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Bring on Awards Season!

Ahh...awards season is upon us! This is my favorite time of year, when Best/Worst lists start springing up in every paper/magazine/blog, and the film critics start giving out awards (like the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who gave Best Picture to Letters From Iwo Jima), then the Golden Globes, then the Oscar nominations and the hype and speculation and occasional mudslinging that goes on beforehand, all culminating in the Big Event that is my favorite day of the year, Oscar Night. Not so long ago nominations were announced for the Independent Sprit Awards (which I think are just being called the Spirit awards now) and the Golden Globes. See the full lists here: First, the Spirit Awards. Fun Facts: To be eligible for a Spirit Award, a film must have cost less than $20 million dollars (with a percentage coming from independent sources) and have "uniqueness of vision" and "original, provocative subject matter," though the submission guide does say "any variations of the rules or guidelines are at the sole discretion of the Nominating Committee." This year's Best Feature contenders are American Gun, The Dead Girl, Half Nelson, Pan's Labyrinth, and Little Miss Sunshine. I assume everyone's seen Little Miss Sunshine (out now on DVD for those of you who haven't had the pleasure yet). You may have watched Half Nelson at SIFF, where Ryan Gosling won Best Actor (he's also up for Best Male Lead at these awards). If not, you'll have to wait for the DVD on February 13th. And all of us at Scarecrow are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the luscious looking Pan's Labyrinth (from Guillermo "Blade II" del Toro) on December 29th. The other two I had to do some research on. It turns out we've had American Gun on DVD since August. It stars Donald Sutherland, Marcia Gay Harden and Forest Whitaker (who's also nominated for Best Male Lead) and, according to the back of the box, is a "point-blank story of how guns in America shape and influence lives." It's in our Independent Drama section. The Dead Girl was written and directed by Karen Moncrieff (Blue Car). It stars Toni Collette (always a good sign), Brittany Murphy, James Franco and Mary Beth Hurt as members of a community whose lives begin to unravel after a young girl's brutal murder. It will get a limited theatrical release on Dec. 29th. The Spirit Awards will be held on Saturday, February 24th, 2007 (in keeping with tradition, it's the day before the Oscars, usually in a tent on a beach) and will be broadcast live on the Independent Film Channel (though Bravo usually ends up showing the ceremony later in the evening). Sarah Silverman returns as host, so if they just get rid of that ridiculous singing about the nominated films bit, it will be a wonderful evening. Right now, I think Little Miss Sunshine will win, but likely I'll change my mind once I see Pan's Labyrinth. The Golden Globes (awards given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) are part Oscars and part Emmys, with slightly less glamour and respectability than either (though I don't see how much respectability an institution can have when they give Best Picture to Crash, but that's a whole other post). Despite its inferiority complex, the Globes do have their advantages. For one, they separate the Best Picture and lead acting categories into comedy/musical and drama (God forbid the Oscars reward a comedic performance, my fingers are crossed for Sacha Baron Cohen). They have the attendees seated at tables, which forces the one person seated right next to the stage to shake hands/hug/kiss/pretend to trip every winner and it's usually very entertaining or exceptionally awkward, or both. They also serve alcohol, which can make for some interesting acceptance speeches. Taking a look at the nominees, there are several names listed twice, sometimes in the same category. --Leonardo DiCaprio is up against himself in the Best Actor-Drama category for The Blood Diamond and The Departed (one of those should probably read Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson). --Clint Eastwood is nominated for Best Director for both Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima. --Chiwetel Ejiofor (who some may remember as the bad guy in Serenity) for Kinky Boots and Tsunami, The Aftermath. --Emily Blunt (My Summer Of Love) for The Devil Wears Prada and Gideon's Daughter --Toni Collette for Little Miss Sunshine and Tsunami, The Aftermath. --Annette Bening for Running With Scissors and Mrs. Harris. --Helen Mirren is not only nominated for her amazing performance in The Queen, but also is nominated twice in the Best Actress--Mini-Series or TV Movie category for Elizabeth I and Prime Suspect: The Final Act. I can't remember a time when this many actors had multiple nominations. Did all these actors have an amazing year? Did the Hollywood Foreign Press just not see a lot of films? Did they see plenty of films, but they were mostly mediocre crap? I'd imagine each has a grain of truth. My prediction is Dreamgirls will win for Best Picture--Comedy or Musical, mainly because anytime there is a drama-like musical in the category (like Chicago and Evita), it wins. But if Beyonce wins for Best Actress over Meryl Streep (for The Devil Wears Prada), my brain will explode inside my skull and come oozing out my nostrils. The Drama picture is a tougher call. I'm hoping for The Departed, but I'll take anything that's not Bobby. Since I've already blathered on too much, I won't go on the TV stuff. I know we'll all be rooting for The Office, and there's a small but influential group here that will be cheering loudly for Alec Baldwin, nominated for 30 Rock. If you haven't watched 30 Rock yet, do so as soon as possible. That is, if you like funny stuff. You can watch whole episodes at The Golden Globes will be held on Monday, January 15th at 8pm on NBC (I guess Studio 60 won't be on that night). Then it's just a short hop from there to the Oscar nominations, which will be announced on Tuesday, January 23rd. Now I just have to find out when the Screen Actors Guild awards are...