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Friday, Feb 8, 2013
Ben Travers asks: "why can’t we banish the spoilers and get back to the anxiety-packed glory days of the Oscars?"

As an awards season prognosticator, it’s my job to follow every race from beginning to end. Whether it’s Actor, Actress, Director or Picture, I have to be there from when the National Board of Review releases its Top 10 list all the way through the announcement of who won Best Director at the DGA awards. It’s a fairly brief, rapid-fire season, and it’s only getting shorter. I’m starting to think, though, that we should shorten it even further.


Let’s shorten it to nothing.


Precursor ceremonies are the necessary evil of an awards season; except for the life of me I can’t figure out why they’re necessary. Perhaps it’s the democratic way to allow every random group of film fans to have their day in the sun, shining a light on whatever films and performers they so choose.


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Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013
1982 saw a rising star named Jessica Lange score a trophy in the Supporting Actress category for what was essentially a lead role in Tootsie, in the same year she was nominated as Best Actress for Frances. Statuesque obviously adores all things Lange, but the award in this category actually should have gone to one of her co-stars.

Oscar’s nominees:


Glenn Close ... The World According to Garp
Teri Garr ... Tootsie
Jessica Lange ... Tootsie
Kim Stanley ... Frances
Leslie Ann Warren ... Victor Victoria


The five women nominated for Best Supporting Actress of 1982 were all pretty much deserving, if conventional choices. Far be it for me to deny Jessica Lange an Oscar win, but she is the leading lady of Tootsie, and the film’s emotional center. Since the Best Actress Oscar had been long-since preordained to go to Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice, Lange’s bid for a win in that race was not ever going to happen as much as she deserved the win. Since Lange’s electric turn in Frances already had everyone buzzing, voters saw fit to knock down her Tootsie co-lead to supporting status, thus securing Lange a win in arguably one of the most important years of her entire career. That said, I would personally cite her as Best Actress of the year for both films.


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Monday, Feb 4, 2013
Or 'How Ben Travers Cover His Ass for Underestimating Argo'

So, remember last week when I wrote Argo‘s Golden Globe win for Best Picture didn’t mean anything? Well, by itself, that’s still true. However, when you pair that with wins at the Producers Guild Awards and SAGs last week, it means quite a bit.


Before its impressive run last week, I wrote the attention paid to the film would help it attract a few extra votes, but would need many, many more Oscar voters to change parties to make it a serious contender for the Academy’s top prize. After all, there wasn’t much love for it during the nominations process.


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Friday, Feb 1, 2013
Emotions and political stances run high and rampant regarding the documentary’s deeply complicated subject matter, but Oscar-nominee Dror Moreh has crafted a startlingly straightforward work virtually devoid of agenda.

For Dror Moreh, the early weeks of 2013 have been a whirlwind of near-unanimous critical praise, prestigious festival screenings, Q&As panels, interviews, “Best Of” lists, and well-deserved awards.


Having recently secured the highest-profile nomination of all—an Academy Award nod for Best Documentary Feature—for The Gatekeepers, his internationally acclaimed look inside the Shin Bet, Israel’s highly secretive internal security service, Moreh has somewhat unwittingly been made de facto spokesman for the many political controversies at film’s forefront. That Moreh was able to convince the six surviving former heads of the Shin Bet—each tasked during his tenure with conceiving of effective counterterrorism strategies, each with his own successes and failures—to speak candidly on camera is something of a miracle.


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Thursday, Jan 31, 2013
I forgot to look at my watch. Forgot there was a world outside of Jackson’s conception of Middle Earth and when the movie arrived to its conclusion -- the first of two cliffhangers -- all I knew is I wanted more.

More than a decade ago, my grandma took me and my two brothers to the first showing of a little movie called The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as a sixteen year old I found myself completely enamoured by a world I’d only known from the Rankin/Bass animated specials I’d watched growing up. Once the movie reached its wondrous finale, all I knew was that the next installment couldn’t come soon enough. I came out of the theater truly elated, wondering how it was possible for a movie about wizards and hairy humanoids to make me feel like a child.


Like this, Peter Jackson’s thrilling film series captured my imagination for three consecutive years. Time during which I finally listened to an advice my father had been giving me since I was eight and decided to read The Hobbit. As it tends to happen with everyone who reads Tolkien’s novels (I devoured every book he wrote about Middle Earth) I became strangely protective of its characters, like an unofficial park ranger trying to guard an imaginary reserve.


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