Dear Dana and Troy,
Troy: I agree with much of what you have to say, though I don't know that the Academy Awards have jumped the shark. Maybe movies have jumped the shark, for the most part, except for the foreign ones.
Yes, it is a dull year and you correctly recite all those choices that have seemed like sure things for much too long. (No, Dana, I don't believe that cute child from Little Miss Sunshine can win; she must settle for having been nominated, which isn't bad at her age. Winning hasn't done much for many child actors, far as I can tell. And Troy, there are a couple of plausible underdogs and their names are Peter O'Toole and Alan Arkin. Does this make for suspense or fun? Eh.)
Not all the movies are bad, of course. Some are good. Certainly I have my couple of favorites. But none rises to the level of "best picture."
If there's anything that Hollywood seems to be hoping for right now, it's that this unexciting Oscar event will distract from the unseemly Hillary vs. Obama war. "Thank God for the Academy Awards," sighed one political operative. Of course, the brouhaha will likely provide fodder for the awards writers. As Bruce Vilanch told me recently, Iwo Jima jokes are thin on the ground.
My hope is that Al Gore, after winning for An Inconvenient Truth, will get to his feet and declare that while global warming is a serious threat, the Democrats may be facing a more imminent meltdown unless certain petulant billionaires button their lips. "Can't we all just get along?" he might ask.
Just as an aside, I had a moment of confusion when Maureen Dowd riffed, "Who can pay attention to the Oscar battle between 'The Queen' and 'Dreamgirls' when you've got a political battle between a Queen and a Dreamboy?" Not to be politically incorrect, but you kind of have to read that one twice, don't you?
As for the Oscar show, it'll get better when the choices are more interesting. I believe these things are cyclical. I hope so.