Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2009 Academy Awards Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 81st annual Academy Awards were announced this morning, and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” made a strong statement, leading the way with thirteen nominations including best picture, as well as a best actor nomination for Brad Pitt. The only other film to garner double-digit nominations was “Slumdog Millionaire”, which has already won a Golden Globe for best drama. The other best picture nominees are “Milk”, “Frost/Nixon”, and “The Reader”. (Complete

list of 2009 Oscar nominees follows below.)

Conspicuously absent from the best picture list was “The Dark Knight”. The box-office smash was considered to be in the running for a best picture nomination despite it’s blockbuster nature. No movie in the action genre has been nominated for best picture since “The Fugitive” in 1993. The Pixar animated film, “Wall-E”, also failed to garner a best picture nod, although it is up for best animated feature.

In addition to Pitt, the favorites for best actor have to be Mickey Rourke, for his performance in “The Wrestler” and Sean Penn, for his portrayal of a gay rights activist in “Milk”. On the actress side, Kate Winslet, fresh off winning her two Golden Globes, is nominated for “The Reader”. Her stiffest competition will come from consistent nominee Meryl Streep, nominated this time for “Doubt”, and Anne Hathaway, who has received significant praise for her performance in “Rachel Getting Married”.

Some other notable nominations include a best supporting actor nomination for the late Heath Ledger, for his heralded final performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight”, as well as a best supporting actor nomination for Robert Downey Jr. for “Tropic Thunder”. The best supporting actress field is an interesting one, with no clear favorite, although Penelope Cruz’s performance in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” could be considered a favorite.

The 81st Academy Awards will be February 22nd, 2009, and will be hosted by Hugh Jackman. Jerry Lewis will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Complete List of 2009 Oscar Nominees

Best Picture

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actor

Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”

Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”

Sean Penn, “Milk”

Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

Best Actress

Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”

Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”

Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”

Meryl Streep, “Doubt”

Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin, “Milk”

Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”

Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, “Doubt”

Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Viola Davis, “Doubt”

Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”

Best Director

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Doubt

Frost/Nixon

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Screenplay

Frozen River

Happy-Go-Lucky

In Bruges

Milk

WALL-E

Best Cinematography

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Best Animated Feature

Bolt

Kung Fu Panda

WALL-E

Best Animated Short

La Maison En Petits Cubes

Lavatory – Lovestory

Oktapodi

Presto

This Way Up

Best Foreign Language Film

The Baader Meinhof Complex

The Class

Departures

Revanche

Waltz with Bashir

Best Art Direction

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Dutchess

Revolutionary Road

Best Costume Design

Australia

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Duchess

Milk

Revolutionary Road

Best Sound Editing

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL-E

Wanted

Best Sound Mixing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL-E

Wanted

Best Film Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Frost/Nixon

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire

Best Makeup

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Best Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

Best Original Score

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Defiance

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL-E

Best Original Song

“Down to Earth”, WALL-E

“Jai Ho”, Slumdog Millionaire

“O Sava”, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Documentary Feature

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Encounters at the End of the World

The Garden

Man on Wire

Trouble the Water

Best Documentary Short

The Conscience of Nhem En

The Final Inch

Smile Pinki

The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306

Best Live Action Short

Auf Der Strecke (On the Line)

Manon on the Asphalt

New Boy

The Pig

Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Nomination list and other information courtesy of the Academy Awards official website at http://www.oscars.com

Tags:2009 Academy Awards Nominees Announced

2009 Academy Awards in Review: Slumdog Millionaire Wins Best Picture

The 2009 Oscars belonged to Slumdog Millionaire as the film took home the awards for Best Picture and Best Director on a night that awarded some of the greats in Hollywood. Best Actor nod went to Sean Penn for his work in Milk, while the Best Actress award went to Kate Winslet for some amazing work in The Reader. The supporting awards went to Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight and Penelope Cruz for her work in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

The night wasn’t full of a lot of surprises, but it was quite a night for Slumdog Millionaire, as the independent film took home 3 Oscars on the night. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ended up winning three Academy Awards, but they were in less popular categories later on in the show.

This night at the Oscars also belonged to the presenters, who gave some great (and funny) introductions to categories, including a twist where 5 past winners helped to hand out the acting awards. Hugh Jackman was a wonderful host of the Oscars, mixing humor, professionalism, and a lot of charisma that would really lend well to him hosting the show again. Everything was topped by a beautiful singing performance by Queen Latifah as the Academy honored those they had lost in the past year.

It was truly a great night for Hollywood and film, and an Oscars that won’t soon be forgotten.

Source: AOL Winners List

2009 Academy Award Nominees and 2009 Oscar Winners (winners in bold):

Best Picture

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
‘Frost/Nixon’
‘Milk’
‘The Reader’
‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Director

Danny Boyle’Slumdog Millionaire’
Stephen Daldry’The Reader’
David Fincher’The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Ron Howard’Frost/Nixon’
Gus Van Sant’Milk’

Best Actor

Richard Jenkins’The Visitor’
Frank Langella’Frost/Nixon’
Sean Penn’Milk’
Brad Pitt’The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Mickey Rourke’The Wrestler’

Best Actress

Anne Hathaway’Rachel Getting Married’
Angelina Jolie’Changeling’
Melissa Leo’Frozen River’
Meryl Streep’Doubt’
Kate Winslet’The Reader’

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin’Milk’
Robert Downey Jr.’Tropic Thunder’
Philip Seymour Hoffman’Doubt’
Heath Ledger’The Dark Knight’
Michael Shannon’Revolutionary Road’

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams’Doubt’
Penelope Cruz’Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
Viola Davis’Doubt’
Taraji P. Henson’The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Marisa Tomei’The Wrestler’

Best Animated Feature Film

‘Bolt’
‘Kung Fu Panda’
‘Wall-E’

Best Foreign Film

‘The Baader Meinhof Complex’ Germany
‘The Class’ France
‘Departures’ Japan
‘Revanche’ Austria
‘Waltz With Bashir’ Israel

Best Original Screenplay

‘Milk’ Dustin Lance Black
‘Frozen River’ Courtney Hunt
‘Happy Go Lucky’ Mike Leigh
‘In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh
‘Wall-E’ Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter

Best Adapted Screenplay

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
‘Doubt’ John Patrick Shanley
‘Frost/ Nixon’ Peter Morgan
‘The Reader’ David Hare
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Simon Beaufoy

Best Documentary Feature

‘The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)’
‘Encounters at the End of the World’
‘The Garden’
‘Man on Wire’
‘Trouble the Water’

Best Original Score

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
‘Defiance’
‘Milk’
‘Slumdog Millionaire’
‘WALL-E’

Best Original Song

‘Down to Earth’ ‘WALL-E’
‘Jai Ho’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
‘O Saya’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Film Editing

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
‘The Dark Knight’ Lee Smith
‘Frost/Nixon’ Mike Hill, Dan Hanley
‘Milk’ Elliot Graham
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Chris Dickens

Best Documentary – Short Subject

‘The Conscience of Nhem En’
‘The Final Inch’
‘Smile Pinki’
‘The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306’

Best Cinematography

‘Changeling’ Tom Stern
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Claudio Miranda
‘The Dark Knight’ Wally Pfister
‘The Reader’ Chris Menges, Roger Deakins
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Anthony Dod Mantle

Best Costume Design

‘Australia’ Catherine Martin
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Jacqueline West
‘The Duchess’ Michael O’Connor
‘Milk’ Danny Glicker
‘Revolutionary Road’ Albert Wolsky

Best Sound Mixing

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Mark Weingarten
‘The Dark Knight’ Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty
‘WALL-E’ Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt
‘Wanted’ Chris Jenkins, Frank A. MontaƱo, Petr Forejt

Best Sound Editing

‘The Dark Knight’ Richard King
‘Iron Man’ Frank Eulner, Christopher Boyes
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Tom Sayers
‘WALL-E’ Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood
‘Wanted’ Wylie Stateman

Best Live Action Short Film

‘Auf der Strecke (On the Line)’
‘Manon on the Asphalt’
‘New Boy’
‘The Pig’
‘Spielzeugland (Toyland)’

Best Animated Short Film

‘La Maison de Petits Cubes’
‘Lavatory – Lovestory’
‘Oktapodi’
‘Presto’
‘This Way Up’

Best Makeup

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Greg Cannom
‘The Dark Knight’ John Caglione, Jr., Conor O’Sullivan
‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ Mike Elizalde, Thom Flout

Best Art Direction

‘Changeling’ James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo
‘The Dark Knight’ Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando
‘The Duchess’ Michael Carlin, Rebecca Alleway
‘Revolutionary Road’ Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt

Best Visual Effects

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron
‘The Dark Knight’ Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber, Paul Franklin
‘Iron Man’ John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick, Shane Mahan

Tags:2009 Academy Awards in Review: Slumdog Millionaire Wins Best Picture

2009 Atlanta Braves: Why do so Many Experts Think They're Contenders?

Last year many baseball experts picked the Atlanta Braves to win the National League East over the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. I correctly predicted that they would completely suck. I’m not saying that to brag but rather to point out how bad the Atlanta Braves were. I’m usually horrible at predictions and even I knew the Atlanta Braves completely sucked. Now all the same people are trying to save face this year by saying the Atlanta Braves are sleepers this season hoping it will make up for being completely wrong last year. Everybody needs to open their eyes and face facts, the Atlanta Braves are not good.

Let’s start at the top. The Atlanta Braves best player is Chipper Jones. If Chipper Jones plays a full 162 games he might still be one of the best players in the National League. Just last year Chipper Jones was batting .400 at the All-Star break but he only played 128 games. At that amount of games Chipper Jones is not as valuable as any of the best players on the other four teams in the division.

The Atlanta Braves have one of the few good hitting catchers in the National League, Brian McCann. but the truth is that’s probably the only position on the entire roster where the Atlanta Braves are definitely better than everybody in the division. Maybe Jeff Francoeur is the best right fielder but after his horrible 2008 there are as many questions about him as Ryan Church, but everybody assumes he’s going to do well since he’s a Brave and that Church is going to stink just because they don’t like the Mets.

Garret Anderson is fine in left field but at this point has declined so much he’ll be platooning with Matt Diaz. A lot of baseball experts say this is going to be the year that Casey Kotchman finally breaks out. Why should we believe that? Kotchman has been mediocre for five seasons now There are not any signs that should tell us to expect a big season. Yunel Escobar has been disappointing, mainly because of his expectations that were too high. Everybody picking the Atlanta Braves last year were talking like Escobar would be the new Jose Reyes/Hanley Ramirez/Jimmy Rollins and he’s not. The Braves are fourth best at that position.

In center field Josh Anderson is a nice little player that could steal some bases and that is all. Kelly Johnson has put together two nice seasons but unfortunately he won’t get much support from the rest of the team.

Derek Lowe was still a good pitcher in 2008 but he’s overpaid, he’s old and he’s not nearly as good as the ace of the two teams the Braves are chasing. The Braves lovers as talking about the Javier Vazquez acquisition as if they signed C. C. Sabathia. Vazquez will be the number two pitcher for the Braves. If the Phillies or Mets and had Vazquez he would maybe be the fifth starter on both teams.

Jair Jurrjens is a promising young pitcher but he’ll need to win about 50 games for the Atlanta Braves to win the division. I won’t be convinced that Kenshin Kawakami is good until I see him and they’re bringing in a player that is already 33 years old. When the Braves traded Adam LaRoche for Mike Gonzalez it seemed like a good idea but so far Mike Gonzalez has 16 saves in two seasons. Think about that for a minute. The Atlanta Braves are so bad that the Pittsburgh Pirates were on the better end of their trade. That’s the only trade the Pirates have been on the better end of since they traded Tony Pena for Andy Van Slyke.

Many baseball experts say the Atlanta Braves are sleepers this year but I’ve yet to hear an explanation. I’d love to hear somebody try and make the argument because I don’t see a team that can compete with the Florida Marlins, much less the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.

Tags:2009 Atlanta Braves: Why do so Many Experts Think They’re Contenders?

2009 Big Ten Tournament: Predictions and Preview

The Big Ten Tournament will see perhaps its most competitive and important incarnation this year in Indianapolis as the league has 9 teams that could possibly get at-large NCAA Tournament bids this year.

Here are my picks for the winners of each game in the Big TenTournament in 2009:

2009Big Ten Tournament Game Predictions

Minnesota vs. Northwestern-

The Wildcats might be able to sneak into the first NCAA Tournament in program history with a big win over Minnesota and then over Michigan State in the second round.

Northwestern is playing very well right now and Minnesota has been playing just okay.

Prediction: 57-50, Minnesota

Michigan vs. Iowa-

Iowa beat Michigan in an overtime contest in Iowa City but got blown out at Michigan.

The Wolverines should be motivated to win this one but Jake Kelly is playing as well as anyone in the Big Ten at PG for Iowa.

UM’s athleticism will be the key here as well as their motivation to get their first NCAA bid since 1998.

Prediction: 73-64 Michigan

Penn State vs. Indiana-

The Nittany Lions desperately need this one to keep their NCAA hopes alive. Indiana is deceptively tough at home but doesn’t have enough play-makers to beat a superior team on a neutral court, even if the IU fans come out to support the Hoosiers in this one.

Prediction: 77-65 PSU

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State-

This is a hard game to call since both teams aren’t quite playing up to their potential.

It will be a close one with the difference being Wisconsin’s defense and experience.

Prediction: 63-58 Wisconsin

Second Round

Michigan State vs. Minnesota-

MSU isn’t getting nearly enough credit and deserves a number one seed considering they dominated the RPI’s number two-ranked conference despite a key injury to Raymar Morgan, their second-best player.

Prediction: 69-61 MSU

Michigan vs. Illinois-

If the Wolverines hit the three, they could definitely win this game.

Illinois is good on defense but Michigan has been playing exceptionally well lately and chaos usually reigns in the Big Ten Tournament.

Prediction: 57-54 Michigan

Purdue vs. Penn State-

Penn State is fighting for their tourney lives while Purdue is struggling with star forward Robbie Hummel ailing. If Talor Battle catches fire, PSU can make a deep run here. But Purdue’s depth and defense will be too much.

Prediction: 68-58 Purdue

Third Round-

Wisconsin vs. MSU

Wisconsin often gives MSU trouble but this isn’t quite a vintage Badgers team.

Prediction: 78-66 MSU

Michigan vs. Purdue

Michigan seems to play well against Purdue. They played them tough in West Lafayette before Manny Harris, their star, was ejected for throwing an elbow attempting to clear space from a defender.

Prediction: 69-67 Michigan

Big Ten Tournament Finals

Michigan vs. Michigan State-

Michigan has two of the top six players in the league in Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims but MSU’s size and toughness on the front-line will lead them to a victory in what could be an intense final game here.

Prediction: 70-62 MSU

Tags:2009 Big Ten Tournament: Predictions and Preview

2008's Hottest Celebrity Accessory - Babies!!

While it’s true that celebrities are having children all the time, 2008 was the year that celebrity procreation just exploded!! From a plethora of first time moms, to numerous sets of twins, to one of the weirdest circumstances surrounding any birth ever, this year was one for the books. Let’s hope that all the prestigious preschools worldwide are preparing for the onslaught now!

As mentioned before, first time mom was the hot role to play this year. Christina Aguilera and Nicole Ritchie started the year rolling, having their children only a day apart in January, a son and daughter respectively. Jennifer Lopez gave birth to twins in February, followed by Halle Berry saying hello to a daughter in March. As the months got warmer, things started speeding up. Jessica Alba, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, and youngest celebrity mom of the year, Jamie-Lynn Spears, all welcomed their first child in either June or July. Coming a little later in the year, but no less exciting for magazine editors, was Ashlee Simpson’s birth of a son in November.

Of course, there were just as many people this year giving birth again. The most notable were probably Angelina Jolie’s twins, born in July. This brings the grand total of her and Brad’s family up to six, and already there are talks to have more. Lisa Marie Presley also welcomed twins in October, her first children with her present husband, but number three and four total. Famous Hollywood fathers Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg saw additions to their families, and music’s power couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale gave their two year old son a baby brother. Tori Spelling, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, and Melissa Joan Hart are other who watched their families grow in 2008.

There were also quite a few former child stars welcoming children in to the world. It’s an odd category, I know, but there seemed to be enough to make it worth the while. Melissa Joan Hart has already been mentioned. To add to the list, Fred Savage, star of “The Wonder Years” became a dad for the second time this year. Jodie Sweetin, better know as Stephanie from “Full House” gave birth to her first child, a girl. Punky Brewster herself, Soliel Moon Frye, also gave birth to a daughter, her second. And lastly for this category, all three Hanson brothers (of MMMbop fame, for those having a hard time placing them) welcomed children this year.

Finally, there is that bizarre birth mentioned in the first paragraph. In a strange turn of events that ended in a confession which wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone, Clay Aiken welcomed a son, conceived through in vitro fertilization with his producer/ best friend. After the birth, he admitted to the world that he was gay, as a courtesy to his new son, and ended what was one of the most speculated subjects in the tabloids.

So, there you have it. Of course, this isn’t even close to a complete list of babies born to celebrities this past year, but I did try to hit the high notes. Now it’s time to look forward to what 2009 might bring us to talk about. Come on celebrities, don’t disappoint!!

Tags:2008’s Hottest Celebrity Accessory - Babies!!

2009 Academy Awards Overview and Predictions

The 81st annual Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 22 and hosted by veteran Aussie actor Hugh Jackman. Be sure to tune in this Sunday to see winners announced. And the nominees are…

Best Picture

The Nominees– Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader, Frost/Nixon

Who will win– Too close to call. After Slumdog Millionaire jumped to its early and improbable perch as the favorite, it has faced a mounting momentum from Milk, Gus Van Sants triumphant biopic. Despite Slumdogs back-to-back-to-back wins at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and BAFTA Awards, many film insiders now predict Milk to reign supreme on Oscar night. Both films are well deserving of the top award, equally transcendent in their own right. If you’re looking for a potential dark horse, The Reader may ride the crest of the splitting votes from Slumdog and Milk all the way to a shocking Best Picture win.

Who should win– Slumdog Millionaire. Danny Boyle’s radiant story of a boy from the slums of Mumbai who hijacks the airwaves of a quiz show to win his soul mate had cinema goers glowing in the aisles like no other film this year. Milk provides formidable competition, and should it be crowned the winner there should be no posturing on the message boards and blogs. It is a two horse race, and both are thoroughbreds.

Who shouldn’t be there– Benjamin Button. While Button is certainly no Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and it boasts many impressive technical aspects and top notch directing, the final product simply does not stack up to the competition. Lambasted by its detractors as Benjamin Snooze Button, the story lags over three long hours and attempts to drive home a half baked morale that never gets fully off the ground. Blockbusters such as the Dark Knight and Wall-E are both better films, as is the Wrestler. Buttons inclusion over these three pictures, The Dark Knight in particular, further expose the Academy’s disconnect with the viewing public.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role

The Nominees – Richard Jenkins (the Visitor), Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), Mickey Rourke (the Wrestler)

Who will win- Mickey Rourke. Much has been said about Rourke’s performance in the Wrestler, most of which by people more qualified than myself, but this performance is worth every drop of ink spilled. Rourke completes a stunning turnaround as Randy “the Ram” Robinson, an aging professional wrestler faced with the bleak future of a man who gave his body to an industry that chewed him up and spat him out. Rourkes desperation is palpable as he struggles to achieve a tangible human connection before time runs out, trying to make things right with his estranged daughter and forge a relationship with a jaded stripper. Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler gives the film a documentary feel as his portrayal of the fictional Ram is gritty and authentic. Viewers feel Rourke’s anguish through the screen as he delivers his teary monologue to his daughter. Truly the most moving performance of the year.

Who should win- Rourke is the choice here, though this category is filled with top notch performances that should be commended. Penn was fantastic as Harvey Milk, playing a spot on version of the politician, hitting every nuance without coming across as an impressionist. Langella is brilliant as estranged President Richard Nixon, a role he was seemingly born to play. Richard Jenkins is terrific in the Visitor, the most under rated film of the year. Jenkins plays a complex and layered role close to the vest, before unraveling in a wild-eyed crescendo. Unfortunately for these three great actors, this year belongs to Rourke.

Who shouldn’t be there- Brad Pitt. Not to pick on Button, as you certainly could have done much worse at the cinema this year, but this nomination in particular mystifies me. While Pitt should be commended for taking on such a untraditional role, Pitt does nothing to deserve an Oscar for his work here. In fact, for long stretches it seems that Pitt is basically playing himself in an old guy suit, and has given a half dozen better performances in his career, including one this year in the Coen Brothers quirky and overlooked Burn After Reading. If the Academy wanted a big name to boost interest, they should have tapped Leonardo DiCaprio for his performance in Revolutionary Road.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

The Nominees– Kate Winslet (The Reader), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Angelina Jolie (Changeling)

Who should win– Meryl Streep. Streep is the Cal Ripken Jr. of acting. Steady every year, never falters, never takes a film off, eternally impressive. Streep carries Doubt with fellow nominee Phillip Seymour Hoffman, giving a memorable performance in an otherwise mildly disappointing drama. This award has changed speculative hands many times on the Road to the Oscars. Two months ago it seemed that Anne Hathaway was a lock for Oscar and now she seems like a total afterthought. Today, it seems like Winslet is the safe bet, but I contend that Streep should be the choice.

Who will win– Kate Winslet. All signs seem to be pointing towards Winslet, who has swept the Globes and BAFTA’s and has a resume that is just begging to be recognized by the Academy. Winslet has had a fantastic year and is now probably the safest bet to win of all the major categories. As Ricky Gervias once joked to Winslet, “make a movie about the Holocaust, the awards will start rolling in.”. Prescient bloke, that Gervias.

Who doesn’t deserve to be there – Angelina Jolie. Jolie picked up a surprise nomination for Changeling, a Clint Eastwood vehicle that received a lukewarm reception from critics and was otherwise forgotten at awards season. Sally Hawkins deserved the fifth nomination for her truly unique performance in Happy Go Lucky. Shame on the Academy for this snub. Jolie is about as likely to win this award as I am, and I’m a dude who hasn’t graced the stage since my transcendent performance as “Dinner Guest #3” in a fifth grade class production of MacBeth.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr (Tropic Thunder), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Heath Ledger (the Dark Knight), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

Who should win– Ledger. Delivering the biggest performance in the biggest film of the year should be enough to give Ledger the posthumous award despite the Academy’s aversion to blockbusters, superheroes, and fun.

Who will win– Ledger. Even the Academy can’t bungle this one. After Ledgers untimely death, it seemed unlikely that his performance would live up to the swirling hype that surrounded it. As it turns out, it not only lived up to the hype, but surpassed it, elevating Christopher Nolans Batman franchise from one of the best superhero movies of the year, to one of the best movies of the year. Ledger’s talent will truly be missed, and he deserves this award after being overlooked for his smoldering performance in Brokeback Mountain. Hoffman may also be in the mix here, but doesn’t seem like a legitimate threat to Ledgers victory.

Who shouldn’t be there– This category appears to be well chosen, so instead I will offer the most surprising nomination, Robert Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder. Downey Jr had the biggest renaissance of anyone this side of Mickey Rourke and topped it off with the most improbable achievement in modern film history, getting an Academy Award nomination for pulling a glorified black face routine. Now, seriously, think about reading that three years ago. Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for an Academy Award for playing a black guy in a Ben Stiller comedy. Your brain would melt and seep out your ears, right? Now, admittedly he was hilarious, but thinking back to all the comedy films that the Academy has shunned over the years, this nomination is nothing short of stunning.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Amy Adams (Doubt), Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Marissa Tomei (The Wrestler)

Who should win- Taraji P. Henson. Button lovers rejoice! A nominee from your film finally escaped the “shouldn’t be there category” of this piece. I realize that in all probability, most Benjamin Button fans either surfed off this page or punched a hole in their computer monitors when I described Brad Pitt as “playing himself in an old guy suit” a few paragraphs ago, so this choice will probably be little consolation. Henson captured my imagination unlike any of the other nominees this year playing Benjamin Buttons adopted mother.

Who will win– Penelope Cruz. I’m going to be real with you, dear reader. I’m just going to throw this out there, and let you digest it. I didn’t actually see Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I’ve been operating under the assumption that all Woody Allen films from the last 10 years are non-essential, and therefore let this fly under my radar. Apparently, this one was very good and as I write this it currently lives on my Netflix queue. Everything I have read, however, indicates that Cruz’s performance as Javier Bardem’s jealous wife is Oscar worthy and since Henson won’t win, and all the other nominees underwhelmed me, I will go with the critics here. I have failed you as a film snob, and for that, I apologize, but at least I didn’t go all A Million Little Pieces on you and just start making stuff up.

Who shouldn’t be there– Marissa Tomei. As much as I loved the Wrestler, and I really loved the Wrestler, I felt that Tomei didn’t really bring much to the table in her role as an aging stripper. I am apparently in the minority, because many critics are calling for Tomei to take home the award. However, she shattered the record for number of scenes one can go topless and still be nominated for an Academy Award, making her a true pioneer in Oscar history among the likes of Sidney Portier. Ok, lets just move on.

Best Achievement in Direction-

The Nominees: David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Gus Van Sant (Milk), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Daldry (The Reader)

Who should win– Danny Boyle.

After a long string of films with nary a misstep, Boyle directed the gem of his career with Slumdog Millionaire. Effortlessly capturing the vibrancy and despair of Mumbai in one breath, Boyle brought an unprecedented joy to bleak circumstances. In a film that squeezes the protagonists mother being beaten to death, orphans having their eyeballs scooped out by a sadistic gang leader, the implied rape of the love interest by the protagonists brother, enslavement and prostitution in it’s two hours, it will still have you floating down the aisles as you leave the cinema. This is to the credit of the director, who pulls all the right heart strings along the way and wraps it all up in a bow for a breathless ending.

Who will win- I have to imagine Boyle is the favorite here, although I would not be surprised if Fincher or Van Sant sneaks in and scoops this one up before their film conceedes to Boyle’s in the best picture race. The Academy has an aversion to honoring the same film for both Best Picture and Best Directing, so either Boyle or Slumdog may miss out on one of these major awards. Fincher did an admirable job directing Button, and is deserved recognition for his previous films that were ignored by the Academy in the past. The Academy also loves to give lifetime achievement awards, in other words giving an Award as reparation to a nominee that has a great resume that has gone unawarded in the past. This reasoning may bode well for both Fincher and Van Sant.

Who shouldn’t be there- All of these directors were top notch this year, but it is a shame that Christopher Nolan could not have been squeezed in for his work on the Dark Knight. This snub is only exacerbated by the overlooking of Nolan for Best Original Screenplay for the same film. Darren Aronofsky also would have been a nice inclusion to the field, but it is hard to look at the nominees and subtract one to make room for him as well.

Two additional odds and ends to look out for on Oscar night:

Biggest Disappointment: Jon Stewart being passed over as host in favor of Wolverine, I mean, Hugh Jackman.

Stewart was likely passed over due to the precipitous decline in ratings from last years show, but he was hilarious as the shows host last year and should have been brought back for another go. Hugh Jackman, while charming and a hit with the ladies, carries the possibility of genuinely bombing, particularly during the opening monologue which is traditionally a vehicle for the host to poke fun at the self important world of film and its stars. If the Academy has soured on Stewart, Jack Black would have made a great host, and Will Ferrell would have brought ratings and a few laughs if nothing else. Jackman seems like an odd choice.

The “bet your life savings” lock of the night: Wall-E as Best Animated Film

If Wall-E is passed over for this award, I will get a tattoo of Kung Fu Panda on a body part of your choice. For more Oscar fun, find an unsuspecting friend and bet them a beer that Wall-E will win. Tell them they can have “the field”, which will trick them into thinking they have a better chance of winning. Then, sit back on Oscar night and let the free beer roll in.

So there you have it, a comprehensive look at the hopeful nominees this Sunday night. Join an office pool or enter an online picks contest and follow along, but most importantly, GO SEE THESE FILMS. They are all well crafted and deserve two hours of your life.

Tags:2009 Academy Awards Overview and Predictions

2009 Alabama Sport Fishing Restoration Grants

The 2009 Sport Fishing Restoration Grants in Alabama are in place to ensure the future of sport fishing in this state. Each of these grants plays an important role to the future of this sport in Alabama.

Culture of Fish for Public Waters

This grant is to stock various public waters in Alabama with freshwater fish species that have low reproduction counts, such as striped and hybrid bass or channel catfish or newly constructed waters that need additional fish to increase the population of sport fish. Stocking these public waters in Alabama often increases the fishing opportunities for anglers throughout the state. Stocking these public waters in Alabama during the time period of October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 is funded with a grant in the amount of $731,250.

Statewide Surveys & Inventory of Fisheries, Resources & Anglers

Baseline information, such as sampling of sport fish species and aquatic vegetation, will be provided to the Alabama fisheries agency so that they can better manage the fish populations, fish habitats and angler access to Alabama’s public waters. This program will occur in Alabama public waters for a period of October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and is funded with a grant of $635,500.

Technical Assistance to Pond and Lake Owners

Technical advice will be given to those who own and/or operate small lakes or ponds within the state of Alabama as well as governmental agencies should conditions on these water areas pose conditions that could adversely affect the Alabama fisheries. This program will occur in Alabama from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009 and is funded with a grant of $427,500.

Fish Management Coordination

This grant administers the Sport Fish Restoration Program in Alabama by maintaining Alabama’s eligibility for participation in Federal Aid programs by completing projects effectively and efficiently. The Alabama fisheries agency must also maintain adequate systems, both financial as well as property management. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $350,000.

Investigation of Management Techniques for Fishing Public Fishing Waters

This grant funds research on the impact of stocking channel catfish in Alabama’s State managed lakes on the population of sport fish species such as largemouth bass. There will also be studies done on “largemouth bass populations in the Mobile Delta, effects of tournament fishing, evaluation of recreational catfish fishery.” This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $141,170.

Statewide Fisheries Development – Boating Access

This grant is to repair and maintain the 120 boating access areas maintained by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Planning and evaluating new boating access areas are also an objective of this grant. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $693,839.

Statewide Hatchery Renovations

This grant is in place for the operation of the Carbon Hill, Eastaboga and Marion fish hatcheries as well as to refurbish these facilities, renovation of the residences and maintenance of ponds at these facilities. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $15,000.

State Lakes Management

This grant is for the management, operation and development of facilities on the 23 public fishing lakes by the State of Alabama. Enhancing the public fishing experience on these 23 Alabama fishing lakes is the purpose of this grant. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $650,991.

Grant Coordination & Administration in Coastal Alabama

This grant is for administering the Sport Fish Restoration Program and to ensure that the Alabama Department of Natural Resources is eligible for grants from the Federal Assistance Program. This includes monitoring by the Sport Fish Restoration Coordinator of all programs so that all applicable laws and regulations are being complied with by the State. The purpose of this grant is to ensure “better coordination among sportfish restoration personnel” in the Gulf of Mexico region. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $112.500.

Aquatic Resources Education

This grant funds a statewide aquatic education program conducted by the State of Alabama that will educate anglers and the general public to the wise uses of “Alabama’s freshwater aquatic resources.” This program include 50 community fishing events for a total of at least 10,000 participants, it will create fishing and aquatic educational materials, it will have a minimum of 30 casting classes for about 1,200 participants, there will be 100 more fishing classes offered throughout the state and there will be about 120 aquatic and fishing educational presentations for some 2,000 participants. There will also be a permanent aquatic and fishing educational display to be used at events such as boat shows and Earth Day programs. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $292,500.

Coastal Alabama Boating Access Programs

This grant is for maintaining and renovating departmental access areas on Alabama’s coastal areas so that they can remain safe and attractive. This grant is also used for development of new boating access areas on Alabama’s coast. The completion of the City of Fairhope’s breakwater as well as the completion of Mo’s Landing is also part of the programs that these grant funds. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $225,000.

Enhancement of Recreational Fishing in Coastal Alabama

This grant is for enhancement of public recreational marine fishing in Alabama by the Alabama Division of Marine Resources. Included in this program is “fishery-dependent and fisher-independent data collection, public outreach, habitat enhancement, and life-history research.” Benefits from this grant are also to be used for maintenance and improvements to facilities and equipment used by the Sportfish Restoration Program, providing diverse and abundant fishery resources and quality access for recreational fishery users, inshore reef construction and university contract research. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $862,500.

Aquatic Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Program

This grant benefits enhancement and restoration of aquatic habitat for the benefit of sport fishing in public waters throughout Alabama. This program will occur from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 and the grant is for $26,250.

Tags:2009 Alabama Sport Fishing Restoration Grants

2009 Adult Christmas Gift Guide for the Beer Enthusiasts

Do you have someone on your list this year that loves beer? Men and Women all around love their beer. Some like to take it further then others do of course. So if you have someone on your list this year that just loves everything about beer then get them something off this list. This list is tailored to people who love beer so much that they would love getting a gift for the holiday season.

12 Month Beer Club $384

While this one is a little pricey, it’s worth it. Each month new beer will be shipped to them. This club only ships award winning microbrews to their customers. These beer can come from anywhere in the country. It’s a great way to expand their taste buds. If they happen to find something that they just love, an order form will be included telling them how to order more of their favorite. If the 12 month club is a little to pricey for you then you can do a 3 month membership for $102 or a 6 month membership for $198, making it a little more affordable.

Personalized #1 Glass Beer Mug $10

If you’re looking for something a little more unique and maybe a bit cheaper then this is the way to go. You can get him his own personalized beer mug. These mugs are just like the kind you would get at the pub. They hold 25 ounces and have the sturdy handle. On the mug it says #1 and any title. So you could have it say #1 husband, #1 dad or anything else that you would like. Along with that you can have two lines printed below the name making it more personal.

Maestro Homebrew Kit $70

If you know someone who loves beer and they are a little handy then they might love making their own beer and they can do just that with this homebrew kit. It includes everything that you need to make the perfect beer. They might find they like this a lot better then store bought beer because they made it all by their self. Included in this kit is: handbook, 6.5 Gallon fermenting bucket, lid, 6.5 bottling bucket with spigot, fermometer fermentation thermometer, brew rack, hydrometer, Emily double lever capper, bottle brush, 3 piece airlock and an 8 pack of C-brite Sanitizer.

Giant Extra Large Beer Glass $12

If you’re looking for a beer glass that holds the most, this one is it. You will receive an extra large glass and when I say extra large, I mean it’s really big. This glass holds 60 ounces of beer. It’s made of glass and nothing less. It measures 12″ tall and comes packaged in a gift box making things easier for you.

Tags:2009 Adult Christmas Gift Guide for the Beer Enthusiasts

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