Burger polishes that Oscar gold, while Revolve revels in hip-hop madness

by Mark Burger

I hadn’t originally intended on writing about the Oscars, until almost everyone I knew insisted that I had to. I was tempted to quote something my mother used to tell me: “I don’t have to do anything.” But who am I to deny popular demand?

Other publications in the area made a futile attempt to essentially defy Academy protocol by interviewing Academy members who live in the area about who and what they voted for. Can you, dear readers, believe such a thing? Some things, after all, are sacred.

When it came to World War II, loose lips sank ships. When it comes to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, loose lips sink memberships. The Academy may be flexible, but not that flexible.

The 82nd’ Academy Awards ceremony will take place this Sunday, broadcast on ABC-TV and hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Whether it’ll be a doozy or a dud, no one can say for sure. Even with some alterations to the show’s format — including one I find reprehensible — it’s bound to be a long night, folks.

For the first time since World War II, the Academy expanded the Best Picture category to include 10 films. As one of those who wondered if the Academy could even find 10 great films to nominate, I have to admit that the risk paid off as it was intended to: Many of those films with major nominations are still playing in first-run theaters, even though several are due on DVD before month’s end. (It’s all about the money.)

Incidentally, the Academy did not find 10 great films to nominate for Best Picture; the nominations range from the tolerable to the terrific, and most were in-between. The real race seems to be between The Hurt Locker and Avatar (I’ll take the former for 10 points), but Up in the Air, Precious and Up (my favorite film of 2009) in the running. So too is The Blind Side, which could pull off an upset. As for A Serious Man, District 9, An Education and Inglourious Basterds, they’re merely filling out the dance card.

As goes Best Picture so goes Best Director… usually. That would mean that Kathryn Bigelow would become the first woman to win an Oscar in that category, besting long-ago ex-husband James Cameron (for Avatar).

Best Actor? Jeff Bridges. Give it to him for Crazy Heart. Give it to him for Starman. Give it to him for The Last Picture Show and The Fabulous Baker Boys and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and Winter Kills and 8 Million Ways to Die. And, of course, for the Dude. Dude deserves an Oscar. Dude’s gonna get one.

By the way, superb competition from Colin Firth (A Single Man), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), George Clooney (Up in the Air) and Morgan Freeman (Invictus). When Morgan Freeman’s the longshot, you know it’s been a good year for leading actors.

Best Actress? By default, Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Best Supporting Actor? Probably Christoph Waltz in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds… but remember this: No actor has even won an Oscar playing a Nazi. Ever. Movies about Nazis win. Actors who play Nazis don’t. If Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) or Christopher Plummer (The Last Station) were to earn Oscar’s favors, be shocked … but don’t be surprised.

That Mo’Nique should win Best Supporting Actress for Precious disturbs even me. I am no fan of her stand-up. I am no fan of her previous movies (Phat Girlz? Are you kidding me?). But, as the most monstrous mother of all, she delivered above, beyond and even more beyond. The dark horse here is Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), but this category may be a lock.

Incidentally, the alteration to the format that I find reprehensible is the decision to present honorary Academy Awards at an earlier ceremony.

Maybe it’s just me, but to have seen actress Lauren Bacall, cinematographer Gordon Willis and filmmaker Roger Corman (to whom entire generations of Hollywood superstars owe a debt of gratitude) accept honorary Oscars — clips and speeches included — would have been a true tribute to old Hollywood.

Revolve Film & Music Festival will be presenting the North Carolina premiere of Negin Farsad’s critically acclaimed documentary feature Nerdcore Rising, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Salem Fine Arts Center, located on the campus of Salem College (601 S. Church St., Winston- Salem).

The film depicts the newest craze in hip-hop music: “Nerdcore.” One of the pioneers of this musical movement is one MC Frontalot (AKA Damian Hess), a one-time web designer who has followed his dream to become a rapper. There’s just one problem: He’s not particularly talented. This has not prevented him from establishing a fervent fan base among computer devotees.

“[Nerdcore Rising] is definitely a must-see for those who wonder what touring is really like,” says Shalini Chatterjee, the founder of the Revolve Festival, who as a performer herself knows a thing or two about touring. “It’s a great ongoing story about a ‘rapper-de-la-resistance,’ with entertaining live footage. We are proud to present the NC premiere.”

Tickets are $5 and are available at the door or in advance, via For more information about this or upcoming Revolve events, see the same website.