Barry Cutler, who has graced Off-Ramp with his comments about George Carlin, “A Christmas Carol” flimflammerist Kevin von Feldt, and impersonating Abraham Lincoln for schoolkids, annually handicaps the Oscar nominations for his friends. Here’s his email:
First, I would like to disown the person who wrote this email - one so engrossed in this silly contest and the choosing of best in the arts. It's a ridiculous notion which should not be encouraged. The Oscar telecast is a trashy waste of time. (The right to argue about these awards, however, is an important civil liberty.)
Best Actor - My choice would be Colin Firth, although everyone in the category is worthy except Morgan Freeman (in this particular performance). Jeff Bridges will win.
Best supporting Actor - My choice would be Matt Damon because he was very good and I'm sick and tired of the silly-ass acceptance speeches Christoph Waltz composes at each ceremony, but Waltz will win.
Best Actress - My choice is Carey Mulligan but, rather than going on merit and accuracy, the members will go for popularity and/or wrong category and will choose either Sandra Bullock (because they like her, they really like her and -other than in “Crash” - she's never been a contendah) or Meryl Streep (because she is the greatest but she's in the wrong category).
Best Supporting Actress - My choice is Julianne Moore (who isn't nominated because the Academy members are, how do you say?, f---ing fools). Still, if Penelope Cruz would go to bed with me in payment for my vote, she'd win pants down. But, even though I don't think I really like the person, Mon'Nique certainly earns and will get the award. (Samantha Morton should have received a nomination as well.)
Best Animated - My choice would be “Fantastic Mr. Fox” but they will give it to the good but one of the most overrated films of the year “Up!”
Art Direction - Even though it doesn't deserve ALL of the technical awards I would gladly have “Avatar” win them all if it removes any pressure to give it best film and/or director. Here it probably earns it.
Cinematography - I haven't yet seen “The White Ribbon” by one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. For now, my choice would be “Hurt Locker” but I'm guessing they'll give it to “Avatar.”
Costume Design - Haven't seen “Coco before Chanel” and wonder how they ignored the wonderful “Single Man,” directed by a fashion designer. No idea. I know nothing of how they really select this award. Is it how well costumes support the film or how pretty everything is? The costumes in “Bright Star” supported well.
Directing - I haven't yet seen “White Ribbon” but I am positive Michael Haneke should be in this category. Of those in it, my choice is easily Kathryn Bigelow and hope and think the Academy will choose her as well. After that I'd go with Jason Reitman. After that Tarantino. After that Lee Daniels. The absolute last - after all not nominated - would be the technician Cameron.
Documentary - I've seen only two so far. I'm a great admirer of Daniel Ellsberg, but didn't see the film. Of what I saw, I am strongly for “The Cove” and think it will win. I'm surprised and glad Michael Moore, who I enjoy, wasn't nominated.
Doc short sub - no idea. (Please note that an actor and commentator refrained from expounding on something he doesn’t know about. – Ed.)
Film editing - My choice “Hurt Locker.” Probable winner “Avatar.” “District 9” was also very good.
Foreign Language - I haven't seen any of them but, based what I've seen in the past and know of the films, I am for “White Ribbon” and think it will win.
Make up – “Il Divo” was a terrific movie and, since this is its only nomination, I'd like to see it win. But they will probably give it to “Star Trek” because it gave a lot more employment to make-up artists.
Music - Here is the first place I should mention one of the best films of the year and one of the all time great children's film, which was totally ignored in the nomination, “Where the Wild Things Are.” The score was perfect and should have won this category. Of those nominated, “Hurt Locker” best supports the film. But they will probably go for schlock, which means “Avatar” or “Up!”
Song - Again, don't know if they choose the most supportive or most likeable. I seem to be one of the few who really liked the film*“Nine” and this could be its only award. But I liked “Crazy Heart” as well and I think “The Weary Kind” will win. (*Yes, Barry. You and one other. Not me. – Ed.)
Best Picture - My choice and, I think, the winner will be “The Hurt Locker,” which is one of the greatest war films ever made. I have a feeling “The White Ribbon” should have been included in this category. “The Blind Side” is one of my favorite books and least favorite films - turned into a somewhat racist lie. An ugly populist choice. “Up!” is greatly overrated. “Where the Wild Things Are,: one of the great children's films, should have been included. I'm a big fan of “Up in the Air,” “An Education,” “A Serious Man,” “Precious,” and “District 9,” although none of them should be chosen over “Hurt Locker.” I even like “Avatar” - although I would rage and retch if it won.
Animated short - no idea.
Live action short – ditto.
Sound Editing - Again, I root for “Hurt Locker” but think it will go to “Avatar.”
Sound Mixing – ditto.
Visual Effects - Probably “Avatar,” although “District 9” was clever and great fun.
Adapted Screenplay - I love “An Education” but I really like “Up In The Air” and think it will probably win this.
Original Screenplay - My absolute favorite would be “A Serious Man” but the goy will probably choose “Inglorious Basterds” (which does have the delight of watching Jews slaughter Nazis). Screenplay was good but not strongest point for “Hurt Locker.” “The Messenger” was a terrific screenplay but the movie probably wasn't popular enough. “Up!” could win if evolution is really dead.
I’m sure Barry is wrong about half of these, so give him hell in the comments section below!
(Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp.)