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Academy anticipation

Bill Brink | Thursday, February 19, 2009

I get excited about the Academy Awards. Possibly not the most macho admission, but it’s the truth. And this year’s awards contain a number of interesting nominees that will make the ceremony fascinating, never mind the fact that Hugh Jackman is hosting.

Where’d that come from? Used to be funny people would run the show, the better to entertain the masses: Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres. Where’d Hugh Jackman come from?

But we can’t judge before we see. He may exude charm and charisma and connect with the audience better than all of the above. At the very least, his physique in a tux and hint of an Australian accent will entertain the females.

Here’s what has me excited this year:

Up for Best Picture, we have “Slumdog Millionaire,” a movie with no well-known actors (at least in America) that still captivates the audience. Half of the movie follows young Indian kids who don’t speak English, yet the cinematography and Indian music (two songs are up for Best Song) move the film along at a rapid pace.

We also have “Titanic’s” Jack and Kate 11 years down the road when the relationship forged in the heat (or cold) of the tragedy starts to fade, in “Revolutionary Road.” Jack gets uppity with Kate, Kate’s not having it … whatever the case may be.

All the good things I heard about Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” couldn’t describe his performance. I judge movies by how they affect me after I see them. “The Wrestler” stuck around in my head. A movie about a washed-up wrestler in New Jersey, and I couldn’t get rid of it.

Side note: Marisa Tomei, who plays a stripper in the movie, still looks real good at age 44.

My biggest beef with the Oscars is usually that they omit comedy movies and focus on serious, ponderous movies I don’t want to see. Not this year, because Robert Downey Jr. got a nomination for his role as Kirk Lazarus/Lincoln Osiris in “Tropic Thunder.” Bout time. He reminded me of a cross of Daniel Day-Lewis with Stifler: unbelievably funny.

It’s a shame, though, that he has no chance of winning, because he’s up against Heath Ledger and the Joker. The Joker was the first villain in a movie I believed. Every other villain wears tailored suits and has billions of dollars for world domination while his minions protect him from every possible harm. Ledger’s portrayal of the character made me believe that someone out there could actually do the things he did. And despite the fact that he carved people’s faces with knives and thoughtlessly slaughtered innocent people, at times I felt like I was rooting for him.

If he doesn’t win Sunday, the Academy and I are gonna have problems.