My Oscar picks and Why I think 10 Best Picture Nominees is a Good Thing

Forgive me, Sully Baseball fans… I need to do another Oscar post.

I just watched The Blind Side. It was a sweet, flawed, well intentioned movie that should have been a made for TV movie, but is harmless. Seeing that film means I have seen all 10 Best Picture nominees before the ceremony this weekend… thus keeping my insane Oscar obsession alive.

Of course they have changed the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 this year, partly as a response to popular films like The Dark Knight and WALL-E being snubbed last year.

And it seems like one of the popular things to do in cyberspace is write about what a lousy idea 10 nominees is.

I disagree. Not to be a contrarian, but I think 10 Best Picture nominations has turned out to be a fantastic idea.

This isn’t like expanding the baseball playoffs or the NCAA tournament to allow lesser teams a shot to win it all. The Oscars are subjective and the widened Best Picture race has allowed for nominees that reflect the different tastes of viewers and have a better chance to have a film to root for.

Do you like big mongo blockbusters?
Well then you have Avatar and Up to root for.

Do you like critically acclaimed films that may have eluded blockbuster status?
Then cheer on The Hurt Locker.

Are you turned on by showcases for acclaimed directors?
The Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man are for you.

Do you like big movie stars carrying a film?
Then I bet you loved George Clooney in Up in the Air or Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.

Do you like movies where new comers steal the film?
I suspect you loved An Education or Precious (which was evidently based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.)

How about if you love films revolving around shrimp looking creatures trapped in South Africa?

It’s safe to say that District 9 is probably the best film revolving around shrimp looking creatures trapped in South Africa.

I think the change is a great one… and still doesn’t prevent controversy. (My favorite film of 2009 was the unnominated In the Loop… but who is keeping track?)

The Oscar show is this weekend and it is one of the highlights of my year… and I think I am the only person on the planet who never gets bored by the show and doesn’t mind how long it is.

And this year will be interesting with an ex husband and wife tandem competing for the big prize… and I think that neither James Cameron nor Kathryn Bigelow are walking away empty handed.

I think The Hurt Locker is going to win Director and Screenplay but Avatar will win picture… similar to how Traffic won Director and Screenplay in 2001 but Gladiator won the big Kahuna.

Jeff Bridges (who should have won for The Fisher King… a film where he wasn’t even nominated for) is getting his long overdue Oscar. And I am picking with my gut when I say Meryl Streep will upset Sandra Bullock.

For what it is worth, here are my picks:

BEST DIRECTOR – Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
BEST ACTOR – Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
BEST ACTRESS – Meryl Streep – Julie and Julia
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTATION – Up in the Air (Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner)
BEST EDITING – The Hurt Locker
BEST MAKE UP – Star Trek
BEST SONG – “The Weary Kind” Crazy Heart
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – China’s Unnatural Disaster

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Happy birthday to two friends and potential rivals

As I have written before, I have twin boys. I had hoped to raise two Red Sox fans, but living on the West Coast has conspired against me.

With absolutely no prompting on my part, my boy Matty declared himself a Dodger fan. And I must say looks good in Dodger blue.

My other boy Aidan, the one who made so many correct picks last October, has aligned himself with his grandfather and become a Giants fan. And the Orange and Black look good on him!

I hope this continues… the thought of twin brothers rooting for arch rivals is too delicious to pass up. (Especially as I can watch as an impartial Red Sox fan.)

When I mentioned my boys at the end of Reverse the Curse of the Bambino, they weren’t even born.

Today amazingly they are 5 years old. And I have always claimed that you truly start following the ins and outs of a pro team when you reach 7.

We’ll see in 2 years if they remain Dodgers and Giants fans.

Happy birthday buddies… your daddy loves you and can’t wait to take you to many many ballgames.

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Hey Women’s Basketball… change your schedule and thank Sully later

Seriously, women’s basketball… you should be starting your NCAA tournament RIGHT NOW!

And not just this year, but every year the women’s NCAA tourney should be in early March.

Actually it should be wrapping up now with the bulk of the tournament in February. Instead the women play at the same time as the men… which is great and empowering and Title 9 and all of that, but it also ensures that NOBODY is watching.

Think about it… between the end of the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four, sports is a wasteland.

There’s NOTHING! The NBA? They are grinding along their regular season where at this point the only suspense is “Which team will rank 8th in the conference and be slaughtered by the Lakers or Cavs in the first round?”

The NHL? The Stanley Cup Playoffs don’t start for a few months… when most sports fans all say at the same time “Christsake, they are still playing HOCKEY?”

People are so starved for sports that people show up to the NFL Combine.

That’s right… the sports pages are so barren that NFL hopefuls running wind sprints count as news.

As for baseball, at this point it is time for split squad spring training games. You will forgive your pal Sully if he can’t get into a game where the big leaguers who DO show up play only 4 innings and by the end, the game is played with a pitcher wearing number 98 1/3 and the hitter will start the season with the Lowell Spinners!

This year we did have the Olympics… but Johnny Weir and company can’t be there every year to quench our sports thirst.

If the Women’s Tournament were going on now, they’d be one of if not THE top story in sports.

I am not saying it will surpass football in popularity… but think about it in movie terms.

The biggest seasons for movie goers are the summer and Christmas time, and that’s when the studios wheel out all of the blockbusters.

In some of the slower months, they release films that would get swallowed up against the blockbusters but do well with specialized audiences. Smaller horror films do well in the fall. A romantic comedy like Valentine’s Day would get no press in the summer, but becomes a big hit in February.

So think of Women’s basketball as the niche release during the lean month and a half between the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

And lest we forget one of the big reasons why the NCAA Men’s tournament gets so much attention:

Office pools!

Why else do people who don’t know Syracuse Basketball from Devry Basketball during the regular season suddenly get interested in March?

They are fun to fill out and it makes you pay attention to games you wouldn’t normally notice.

That’s right… women’s basketball needs to embrace greed, gambling and the need to yell “in your face!” to a fellow office mate.

There’s a month and a half wide open.

I’m not saying I am going to become a huge women’s basketball fan, but it HAS to be more exciting that watching drills in the combine!

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