Movies, movies, movies ... and Oscar

Tis the season - the Oscar nominations are out, and from now until the big day, there will be constant reminders that this is the time of year that all good little actors and actresses (and directors and producers and special effects houses) dream of. For us, the simple viewers, the stakes may not be as high, but it pays to be informed. So in addition to such obvious pre-Oscar destinations as the official Academy Awards site, the Internet Movie Database's Road to the Oscars, and, of course, the 'anti-Oscars' -The Razzies- here are a few more sites to ensure that on the big day, you'll be filled with the true Spirit of Oscar - Past, Present and Future.

First, if you're interested in seeing just how expert the experts really are, the Gold Derby gathers the predictions of a handful of professional reviewers on the upcoming Academy Award race, (among others) while the Fool's Gold Derby features competing predictions from amateurs - pundits with names like Boomer, Xanadu, and Rock0123. After the dust settles on March 25th, it will be possible to see if the pros or amateurs were better judges of great films. (Or at least, better judges of what the Academy judges as great films.)

If you'd like to compare this year's nominees with past masterworks, you can find a collection of 'Greatest Films' lists (including The Internet Movie Database Top 100, and the AFI's much debated "100 Years ... 100 Movies" collection) at the Greatest Films site. If you'd rather go in the other direction, The Stinkers offers its list of The 100 Worst Films of the 20th Century. As with any best-of/worst-of list, the "Worst Films" is open to debate, but it would be difficult to argue with the inclusion of, "It's Pat: The Movie," "Howard The Duck," or "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies." (They just don't make titles like that anymore.)

But even great films have their hiccups (how did anyone know that Charles Foster Kane's last word was "Rosebud," when he died alone?) and if anyone ever tells you that a specific movie is 'flawless,' simply direct them to Movie, which lists more than 12,000 mistakes found in some 1700 films. Ranging from the technical (cameraman reflected in glass), to continuity (hats appearing and disappearing), to 'historical conflicts' (period actors wearing digital watches), Movie-Mistakes shows that nobody's perfect. (And that others should never have been let out of film school.) Some observations appear to be repeated, and others might be considered nit-picking, (such as the comment about 'flat-sawn' versus 'quarter sawn' woodwork detailing in Titanic) but many are fairly difficult to excuse (like the breathing and blinking corpses in Gladiator). As well as access to the collection by title or actor's name, the site also offers a listing of the 'Top' Twenty error-prone films, (with The Matrix dominating the list) and the Twenty favorite individual mistakes from any film. (Apparently, a car made its way into The Lord Of The Rings.) There's also a page devoted to this year's Oscar nominees - the current error-leader being Pearl Harbor with almost 70 mistakes, including the rather impressive feat of having the sun set in the east.

Finally, hope springs eternal that better movies are just over the horizon, and feeds that faith with information about films may still be months -or even years- away from release. Searchable by such variables as Release Date, Title, Genre, and Actor, (in case you're desperate for news about Britney Spears' next project) each film's page has information about the movie's premise, ongoing title and cast changes, production notes and, when available, the picture's official website.

Will next year's Best Picture be "Death to Smoochy"? Only time will tell.

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