NEWS

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January 24, 2009

The not very curious case of the Oscars

In "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Brad Pitt plays a man who slowly tranforms into an Oscar over the course of his life.

WHAT'S remarkable about this year's Oscars is how unremarkable they are--except in a few cases. All the movies nominated are Oscar vehicles, though not necessarily big-budg ones:

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which was so self-consciously gunning for the Academy's plaudits that its color scheme seems to be a number of variations on Oscar gold.

"Slumdog Millionaire," everyone's favorite Third World pick-me-up, got nine nominations including Best Director and Best Picture.

The Academy bucked critics by choosing "Frost/Nixon" and "The Reader" as Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor/Actress nominees, but the way Kate Winslet and Ron Howard have been blitzing the talkshow circuit, you knew they'd get their due. Plus, the Golden Globes have already coddled these clunkers.

And then there's "Milk." A solid biopic--will it win for political reasons? The only film among the Best Picture lot that was basically ignored by the Golden Globes.

The only upsets? "The Dark Knight" got shafted, the soppy "Revolutionary Road" didn't fare well, and Clint Eastwood got the brush. Richard Jenkins and Melissa Leo got a nod for their turns in the relatively unknown "The Visitor" and "Frozen River."

As the economy spirals gracefully down the toilet, it seems that the Academy wants to stage a grand cotillion of escapism.