Testing, testing. One, two, three. Is this thing on? Can you hear me?
Okay, let's go. I'm back. Sorry about that unintentional gap, life got a bit crazy busy for a minute there, but now I'm back.
And it looks like I'm back just in time. On Sunday, a bunch of millionaires will gather in an opulent hall to give each other gold statues. Yes, it's the Oscars, otherwise known as the Gay Super Bowl.
So, I'm going to run through the nominations for best film and give you my predictions. Foolish, I know. We can all have a laugh next week when it transpires I'm a complete idiot.
I haven't seen all the nominated films yet as I've been busy preparing my house for quake repairs, but I have managed to sneak out and see quite a few.
I missed this at the festival last year, but now regret that. It has slowly gathered prestige and buzz over the past few months, gaining award nominations and wins at the recent Baftas.
It's tempting to think that, given the film's subject matter, the predominantly elderly members of the academy might favour Amour.
It's an outsider, but it could be in with a chance.
I think Argo is going to win the Oscar.
Personally, I have been quite surprised by the success and praise for Argo. I thought it was a perfectly serviceable thriller with a slightly cheesy ending.
Also, the racial politics of the film made me feel slightly uneasy. You could replace any dark-skinned cast member with a zombie and the film would not be any different. That scene in the marketplace was distinctly dodgy. This film should be called White Fright or Scary, Scary Foreigners.
Also, I thought it was strange that Ben Affleck played a character who in real life was Latino. For a film that trumpeted its fidelity over the end credits, it seems odd to replace the Latino hero with a white dude.
So, I left the cinema feeling slightly underwhelmed, but I think Argo will win because it feels like Ben Affleck's time. He has paid for his chin dimple cheesiness with a trilogy of smartly directed movies that have made it to the mainstream with Argo. It seems fitting that his chin dimple was artfully concealed beneath a beard in Argo: his transformation from bum chinned action star to bearded auteur is complete.
Also, Argo portrays Hollywood types as all-American heroes saving their compatriots from tyranny. Never underestimate the academy's penchant for self-congratulatory nonsense.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Now, this one I did catch at the festival. It's lovely. A beautifully touching story of a little girl searching for her mother in a tumultuous, New Orleans-tinged world.
It's great, but it won't win. The nomination is a well deserved nod. It's one of those nominations that wouldn't have happened a few years back when fewer films were shortlisted, a bit like District 9.
Wow, Django Unchained is so many kinds of fun.
Quentin Tarantino seems to be the only mainstream modern film director with both critical praise and popular appeal. He makes films that wow cinephiles and rake in the money - very rare.
He also seems to be the only director in Hollywood allowed to make big budget, but deeply eccentric, esoteric and singular movies.
Django is a fricking hoot and if the academy weren't such a bunch of cowards it would win the Oscar.
To paraphrase Kevin Keegan - I would love it if Django won.
All this Miserables mania seems odd to me. When I was a kid, my mum was a massive Miserables fan. On long car journeys we would be forced to listen to a double cassette of the music. Consequently, I know all the tunes, but have little affection for the thing. When I lived in London, it was just some musical that was on forever. I would look up at the giant hoarding whenever I passed the theatre where it played for about seven centuries.
Then, this movie comes out and all of a sudden all these Miserables maniacs spring from nowhere. I didn't realise Les Miserables had seeped so steadily and comprehensively into mass consciousness.
Until the film came out I never heard much mention of the musical. It's as though the fans are sleeper agents that were triggered by the release of the movie. I feel like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Haven't seen it, can't be bothered. But, you know, I'm sure it's great.
If Argo doesn't win, this is my second choice.
Life of Pi.
I refer the jury to my previous comments on this matter.
I haven't seen this one. It looks kind of boring and talky. I think the most interesting period of Abraham Lincoln's history is when he was a vampire slayer.
I can't believe Spielberg chose to make a film about the boring part of Lincoln's life, rather than the vampire slaying bit.
What a tit.
Silver Linings Playbook.
Again, haven't seen it, but I would very much like to.
It looks like a sensitive and interesting portrayal of mental illness and I am a big fan of David O Russell. If only for this clip:
I don't think it will win. It seems to be one of those films that gets branded as Oscar bait. You can smell the slight whiff of flop sweat on a pair of actors, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, desperate for Oscar acceptance and approval.
"We don't just make puerile films about hungover kidults or children forced to murder each other, We're bona fide Ac - Tors."
Zero Dark Thirty
I absolutely loved Zero Dark Thirty. I loved it so much I think it deserves a blog posting of its own later this week.
Suffice to say, I found it utterly gripping and compelling. Sadly, it won't win. Again, the Academy are a bunch of cowards. They will choose black and white American triumphalism over Zero Dark Thirty's many shades of grey.
Zero Dark Thirty is the best film on this list.
But, what do you think? Which film do you think will win the Oscar on Sunday? What was your favourite? Are they the same film?
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Shakespeare play causes scores to faint (graphic content)