WTFN Oscar Preview
Lance Boyle (THE SCENE: WTFN抯 west-coast studio. The set is decorated with stills and posters of the 10 nominated movies. Host Lance Boyle and critic Miriam Kale are seated across from each other in high-backed upholstered chairs chatting quietly. In the background the floor director is heard: 搮and we抮e on in 5432 (points to Boyle. Theme music starts up.)

Lance Boyle: (to camera, as music dies down) 揌ello and welcome to WTFN抯 second-annual Oscar preview show live from our studios in Los Angeles. I抦 your host Lance Boyle. Sitting across from me in The Cutting Room once again is veteran film critic Miriam Kale. (turns to face her) Welcome, Miriam.

Miriam Kale: 揌i, Lance! It抯 hard to believe a whole year has passed.

Boyle: 揧es, and it抯 also hard to believe that Hollywood churned out 372 moves last year, more than one a day.

Kale: 揂nd of those, how many were worth watching?

Boyle: 揙ne in 10 if we抮e lucky, which merely proves that Hollywood is ever more dependent on recycling clich閟 and pandering to audiences that have the intellect and attention span of a 12-year-old boy. Speaking of 2010, a prediction you made came true梩he number of best-picture nominees stayed at 10.

Kale: 揑n this case, I wish I had been wrong. Nomination inflation not only debases the standard of movies, but it抯 so unnecessary. The award is at least as much a function of politics as art, so adding more nominees has little or no bearing on the winner. The choice of The Hurt Locker last year showed this clearly, I think.

Boyle: 揗iriam, I know you抮e disappointed that Avatar didn抰 win厰

Kale: 搮no, it抯 not that. I could deal with Avatar losing to a better film, but it didn抰. The Hurt Locker was chosen as best picture for two clearly political reasons. First, despite the unsparing portrayals of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, The Hurt Locker was unmistakably pro-war. Its message is: 慙ook what our soldiers have to sacrifice to bring 揻reedom to Iraq; The Iraqis need us; Support our troops! This concept of sacrifice is paramount, because involving the audience in a shared pain is the most powerful way to co-opt the audience into endorsing the premeditated destruction of a country.

Avatar, on the other hand, was anti-war, anti-occupation, anti-colonialism and anti-exploitation. It was, therefore, decidedly anti-American. Its message is: 慙ook what we do to unarmed people; look how dishonestly we treat them; Look how we dehumanize these people so that we can feel good about the cruelty and destruction we inflict on them. Inasmuch as this was a fantasy movie, it was a factual depiction of Israel抯 and the U.S抯 genocidal excesses in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Palestine. The academy picked the safe choice, The Hurt Locker, rather than risk offending the Israel Lobby or the warmongers in Washington.

Boyle: 揧ou mentioned a second reason?

Kale: 揧es, and that had to do with the academy抯 need to award a Best Director Oscar to a woman, and Kathryn Bigelow gave them the perfect opportunity. She抯 talented and an excellent director, and if she won for best director, it logically meant that her film, The Hurt Locker, had to win for best picture. It was a derivative award.

Boyle: 揑抦 sure Martin Scorsese would appreciate your logic.

Kale: 揧eah, I bet he would. My point is that The Hurt Locker was very good, but it was not great. Now that the nominees have doubled in number, and movies in general are getting worse, we will likely see films nominated that are merely above average, or in some cases simply good.

Boyle: 揌ow would you rate this year抯 nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King抯 Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter抯 Bone?

Kale: 揊irst, Inception, 127 Hours and Toy Story 3 don抰 belong: Inception was too convoluted; 127 Hours too limited; and Toy Story 3, despite rave reviews and undeniable excellence, not special enough to be included. Also, it抯 animated.

Boyle: 揥hat抯 wrong with that? Some of the best films being made are animatedSpirited Away, The Incredibles

Kale: 揑 don抰 disagree, but animated features should be in their own category. It抯 preposterous to equate a largely computer-made movie with a卽m 慼uman movie.

Boyle: 揂ren抰 you overstating your case just a bit; I mean, don抰 you think the best picture should win regardless of what kind of film it is?

Kale: 揋iving Toy Story 3 the Best Picture Oscar would be both an insult to the craft of acting and the art of movie-making, as well as an admission that Hollywood has collectively jumped the shark. Seriously, how can you compare the work of voice actors to real actors; computer technicians to cinematographers?

Boyle: 揌mm, okay, but you抮e going to catch a lot of flak for going after Pixar抯 prized franchise. So, what does that leave us?

Kale: 揟he films that I think do belong are: The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, True Grit, and Winter抯 Bone.

Boyle: 揘ot The King抯 Speech?! It racked up 12 nominations. How could you not include it?

Kale: The King抯 Speech is another in a long line of well-produced, well-acted, high-art British history dramas, and as such feels staid, predictable, and familiar. Add in the Royal Family, and a nomination is virtually guaranteed. It抯 as if the film didn抰 have to earn a nomination, but rather merely had to wait to have it conferred. Perhaps I抦 being a bit unfair, but giving The King抯 Speech a best pic nod seems like genuflecting before the, um, king.

Boyle: 揃ut Colin Firth抯 portrayal of Prince George, Duke of York, was supposed to be mannered, and staid. The Royal Family has to maintain an image and he was superb. Likewise, Helena Bonham-Carter抯 beautifully understated portrayal of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. And what could be said of Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue that hasn抰 been said?

Kale: 揑 agree. The performances were uniformly excellent, and the acting nominations are deserved; in fact, I think Firth will win for best actor. It抯 just that I think other films showed greater inventiveness.

Boyle: 揥hich is your favourite?

Kale: 揑f you抮e asking me which one I think will win, it抣l be either The King抯 Speech or The Fighter. Because the Cohen brothers cleaned up in 2007 with No Country for Old Men, the academy might make the political decision to give True Grit a pass. Either way, The King抯 Speech and The Fighter are both safe choices given their subject matter.

揋iving Toy Story 3 the Best Picture Oscar would be both an insult to the craft of acting and the art of movie-making, as well as an admission that Hollywood has collectively jumped the shark. Seriously, how can you compare the work of voice actors to real actors; computer technicians to cinematographers? Miriam Kale
Boyle: 揧ou don抰 sound enthusiastic.

Kale: 揑抦 not. If the academy really wanted to reward excellence, it would give the award to Winter抯 Bone, arguably the best acted movie of the year, and if there is any justice, Jennifer Lawrence should win for best actress over Natalie Portman抯 overwrought ballerina.

Boyle: 揙n this point we agree. Portman doesn抰 come close, but now we come to my favourite award, The Leni, which honours outstanding achievement in holocaust propaganda.

Kale: 揥ell, this was a tough pick, especially since there weren抰 any contenders.

Boyle: 揥hat?!

Kale: 揧ou heard me梖or the first time in more than 50 years not a single nominated movie dealt with the Holocaust.

Boyle: 揝o which film gets the award? Is there an award?

Kale: 揙h yes, but before I get to it, I want to focus on the significance of this absence. There is actually serious talk about the Holocaust being played out. More than 180 films have been made about the Jews under Hitler, more than any other topic. What, if anything, is left to say? I抣l tell you, nothing! Holocaust fatigue has finally set in.

Boyle: 揥hy now? Hollywood has never had a shortage of Holocaust stories, real or fabricated. In short succession we抎 had The Reader, Defiance, Valkyrie

Kale: 揜ight, but Inglourious Basterds was the last straw. This farcical Jewish torture spectacle was so gratuitously tasteless and dishonest that it did more to discredit the Holocaust than prop it up. What it did was inadvertently show the true Nazi-like nature of zionist Jews, and that has made Jewish suffering seem more contrived than real. Against the real Holocaust that Jews are inflicting today in Palestine, flogging the Holocaust now seems preposterous, even indecent.

Boyle: 揑s there any indication that Holocaust movies are running into trouble?

Kale: 揧es; in fact, Branko Lustig, one of the award-winning producers of Schindler抯 List, has been trying without success to find backers for a movie about Jews in the Shanghai ghetto.

Boyle: 揝hanghai?! Are we supposed to make a movie about every city that had a Jewish ghetto?

揑f the academy really wanted to reward excellence, it would give the award to Winter抯 Bone, arguably the best acted movie of the year, and if there is any justice, Jennifer Lawrence should win for best actress over Natalie Portman抯 overwrought ballerina. Miriam Kale

Kale: 揝o far, nobody in the United States, Europe or Asia is interested, and who could blame them?

Boyle: 揝o, which film do you think will get the award, if no Holocaust films were made?

Kale: 揟he academy should give an honorary Leni to Shoah on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its release. This 9.5-hour endurance test by Claude Lanzmann contains no archival footage and relies solely on people recounting stories, the veracity of which is never questioned or investigated. The film抯 respected position in the body of Holocaust films and Lanzmann抯 conspicuous lack of critical investigation means that Shoah deserves an honorary Leni.

Boyle: (to the camera) Well, that about does it for another show. (to Miriam Kale) Miriam, you never cease to surprise me. Thanks for joining me and let抯 hope Winter抯 Bone defies the experts厰

Kale: 搮such as they are.

Boyle: (to the camera) Good night, see you all after the awards. (Theme music rises, and fade out).