Pacific Coast Highway, somewhere in Malibu. I wake up, hydraulic pistons inside my head doing a number on my skull– like Keith Moon on an angry expresso bender. My eyes are crusted. Two vultures in a tree look down on me with beady hungry eyes. Seeing me move, they slowly flap their wings and take flight, disgusted.

    It’s a couple days after the Academy Awards after-parties, and this intrepid reporter will do his best to hunt and peck the stories I have seen. The ones I remember, at least. 

After the after-parties, all you have are the memories you can remember.

After the after-parties, all you have are the memories you can remember.

    After the Awards Ceremony, I get a ride with Hugh Jackman and Beyonce and we hit Elton John’s party and I’m doing the Mashed Potato with Jennifer Aniston when who walks in but Angelina with Brad, and I’m like, Jen– ohmygod, I cannot even believe they came here” and she was like “I don’t care, I am so totally over him” and I’m like “well, yeah, but I mean can you even believe she brought him here– maybe he’s still into you after all” and Jen flips her hair and says whatever” and then Angelina comes by and drops a B-bomb under her breath and Jen just goes ballistic and she’s all over Angie gouging her face and yanking her hair and I see Brad and he’s up at the bar checking out Reese Witherspoon and making moose-shaped hand shadows on the wall for Uma Thurman’s amusement and so I try and break-up the fight and I get clocked by Mickey Rourke who climbs up on the stair railing like’s he’s going to rain a ‘Ram’ down on me and I quickly get to my feet, grab Ron Howard and shove him into Mickey who topples down the stairs and knocks Halle Berry off her feet and then I see Kate Winslet and she’s using her Oscar as a martini stir stick so I grab it and begin brandishing it at Rourke saying “You want some of this, come ‘n get it, loser!” and then out of nowhere Sean Penn steps up with his Oscar in hand and says “Hey, man, Mickey’s my bro, you can’t dis him like that!” and Meryl Streep take a champagne bottle, smashes it on a table, turns the newfound weapon with sharp shards of green glass to Sean and says “Leave Scooter alone, or I will cut you but good!” and Daniel Craig confidently steps in to calm her down and he gets a face full of Meryl’s glassy rage and he’s gushing blood and yelling that she “can’t do that to James Bond!” and she’s dancing around like Ali in his prime, ready to attack any other takers when John Mayer comes by innocently with his guitar and Meryl jabs him hard in the shoulder and down he goes and Danny Boyle decides he’s seen enough of Meryl’s rampage and he begins tossing Oscar after Oscar at the great actress as she dodges them expertly (Rourke’s picking up the Oscars like a greedy fool, giggling) and finally some bouncers come in and break it up and Hugh Jackman picks up Meryl’s broken champagne bottle and duct tapes it to the back of his hand and says “Lookit, everyone, I’m Wolverine, baby!” and he starts doing some crazy soft shoe dance and I’ve had enough and as I’m leaving the party I see Marty Scorsese talking with Steve Spielberg and I tell them, I say,”You know, if there’s one thing I hate it’s a name dropper,” and I leave and the next thing I know I wake up with some vultures are eyeing me for breakfast and up on the hill there’s the ashes of a luxurious estate.

     This here Hollywood’s one rough place.

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    Before the stars begin traipsing down the red carpet, The Lint Screen proudly predicts who will clutch statues of golden glory and who will grasp fistfuls of disappointment and heartache.

Hollywood's catnip, yummiliciousness!

Hollywood's catnip, yummiliciousness!

    Let’s get straight to the biggie–best picture: and the winner will be Slumdog Millionaire. A tough, tough call. I saw all the nominees except Frost/Nixon, but I don’t think it’s going to win since Dick Nixon was never much of a box office draw (he was more of a behind the scenes guy).

    Stiff competition with the other pictures though. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a spectacular film, but will be remembered more for seamless special effects than anything else.

    Milk was an amazing character study and acting tour de force for Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. But, we knew the story before sitting down. Not enough mystery to satisfy our insatiable curiosity.

    Then there was The Reader. Fresh, interesting story, great acting, directing, everything. But a little too too for an Oscar handshake. Too much of a downer.

    Which leaves us with Slumdog. This film had it all: exotic and mysterious locale (India), incredible storytelling in a non-linear and ever-poke-the-ol’-curiosity-way, terrific performances, romance, game show, good versus evil (Chuck Dickens would be proud), visually stunning, poo humor, Bollywood dance number, captivating music, etc. It’s the entire package. A fresh film from a fresh place Hollywood hasn’t yet exploited. Oh, and it was done by Brits. Hollywood is totally Anglophile, I say… it finds all things English to be quite brilliant. Yep, Slumdog is an Oscar lock.

    For leading actress, it’s a fight between Meryl Streep in Doubt and Kate Winslet in The Reader. My money’s on Meryl and her rosary beads. She sent shivers up the spines of any child who ever had a nun as a teacher (a performance so authentic, I had red imprints on my sweaty palms from phantom slaps of the ruler). Then again, Kate is British, so I could be wrong. I just hope it isn’t Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, an over-hyped soap opera of self-indulgent shaky cam. It was a movie that made every minute seem like five. 

    For leading actor, it’s Sean Penn versus Mickey Rourke as heavyweight contenders. I have to say Mickey was pretty incredible as a washed-up wrestler, but I didn’t feel his playing a has-been on the ropes was much of a stretch for him as an actor. As for Sean Penn, his was an incredible performance of becoming Harvey Milk. Penn continues to amaze as he transforms himself into varied roles. I think this will be his second handshake with Mr. O. Then again, Hollywood loves the Rocky-style actor comeback plotline, too. If Mickey were British, it’d be an easier pick. But I’m betting Penn, the dark horse.

    In supporting actress, it’s a tough call. Could be Amy Adams in Doubt. Could be Viola Davis in Doubt (a relatively short time on film. but a legendary performance). Could be Marisa Tormei for baring darn near everything including her soul in The Wrestler. But wait, Marisa’s got an Oscar and we need a surprise pick. My money’s on Viola Davis. A long shot, I know, but I’m tossing the dice. 

It's tough to beat death.

It's tough to beat death.

For supporting actor, go with Heath Ledger. Nothing aids fame quite like death. Ledger was terrific, he did some of the best tongue acting of all time, and he certainly caused many people to fear pencils. It’s too bad he’ll be the walkaway winner because there were great competitors with John Brolin in Milk, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt, and Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder. But, it’s all Heath, babes. Too bad he won’t be there to get the gold man.

    For directing, Slumdog will win. Danny Boyle has a fresh eye, and it’s a brave film with wonderful performances. My quibble with it: too many Dutch angle shots, Danny-boy-o. They drive me nuts, like strong perfume in an elevator. Dutch angles try too hard. I think David Fincher deserves the award because Benjamin Button was a phenomenal story that required tons of special effects and pitch perfect performances, yet he pulled it all off in a perfectly natural way. A real magician’s trick and artistic touch. But, it’s the year of Slumdog. Hey, man, it is written.

    In best adapted screenplay, the winner is (oh, these envelopes are so hard to get open),  Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire. No argument here, it’s a terrific tale well told. Well written. Can I milk this gag any more? Doubtful.

    For best original screenplay, give a little fellow to Martin McDonagh for In Bruges. No, I didn’t see all the nominees, but I did love this screenplay and movie.

    As for the other categories, well, I’ve got to go with Tony Smidlagg for Best Best Boy. I’ve always said “he’s the best.”

    Enjoy the show. Make your picks. Ciao, babe, I’ll be poolside at The Beverly Hills Hotel…