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Oscar Indicators
January 9, 2006

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its choice of host for the 78th Annual Academy Awards. It's one of today's foremost wisecrackers, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" Jon Stewart.

Stewart apparently landed the Oscar gig after Billy Crystal turned it down citing scheduling conflicts.

In a press release announcing the Academy's selection, Stewart lampooned the fact that he was second fiddle, describing it as "another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal."

The comic already has some award show experience under his belt, having served as host for the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002.

Evidently, he intends to take a week off from his "Daily Show" duties to work with his writers, who will most likely assist him in preparing the requisite number of Bush-bashing jokes.

Meanwhile the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have announced some nominations of their own. This is significant in that their selections tend to serve as predictors of Best Picture Academy Awards. In fact, no movie has ever won an Oscar for Best Picture without first having been nominated by at least one of these two groups.

If the PGA/WGA forecasting pattern holds true, "Munich," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Match Point" are already out of the running.

When the PGA and the WGA ignore films, arrows point toward losses, while conversely, films that are nominated by both groups can take on front-runner status.

In this awards cycle, movies nominated by both groups include "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Crash."

"Capote" also squeaked out a win for Best Picture from the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) after six ballot rounds. Based on the almost universal raves given by critics to "Brokeback Mountain," one might have expected the film to win the NSFC Best Picture award in a landslide. But the critics group snubbed the movie, with the exception of giving a Best Actor nod to Heath Ledger.

Other DGA nominees include George Clooney for "Good Night, and Good Luck," Paul Haggis for "Crash," Bennett Miller for "Capote" and Steven Spielberg for "Munich."

As an interesting side note, the online gambling sites have "Brokeback" as the clear betting favorite.

We'll find out who wins the bets and the statuettes on March 5.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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