And now a few words from people telling you how to live your life.

So you if you were watching cartoons on a weekday morning or afternoon within the broadcast area of Boston cable/UHF superstations WLVI (Channel 56) or WSBK (TV38), you likely saw each of these maybe 10 times a day.

This first one takes place on Mahs. You know, Mahs? The planet that's wicked red? (Incidentally, there's a much better copy of this also on YouTube but embedding is disabled on that one.)

Burger King spokescharacter Snuffy the Talking Fire Engine burns off (so to speak) some court-mandated public service time with this ad. IIRC, the scenes in this were taken from a longer fire safety film I remember watching in grade school.

A well-oiled Tin Woodsman sings about proper heart care and maintenance.

There were about 100,000 Better Business Bureau ads. I posted a few of them a while back, and here's another.

This one kind of requires you to forget that frogs don't actually have teeth.

(There was an even better ADA ad with Tarzan which posited that pain from a life of improper dental hygiene was the cause of his famous jungle yell, but of course I can't find that one right now.)

The Dairy Council not only wants to remind you to eat from each of the food groups every day, they're gonna drop a little Poe on you while they do it.

And finally, this one. I think it speaks for itself.

Ring a ding ding

So as part of it's ongoing plan to sell more comics by offering collectible tchotchkes to fans who buy certain comic books, DC is offering up a White Lantern ring to people who buy the upcoming Brightest Day #1. It's definitely a fun promotion, and the rings themselves are pretty cool - I have the recent Green Lantern ring (even though I don't generally read Blackest Night) and the Flash ring certainly helped convince me I should pre-order the new Flash #1 - but I am left scratching my head over one aspect of all this. There's a new Legion of Super-Heroes book coming soon. People are buying books specifically to get these plastic rings. Legionnaires all wear flight rings.

My math fu is generally pretty weak, but this seems pretty obvious to me. No announcement has been made yet, though, and to my knowledge DC hasn't answered any questions posed to them about the possibility. Blogger Svengali Lad has suggested fans take (polite, responsible) action in this regard and send postcards to DC in the hopes of letting them know that there is an interested audience for this, similar to the recent campaign to get Wonder Woman's book restored to it's original numbering with issue #600. And what the hell, it couldn't hurt. So if this sort of thing interests you, consider sending a nice, concise - and again, POLITE - postcard message to:

c/o Dan DiDio
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Better Late Than Never Reviews: 2/23/10

And once again, quick reactionary tidbits to recently read (though not always recently produced) comics.

Uncanny X-Men: Loveless - See, Matt Fraction would've had me on this for just the way he juggles so many plotlines - telling individual stories with Peter and Emma, a group story with Beast and the X-Club, laying the groundwork for the Sisterhood, revealing that both Scott and Emma have side agendas they're telling no one about, building to the return of Magneto, and tying into Dark Reign - in the space of just four regular issues and an annual. But bringing in elements from Marvel's old Godzilla book, too... I'm not made of stone here, people. And then it's also a Terry & Rachel Dodson drawn arc instead of a Greg Land one. You've got a perfect storm of X-Men goodness here is what I'm saying.

Incredible Hercules: Love & War - Maybe the weakest story I've read in the series so far - the whole "world where men are subservient to women" trope is hard to make fresh, and the Amazons seemed too much like the modern Amazon tribe seen in Y: The Last Man - but still a damn fine read despite the well-worn territory. More great characterization, plenty of honestly laugh-out-loud scenes, and the best sound effects in comics today (if there was a Don Martin award, it would go to Incredible Hercules, no question).

Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost - This book from the Center for Cartoon Studies and First Second Books is very likely the best cartooning instruction book you could ever give a kid. Or an adult, for that matter. Most cartooning books attempt to teach you how to draw, which can be incredibly frustrating if you don't have the knack. Sturm and Co. sidestep that altogether and try and teach the audience how to make comics, which is an important distinction; you may never learn to draw like a comics professional, but even the simplest of drawings can still be comics. Best of all, it's not a dry instructional, but a story unto itself about a magic elf, a brave knight, a cowardly horse, and a bubblegum chewing dragon.

Viva la edutainment!

Super Friends #24
- Liam picked this out for himself, but I think I ended up enjoying it more. Lex Luthor hosts the annual mad science convention on Oolong Island, but he also leaks the location to the Super Friends so that the villains have a real test to prove who the top mad banana is. In-jokes galore, and probably the best Mr. Mind appearance in a long, long time (I think that worm needs to switch to decaf). Definitely a read for the young'uns, but a lot of fun stuff in there for the grown-ups, too.

S.W.O.R.D. #4 - Yeah, I know, Dead Book Walking and all, but it's still a terrific read, with brilliant characterization by Kieron Gillen (who should be allowed to write every appearance of Beast and/or Abigail Brand forever after), more Death's Head, and the Single Greatest Faux Pas in Alien Invasion History. Check out this book if you haven't already, even if it's in trade, enjoy it thoroughly, severely chastise yourself for not supporting it earlier, and then rail bitterly and drunkenly against the comics industry in which a book of this quality could not thrive.

Pretty Sketchy: The Gallifreyan Technicolor Dreamcoat

The Sixth Doctor and his terrible outfit (which I admit has grown on me over the years), as drawn for me by Chris Burke, a man I probably owe a new set of Prismacolor markers. Thanks, Burke!

How's Who #6: The Green Death

Tardis Crew: Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning)

The plot: After a season’s worth of trying, the Doctor finally figures a way to swan off to Metebelis 3, but Jo suddenly develops a more earthly interest in Welsh chemical company shenanigans, the deaths they seem to be causing, and Professor Jones, the eager young scientist hoping to put a stop to all of this. The Doctor flies off to sulk (and almost gets killed), but eventually joins up with Jo and the rest of UNIT in Wales, where they all meet up with Jones and the World’s Smartest Hippie Commune to figure out what’s with up with all the green, glowing dead people and maggots the size of large dogs. Turns out the chemical company is run by a computer (the B.O.S.S.) who’s gone all Skynet and really doesn’t care about giant bugs or human nightlights. UNIT fights some hilarious giant mosquitoes, the Doctor outsmarts the B.O.S.S., and Jo ends up leaving to marry this Jones cat, because vowing to spend the rest of your life with some dude who treated you poorly back in Episode One of the serial is standard operating procedure for female companions in classic Who.

The Thoughts: Let’s get this out of the way immediately: no way in hell should this story have been six episodes long. At four, it would have been a good Earth-based (if occasionally goofy) Pertwee yarn, but at six there was just too much padding. And though I could remark about all of the terrible green screening going on here, that’s pretty much a given in this era of Doctor Who, so let’s just move on.

Although draggy, it was still a decent story, thanks in large part to Pertwee himself. Though his Doctor was always the dapper, gentlemanly man of action, he also had a stubborn, petulant streak beneath the surface, and we see a lot of that here. He all but holds his breath and stomps his feet when he refuses to go to Wales without visiting Metebelis 3 first, and he is incapable of hiding his jealousy when Jo announces she’d rather go down and meet Professor Jones (a man she says reminds her of a younger version of the Doctor… ouch) than run off on another adventure with him. His hurt is even more palpable (though better hidden) once he meets Jones and realizes he actually has a lot of respect for the guy, calling him “brilliant for his Age” (not merely his physical age, mind you, but the time period in which he lives… no small compliment from the Doctor). He knows the May-December fantasy he’s been living with her can’t – or at least shouldn’t – compete with the future she could have with Jones, so he doesn’t fight it, and his literal ride off into the night at story’s end is heartbreaking.

Make no mistake here, folks, however chaste their relationship may have been physically, the Doctor clearly loved Jo just as John Steed loved Mrs. Peel. Admittedly Jo Grant was always more Tara King than Emma Peel*, but I think the comparison is apt, especially as this story pretty much marks the end of Doctor Who’s Avengers period, since the next season, Pertwee’s last, sees the return of a lot of traditional Who elements that were missing in the largely Earth-based, crazy espionage/world-saving seasons before it. And you know, watching these as a kid, I was never a big fan of the early Pertwee stories because there was never enough space stuff. But now those are some of my favorites specifically because of the “Avengers with Monsters” aspect, and it’s this period that makes Pertwee one of my favorite Doctors of all. Funny, that.

Overall: Two episodes too long, but worth watching for the performances, the silly bugs, and the only hippie commune in the world that actually tries to save the world rather than just talk about it, decide that’s too hard, give up, get high, and listen to Dead bootlegs instead. It also gets points for being the rare UNIT story where the soldiers don’t just stand around and shoot at monsters, wondering why their bullets don’t work. Well, I mean, that happens, too, but Mike Yates gets to play undercover agent, and the Brigadier proves himself a charming dinner companion, so it’s nice to see them get to be real characters. But Jon Pertwee is the gold standard here, and Katy Manning’s Jo, a character I never cared much for, finally wins me over in her final bow.

Also, the Doctor crossdresses at one point. That's something you kind of need to watch.

Making Liz Shaw his Cathy Gale, of course. Sarah Jane Smith, however, was not the Doctor’s Mrs. Peel, because she could never be anything other than Sarah Jane, the companion by which all others are measured.

Tuesday Morning Cartoons: Triumph of the Green Goblin

It was very confusing to me as a kid when I finally learned that Norman Osborn just put on a costume to become the Green Goblin instead of changing like the Hulk:

So hey, people who make DVDs, when are we finally going to get season sets of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, anyway?

Nice underboob, your highness.

So Marvel announced that they're going to follow in the footsteps of Astonishing X-Men by creating an entire "Astonishing" line of books that will be (theoretically) new-reader friendly while still playing in the sandbox of the established Marvel Universe (as opposed to theoretically new-reader friendly books set in a different though superficially familiar universe like the Ultimate line or Marvel Adventures). This is the image of the X-Men that they use to promote this line:

Now I'm not slamming Kaare Andrews' artistic chops here, as generally I enjoy his work. And I really like his designs for Beast (yay, no more Kitten Beast!) and Armor (though I wonder how she sees out from under that hair). But Storm? Come on, guys, even if you ignore the shitstorm of commentary that's going to come from such an impractical and sleazy design - and it'll happen, believe me, you can count on the inter-ma-net for that - it seems very out of character for Storm, who may have worn skimpy outfits in the past, true, but never anything so outright slutty. Plus, she's royalty now... you'd think an actual queen would wear something a little more dignified and a lot less Jersey Shore.

My weekend in the (Death Star) trenches.

Without ever meaning to, I spent most of my weekend thoroughly ensconced in Star Wars fandom. A convergence of events driven by the Force? A giant coincidence? The sort of thing you're likely to do when you're a big ol' nerd?

My money's on option #3. Anyway, first I finally got around to reading this:

which the Inter-Library Loan person at work was able to find for me after I saw Rather Childish talk about it over on his Star Wars toy photo blog. It's a short collection of essays reminiscing about growing up in First Age of Star Wars, and though Booth was a little older than I was at the time, it certainly brought me back to the time when the original trilogy was the all-consuming fire of my young life, too. Begging for the toys, hoarding the Topps cards, memorizing all the factual minutiae, meeting characters in costume at the local mall... yeah, this brought me right back to all of that (I was such a fan at one point that I even collected the Star Wars-themed Dixie cups... dear god, why?). It's a quick, breezy read, and if anything could've been a little longer - what about the Saturday morning cartoons, or the Ewok TV-movies? - but it's a pleasant helping of nostalgia chow, to be certain.

Then Netflix saw fit to send me Fanboys, a road trip comedy about a group of Star Wars fanatics who drive cross-country to break into Skywalker Ranch in 1998 in the hopes of seeing a rough cut of Episode I since one of the group has cancer and probably won't live to see it premiere. It's not exactly what you'd call "good" in the classical sense - all dorky motivations aside, it's a fairly by-the-book road trip comedy, complete with middle-of-nowhere breakdown and "What do you mean they're hookers?!?" Vegas sequence - but there's an enthusiasm and charm throughout that ends up making it enjoyable despite its shortcomings. Awkward as it may occasionally be, the cast all seem to be having fun, and there are some great cameos throughout (including Seth Rogen in three different roles, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Ray Park, Kevin Smith, and one surprising appearance from the other side of the Sci-Fi franchise aisle that I won't spoil here), and that certainly helps. Finally, Star Wars fans have their own Free Enterprise, only in Fanboys, the characters aren't so self-centered and douchey.

Also, Kristen Bell is just ridiculously cute in this movie:

. . .

I'm sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. Star Wars good.

There's no better way to say I Love You than bidding on some blogger's toys on eBay.

Why should card and chocolate makers get all the Valentine's Day dollars? Someone in your life must want:

  • a Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes Spider-Man
  • a Super Powers Flash
  • a Marvel Legends (Hasbro) Union Jack (figure only, no Red Hulk Build-a-Figure piece)
  • a DC Direct Death (from Sandman)
So why not head on over to eBay right now and bid, hmm?

Better Late Than Never Reviews: 2/10/10 edition

Even briefer than normal reactions to recently read - if not recently published - comic bookery.

Wolverine: Weapon X #10 - Wolverine comes to grips with getting an honest to god girlfriend, reporter Melita Garner, who I hope becomes a fixture because she's awesome. A quiet, brilliant, funny, talky issue by Jason Aaron, with fantastically stylized art by C.P. Smith. Get this now.

Jonah Hex #50 - Dropped this a long time back when it basically became Western Rape Comics, but Darwyn Cooke brought me back for this one, and he didn't disappoint. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti's story of Hex and Tallulah Black is just heartbreaking. Not fun comics, per se, but damn good.

Agents of Atlas: Turf Wars TPB - Mildly disappointed by the first arc of the no longer (but hopefully again) ongoing, but this was a return to the heights of the original mini-series, particularly as the Jade Claw story amps up at the end. The changing art teams were distracting, though; all great artists, true, but the jumps were still a bit much.

Fantastic Four #575 - Always nice to see Mole Man monsters and the High Evolutionary, as well as the return of Dale Eaglesham, but not enough of an upswing from the last two dire issues to keep me on this monthly. We'll always have Dark Reign: Fantastic Four, though, Jonathan Hickman.

Joe the Barbarian #1 - Sean Murphy's artwork on this was gorgeous, but at first glance, Grant Morrison's story is a little too much I Kill Giants meets The Stuff of Legend for me to see what all the hype is about yet. But I am intrigued, and this is definitely something I'll be coming back to in trade, though.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13 - Possibly my favorite issue so far, and one of the few to feel like it could be a real episode. Seeing the likes of Captain Marvel, Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Plastic Man putting their own spin on being Batman was fun, and seeing Angel and the Ape was a hoot. Anyone know where I could maybe buy one of those Captain Marvel as Batman pages?

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #12 - This take on Mr. Mind and the mirror version of Captain Marvel, Niatpac Levram, was fun, but Bryon Vaughn's artwork just wasn't doing it for me at all. Looking forward to seeing Mike Norton debut on this next month.

Spider-Man and the Secret Wars #2 -While I'm glad to see Tobin isn't just recapping the original Secret Wars slavishly, I still found myself wishing that this story (the suburb of Denver brought to Battleworld under siege, defended by Spider-Man, Ben Grimm, and Dr. Doom of all people) tied into the original a little more. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it felt a bit too tangential.

A few words on that Not-Douglas-Adams Douglas Adams book.

Admittedly I had pretty low expectations going into this. Douglas Adams is one of my favorite authors ever, and good as Eoin Colfer's reputation is (I've never read any of Artemis Fowl books, or anything else he may have written), he's not going to be Douglas Adams. I'm also not a big fan of "tribute band fiction," even if there have been, for instance, some good Sherlock Holmes stories written by people other than Arthur Conan Doyle. Generally speaking, though, I don't think literature needs legacies carried on by anyone other than the original authors themselves.

(And yes, as comic book fan, I know that Marvel & DC's entire business model is based on people writing other people's creations, so need to point out the irony, thanks.)

But again, Colfer's reputation is pretty good. And Adams' wife and daughter signed off on this. And I actually kind of hated Adams' own final Hitchhiker novel, Mostly Harmless, so I figured that at least this couldn't be much worse. I got off my high horse and gave this a shot, and you know, it wasn't bad.

The biggest success here is that he mostly avoided the tribute band route. Colfer certainly told an Adams-inspired story set firmly within the man's established universe, but he didn't attempt to ape Adams' voice slavishly. He does spend a little too much time throwing out callbacks to the originals - you'll read more references to Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and the Bugblatter Beast of Traal in this book than in the rest of the series combined - attempting to prove to us that yes, he, too, is a big fan and that we shouldn't worry. He's not outright rehashing Adams' unique turns of phrase, and for that we can be thankful, but at the same time, he does manage to make everyone sound right, or at least right enough that the transition to a new storyteller isn't as jarring as it could be. The intermittent Guide entries lack a bit of the usual sparkle, but considering those were the most Douglas Adamsy parts of the original, that's to be expected, but at least they're still mostly funny.

Colfer quickly establishes his own voice and pace, and once he's done with the business of figuring a way out of the ending to Mostly Harmless, he manages to tell a pretty decent story here, reminiscent of both the H2G2 and Dirk Gently books, in fact, and though I thought it ended a bit anticlimactically, it's a largely satisfying (or at least pleasantly diverting) read. He plays well in Douglas Adams' sandbox, and treats the toys with respect. In the end, that's probably the most we could hope for.

The book's opening calls this an Appendix to the story of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that's the best way to look at it: interesting, even entertaining, but optional.

It was a damn sight better than Mostly Harmless, though. I'll give Eoin Colfer that.

Bendis is really taking this new Avengers line-up in some unexpected directions.

This would be the greatest decision in the history of Marvel. Get on that, Disney!

Is this Gungan-safe tuna?

Japan, it's another planet. Quite literally this time.

Man, off-model Chewbacca loves him some damn tuna!

March Madness for Indoor Kids - 2010 Oscar Nominations

I haven't seen most of the movies nominated this year. That's what happens when you only get to the theater 4 or 5 times a year. But I'm not going to let an absence of facts and experiences get in the way of forming opinions, because that's how it works on the internet. Here are some thoughts on the nominations (at least in the categories that matter to me, anyway).

Best actor in a leading role Oscars 2010 nominees
* Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart” (Fox Searchlight)
* George Clooney in “Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
* Colin Firth in “A Single Man” (The Weinstein Company)
* Morgan Freeman in “Invictus” (Warner Bros.)
* Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment)

Morgan Freeman is pretty much living Oscar-bait as Nelson Mandela, and Colin Firth is always good, even when stuck in a Bridget Jones movie or that one with Amanda Bynes that was pretty much the princess-less Princess Diaries, but I'm rooting for Jeff Bridges here. He's long overdue, I think, and his performance is the one I'm most excited to see.

Best actor in a supporting role Oscars 2010 nominees
* Matt Damon in “Invictus” (Warner Bros.)
* Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
* Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones” (DreamWorks in association with Film4, Distributed by Paramount)
* Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company)

Christoph Waltz stole every damn scene in Inglourious Basterds, and managed to make the simple act of pouring a glass of milk absolutely terrifying. As Joel once said on MST3K, evil is a lot more effective when it's more subtle. Waltz proved it's even moreso when it's cheerful, even almost personable.

Best actress in a leading role Oscars 2010 nominees

* Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” (Warner Bros.)
* Helen Mirren in “The Last Station” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Carey Mulligan in “An Education” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)
* Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia” (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Is it wrong that I want Carey Mulligan to win almost entirely because she was Sally Sparrow, one of my favorite characters of all from Doctor Who? An Education looks fantastic, but still... Sally Sparrow.

Best actress in a supporting role Oscars 2010 nominees
* Penélope Cruz in “Nine” (The Weinstein Company)
* Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
* Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart” (Fox Searchlight)
* Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
* Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate)

As my mom reminded us several times over Christmas, Anna Kendrick is from Portland, Maine. I doubt she'll get it, I think Mo'Nique has this pretty much locked up, but I do feel a little obligated to root for the person from my home state.

Best animated feature film of the year Oscars 2010 nominees:

*“Coraline” (Focus Features) Henry Selick
*“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (20th Century Fox) Wes Anderson
*“The Princess and the Frog” (Walt Disney) John Musker and Ron Clements
*“The Secret of Kells” (GKIDS) Tomm Moore
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Pete Docter

No Ponyo? Huh. I bet the animation people themselves were confused about that. Anyway, I've only seen Up, but it was very, very good, and has the Disney and Pixar muscle behind it. Though maybe they'll want to go traditional and go with The Princess and the Frog.

Best Director Oscars 2010 Nominees:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) James Cameron
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Kathryn Bigelow
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Quentin Tarantino
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) Lee Daniels
*“Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Jason Reitman

Everyone is touting this and Best Picture as The Battle of the Exes between Cameron and Bigelow, as well as the battle between big, glossy entertainment and a smaller film with Something To Say. How awesome would it be for some dark horse to ride in and take it from the both of 'em? C'mon, Quentin!

Best in music written for motion pictures Oscars 2010 Nominees (Original score)

*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) James Horner
*“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (20th Century Fox) Alexandre Desplat
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
*“Sherlock Holmes” (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino

Up's score was sweet and lilting, light as the balloons so prominent to the plot, and I can't think about the scenes without also hearing the accompanying music in my head. Now that's a score right there.

Best in music written for motion pictures Oscars 2010 Nominees (Original song)
*“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
*“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
*“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36″ (Sony Pictures Classics) Music by Reinhardt Wagner. Lyric by Frank Thomas
*“Take It All” from “Nine” (The Weinstein Company) Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
*“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Randy Newman's nominated twice? The hell, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? And I say that as someone who actually enjoys Randy Newman. Anyway, I'd like to see (and hear) The Weary Kind win here. It's always nice when something other than Big Sweeping Movie Song wins.

Best animated short film Oscars 2010 Nominees:
*“French Roast”A Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films Production Fabrice O. Joubert
*“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” (Brown Bag Films) A Brown Bag Films Production Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
*“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” A Kandor Graphics and Green Moon Production Javier Recio Gracia
*“Logorama” (Autour de Minuit) An Autour de Minuit Production Nicolas Schmerkin
*“A Matter of Loaf and Death” (Aardman Animations) An Aardman Animations Production Nick Park

Haven't seen any of these, but I definitely want to track them all down. Sight unseen, I lean toward Nick Park and Wallace & Gromit, but Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty looks great, too.

Best in Adapted screenplay Oscars 2010 Nominees:
*“District 9″ (Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
*“An Education” (Sony Pictures Classics) Screenplay by Nick Hornby
*“In the Loop” (IFC Films) Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
*“Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Best in Original screenplay Oscars 2010 Nominees:
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) Written by Mark Boal
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) Written by Quentin Tarantino
*“The Messenger” (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
*“A Serious Man” (Focus Features) Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
*“Up” (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter
Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

Screenplay awards are usually one Best Picture honorable mention and one that felt was truly unique though wasn't nominated any place else, but with 10 Best Picture nominees, that's kinda out the window. So maybe District 9 for being allegorical, and either The Hurt Locker if Avatar gets Best Picture, or Basterds if it doesn't.

Best motion picture of the year Oscars 2010 Nominees:
*“Avatar” (20th Century Fox) A Lightstorm Entertainment Production James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
*“The Blind Side” (Warner Bros.) An Alcon Entertainment Production Nominees to be determined
*“District 9″ (Sony Pictures Releasing) A Block/Hanson Production Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
*“An Education” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Finola Dwyer/Wildgaze Films Production Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
*“The Hurt Locker” (Summit Entertainment) A Voltage Pictures Production Nominees to be determined
*“Inglourious Basterds” (The Weinstein Company) A Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures/A Band Apart/Zehnte Babelsberg Production Lawrence Bender, Producer
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Lionsgate) A Lee Daniels Entertainment/Smokewood Entertainment Production Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
*“A Serious Man” (Focus Features) A Working Title Films Production Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
*“Up” (Walt Disney)A Pixar Production Jonas Rivera, Producer
*“Up in the Air” (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) A Montecito Picture Company Production Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

For making such a big deal about expanding the field to 10 pictures this year to allow for more variety, it still seems a pretty standard group of selections. Again, the real race is between Avatar and Hurt Locker, I think, but who knows, maybe the larger field will water down the vote and allow for that dark horse I mentioned earlier. Wouldn't we all just stomp away angry if The Blind Side won, for instance? Doubt it'll happen, but stranger things occur (see also: The Greatest Show on Earth, or Marissa Tomei)