Sunday, December 10, 2006

Welcome, all my friends, to the show that never ends ...

Well, actually, this show will be over next February 25 when Ellen DeGeneres takes to the stage of the Kodak Theater to get the 79th Annual Academy Awards underway. But the show began in full force this week when the film critics of the continent began dispersing their accolades to the movies and performances they felt were the best of 2006. Until the Oscar nominations are announced in the wee hours of January 23, it is these small groups of learned, (hopefully) informed folk who will set the tone for what may - or may not - be forthcoming from the Academy members. Some have compared the situation to the college football season, when a few polls and a computer determine which two teams will play for the still-mythical national championship, everything else be damned

This period can be both exhilarating and infuriating for true-blue movie buffs. It's fun and fascinating to see how a movie or an actor can take complete control of their category, especially if said movie or individual is a popular choice. At the same time, if a great performance seemingly is ignored, it can be pull-your-hair-out time. And then there is the knowledge that whatever the critics do or say could be shunned by the big boys themselves. Remember a few years ago when Sideways was out and everybody pointed to the work of Paul Giamatti as the sad-sack, borderline alcoholic schoolteacher who nearly lost Virginia Madsen. It would be the year of Jamie Foxx, who so kicked ass as Ray Charles in Ray. Foxx was the consensus choice for Best Actor, but Giamatti was nearly as much of a lock to be nominated. He even beat Foxx out for a couple of critics awards. But on the day the Oscar nods were announced, Giamatti was nowhere to be found, even as the movie and co-stars Madsen and Thomas Haden Church were recognized.

Who will get snubbed by the Academy this time around? We're far away from finding that out. But it's not too early to see what may be in store. This blog, having nothing better to do with its time (at least until spring training or the death of Castro) will keep track of the critics' awards, as well as other pivotal indicators such as the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, as the Oscar approach. You know, for kids.

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