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Nom Nom Nom

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards this morning, including the list of nominees in the now ten-picture strong Best Picture category.

The widely speculated reason the Academy had expanded the Best Picture field to ten nominees was to open it up to films that would appeal to a wider audience.  If that was the intent, then they definitely got their wish.

Regardless of any controversy around the expanded Best Picture category, though, the Academy should enjoy expanded viewership this year.  The hosts are Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.  Both these guys can be very funny, and understand their audience well.  They've also worked together in the past (most recently in "It's Complicated", and prior to that when Martin did a guest stint on 30 Rock), so they understand each others' comedic rhythms and timing.  If they're having a good time, we as the viewing audience will likely have a good time.

The Best Picture nominees are:

  • Avatar
  • The Hurt Locker
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In The Air

Looking at that list, if it were cut to five, the likely nominees would have been Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Up In The Air, The Blind Side and either An Education or Precious.  Given the business that Avatar has done, this is obviously not a year when more 'populist' selections are needed, but having said that, it's nice to see films that would normally not get the nomination make it.  Especially considering District 9 and Up would have never stood a chance without the expanded field (District 9 came out too long ago, and would have had its thunder stolen by Avatar.  Up would have gotten its Best Animated Feature Film nomination - and won - but would not have been seriously in the running for Best Picture).

Other categories have some interesting nominees, as well:

Best Actor:

  • Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
  • George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
  • Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
  • Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

This one is Jeff Bridges' to lose, based on the pre-Oscar season.

Best Actress:

  • Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
  • Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
  • Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
  • Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
  • Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

A tough one to call, with Bullock and Streep each taking awards (including a tie at the SAG awards!).  I figure Bullock will take it, because, frankly, the Academy loves Streep, but she has a lot of Oscars already and she's probably running out of space to warehouse them.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Matt Damon in “Invictus”
  • Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
  • Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
  • Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
  • Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Christoph Waltz is a strong contender here, although Harrelson could take it for The Messenger.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
  • Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
  • Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
  • Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

I'll be shocked if it's anyone but Mo'Nique.

Best Animated Feature Film:

  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up

Pixar releases a film every year, and Pixar wins the Best Animated Feature Oscar every year...this year will be no different.

Best Director:

  • Avatar” James Cameron
  • The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
  • Inglourious Basterds” Quentin Tarantino
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels
  • Up in the Air” Jason Reitman

The Best Director race is likely between former spouses James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow (Bigelow was Cameron's second wife), and I suspect Bigelow will win.

To see the rest of the nominees, check out the details at the Oscars site.


Avatar Takes The Crown

James Cameron's Avatar has done what seemed impossible, and is now the highest grossing film of all time worldwide (not adjusted for inflation).  This is after a mere 6 weeks in theatres, and with no end in sight at this time.

Avatar's total domestic gross looks like it'll come in around $750 Million (it has amassed $555 Million so far, rapidly approaching Titanic's $600 Million domestic total), and as much as $2 Billion overseas.  If the current pace continues, Avatar could gross as much as $3 Billion globally, making it the highest grossing film of all time regardless of whether inflation is taken into consideration. 

Adjusted for inflation, Avatar's domestic gross is currently 26th, and if the $750 Million projection above comes true, it will land at #11 on the all-time domestic grosses, adjusted for inflation. 

When ticket price increases are taken into consideration, the most attended film of all time in domestic terms remains 1939's Gone With the Wind, which grossed an estimated $1.5 Billion in domestic tickets sales over the course of several releases.  Of course Gone With the Wind didn't have to contend with television, video games, or any of the other multitudes of entertainment available to audiences today.  Globally, the world has not seen anything like Avatar since Titanic in 1997.


Conan's Amazing Ratings

Conan O'Brien's final Tonight Show on NBC Friday night did the unthinkable.  It garnered prime-time size ratings, getting a 7.0 share on a night when television viewership is notoriously low.  Conan's previous high rating was a 3.8, when he premiered on the show last June.  Jay Leno's "final" Tonight Show got a 3.4 last May, which translated into approximately 12 million viewers.  Expect Conan's final viewer numbers to come in around 20 million, if not more.


It's Official - Conan Canned

The Tonight Show's giant red-headed freak of a host, Conan O'Brien, has officially been fired from NBC.  Conan's exit package is reportedly worth $45 Million, some of which is earmarked for his staff (a portion of who's severance Conan is paying out of his own pocket).

Conan's last Tonight Show will air Friday night, January 23rd.  The entire Internet should tune in to make sure his ratings are better than Jay Leno's "retirement" from the Tonight Show a mere 7 months ago.  Not because it'll do any good, but because it'll piss NBC off.

I have no doubt that Conan will land on his feet somewhere.  There are still lots of rumours that Fox is interested, but Conan, if you're listening, I have three letters for you: HBO.  They'll let the bear actually masturbate! (actually, to be fair, Fox might as well)


Jay Leno on Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show in 2004

From Funny or Die comes this clip of Jay Leno on the Tonight Show in 2004, talking about Conan O'Brien's just announced take-over for 2009.