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by Nigel M Smith
March 5, 2010 6:24 AM
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Oscar Round Up | Pre-Awards Parties In Full Swing Despite Dire Box-Office Returns for Nominees

Photo ©A.M.P.A.S.

With the 82nd Academy Awards finally airing this Sunday on ABC, dress rehearsals and pre-awards festivities are in full swing, as Sandy Cohen reports for the Associated Press.

Thursday saw the Kodak Theater stage welcome Oscar hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, who ran through their lines for the show. One of the night's producers, Adam Shankman, was on hand to get a piggyback ride from Baldwin. Meanwhile in Bel Air, it was an all-ladies affair, as Women In Film hosted their third annual pre-Oscar party. Oscar-winning producer and host Cathy Schulman was the event's host.

Though Tinseltown is celebrating in anticipation of Sunday's ceremony, box-office receipts for many of this year's Best Picture nominees offer a more dour picture as Ryan Nakashima uncovers for the Associated Press. He reveals that "the revenue bump for this year's crop is less than the one enjoyed by last year's five best-picture hopefuls." Of the $135 million bump that the hopefuls recieved following their nominations, a large chunk ($24 million) went to "the film in least need of an Oscar bump: the record-smashing "Avatar."" To put things into perspective, last year's Best Picture nominees pulled in $146 million over the same period. And only five films were nominated last year, compared to the 10 this year.

The New York Time's Carpetbagger Blog writer Melena Ryzik, attests in her article "The Drama of How the Race is Run" to the pointless endeavor of nominating 10 films for Best Picture. She argues that that "this year’s extended Oscar race was capable of creating drama under its own momentum," minus the extra five nominations. After all she adds, "broadcast ratings of awards programs and the Super Bowl are up this year." There's also no doubt that the box-office behemoth "Avatar" and indie darling "The Hurt Locker" would have both been included in the Best Picture race had there only been five nominees. The two films are the front-winners to win the award on Sunday, and as Ryzik points out, audiences will be tuning in to see which ex-spouse collects the prize. Kevin Polowy of Moviefone, says the race between the two is "flip-a-coin close."

In a surprising and highly informative article for Reuters, Alexis Zotos explores the Academy's strict rules with regards to becoming a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Zotos lays out their process that involves two members who must sponsor a person, only for the the board of governors to formally invite them based on their body of work. Even many Academy Award nominees and presenters have yet to make the cut, including "Juno"'s Ellen Page and "Twilight" Oscar presenter Robert Pattinson. Michelle Williams (nominated for her work in "Brokeback Mountain") was only invited this past June. Another surprising non-member, Christoph Waltz, the favorite to win this year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar, was interviewed by Time where he discussed how he diffuses all the praise he's been receiving for his work in "Inglourious Basterds"

And for those of you who've been feverishly pondering whether this year's Best Picture nominees are indeed factual (can those Pandora mountains really float in that ecosystem?!) then be sure to read Hollywood Reporter's feature, where they quiz a slew of professors, doctors and one Rabbi.

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