Taking Shots at the 2009 Oscar Nominations

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Look, it's early. We have a whole month till they hand out the Oscars on Feb. 22nd. And the Academy didn't do everything wrong. Slumdog Millionaire deserves it's 10 nominations. Milk totally deserves it's 8 nods. I'll have nastier things to say about the 13 nominations for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that put it in the top position on the leaderboard. But the fact that the Academy recognized two great performances in small movies -- I'm talking Richard Jenkins in The Visitor and Melissa Leo in Frozen River -- earns a salute even from an inveterate Academy hater like me. Now on to the idiot decisions:

--No nomination for The Dark Knight as Best Picture. Are you kidding me? Here's a smart, visionary movie that restored the good name to movie epics. And the Academy ignores it. And for what? The Reader, a well-intentioned but flawed movie about the repercussions of the Holocaust.

--Kate Winslet, who as far as I'm concerned should get a nomination for almost everything she does, gets nominated for the wrong movie -- The Reader instead of Revolutionary Road. It reminds me of that episode of Extras where Ricky Gervais goes up to Winslet, playing a nun, and tells her she'll never win an Oscar till she does a Holocaust movie. Ah, truth in comedy. Did Adrien Brody (The Pianist) really deserve to beat Daniel Day Lewis (Gangs of New York)? Did Roberto Benigni's crying clown act in Life Is Beautiful really merit a win over Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan) and Edward Norton (American History X)?

--No Best Actor nomination for Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. WTF! Playing a Korean war vet living in Michigan, Eastwood gave a signature performance. It's the acting branch that makes these choices -- the same dummies who gave Clint the Best Actor nomination for 2004's Million Dollar Baby that belonged to Paul Giamatti for Sideways. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Eastwood lost out to all that digital face painting Brad Pitt wore in Ben Button. Silly. If Clint had busted through the actors branch he might have given Sean Penn (Milk) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) a race for the gold since all the 6000-plus Academy members vote on the awards themselves, not just the actors.

--And while I''m trashing the actors branch -- do these idiots not understand how brilliant Kristin Scott Thomas is in I've Loved You So Long. Ditto Benicio Del Toro in Che. Double ditto Sally Hawkins in Happy Go Lucky. Come on.

--And what about the Best Song category. Not only does Eastwood compose a winner in the title track from Gran Torino, but Bruce Springsteen writes a stellar song for The Wrestler -- a song that perfectly captures the spirit of the movie -- and gets shafted. This category usually has five nominees. This year it's only three, which shows the shaft is intentional. That's how much the old farts in the songwriting branch know about music.

--Lastly, for now, the Academy had a chance in the Best Picture category to represent the artful best in animation. That would be Wall-E. No movie received better reviews last year. But the Academy has a ghetto category for Best Animation and quickly relegated Wall-E to limbo. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

OK, I've spoken, Now I want to hear from you. What are Oscars best and most boneheaded decisions in terms of this year's nominations?

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