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5 things in no particular order

1) It’s a wonderful time for Oscar! Oscar, Oscar! Who will win?

The nominations are out tomorrow, and though I haven’t had the time to blog about the Oscar race this year, I am as interested as ever. This year we get ten Best Picture nominations, instead of five. Many have complained that this dilutes the pool, but the nominees in this category are to be considered the best movies of the year and many other critical bodies pick top tens every year so why not THE critical body. (And by THE critical body I mean the Academy in that it gets to hand out what is considered Hollywood’s biggest prize, not in that their choices are always critically sound.) I like the idea of expanding the field so that we get a clearer sense of the film landscape over the entire year, not just the last three weeks of December. I’ll try to carve out some time this week to offer my ruminations on the nominations. For now I will only say that Anthony Mackie of The Hurt Locker TOTALLY DESERVES A NOMINATION, Hollywood. Ahem.

2) It’s a wonderful time for Austen! Austen, Austen! Who will marry?

Some mysterious yet benevolent force of the universe landed me on an Entertainment Weekly online post buried in the magazine’s Web site about a PBS Masterpiece mini-series of Jane Austen’s Emma mere hours before it began. It stars England’s most underrated actress Romola Garai as Miss Austen’s most capricious heroine and Jonny Lee Miller as a surprisingly sweet yet still stern Mr. Knightly. For most, Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy is the Austen hero to end all Austen heroes, but I would pick Mr. Knightly over him any day of the week. He’s not a snob, for one, and is willing to move into to Emma’s home upon their marriage so that she doesn’t have to leave her overly attached, overly protective father. Serious devotion. The miniseries, which ends next week, is a lovely depiction of a book and of characters I have long loved.

(Speaking of Emma, and to be filed under “Things that are awesome,” the In Memoriam montage at the Screen Actors Guild Awards included Brittany Murphy’s timeless “You’re a virgin who can’t drive” line from Clueless, the best Emma adaptation before this one. As good a delivery of memorable dialogue as any, and a great tribute to her short career. May she rest in peace.)

3) It’s a wonderful time for Conan! Conan, Conan! Where will he end up?

A lot of things have made me feel old in the last year or so. The transition from Jay to Conan, back to Jay on the Tonight Show means that John Carson was officially three hosts ago. Yikes! I was too young to have really watched or developed any sort of attachment to Johnny Carson, but he hosted the show late enough into my childhood that I knew who he was even before I truly became aware of pop culture in general. I never really watched Jay Leno, having never really found him all that funny. Conan, however, was supposed to be my Johnny Carson. He was they guy who would be the Tonight Show for my generation. At least until the suits at NBC decided that he wasn’t for a number of stupid reasons that have been explicated and deconstructed to the point I don’t need to bring them up again here. NBC is stupid and so devoid of creativity at this point in its existence that maybe hitting rock bottom without Conan is what the network really need. I hope he lands somewhere that lets him be the kind of guy my kids might remember as the guy who really did late night right.

4) It’s not a wonderful time for Tar Heels basketball so the theme for 5 Things is not going to work all the way through.

UNC basketball is pretty bad this year. NIT bad. This was to be expected, of course, even though the “experts” penciled them into the top five before the season started. Call it the Tyler Hansbrough over-correction. The last time the Heels were in post championship rebuilding mode, these same experts thought the Heels would spend the season in the ACC cellar. Freshman Tyler took care of that, sealing a 2 seed in the tournament with a win over top-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on JJ Reddick’s senior night. The only win to top it in his career was his final one in Detroit last year. This year’s team was similar on paper, so they were given the very generous benefit of the doubt. It’s been downhill since. It should be no surprise, though. A very young team, no real leaders or go-to playmakers. It’s a low-pressure, post-championship year so I’m not minding it all that much. The bad years make you appreciate the good all the more. Still, it would be nice to have a win over Duke.

5) And I can’t not say something about One Tree Hill.

The fact that this show has been on seven years makes it one of the few constants in my life over a decade that saw a whole lot of change as adulthood hit head on. This last year was tougher than most, and maybe I’ve clung to the show especially hard this season (to the hubby’s eternal dismay) because I find comfort in its relentless sameness. Brooke is still stuck in a love triangle from hell, and Nathan and Haley are still the awkward girl and the popular boy who got together. Both were certainly true in tonight’s episode, a surprisingly effective tribute to the late, great master of angst John Hughes.

When Madonna covered Don McLean’s American Pie when I was in college, a friend of mine who really loved the song said that despite people’s protestations about the new version, he didn’t mind it. He liked the song so much, that he thought any version of it–even one by Madonna in the middle of her I’m British and really a techno geek phase–was good. The kissing over the cake scene from Sixteen Candles is one of the most iconic movie moments of my life as a film lover, and though I’ve seen it parodied and copied numerous times, I always love it. Seeing Nathan and Haley act it out it felt as real and honest and sweet as the original. It harkened back to who the characters were back when One Tree Hill first started while also acknowledging that such characters might not exist had John Hughes not been the first to breath life into them. To convince us that they mattered. May he also rest in peace.

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