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How Much Does an Oscar Win Really Matter to Your Netflix Queue?

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As if the fleets of limos and drunken starlets in sequined minis stumbling down Sunset Boulevard's less seedy corridors weren't enough, the traffic jams at the closed off corners around The Not-The-Kodak-Anymore Theater have confirmed it -- it's Oscar weekend. All around town fragile egos are ringing like crystal bells of fear, the well-tended façade of breezy self-confidence being chiefly supported by copious amounts of designer alcohol drained at endless soirees. And with Gallic charmer The Artist shockingly poised to sweep the Oscars thanks to Harvey Weinstein's dark arts, good luck finding a decent bottle of champagne. There haven't been this many spontaneous exclamations of jubilation in French heard around Los Angeles since D-Day.

I for one will be riding with the Gallic tide when I phone in my picks to the bookie. Like pretty much every other Oscar "expert" out there -- i.e. I argue with friends over whiskey about who deserved best picture more, Sunset Blvd. or All About Eve (exciting, I know!) -- I fully expect The Artist to take Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editing. (Best Cinematography will go to Emanuel Lubezki for figuring out how to light Creation in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, working title: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Everything But We're Too Existentially Overwhelmed to Ask). Hazanavicius certainly deserves the Directing and Editing awards for a film whose excellence was almost fully predicated on the precision and perfection of its execution. The magic of the The Artist is how it manages to capture the marvelous lost beauty of silent films in a modern package that contemporary audiences can embrace. And Jean Dujardin, he of the ridiculously strong jaw (I bet his chin alone can bench 250), stands a chance of claiming best actor. Though, here, I think is where the surprises will lie. George Clooney could well take it -- but I'd actually put my moneyball on Brad Pitt: the Greek God of Hollywood is way overdue and his performance as Billy Beane is remarkable, even to the Academy's not-quite-in-touch electorate. The only thing you can fault him for is making it look too effortless. Also, the battle of the octogenarians in the Supporting Actor category could offer some surprises if Max Von Sydow can top Christopher Plummer. I say let them wrestle for it -- it'll be an instant Oscar moment worthy of the late, great Jack Palance, and Billy Crystal will score a joke or two off that. Otherwise, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress all but locked up. Any of the other non-black-and-white Oscar contenders should be happy with the "consolation categories." (Sorry, Best Make-Up!). For those of you out there with an obsessive compulsive addiction to know the thoughts of every Oscar blogger on the internet, my picks are at the bottom.

But let's be honest, for every nominee who bursts into tears onstage, offstage there's four more gritting their teeth into fine enamel-dust and repeating "It's an honor just to be nominated" while hatching plots to leak sex tapes of the winner to TMZ. Or if you want to elevate sour grapes to a science, you can keep in mind that for all the glamour and grief, the schadenfreude and self-celebration, the Oscars aren't exactly the best indicator of what stands the test of time. Maybe it's a function of the fact that, as the L.A. Times so devilishly pointed out this week, the Academy is so ridiculously old, white and male, it makes the cast of Downton Abbey look like the extras pool for Roots. Sure, everyone whines about the Oscars' irrelevance, but I have neat little rule-of-thumb test to make it painfully clear -- and help soothe the battered psyches of those who don't win Sunday night. Which of these paired films would you put higher on your Netflix queue -- and which of them won Best Picture that year? Take a spin, consult a film nerd and I bet you will need a bare minimum of Googling to answer the second part of that question.

Grand Illusion or You Can't Take It With You
Citizen Kane or How Green Was My Valley
The Magnificent Ambersons or Mrs. Miniver
Double Indemnity or Going My Way
It's A Wonderful Life or The Best Years of Our Lives
High Noon or The Greatest Show On Earth
The Ten Commandments, Giant or Around the World in 80 Days
The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde or In the Heat of the Night
MASH or Patton
Apocalypse Now or Kramer vs. Kramer
Raging Bull or Ordinary People
E.T.,Tootsie or Gandhi
Goodfellas or Dances With Wolves
The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction or Forrest Gump
Fargo, Jerry Maguire or The English Patient
Saving Private Ryan or Shakespeare in Love
The Lord of the Rings or A Beautiful Mind
Brokeback Mountain or Crash
There Will Be Blood or No Country For Old Men

**For the record, considering the sad state of cinema that was 2011, I predict The Artist will be eminently Netflix-able for years to come. Of course, we'll find out--one day.

And my Oscar Picks are:
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing: The Artist
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Best Actor: Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, The Beginners
Best Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, The Descendents
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Best Foreign Film: A Separation
Best Animated Film: Rango
Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Music, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing: Hugo
Best Make-Up: The Iron Lady
Best Song: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets
Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Best Short Doc: The Tsunami and The Cherry Blossom
Best Animated Short: La Luna
Best Live-Action Short: The Shore -- aw, heck let's be crazy and say the one about the guy with the Tuba: Tuba Atlantic.