Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gearing Up for the Oscars

To me, the Academy Awards Ceremony is like the Super Bowl for women. There are always incredible "plays" like amazing dresses and heart-wrenching acceptance speeches. There is the question of whether one "team" will begin to sweep early on or if the battle will be more of a back-and-forth between the rivals. And as if my home team had lost, I despair when the film I am championing doesn't take home Oscar gold.

My version of fantasy football is filling out my Oscar ballot. I take it just as seriously, doing tons of research on the nominees before the big day. When it comes to movies, I play to win. So this year, as I do every February, I have sat in many a darkened theater forming my opinions. It is hard to see all the nominees but I do my best, and this time I managed to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, Revolutionary Road, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Wall-E, Man on Wire, Trouble the Water, The Witness and Wanted. Of course, any one filling out their ballot while reading this will notice a few gaping holes in my screening list. I am still hoping to see Milk and The Wrestler by Sunday, but I'll have to turn in my work picks by Friday.

A lot of strategy goes into choosing the winners; there are always some political choices or "career" wins. To wrap my head around it all I turn to the web.

The LA Times "Gold Derby" online column has often been the first stop in my research. Author Tom O"Neill compiles stories, expert predictions and odds on the winners. This year, Tom has joined the digital revolution. You can get Gold Derby on Twitter. Join the Gold Derby Group at Facebook. Become friends with Tom O'Neil on Facebook. Get Gold Derby RSS feed via Facebook. RSS Feedburner or RSS Atom.

The Academy Awards website is also good to peruse for information about the telecast and local screening events, but I go there mainly to check out the message boards to see what people are saying. I also go to sites like The Oscar Guy, IMDB, You Tube (searching for those pesky shorts), and Oscar Frenzy.

This year, my two new favorite platforms/best friends have been Netflix on Xbox 360 and iTunes. Through Netflix I watched many of the documentary nominees that were harder to find, as well as The Visitor, a sweet little film that I highly recommend. iTunes allowed me to download many of the short films. Though in past years I have gone to the IFC Center or MOMA to view the short programs, being able to download them to my iPhone has made catching them infinitely easier.

There are also tons of odds predictors if you want to get right down to it (but isn't this art?) and one of the newest ones I've come across is a sports betting site Bet Us. Seems like you might even be able to wager real money here, but online gambling is where I draw the line.

When I think back to my childhood Oscar viewing, I shake my head at how utterly handicapped I was in predicting the winners. Now with all the digital help, my picks get a little bit closer every year, and in the end, isn't that better than actually winning the award? Okay, maybe not.