Herbie Hancock recently pulled off the upset of all upsets, winning the best album Grammy for a jazz riff on Joni Mitchell that sold only 40,000 copies.
For the first time in its 100-year history, an underdog triumphed when a lowly beagle named Uno became numero uno in the Westminster Dog Show. A beagle!
Republican maverick John McCain's presidential campaign was declared dead in the water just last June, and now he is going to be the GOP nominee.
And Barack Obama has defied all odds and predictions and seems to be well on his way to the Democratic nomination.
And if he doesn't get it, the nominee will be a woman!
Something's definitely in the air, so could the long-shot cloud be headed for the Kodak Theatre next?
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Can "Juno" win best picture? Laura Linney, best actress? Julian Schnabel , best director? Hell, how about "Norbit" for makeup?
Uh, probably not, but now that the ballots are actually being counted, there seem to be rumblings in the blogosphere and other quarters that Oscar is getting ready for a big surprise Sunday night.
How much that talk has to do with drumming up interest in the big show or just simply the burn-out factor now circling the race is a big question. Some bored prognosticators (probably just to amuse themselves) are over-analyzing the whole thing, throwing all the cards up in the air and seeing where they land.
And whenever this happens, the ubiquitous name "Crash" can't be far behind. Employing the rare example of that infamous 2005 best picture victory over widely favored "Brokeback Mountain," are backers of "Juno" (which with a $125-million gross so far is easily the most popular and accessible picture in the running) trying to say the academy is going to find its way out of the darkness of "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" to anoint a teen-centric movie with heart and hope as the first pure comedy to win best picture since "Annie Hall"?
Good luck. The tide – and the votes – are in, and anything other than the guilds and critics favorite, "No Country for Old Men," would be a major upset.
With "Crash," it was clear in talking to voters in the week leading up to the ceremony that a tidal wave of support was taking place. It was overwhelming and hard to believe, since "Brokeback" had been so dominant.
But it was real.
This year there appears to be reasonable levels of best picture support for multiple films, including "Juno" and especially "Michael Clayton," even a fairly strong pro- "There Will Be Blood" faction, but most likely not enough for one or the other to overcome the leading advantage of "No Country."
Unless you believe, that is, in the kind of miracles that have been happening lately in Super Bowls, dog shows, presidential primaries, etc.
Clearly, hope reigns supreme over at Fox Searchlight, where they are chanting their mantra:
If it can happen to Uno,
It can happen to "Juno"!
Or at Warner Bros., where their awards consultants are shouting:
Yes We Can!
If the country can vote for Barack Obama,
The academy can choose our Clooney drama!
As for the show itself, now that the Oscars are no longer being held hostage by the Writers Guild, the academy is simply hoping that -- despite the handicap of a largely indie-type slate of nominees in the marquee categories -- the public will still tune in.
Out of the 20 acting nominees, only two, Clooney and Johnny Depp, can be defined as genuine movie stars.
But even with big names, ratings for most award shows have been trending way down, particularly in adults 18 to 49. Knowing that it will be hard to lure viewers, the Acad is going all out, even to the almost unprecedented point of licensing some of their prized past Oscarcast highlights to VH1 for a special airing all this week. The show, "VH1 20 Greatest Oscar Moments," features memorable scenes including the 1974 streaker incident, Sacheen Littlefeather turning down Marlon Brando's "Godfather" statuette in 1973, various Cher appearances, and emotionally funny wins by Roberto Begnini and Cuba Gooding Jr., among others.
Except for promotion of their own show, the academy never, but never releases these classic clips, but in a smart attempt to reach out to potential viewers on VH1 and elsewhere they are cooperating fully, even to the point of having academy President Sid Ganis as one of the interviewees (along with your columnist and several other pundits).
This has the effect of reminding viewers who may not really care about the nominated movies that the Oscars show is live, spontaneous, and full of potentially great moments that simply can't be missed.
One of the segments in the show revolves around James Cameron's "I Am the King of the World" acceptance speech the year "Titanic," the most popular film of all time, won 11 Oscars.
That 1998 telecast soared in the ratings due to interest in the film, but the Oscars haven't even come close to those kinds of numbers since then (even when the equally popular "Lord of the Rings" won 11 in 2003).
Perhaps the reason for this is that the major studios seem to have thrown in the towel in trying to make movies that have equal doses of audience and critical appeal. There is a great continuing divide between a so-called "Oscar picture" and an audience-pleaser, and it seems the studios are increasingly content to let their specialty divisions carry the awards load while they make movies that largely only compete for special effects and sound mixing.
Of the five nominees this year, only "Michael Clayton" was formally released by one of the major labels, and even that $21-million film was conceived and developed independently before Warner -- which has a strong relationship with George Clooney -- agreed to distribute it.
Even WB cash cow Clint Eastwood's 2004 best picture champ, "Million Dollar Baby" had to get 50% of its financing from Lakeshore, an independent company, before Warner Bros. would agree to provide the rest and make the film (for a relatively cheap $32 million).
Nevertheless, top executives at the "parent" companies (Disney, Paramount, Fox, Universal) of this year's other "indie" best picture nominees will certainly be at the Kodak for major bragging rights should one of their bastard stepchildren win the big one, even though it's likely none of these movies would have ever been greenlit in the kind of system that would rather have one "300" than 300 "Michael Claytons."
But no matter how miraculous the feat of just getting produced has been for any of the nominees, they are there on the threshold of meeting Oscar at 80 in the shadow of all that history, ready for their day in the sun.
Let's just hope it doesn't rain.
At any rate, for all the nominees we once again wish you good luck and repeat our annual tradition, invoking the immortal words of Tony Bennett as Hymie Kelly giving advice to the bizarrely out-of-control best actor nominee Frankie Fane in the 1966 howler "The Oscar."
"You finally made it, Frankie! Oscar night ! And here you sit on top of a glass mountain called success. You're one of the chosen five, and the whole town's holding its breath to see who won it."
Words to remember as Oscar gets ready for his close-up and The Season enters its final act.