When it comes to the Oscars, Tom is on team 'Hurt Locker'

It's Oscar time, and you know what that means!

OK, I don't know what that means, either, but I might actually tune in to the last 15 minutes, just to see if the gutless wonders who run Hollywood will reward The Hurt Locker and leave James Cameron to cry in his billion-dollar box-office take from Avatar.

Hollywood folks are hilarious. They try soooo hard to be lib-er-al, but then they revert to backside-covering form at the strangest times. They drive up to the auditorium in their hybrid Priuses, and then the women get out in dresses that cost more than the car. Last year, screw-you leftie Sean Penn actually called the voters "you commie, homo-loving sons o' guns." But a few years earlier, they had a chance to name Brokeback Mountain Best Picture and instead went with Crash, which was controversial, but in a decidedly less-controversial way.

I don't think I've watched an Academy Awards telecast all the way through since that time Marlon Brando sent "Sacheen Littlefeather" out to accept his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather. Brando was taking the opportunity to protest all of the scams the United States government had pulled on Native Americans over the years, so he pulled a scam of his own by sending out a fake-ass Indian woman to read a prepared speech. It turns out her name wasn't really Sacheen Littlefeather, which is too bad, because that's a cool name. However, after she later posed in Playboy, by a 9-to-1 margin, a poll of American men said that she could call herself whatever she wanted.

When they announced Brando's name, I remember that I yelled at the TV screen, "I told you that you should have put Al Pacino in the Best Actor category!" Instead, they lumped Pacino (as Michael Corleone) in the Best Supporting Actor category along with James Caan (Sonny) and Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen). All three canceled each other out, giving the win to Cabaret actor Joel Grey, whose daughter played Baby in Dirty Dancing.

It's doubtful that even Dr. Sheldon Cooper could follow that progression.

I was going to do a riff on the Best Picture nominees, and maybe assign each of them to a particular politician or legislative body. But it was too easy in some spots, and too difficult in others. See, it turns out that über-butthole Bob Burns, the Arizona State Senate president who is greatly responsible for much of what has oozed forth from this detestable state Legislature, is actually from District 9. What fun is that?

I suppose we could say that the Tucson City Council members' favorite film is The Blind Side and that City Manager Mike Letcher's job status is Up in the Air, but how does one choose the legislative body most worthy of the film Inglourious Basterds?

Did you know that the official title of Precious is Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire? If your name is Sapphire, and you're writing novels about incest, you probably should have taken more money up front instead of demanding title credit.

Every single person I've talked to who has seen Avatar says the same thing: It's really pretty to look at, but otherwise, it's really dumb. (Insert your own sorority joke here.)

When I was a kid, the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey played at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood for years. All the stoners would go to the midnight show on Saturday and chant, "Oh wow, man!" in unison as Dave Bowman entered the Jovian atmosphere.

I'll stop right there, lest anyone think I'm drawing comparisons between the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece and the James Cameron money machine. I actually like some of Cameron's stuff; I think The Terminator and its first sequel are both great sci-fi movies. But apparently, in the spirit of the U.S. during the Barbary pirates war, Cameron's slogan was "$200 million for effects, but only $12 for the script."

What's really depressing is what has happened to the Best Song category. Do you realize how many classic songs come from movies? In 1937, Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" lost to "The Way You Look Tonight." Other winners from that era include "Thanks for the Memory," "(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow," "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "White Christmas."

Of course, it doesn't always go right. In 1968, "Talk to the Animals" beat "The Look of Love," the Dusty Springfield version of which is the sexiest song of all time. Ten years later, "You Light Up My Life" won while "Stayin' Alive," one of the great pop tunes of all time, wasn't even nominated.

These days, there's nothing to even argue about. Nobody knows any of the songs. There hasn't been a cool Best Song winner since "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile. Oh, there was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," a crap song from a crap movie by a crap rap act. (Say "crap rap act" 10 times, really fast.)

Some people liked "Falling Slowly" from Once, but after having been in the soul band in The Commitments, winning the Oscar for Once had to have been a letdown for Glen Hansard.

Anyway, let's hear it for The Hurt Locker and director Kathryn Bigelow, and hope that Hollywood gets it right this year.

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