This year's Academy Awards race is rife with political undercurrents and controversies: veterans' groups debating the accuracy of The Hurt Locker; conservatives complaining about Avatar's "mystical mélange of trite leftist themes"; a black critic saying of Precious "Not since The Birth of a Nation has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life"; and another critic lambasting The Blind Side for "peddling the most insidious kind of racism, one in which whiteys are virtuous saviors, coming to the rescue of blacks who become superfluous in narratives that are supposed to be about them."
At least Hollywood has been quicker to embrace reform than DC. While Senate rules and parliamentary procedures have helped gridlock the president's reform agenda, the Academy, faced with declining approval ratings, expanded its Best Picture field to 10 nominees, and changed the voting system to require the winner to garner at least 50 percent of the vote (Hollywood's version of reconciliation).
So with the Oscars coming up on Sunday, it's time again for our annual salute to -- and mashup of -- this year's noteworthy achievements in the worlds of politics and entertainment, which are getting more and more alike every day.
The envelopes, please....
Rewriting of History:
Best: Brad Pitt and his team assassinate Hitler in Inglourious Basterds
Worst: Rudy Giuliani and Dana Perino claim there were no terrorist attacks on the U.S. during George W. Bush's presidency in Untruthful Bastards
Best: Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer's Body
Worst: John Edwards and Rielle Hunter in their homemade tape
Best: Paranormal Activity, which cost under $20,000 to make and has grossed over $180 million worldwide
Worst: The War in Afghanistan, where we are spending $30 billion a year to take on the 100 al-Qaeda members still there
Best: Michael Jackson shows he still has it in This Is It
Worst: Tom DeLay shows he never had it on Dancing With the Stars
Most: The Time Traveler's Wife
Least: Toyota blaming fatal sudden acceleration problems on ill-fitting floor mats
Best: Michael Giacchino's rousing music for Up
Worst: Former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis' $83 million retirement package
Most: Jeff Bridges as faded country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart
Least: Glenn Beck walking back his claim that President Obama is "a racist"
Best: The Hurt Locker's keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat pacing
Worst: Fox News touts large crowds at Tea Party rally, and splices in footage from a larger event held months earlier to sell the lie
Politics: "Death panels"
Best Serious Performance By a Funny Person:
Movies: With her devastating turn as an abusive parent in Precious, Mo'Nique goes from standup comedian to Oscar frontrunner
Politics: With his endless-recount win over Norm Coleman, Al Franken goes from Stuart Saves His Family to United States Senator
Use of a Foreign Location:
Best: Rome, as seen in Julia Roberts' Duplicity
Worst: Argentina, as seen in Mark Sanford's Duplicity
Best: Kavi, about a boy born into slavery in modern India
Worst: Conan O'Brien's run as host of The Tonight Show
Movies: George Clooney's backpack rap in Up In the Air
Politics: Sarah Palin's explanation for her resignation
Most Honest Performance by a Child:
Reel: Max Records for his note-perfect turn in Where the Wild Things Are
Real: Balloon Boy Falcon Heene, for outing the hoax and vomiting twice on national television in Where the Wildly Irresponsible Parents Are
Best: The hidden room in the field in The Lovely Bones
Worst: Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates' porch in This Is What Happens to Black Men in America
Use of Profanity:
Best: "I know that you disapprove of swearing so I'll sort that out: You are a boring F, star, star, cunt!" - Peter Capaldi in In the Loop
Worst: (tie): "Fucking retarded!" - Rahm Emanuel to liberal activists; "Tough shit!" - Sen. Jim Bunning to Democrats trying to get him to drop his objection to extending unemployment insurance
Best: Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno hits Milan Fashion Week in a Velcro suit
Worst: Joe Wilson yells "You lie!" during Obama's joint session address on health care
Most Charming: Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Least Charming: Dick Cheney
Performance as a Philandering Husband:
Best: Bradley Cooper in He's Just Not That Into You
Worst: (tie) Tiger Woods, David Letterman, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, John Edwards
Best: Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in Invictus
Worst: Orly Taitz as herself in Birther
Performance as a Bloodsucker:
Best: Robert Pattinson in The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Worst: (tie) America's credit card, mortgage, and payday loan companies
Reel: Col. Hans Landa's multilingual questioning of a French dairy farmer in Inglourious Basterds
Real: Jon Stewart's masterful evisceration of Jim Cramer on The Daily Show
Best: Maggie Gyllenhaal and her son Buddy in Crazy Heart
Worst: Mackenzie Phillips and her sex partner dad John in WTF?
Most: Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci in Julie & Julia -- she knew the way to his heart was through his stomach
Least: John Ensign and Cynthia Hampton -- his parents knew the way to her heart (and her silence) was $96,000
All right, HuffPosters, now it's your turn. List your Political Oscar picks in the comment section and we'll publish the best ones later this week.
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