Oscar guilty of bias against dogs and zombies | Latte Guy | Jan. 30

The 81st Annual Academy Awards nominations were announced last week. As a public service, I will once again offer my predicted winners in all the major categories.

I should note that my predictions are uncontaminated by personal bias in that I’ve seen only one or two of the films receiving nominations this year. My predictions are based solely on gut instincts, wild hunches and misinterpreted historical data – much as foreign-policy decisions were made during the Bush Administration.

For best picture, I’m going with “Milk” on the theory that monosyllabic movie titles carry a certain gravitas that resonates with Academy voters. I’m ruling out “Frost/Nixon” because no matter how good it might be, in the end, it’s a movie about Richard Nixon.

Before I tell you my pick for best actor, I feel compelled to note here the shocking continuation of blatant species discrimination on the part of the Academy in the acting categories. For the 81st year in a row, all starring and supporting actor nominees are humans.

Yes, I agree that the performance of the star of “Marley and Me” was an over-the-top, scene-chewing exercise in canine cinematic excess.

But I think the under-stated performance of Clint Eastwood’s dog Daisy in “Gran Torino” deserved a best supporting actress nomination.

If we can finally have an African American become President of the United States, then why can’t we have a four-legged actor recognized with an Academy Award nomination? It’s small consolation to me that all three of the best animated film nominees featured nonhuman stars. It feels like the Academy is just tossing those films a consolation bone, or a consolation bamboo shoot, as the case may be.

For best actor I’m going with Sean Penn, partly based on my reliable Monosyllabic Name Theory of Academy Voting Preferences, and partly because I think the Academy still owes Penn an Oscar for overlooking him for his stunning portrayal of Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

I realize Mickey Rourke is a sentimental choice here, and the Academy loves a comeback story. But I think the Academy’s love for comeback stories is not as great as its lack of love for Rourke himself. Frank Langella will suffer the same fate as the character he portrays. Despite his admirable monosyllabic tendencies, Brad Pitt is still only the second best actor in his family.

For best actress, and assuming my write-in campaign for Daisy fails to take hold, I’m going with Kate Winslet for obvious reasons. The academy doesn’t vote for actresses whose roles allow them to hide behind a hat, so Meryl Streep and Angelina Joile are both out. I have no idea who Melissa Leo is. Anne Hathaway seems like a fine actress, but she’s no Kate Winslet.

For best supporting actor, I would ordinarily go with any actor who uses three names. But this year, I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robert Downey Junior will lose to the late Heath Ledger. Even with three names, it’s hard to compete with the emotional power of a posthumous award.

For best supporting actress, I have to go with Marisa Tomei based on a rumor I heard that the character for which she was nominated is an aging stripper. There are few things the Academy likes better than aging strippers. And somehow I think this is the Year of the Stripper in Hollywood. I base that opinion on a movie I recently saw called “Zombie Strippers,” a bold blending of the ever-popular zombie genre with the ever-even-more-popular Gratuitous Nudity Genre.

The movie failed to garner any Oscar nominations, which is not entirely surprising given the narrow market segment to which this new genre is targeted. In fact, I think the only people within the target audience of “Zombie Stripper are 15-old middle-school boys, me, and my friend Ty. My back up choice in this category is Penelope Cruz, again for obvious reasons, although I think Ms. Cruz’s performance in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” was marred by the fact that she once dated Tom Cruise.

Finally, for best director I’m going with Danny Boyle for “Slumdog Millionaire” because I think Mr. Boyle speaks with an Irish accent, and if we have to listen to endlessly boring acceptance speeches all night long, it’d be nice to have at least one of them come with a lilt.

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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