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Those Things Again: Edelstein on the Oscar Nominations

Inglourious Basterds.

The 6 billion words about to be written on the Oscar nominations cannot disguise a sense of déjà vu. In a parallel universe, these nominations have already been announced and the awards already given. We’re all just going through the motions.

Maybe we didn’t foresee that among the ten Best Picture nominees would be the South African–apartheid bug allegory District 9, but we can henceforth expect a nod or two like that. What shall we call them? They are not “dark horses” but “dark knights,” in honor of the blockbuster that inspired the category’s expansion. This year’s other dark knights are Inglourious Basterds and maybe Up. The egregiously anti-Semitic An Education probably wouldn’t have slipped in with only five Best Picture slots. Certainly not (the not-anti-Semitic) A Serious Man.

Among the acting categories, I am stunned to see Penélope Cruz in Nine in lieu of Sigourney Weaver … but then, I’m stunned to see Nine nominated for anything other than Razzies. Had the great Stanley Tucci received his first nomination for Julie & Julia, I’d be over the moon; for The Lovely Bones, the most fitting response would be to moon the Academy. (Note to the Razzies: I’d respect you more if instead of piling on Michael Bay and Megan Fox and Eddie Murphy, you’d have nominated everyone involved in such Oscar bait as Nine and The Lovely Bones.)

I’ll be rooting (fervently but without much hope) for Colin Firth. Streep and Waltz should win, deservedly. I hope Kathryn Bigelow and the Coens and the guys who wrote In the Loop take home prizes, but I wouldn’t put money on any of them. All the docs are worthy. I’ll be rooting against The White Ribbon. Otherwise, I’ll be in my usual post-nominations, pre-ceremony funk.

What twenty years ago people talked about 50 percent of the time when they talked about movies, they now talk about 90 percent of the time. (The other 10 percent of the time they talk about grosses.) My colleague Logan Hill reported from Sundance that people were wondering whether Julianne Moore or Annette Bening would be nominated for Best Actress for The Kids Are All Right. Think about that: The 2011 Academy Awards are thirteen months away. The word after the premiere is that this is a provocative movie about a family with two mommies, with two great actresses at the peak of their powers. But the question on everyone’s mind is, Do you nominate them both? Is one a Supporting Actress? Days like this, I want to cry.

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