The Oscars are on tonight, right?

Blah blah blah I am not excited about the Oscars this year.

I am not excited about trying to celebrate the bleakness that was Film in 2011. There were a few solid, good movies out there and a lot of… Sigh. A lot of trying to grasp at relevancy. A lot of trying to fit in while dumb down. It’s in my DNA to care about the Oscars and to be curious about winners and bitch about nominees and what have you, but the urge is just not strong enough this year to watch. Normally, when this flaccid about the Oscars, I’d at least watch the opening, then turn away, and check back in during the last hour, but this year… This year I’m going to follow Benjamin Light’s lead, and perhaps just keep one eye out on twitter, tumblr, and, shit, I don’t know… Yahoo! news, maybe? Ugh.

But I know. “Another guy bitching about being unenthusiastic about the Oscars.” How boring, right? Believe me, I’ve tried. I’m just not there. But like A. O. Scott said, “Oscar cynicism has become its own special form of Oscar hype.” Too true, I guess.

So anyway, I’m going to put up a thing here of my predictions of winners this year – just cause. Just cause it’s in my DNA, as I said. Review, debate, ponder, ignore, do as you please. Let’s look at the Top 7 Categories of Oscar Interest:

Best Picture

And the nominees are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree Of Lie, and War Horse.

Fuck me. I’m not feeling any of this. Y’know, last year they added an additional 5 nominees to the Best Picture potentials and somehow The King’s Speech still beat out The Social Network.

Let’s talk about movies that don’t have a chance here: Midnight In Paris, The Help, and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. And Moneyball. I’ve seen Midnight In Paris, and it was okay, a fun little film, Woody doing Woody nicely, but Oscar material? No. Sorry. And that right there, ladies and gents, is the Theme of this year’s Oscars. Moneyball is a solid, good film, but nothing about it is strong enough to win an Oscar. But let’s not shit ourselves, we all know where this is heading: The Artist vs. The Descendants.

I’ve not seen The Artist because I think that I might rather watch paint dry on a mirror. I am enamored by old, classic Hollywood as much as the next amateur film geek sounding off from their internetastic soap box, but I’m not that hard up. The Descendants was a solid film, and it was about cancer and infidelity and bringing a family back together and a girl cries underwater. This is all Oscar material. I want The Descendants to win. I want that (I guess), but I suspect that The Artist will take it. Why? Because I think that the Weinsteins are going to prove to us yet again that money trumps talent every time.

Best Director

And the nominees are: Woody Allen, for Midnight In Paris. Michel Hazanavicius, for The Artist. Terrence Malick, for The Tree Of Life. Alexander Payne, for The Descendants. Martin Scorsese, for Hugo.

The winner will be: Alexander Payne.

I’ve seen some people predict a split and predict that The Descendants will win Best Picture and The Artist will be the Best Director choice, but… Nahh. I can understand an argument in which you judge the Act of Directing to be different from the Completed Product/Finished Film, and yet… those two should be so intrinsically connected that I would think that the Best Director winner would automatically cue you in to the Best Picture winner, but… What do I know? Everything. Nothing. Everything. Nothing! I don’t know.

Best Actor

And the nominees are: Demián Bichir, for A Better Life. George Clooney, for The Descendants. Jean Dujardin, for The Artist. Gary Oldman, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Brad Pitt, for Moneyball.

Again, I’ll admit that I have not seen The Artist, but I’m not enthused to (and I’ve long nursed a suspicion that you could judge all Oscar movies and their corresponding performances by the trailers, as weak of a suspicion though that may be), and I have my doubts about that being a Best Actor-worthy performance. I haven’t seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, only because it wasn’t playing anywhere in a theater remotely around me (thank God it comes out on DVD in March), but I like the idea of Gary Oldman winning, you know, just to fuck with people. IYFF, Hollywood. And Brad Pitt is a solid actor, always, and will someday have a performance that will be more than worthy a Best Actor statue, but to me, that performance wasn’t happening in Moneyball. So… George Clooney.Yeah.

Yeah. Sure. Yeah. That’s my pick for the winner.

I mean, c’mon, he’s the closest we have to real, functioning Hollywood royalty these days.

Best Actress

Glenn Close, for Albert Nobbs. Viola Davis, for The Help. Rooney Mara, for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Meryl Streep, for The Iron Lady (as Maggie Thatcher). Michelle Williams, for My Week With Marilyn.

Sadly I’ve only seen one of the movies that had one of these performances, and because I am a huge dork and Fincher fanboy, it was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Rooney Mara’s performance was very strong in that film, and equal parts very alien and very, very humanistic, at least compared to the terrible Swedish adaptations of those novels, but I don’t know if I think there’s a Best Actress performance there. And I doubt the Academy thinks so either.

I suspect you’ll see this award go to Meryl Streep, because she does a physical change and she plays the British Godzilla we call Maggie Thatcher, but I’d be okay with either Glenn Close or Michelle Williams winning, especially Michelle Williams, to further propel her along on an interesting career.

Or Viola Davis, just to make people spit out their drink when this award doesn’t go to an old white lady with blonde hair.

But, even still, my prediction: Meryl Streep.

Also, did I read this all right and Shailene Woodley is not nominated for anything? Seriously?

That makes me want to cry underwater, yo.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, for My Week With Marilyn. Jonah Hill, for Moneyball. Nick Nolte, for Warrior. Christopher Plummer, for Beginners. Max von Sydow, for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.

My suspicion/hope: Christopher Plummer. Beginners was, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, one of those movies that I really wanted to see last year but just never got around to seeing for whatever reason. I have a good feeling about the movie, I guess.

Runner up suspicion/hope: Kenneth Branagh.

Third choice: I don’t know… Max von Sydow? Though, that said, I would strongly like to see Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close win nothing.

Side note: I originally mistyped that was “Extremely Cloud And Incredibly Loose.” Ha ha! Anyway. Here is another picture of Michelle Williams in pseudo-Marilyn mode (because we want those hits to be through the roof on this post):

I doubt Nick Nolte will take it, just because… well, who saw that movie? That’s the one with Bane vs. Uncle Owen, right? Whatever. And JONAH HILL, ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME!?!? I suspect his inclusion here is just the work of some jokester in the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences wanting to see if anyone actually even reads this shit.

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, for The Artist. Jessica Chastain, for The Help. Melissa McCarthy, for Bridesmaids. Janet McTeer, for Albert Nobbs. Octavia Spencer, for The Help.

My suspicion: Man, I don’t have a clue.

Octavia Spencer?

This is a picture of Bérénice Bejo:

And this is another:

Anyway, I have not seen a single one of these movies, so this is a real guess. The Weinsteins want to buy Best Picture awards, so I don’t think they care about Best Supporting Actress awards. And Jessica Chastain… I don’t know. I feel like she’s someone, like Jeremy Renner and Sam Worthington, that somebody in Hollywood really, really, really wants to make happen, so you’re going to see them crammed into a lot of shit. Kind of like how Spielberg adopted Shia LeBeowulf for a while and shepherded him for a while until that plane crashed into the mountain. And Melissa McCarthy? Is her performance worthy of an Oscar or is this someone trying to say that these awards are “relevant” and capable of being “edgy”? You tell me.

I was going to cover both Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay, because I am a writer nerd. I collect all the Screenwriter Trading Cards! But the nominees for Best Original Screenplay are boring as shit this year, so instead…

Best Adapted Screenplay

And the nominees are: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, for The Descendants. John Logan, for Hugo. George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon, for The Ides Of March. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin, for Moneyball. Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

My suspicion: Sorkin and Zaillian.

No, I take that back. My suspicion: The crew from The Descendants. Partly because a Google image search for “Sorkin COCAINE” came up with a lot of boring hits, but also because…

The Dean from Community with an Oscar? That’s total LOL worthy. That’s EPIC LOLZ FOR DAZE worthy. There’s an amazing meta-in-joke on a future episode of Community (whatever that looks, tastes, feels like) there. Shit, you might as well just had Jim Rash host the ceremonies this year in character as the Dean from Community. I mean, cause why the fuck not?

I read something somewhere the other day that said that they suspect that Alexander Payne develops his projects based on where he could film them, and that made me LOL hard.

Runner up guess: The duo who adapted John Le Carre.

Closing thoughts: The Ides Of March, based on the play, Farragut North, was an okay film, but just okay. Clooney and Gosling and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and even Evan Rachel Wood were all just okay in it. There wasn’t a whole lot to chew there. Sadly, I feel like The Ides Of March are more out of place here than even Moneyball is. Also, I don’t think the guy that wrote Star Trek: Nemesis (which, you’ll remember, or not, starred Tom Hardy as Captain Picard’s clone) should be allowed to be nominated for an Oscar. Sorry, bro.

Final category: The Host.

Billy Crystal? Ugh.

This seems like a direct continuation of The King’s Speech winning last year. A return to the tired and the slightly boring. Granted, the Oscars is always a conundrum, and a study in contradictions. The old classic Hollywood vs. the new, the exciting, the experimental. And I think the celebration of those sides is always lost, or the mix is always wrong. The artists who are always pushing this medium forward aren’t being celebrated and encouraged and appreciated like they should. Last year’s debate of The Social Network vs. The King’s Speech was really about the New vs. the Old, and guess what? Boring won. (I’m going to guess that perhaps Weinstein $$$ didn’t hurt that debate tipping to one side over the other.)

Okay, and I don’t hate Billy Crystal, with all the changes they made and their attempts to “revolutionize” and update the Oscars, they’ve basically already said they’re in trouble. An infusion of new blood wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I’m sure there’s equally vanilla hosting options out there, ones that are still something new to this operation. Maybe. Maybe not.

Anyway, Brett Ratner producing was just too bizarre, as was the idea of Eddie Murphy hosting, which would’ve been interesting, but ultimately a pipe dream. An insane, fascinating pipe dream, but Eddie’s gotten too weird with his ego lately. Maybe he could have co-hosted with Scary Spice? Or maybe not. Speaking of Eddie and Scary Spice…

Benjie Light and I discussed this before, but I don’t think that James Franco and Anne Hathaway being chosen as hosts was necessarily a bad choice, but the bad choice was to make them work (with an unfair division of labor because Franco was obviously stoned the whole ceremony and Hathaway was trying to compensate) with the same tired staple of Bruce Villanch jokes. There’s got to be better, edgier, and quite frankly, smarter and safer host choices out there. At least a host that can pick their own joke writers. A Jon Stewart, perhaps? Or Tina Fey? Donald Glover. I’m just spitballing here, but I’m liking it.

Anyway. Tonight’s the night. Let’s see where we end up…

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Ol’ Blue Eyes.

This:

Sinatra with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel–only worse. For the common cold robs Sinatra of that uninsurable jewel, his voice, cutting into the core of his confidence, and it affects not only his own psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip within dozens of people who work for him, drink with him, love him, depend on him for their own welfare and stability. A Sinatra with a cold can, in a small way, send vibrations through the entertainment industry and beyond as surely as a President of the United States, suddenly sick, can shake the national economy.

That’s from a brilliant profile of Frank Sinatra that Gay Talese did back in 1965 for Esquire, entitled “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold.”

It’s been called the best store that Esquire has ever printed, which I might just agree with. It’s not just a great celebrity profile, but a great one considering it was done up close and personal but without the cooperation of the primary individual being scrutinized. There’s a fantastic little confrontation between Harlan Ellison and Sinatra that’s mentioned and you really see Sinatra struggling with maintaining his own relevance. There’s a lot more that I’d like to say about it, but instead… Well, I just suggest that you read it instead. It is worth your time.

Videos killed the internet star.

Okay, I’ll admit that title makes no sense. Whatever. Some days you feel like being clever and coming up with good to decent to passable titles for your blog posts and some days the things on your mind CAN ONLY BE EXPRESSED IN ALL CAPS.

I’ll get back to you on what kind of day this is.

Anyway, some videos that I’ve come across in the past few days on the internet (yes, I’ll admit that these are all a few days old):

1. One of the new promos for Conan O’Brien’s upcoming show on TBS (debuting next month). This is just excellent stuff:

And it looks expensive-ish. Finally, with the addition of Conan, TBS’s tagline of “very funny” is actually becoming accurate.

2. The latest episode of Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, this time interviewing Bruce Willis.

…which you can find here. I don’t dislike this little gimmick that appears online every now and then on Funny Or Die, but it’s kind of one note. That said, Willis’ episode feels especially great to me. Why? Just cause.

3. That dirty/hot/bizarre sex scene between Mary Louise Parker and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris!) on Weeds recently. I don’t watch Weeds but I do love that several people emailed me a link to this. Thanks, fellow internet weirdos.

That’s just the preamble to it all. You can find it talked about here and actually see it here (at around the 23 minute mark).

3 1/2. I’m really starting to hate the name Zack in any and all of it’s forms. No offense, but if you’re going to go name your kid Zack, then fuck you. It’s not 1987 anymore.

from here.

3 3/4. People doing condom tricks on youtube. Yes.

4. The intro to The Simpsons, as story boarded recently by Banksy:

Bottom line: It was pretty great. And all over the internet already. Shockingly it happened on major network TV when similar issues can’t be addressed on the cover of major magazines. Also, probably the best thing to happen on The Simpsons in, what… ten years? Jesus. Why not Banksy story board an entire episode next.

5. For cross promotional reasons, Michael J. Fox recreates the Back To The Future teaser trailer for the Scream Awards on Spike. And also because it’s the 25th anniversary of the film:

Back To The Future nostalgia is definitely something I can get behind, but that Spike thing just seems so sad. I’m just amazed that it’s taken a quarter of a century for us to actually see some of the footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. I mean, shit, this isn’t news. We all knew that he was originally cast in the movie and did five weeks on it. Even Fringe referenced this. Of course, the footage scene in that clip floating around the internet is just meh, but the wowza really hit me, like a lot of people, when we saw that alternate fading away photograph:

Sea Dogs…

…was, up until the 16th century, the original name that mariners had for sharks:

As of right now, mariners and seamen (and women) don’t have a cooler nickname for pictures of hot girls with animal heads:

But you just know they’re working on it.

The other day, bored at work, Conrad and I noticed one of those stupid internet games and, just for shits and giggles, played along. This one: Go to google and put in your name followed by the word “needs,” as in “Conrad needs” and list the first five hits.

Five things that Conrad needs: Help, help, a friend, a kidney, and to die.

I’m still laughing at that.

Five things that Marco needs: A sleeping bag, help (always), a release (always), “to learn,” and a beer. Thanks, internet!

Obama let Kim and North Korea save face. But, also, Bill Clinton is still The Man.

The Village of the Twins. Twin Village!

How Netflix gets movies to your mailbox so fast.

Afghan elders strike truce with the Taliban.

HAARP energizing the ionosphere.

Porn for women more interested in raising some fast cash now rather than raising penises.

Newspapers vs. The Web: Has this war been fought before?

Mystery face found in archaeological dig.

Pandorum.

Axelrod’s son hired by HuffPo.

Sewage sludge kills White House veggie garden.

Curry war.

The Non-Profit Media Model?

Riding a Great White.

A drop (of blood) in the ocean.

Robo-Shark!

Bruce the Shark.

from here.

A Gross Of Goblins.

The Swine Flu is getting more serious, yo.

The corrections of the NYT.

Gym attack.

I don’t know how Kick Ass won’t be controversial.

The trailer for The Lovely Bones.

Teen Satanists may be a bit irrational. Hormones and hellfire mix oddly.

Wank, Austria.

Slow moving UFO over Washington state.

Vladimir Putin: Shirtless, horseback.

Fireman and his wife accidentally burn down house during hot, hot sex.

A cure for extinction?

Bubbles The Chimp to pen a tell all memoir about Michael Jackson. Shoot me now, people.

Skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images.

I’ve been inspired by Woody Allen week to revisit a lot of old Ingmar Bergman stuff. I’d seen the classics – Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal and Persona, of course – years ago, but there’s a lot I still haven’t seen. I have Cries And Whispers on VHS somewhere in my bunker and I really need to find that. And August Bravo gave me one of the versions of Fanny And Alexander a few years ago. Also, you know which of his movies I’ve always wanted to see? The Silence. For real.

Bergman and Ingrid Thulin during the making of The Silence, 1963.

Woody Allen on Ingmar Bergman, part 1:

“Film as a dream, film as music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul. A little twitch in our optic nerve, a shock effect: twenty-four illuminated frames in a second, darkness in between, the optic nerve incapable of registering darkness. At the editing table, when I run the trip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood: in the darkness of the wardrobe, I slowly wind one frame after another, see almost imperceptible changes, wind faster — a movement.”

-Ingmar Bergman

A sterling example of how film lovers are smarter than non film lovers: one of the first things we’ve learned is that you don’t play chess with Death!

Woody Allen on Ingmar Bergman, part 2:

“During a career that spans some four decades, he has made about 50 movies, and in those movies he has created an immediately recognizable world. Whether it is the distant allegorical realm of The Seventh Seal or the banal domestic one of Scenes From a Marriage, this world is a place where faith is tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory at best. God is either silent (as in Winter Light) or malevolent (as in The Silence), and Bergman’s characters find themselves ruled, instead, by the capricious ghosts and demons of the unconscious. More persuasively than any other director, Bergman has mapped out the geography of the individual psyche — its secret yearnings and its susceptibility to memory and desire.”

Michiko Kakutani

“Among today’s directors I’m of course impressed by Steven Spielberg and Scorsese, and Coppola, even if he seems to have ceased making films, and Steven Soderbergh — they all have something to say, they’re passionate, they have an idealistic attitude to the filmmaking process. Soderbergh’s Traffic is amazing. Another great couple of examples of the strength of American cinema is American Beauty and Magnolia.

-Ingmar Bergman, in 2002

Did Bergman get a pass over his Nazi past that Gunter Grass didn’t?

Ang Lee on Bergman.

Bergman and Woody Allen.

Roger Ebert on Persona, not just once, but twice.

A nice review of The Silence.

“I write scripts to serve as skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images.”

-Ingmar Bergman in The New York Times, January 22, 1978