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All this Oscar talk is making me thirsty. Really, really thirsty.

Do you know who Melissa Leo is? She's a little bitch. Do you know who Natalie Portman is? She's a little bitch, too. Christian Bale? Colin F-F-Firth? These are the Oscar brats of 2011.

This past Sunday, everything you thought you knew about this year's Oscar race proved to be a red herring in what was already a feathery cluster-fuck. The black swan that blew up the Oscar coop this year was a deus ex machina with a stutter: "The King's Speech." If they're not turning tricks, the Weinstein Company's got 'em up their sleeve. I just saw an interview with "Speech" writer David Seidler who apparently used to have a stutter himself. But just because you had a stammer doesn't mean you get handicapped parking, yaknowwhatImean?

It's common knowledge in cinema-centric circles that the Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild Awards are the be-all and end-all of the season. "Speech" director Tom Hooper nabbed the DGA award - has anyone heard of this guy? - while the cast took Best Ensemble at the SAGs. This shocked people, like me, who expected David Fincher and his "Social Network" to take all. But why are we shocked? History repeats itself (and the Academy loves history).

The Academy - yes, I am talking about the Mutant Academy - sticks to a certain formula in serving up their little gold men: First, you need to blow Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Then, you need to get Kate Winslet on the phone, and if you can't get her, you call someone else. Your movie must be a period piece, somewhere between World War I and II, and it must be a true story about overcoming adversity. The rest will come naturally. Bri'ish people? Bring 'em. Holocaust people? BRING 'EM. Don't forget you need some all around feel-good-ery up in there. We want people crying but we wanna melt their hearts, too. And never, ever will computer hackers, dream hackers, lesbian moms or lesbian swans win Best Picture. Remember: If you can't pick a winner and just want to be P.C., there's always "Crash" (and I'm not talking Cronenberg, sadly).

Let me offer my credentials. The only politics I know are Oscar politics. 2011 marks the decade anniversary of my attempts to see every nominated film. I notice there's a lot of hysteria surrounding certain performances every year: It's as if the votes are cast before the ballot is even written. Someone is planting celluloid dreams in Hollywood heads.

Take the supporting actress front-runner, for instance. There's a new Leo in town, and it's Melissa Leo. She's been nominated before. She loves "the Method." She loves method acting so much that she's probably acting right now. Melissa Leo does not fuck around. Her performance in "The Fighter" - one of many 2010 movies I put in the "fine, just fine" category - is nothing spectacular. She plays a sassy broad, perpetually smoking and perpetually poor-endowed in the hair department (I swear, I really do own that same wig). Yet still, these salt-of-the-earth, woe-is-the-lower-class performances, especially when they're based on true stories, generate the hysteria I'm talking about.

'Tis the Oscar season, folks. Wherever you go, beware your surroundings. You might find Annette Bening (yet again) left for dead in a ditch at the hands of a Swank and a swan. Or if you're not careful, you'll be rounding a corner only to find a gaggle of "actor's actors" bukkake all over Mizz Leo.

Ask Ryan about his "method" at [email protected]

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