Grammy/Oscar Round-Up

Grammys: The awards split in ways I didn't expect, with the exception of Gaga. I nailed NARAS viewing her only as a dance artist with a breakout hit. Swift takes Album because Kanye West is a braying ass; Beyonce takes Song because even NARAS doesn't understand that award recognizes the songwriting, not the finished product; Kings of Leon take Record because they sure weren't going to give Dave Matthews Band Album of the Year and something rock needed to be in. Sadly, with the exception of Beyonce, I see every other nominee's career on the decline in the very near future. Country cross-overs have  a very short life span, dance acts are replaced by the next new sound, and older rock acts get nominated just because enough people remember they exist.

Zac Brown Band took Best New Artist, probably because the country branch could band together and win over the smaller R&B branch while everyone else scratched their heads over who MGMT, Silversun Pickups, and The Ting Tings were.

Eminem won every rap award he was up for. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs lost Alternative Album. A musical comedy album beat stand-up comedy albums. A revival won Theatrical Album category over new shows. And the sky is still blue.

And now for less cynicism.

Oscars: Tomorrow morning, we will know who is nominated for the Academy Awards. This will be a momentous occasion for many possible reasons.

For one thing, we'll see how the return to 10 Best Picture nominees plays out. It seems certain for Avatar, Precious, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, and Up in the Air to be nominated, but what else? Will we see populist choices like Star Trek or The Hangover? Acting vehicles like Julie & Julia or Nine? Animated films like Up? Foreign films? Documentaries? Wait, scratch that last one. That'll never happen. 

Another possible change is the Best Original Song category. It's not obligatory any longer. If the shortlisted songs didn't score high enough at the music branch's required screening, there will be no Best Original Song category. So there could be 0, 2, 3, or 5 nominees tomorrow.

Then there are the acting categories. Every single one seems to have one spot up for grabs, at least. Best Supporting Actress is the least clear, as everyone and their kindergarten teacher has given the award to Mo'Nique. Will we see multiple Up in the Air's or Inglourious Basterds or Nines to fill out the category? Will they be selected by performance quality or their ability to sit politely with a genuine smile on their face when Mo'Nique wins the Oscar?

Speaking of the muddy acting categories, could Avatar's massive green screen acting campaign pay off with a nomination for Sigourney Weaver in Supporting Actress? The campaign is smartly showing stills of Weaver in her human form in the film, in the green suit, and the corresponding animated shot showing how much of her performance transferred to the CGI of the film. A similar campaign is brewing for Zoe Saldana, tough Weaver has the edge in being a two-time previous nominee who is also the only woman ever nominated for a sci-fi film. If the Academy remembers how much they used to love Weaver, we could really be making history.

Most important of all is Best Director. Why? Katherine Bigelow is the favorite to win Director at this point. If the domination of precursors didn't push her that way, the DGA did. As Roger Ebert tweeted enthusiastically, 57 of the 60 DGA winners went on to win Best Director; 58 of 60 went on to win Best Picture. Unless the Academy really votes for the creation of new jobs in the industry (it happens), Bigelow will most likely win if nominated.

Of course, this could all be moot tomorrow when Clint Eastwood and Rob Marshall receive Best Director nominations over Bieglow and Lee Daniels, Nine, Invictus, An Education, The Last Station, and A Serious Man fill out Best Picture out of familiarity, and Best Song is announced with five nominees coming from Disney, an adapted musical, a foreign film, a music-influenced character piece, and another animated film. But a guy can dream.