the post-WWII world.

    What it’ll win: Winslet will take best actress, but the movie is likely to be overshadowed by “”Button”” and “”Slumdog””.

    Does the fact that these nominees are socially relevant necessarily make them “”the best”” movies of the past year? The answer to that is entirely subjective – as are the Oscars, themselves – but that, as Frost/Nixon might suggest, is the beauty of America! Everyone gets a say! Now, here’s mine:

    THE 1st ANNUAL SPECKTOR AWARDS

    Best Picture: “”In Bruges””

    The script is utterly inappropriate and endlessly hilarious, the cast is charming – including, surprisingly, Colin Ferrell – and the ending is strikingly emotional. Overall, the most affecting thing I’ve seen since “”There Will Be Blood.””

    Most Interesting Biopic: “”Milk””

    The true story of political personality Harvey Milk is fascinating from beginning to end, told with full flair in signature Van Sant style. Thankfully, there is no actual milking.

    Least Interesting Biopic: “”Flash of Genius””

    Being the incredible true story of the renegade who invented intermittent windshield wipers! Truly, the art of wiping will never be the same.

    Best Movie for Children, Stoners: “”Horton hears a Who!””

    Wait a minute, man … so there’s like, another world on the top of that flower? Dude …

    Best Movie for Stoners, Bigger Stoners: “”Pineapple Express””

    Wait a minute, man … so there’s like, drug dealers hunting down other drug dealers? Dude …

    Biggest Surprise: “”Teeth””

    Despite the subject matter being, well, gross, this tale of young love and barbed vaginas is actually one of the most original, captivating indie flicks in years.

    Biggest Disappointment: “”Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull””

    Aliens? Nuclear explosions?! Shia LaBeouf?! God must be dead.

    Most Cumulatively Attractive Love Triangle: “”Vicky Christina Barcelona””

    Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, and Penelope Cruz are a visual delight, acting ability notwithstanding. If only director Woody Allen would get in on the action. Ooh la la …

    Least Original Title: “”The Happening””

    Tagline: Sometimes, things … happen …

    Most Original Title: “”The Midnight Meat Train””

    Honorable mentions: “”Young People Fucking”” and “”Beer for My Horses””

    Best one-liner: Liam Neeson, in “”Taken””

    “”Jean-Claude, I will tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to!”” We know, Liam. We know.

    See you at the movies.

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