God's Index Finger

George Clooney in his Happy Place

George Clooney. I have finally resigned myself to the idea that Argo will likely win the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday despite the fact that only three other films have received the honor without an accompanying Best Director nomination (and only one - Driving Miss Daisy - in the last seventy years). But I haven't hopped on the Argo bandwagon because of its seemingly unstoppable momentum at the Golden Globes, BAFTA's or SAG, WGA and DGA Awards. I think it will win Best Picture because of who gets the award if it does. A lot of people think of Argo as a one-man accomplishment of the mega-talented Ben Affleck (who was a key element in bringing us such film classics as Pearl Harbor, Daredevil and the immortal Gigli). But Argo has two other producers who will mount the stage to collect statuettes if the film wins Best Picture: Grant Heslov (who, let's face it, no one reading this gives a rat's ass about) and the afore-mentioned Mr. Clooney. You may not be aware of this but with his Best Picture nomination for Argo this year, Mr. Clooney set a record for being nominated in more Oscar categories than anyone else in history with six.

George Clooney in Leatherheads
You heard me: that distinction doesn't belong to someone like Charlie Chaplin or Walt Disney. The most well-rounded artiste in Oscar history is the creative force behind Leatherheads, who has been nominated for Best Actor (three times), Best Supporting Actor (winning for Syriana), Best Original Screenplay (The Ides of March), Best Adapted Screenplay (Good Night and Good Luck), Best Director (also Good Night and Good Luck), and now Best Picture; and he's done all this while banging a different supermodel every night in his luxurious Italian villa on top of a pile of money. I liked Argo but I thought it was a fairly run-of-the-mill espionage thriller with a ludicrously over-the-top ending and a far cry from the best movie of the year (which for my money was the sublime French film Amour, which made me cry like a little girl). But I've decided that Argo is the one to beat because while the other Best Picture nominees have some famous names behind them like Steven Spielberg, Cameron Mackintosh and Kathryn Bigelow, only Argo was helmed by someone with Jehovah's carefully-lubed index finger inserted lovingly up his anus. Mr. Clooney's charmed life has allowed him to cultivate a smugness which reached its apex when he won his first Oscar for Syriana and he raised a stink for absurdly giving Hollywood credit for the civil rights movement (because they gave an Oscar to African American actress Hattie McDaniel "when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters," overlooking the fact that Ms. McDaniel was required to sit at the back of the auditorium near the kitchen at the Oscar banquet at which she won the award and read a speech prepared by the MGM publicity department in which she promised to be a credit to her race) to being at the forefront of the fight against AIDS from the beginning (the New York Times first reported on the disease in 1981 and it took Hollywood years to jump on the bandwagon). But Mr. Clooney is always forgiven his pomposity because he makes good movies and he's got those dreamy eyes that I could get lost in for weeks. He may be an asshole, but he's God's asshole.Here are my final predictions for the other Oscar categories. We'll find out how badly I suck at this on Sunday:

Jonny's Picks for the 85th Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables (Jonny's Sure Thing)
Best Director
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Best Screenplay, Adapted
Best Screenplay, Original
Zero Dark Thirty
Best Animated Feature
Best Foreign Film
Best Art Direction
Anna Karenina
Best Cinematography
Life of Pi
Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina
Best Film Editing
Best Makeup
Les Misérables
Best Original Score
Best Original Song
"Skyfall" from Skyfall
Best Sound Editing
Les Misérables
Best Sound Mixing
Zero Dark Thirty
Best Visual Effects
Life of Pi
Best Documentary Feature
Searching for Sugar Man
The "Who Really Gives a Damn?" Awards
Best Documentary Short
Open Heart
Best Short Film, Animated
Best Short Film, Live Action

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. I captioned the table with my predictions in it "Jonny's Picks for the 85th Academy Awards." That was a misnomer, because the good folks at the Academy have decreed that there will henceforth be no mention of the "Academy Awards" or any reference to how long the festivities have been with us. The awards will forevermore be known simply as The Oscars, to make them seem more hip and groovy to the youth crowd who make up the lifeblood of the movie industry by filling the theatres to see crap like Safe Haven and A Good Day To Die Hard. It's ironic to me that the Academy had resorted to referring to the awards exclusively as "The Oscars" because while the origin of the name is obscure (the most famous story of how it got started is that Academy librarian Margaret Herrick took a look at the newly-designed statuette and exclaimed "It looks just like my Uncle Oscar!"), it was initially used as a jealousy-laden insult. Say you were a lowly assistant director at Hal Roach studios whose contract wasn't going to be renewed and you heard that Frank Lloyd (who always snubbed you when you bumped into him at Musso and Frank's) had just won the Academy Award for directing The Divine Lady. At the lunch break you might sidle up to the perky little extra you were hoping to have a quickie with in the prop department later and smirk "Did you hear that overrated loser Lloyd won an Oscar last night? That thing is so ugly that I wouldn't use it as a hood ornament on my Studebaker!" The moniker only took on the meaning it holds today when Walt Disney won the Best Cartoon Short Subject award for The Three Little Pigs in 1933 and warmly referred to the statuette as "Oscar" in his acceptance speech, which so changed the attitude towards the name that the Academy officially adopted it in 1939. Of course that didn't make you feel any better if you were the lowly assistant director who was about to get his walking papers; especially when you found out that the cute extra you pined for snuck off to have a quickie in the prop department with Frank Lloyd.

THIS was never nominated for an Oscar
My college chum Wade Sheeler. Mr. Sheeler is a cinemaphile like myself who blogs for a website called PrettyCleverFilms.com. He recently wrote an article about films which failed to receive any Academy recognition, singling out classics like The Searchers, City Lights and King Kong. But I am more concerned about people who never received an Oscar nomination; film legends like Marilyn Monroe, Edgar G. Robinson and John Barrymore who the Academy never even deemed to be amongst those in consideration for the award while they were enshrining immortals like Haing S. Ngor, Marlee Matlin and F. Murray Abraham into the Oscar pantheon. Particularly galling to me is the omission of 1930s and 40s superstar Myrna Loy, who never received an Oscar nomination while giving unforgettable performances in The Thin Man, The Best Years of Our Lives and Cheaper by the Dozen. But the Academy overlooking her for recognition in those film classics isn't what galls me. Take a close look at this picture of her taking a bath in 1933's The Barbarian. She wasn't nominated for this in a year that the Oscars saw fit to give the Best Actress prize to Katharine Hepburn in an otherwise forgotten melodrama called Morning Glory. I like Katharine Hepburn but even at the height of her youthly beauty I never had much interest in watching her take a bath in rose petals, and by the time she won her fourth Oscar for On Golden Pond my Internet connection would have had to be out for at least two weeks (denying me access to my beloved online porn) before I'd want to watch her do it. Anybody who looks this good taking a bath deserves some kind of award and when you throw the fact that she could actually act on top of it, it's a crime that Miss Loy never even cracked the final five. I mean Ernest Borgnine won a freakin' Oscar and if he had ever made a movie that contained a scene in which he took a bath, I'd probably gouge my eyes out before I had to watch it.

Another college chum, party guru Jeanne Benedict. Ms. Benedict designed this extraordinary olive & cheese clapboard to dress up your Oscar-viewing party. Since I live near Hollywood, I asked her via the social network if I could replace the olives with sour grapes. This won me a patronizing "liked" for my comment, which is better than the restraining orders that I usually receive from women of Ms. Benedict's standing. The tasty clapboard gave me lots of ideas for Oscar-related foodstuff that I could feed my pals at my annual Oscar do. Because I think Argo is going to win Best Picture, I toyed with the idea of serving slightly better-than-average warmed-over junk food filled with empty calories which was a little stale and then being so insistent that it was the best thing they had this year that everyone would finally half-heartedly agree with me even though they weren't all that enthusiastic about it; if only because it was so much better than anything I'd made in the past. I considered laying out fruit-filled pastries and having a Life of Pie theme, but since Amy Poehler already did that joke at the Golden Globes I thought I might be accused of serving leftovers. Then I thought of doing a Zero Dark Thirty thing by making my guests imbibe all their drinks through a piece of cloth over their face to simulate drowning but I was afraid that if I did, I would get a letter from Diane Feinstein and John McCain telling me that my party never really took place at all. I briefly thought of serving all the food that's been rotting at the back of my refrigerator for years so that when my guests eat it and their families have to powerlessly watch them waste away over the following weeks, I can tell them it was a tribute to Amour. Finally, I concluded that the best thing to do was sneak into Ms. Benedict's house late Saturday night, steal all of the food that she prepared for her Oscar party and take the credit for making it myself. I can't think of a better way to emulate the movie-making world than that.


Josh Helmuth, who exclaimed "Well turns out I have an OP blood type, which is terrific news. If there is a zombie apocalypse and I need blood, I know I have the most common type out there and therefore should quite successfully be able to complete a transfusion. High five!...just another advantage to donating blood..." While I'll gleefully return Mr. Helmuth's "high five" (as long as it's not too hard, since I'm kind of a pussy about such things) for his attempts to encourage blood donation, I have no choice but to inform him that his blood type will do him no good whatsoever in the event of a zombie apocalypse. A blood transfusion will only help him if we are faced with a vampire apocalypse (which is a very real threat and I advise you to heed Mr. Helmuth's advice to store up on plasma now), since they're the ones who suck blood and I'm told regard different blood types in the same manner that a wine connoisseur distinguishes a fine French Bordeaux from a bottle of Charles Shaw. If the zombies overtake us, they're going to be devouring our brains and it won't matter one bit what blood type we are because zombies are already dead so their chances of a negative reaction to an incompatible blood type are virtually nil. The good news for Mr. Helmuth is that after engaging him in extended conversation, I can safely say that any zombie would consider his brain to be of no more sustenance than a mini Snickers bar so he's pretty safe in that scenario as well.