The day has arrived. Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mails out those mythical Oscar nomination ballots to their members. Each member gets to nominate for their branch category(or categories) and for Best Picture. The ballots are due back on Friday January 14th at the latest but supposedly the majority of voters are quick about mailing them back. On the morning of Tuesday, January 25th we'll hear the results of the voting. Which actors did the other actors rally behind, which sound design thrilled the sound mixers, and which newbie will the exclusive music branch fraternity punch in Original Score category? And so on.

So freeze the Oscar buzz this week. It's decision time. If you believe that out of sight equals out of mind -- and you'd be wise to do so given the borg-mind of precursors -- you'll understand why so many of the Oscar hopefuls have just hit theaters. For example, how many earlier worthier nominees will True Grit muscle out? We shall see.

Here's the events that will occur during voting.
  • Dec 27 Box Office media coverage (as far as Oscar goes, True Grit's strong opening and Black Swan and The King's Speech expansions will be the stories.)
  • Dec 27 Online Film Critics Nominees (the usual suspects with key LAFCA's suggestions placing.)
  • Dec 29 Blue Valentine finally opens in a handful of theaters. Jesus, they took long enough.
  • Dec 31 New Year's Eve Shenanigans. Who fills out their ballots while plastered? Oh come on, you know someone does. (I mean, besides HFPA and NBR members.)
  • Jan. 3 Online Film Critics Society winners announced
  • Jan. 4 Producers Guild of America nominations
  • Jan. 4 Writers Guild of America nominations
  • Jan. 7 Blue Valentine expands
  • Jan. 10 Directors Guild of America nominations announced
And finally, a Film Experience reminder to any Academy voters reading, particularly actors: Don't let precursor groups control you!

FACT: You are not a "Supporting" actor, when you're in every scene
and the entire story is about you.

Here's how it's supposed to work: You look at your lead ballots and you pick the five best in that category and rank them in order. If someone is not one of your five best, sorry no can do. It's totally sad for #6 & #7  *sniffle* but it's called a "shortlist" for a reason. It's supposed to be a major honor. If you're sad for your #6, don't demote them to another category. That's so unkind to the hard working character actors who deserve to be judged on a level playing field with other actors who have to sell entire characters in a limited number of scenes and gird up the starring player(s) when acting opposite them; different achievement, but you know it's equally worthy of honor. You've acted in films so you get the difficulties of either carrying a whole picture handily or adding a specific color or mood or a contrasting personality to the ensemble and thereby elevating the film. Vote accordingly.

A dramatization: Ewan McGregor contemplates his ballot.
Above all else, don't let anyone else tell you what to do. Including me (sigh) though if you'll allow me two suggestions, and I'll keep it simple, it's this:
  1. Watch some acclaimed or popular films released before September before you vote. Films like The Ghost Writer, I Am Love, Mother, Animal Kingdom, The Kids Are All Right, Shutter Island, How to Train Your Dragon all had their ardent fans. Are you one of them? You don't want to keep perpetuating the myth that AMPAS voters can't remember what they had for breakfast, let alone what opened last month.
  2. If you're not truly moved by some movie everyone is talking about... let's say you didn't like The Social Network or True Grit, ignore it in your best picture field. Just because everyone is talking about it right now, does not mean it's "best". What is "best" is totally up to you. If you wanna vote for Rabbit Hole or Another Year or whatever -- it's your ballot.
Happy voting!

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