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Ruminations - And the Oscar goes to... Not Quite Yet!

Ruminations - And the Oscar goes to... Not Quite Yet!

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Bright and early (well at least here on the West coast) last Tuesday, all eyes and ears in the entertainment industry were focused on the announcement of the nominations for this year's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual awards, a.k.a. the Oscar's.

Looking over the results there are likely more questions than answers about who is up for what. Some surprises and some disappointments, as well. But that's not unexpected for Oscar is a fickle beast. One year he favors a particular genre, and the next heads off in a totally different direction. Where last year it was all about Hobbits and company, this year it seems that drama is the focus.

In the surprise category, I was somewhat stunned to see Brad Bird nominated for Best Screenplay for "The Incredibles". On one hand, this is a great honor for a fine film. But on the other, with a bit of knowledge into the process of how a Pixar production goes from start to finish, it is interesting to see only his name attached to that credit, and receiving this kind of recognition. But there is some heavyweight competition in this category, and he will likely end up the dark horse candidate. But even long shots manage to come in first from time to time. 1982 and "Chariots of Fire" come to mind as a best example.

Along the same lines, there was considerable buzz that "Incredibles" might have been nominated in the "Best Picture" category. Consider the films that did make the cut, and again, you can see long shot written all over the possibilities. Perhaps more interesting is that "Polar Express" did not receive a nomination in either the "Animated Feature Film" or the "Visual Effects" categories. Instead, it finds competition with both "Incredibles" and "Spider Man 2" in the "Sound Editing" and "Sound Mixing" categories; and with "Shrek 2" in "Music (Song)" category.

I know a lot of folks had interesting feelings about "Polar Express". Some found the art direction a bit alarming in the effort to capture the feel of the drawings from the popular children's book. My particular enthusiasm for steam locomotives not withstanding, I did enjoy the film in IMAX and 3D. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it became a perennial favorite of both IMAX theaters and audiences during the winter holidays.

Johnny Depp and "Finding Neverland" did well in the nominations with a total of seven nods including "Best Actor" and "Best Picture". But with his win for "Pirates" not all that long ago likely to still be fresh in the minds of voters, I would look for Jaime Foxx or Don Cheadle to take home Oscar instead.

"Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events" was rewarded with four nominations for "Makeup", "Music (Score)", "Art Direction" and "Costume Design". As well a match for the talents of Jim Carey it might have been, one might have expected a nomination for his performance. But that was not to be. But it's nice to see Thomas Newman, with recognition for his well matched score, continuing the family tradition.

Even the latest "Harry Potter" installment managed to bring home a pair of nominations with one each for "Music (Score)" and "Visual Effects".

And despite the latest round of bad timing for release date displays, "Phantom of the Opera" managed to find four nominations, including the two Music categories, "Score" and "Song" for "Learn To Be Lonely".

Sadly, Alex Woo's "Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher" did not make the "Short Film (Animated)" nominations, despite an impressive list of accomplishments including winning the Gold medal in the Animation category in the Student Academy Awards last June. Not to say that further recognition wouldn't have been nice. Don't worry about Alex, though. He's joined the folks at LucasFilm Animation as a story artist.

Perhaps the two most interesting films not receiving the attention of the Academy were Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" (without a single nomination) and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" not being among the Foreign film nominees. The latter did receive three nominations for "Music (Score)", "Makeup" and "Cinematography". Oscar is nothing if not fickle and these last two items should illustrate better than ever how popularity one day does not last in Hollywood now more than ever before.

Still, it should be an interesting telecast for this year's award ceremonies. With Chris Rock stepping into the big shoes as the host of the show, he's got a lot to live up to. After Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal, it's a hard road to keep the audience from changing channels or getting up to search for that tasty snack. After such laudable failures as David Letterman ("Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Uma."), how Chris Rock fares is more of a gamble than Vegas action on some of the categories.

And yes, just like many of you, I suspect the day will find me planted in front of the tube watching the events unfold. The folks at ABC wouldn't want it any other way.

Next week: How about a Disneyland Top 10? It's a look at things you shouldn't miss on your next visit to the Disneyland Resort.

Just because it's no longer front page news doesn't mean the folks at the American Red Cross still don't need your help. Their efforts for Tsunami Relief continue and your support will always be appreciated.

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