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Oscar nominations: Resist creeping Golden Globalism

The Academy announced a solid list this morning. Even the surprises, like Javier Bardem for "Biutifiul," are intriguing, not embarrassing, and the come-from-behind figures, like Jeremy Renner ( "The Town") and John Hawkes ("Winter's Bone") for best supporting actor, are sensational performers, not novelty acts.

I am floored that the excruciating "Dogtooth" is one of the best foreign-language film nominees, but the foreign-language committee voters are not alone in their enthusiasm -- it was a hit at Cannes and at the Maryland Film Festival. In less chic areas, how about a round of huzzahs for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1," nominated for art direction and visual effects; for "Unstoppable," up for sound editing; and for "Tangled," up for best song. And at least "The Tempest" got noticed for best costume design.

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My biggest qualm came from seeing the ad promoting James Franco and Anne Hathaway as co-hosts for the actual ceremony. It featured a spectacularly unfunny gag-parody of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction." Let's hope the producers don't go the way of the Golden Globes and start force-feeding the idea that awards ceremonies should be full of giddy hijinks. Unless a natural like Billy Crystal is hosting, any fun at the Academy Awards is apt to be spontaneous and often both humorous and moving, like Cuba Gooding Jr.'s acceptance speech for "Jerry Maguire."

Academy producers, go easy on the production concepts and set pieces, and Academy voters, just pick some worthy winners -- more than any hosts or presenters, they're the ones who are likely to be your lucky charms.

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