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Simon: 'Idiot Old Hollywood' is back


By Jeff Simon, Arts Editor

It was only a matter of time, I tell you, before we got the idiot Old Hollywood back - you remember, the one that was so dumb at Oscar time in 1976 that it gave the Best Picture Oscar to "Rocky" and not "Network" or "Taxi Driver" or "All the President's Men."

We got it back in all its feel good incoherence at the Oscar nomination ceremonies Thursday morning.

Yes, they were smart enough to make sure that Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for Best Actor in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" even though he's almost certain to not even show up (he's declared open hostility to such fol-de-rol and, besides, is certain to lose to sure thing Daniel Day-Lewis.)

But the Motion Picture Academy turned the director's category into an unholy mess. Left out of it entirely, besides Anderson, were Kathryn Bigelow (director of "Zero Dark Thirty," see the four-star review in Friday's Gusto) and Ben Affleck (director of huge audience favorite "Argo" as well as the movie's star."Argo" WAS nominated for Best Picture.)

I'm personally fine with the exclusion of "Les Miserables" director Tom Hooper and "Django Unchained" fantasist Quentin Tarantino. I'm also just fine with Michael Haneke making the Best Director Cut for his hugely praised film "Amour" (to open in Buffalo in February) but given the gifts of those left out of the Best Director category, the inclusion of David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook" and Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is so much grievously sentimental horse puckey that they should have had the nominations announced by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil instead of Emma Stone and Seth McFarlane.

But then there WAS some good news there about the latter: when McFarlane was tagged as the host of the Oscars, there was more than a little consternation and trepidation. He turned out to be funny and irreverent and not in the slightest bit oppressive on Thursday, which is no small task, given the gig. When the awards actually happen on Feb. 24, he may be almost as much of a sure evening winner as Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor.

In the meantime, see my column on the truly indomitable Oscar mojo of Harvey Weinstein in Friday's paper.

Be sure to check out today's Critics' Corner live video chat at 1 p.m.

Here's the Associated Press' story on the nominations and the complete nomination list.

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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