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Desson Thomson
Washington Post Film Critic
Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 12:30 PM

Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson was online Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 12:30 p.m. ET to discuss this year's Academy Award nominees.

'Dreamgirls' Leads Oscars, But Lacks Best Picture Nod

Make sure to enter the washingtonpost.com surveys, including the one for the biggest Oscar shocker and who was snubbed.

The transcript follows.

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Desson Thomson: Greetings movie watchers. Desson Thomson here, ready to listen to your moans, gripes and exhaltations. You've seen the Oscar announcements. You're thrilled about some things, you're appalled about others. You can't wait to dash off that posting. Well this is your place, your forum, your now...

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Desson. Thank you for doing your chat today. What are your thoughts on Leonardo DiCaprio not receiving a nod for "The Departed?" For Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, maybe? I thought he was phenomenal in that movie ... and I've traditionally not been a big Leo fan. He just disappeared in his role to the point you forgot you were watching Leonardo DiCaprio. Was this a case of his more visible role in "Blood Diamond" cancelling out a role where he shared top billing with Damon and, in effect, played second fiddle to Jack Nicholson?

Desson Thomson: You're welcome. And you have hit upon a very valid criticism. I agree that DiCaprio was tremendous in "The Departed." It was the first time -- to my eyes -- that he became a grownup. I have to say, too, that he did the same in "Blood Diamond." I feel that he should have been nomm'd for both. You may be right about why the Academy didn't nom him for "The Departed."

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Silver Spring, Md.: Of the films/actors still showing that have been nominated, which would be most worth seeing: "Notes on a Scandal," "Blood Diamond," or the "Pursuit of Happyness"?

Desson Thomson: I am not hedging an answer by saying all three are worth your attention. I liked all of them for different reasons. Scandal was my favorite of those three by far. But both others were much better than I expected. True, I didn't expect much of those two but still...

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How is it possible: "Children of Men" was not nominated for Best Picture? It is the most ambitious film of the year, and one of the most extraordinary achievements of the last 20.

Desson Thomson: Unfortunately I had to put in my top 10 list before I got to see some of the year's best offerings. And I agree: that movie was/is terrific, easily one of the best of the year. One other I would have put on my list right at the very top would be "Pan's Labyrinth" -- my candidate for the best-of-the-best.

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Washington, D.C.: Both were terrific performances. Whitaker seems to have the momentum after the Golden Globes. Will O'Toole be going 0 for 8?

Desson Thomson: I pray for O'Toole to win, I really do. Forest is terrific but he'll have his day...

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Santa Fe, N.M.: Up until the Golden Globes everything I had heard about Babel led me to believe it was basically just "meh." Now suddenly it's the hot ticket. Did I miss something? When did everyone's opinion on this movie change?

Desson Thomson: It is a very watchable and engrossing movie. I would go see it. The criticism I would offer, if we want to get academic, is that it's about one inch deep. Its story is based entirely on the global connection between characters around the world but not much else. I'd still urge you to see it. I enjoyed it.

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Hollywoodland: At this point, shouldn't Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep just have their own category every year? They are automatically nominated, so why not give some other actresses a chance to win?

Desson Thomson: Ha ha ha, I agree. The Brits are like 7-foot-tall basketball players. It's just not fair.

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Julie, Falls Church, Va.: I absolutely loved "Sunshine" -- why won't it win??

Desson Thomson: I did too. Fab movie. Oscar looks down its nose at comedy. Which is all the more reason for them to have a comedy Oscar.

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Arlington, Va.: I'm very excited about the noms for Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy ... but I am curious as to why there was no Oscar push for Jamie Foxx's character in "Dreamgirls"?

Desson Thomson: I dunno. Perhaps because he's already won for "Ray?"

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Alexandria, Va.: Please tell me what critics/Oscar voters saw in "Babel." Before I went to see the movie I read someone say that the 3 separate stories by themselves were good but the movie as a whole wasn't that great. Although the acting was really good, I think the movie as a whole was lacking. What did you think about "Babel" -- Best Picture?

Desson Thomson: I guess my post just now is the answer to your question. Great scale to the story -- and in that, still enough for a satisfying experience -- but no real depth.

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Chicago: Desson, isn't "Babel" just this year's "Crash"?

Desson Thomson: Sorta kinda. Similar structural device. Except the characters are geographically apart and -- correct me if my memory went down --- they don't meet.

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Rockville, Md.: I recognize that Martin Scorsese needs to be honored, etc. But "The Departed," as much as I enjoyed it, was just another crime movie. Nothing special came out of it. I never got the feeling characters were torn by what they were doing, etc.

Anyway, it just pains me that that can get a best picture nod, but "Children of Men," the most beautiful and moving picture I've seen in years, isn't even considered a snub by most critics.

Desson Thomson: I share your enthusiasm for "Children of Men." But I just saw, again, "The Departed," and it is a great picture. I thought I'd see the flaws the second time around, but it got even better.

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McLean, Va.: I'm sure that you will be getting several thousand mutations of this question, but why do you think "Dreamgirls" was passed over for best picture? And was it defensible?

Desson Thomson: I personally think it was all spectacle and show --- which was very entertaining --- but somehow it didn't seem to have the deeper soul of "Chicago." But that's just me. Maybe others felt something similar. It didn't make many top 10 lists of critics, the way "Chicago" did.

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Washington, D.C.: Why didn't "Apocalypto" gain more nominations? The visual setting was stunning, the storytelling engaging, and it was very well acted.

By the way, I'm rooting for Scorcese and O'Toole to win. They're long overdue.

Desson Thomson: There will be much buzz -- and who can prove it, one way or another? -- that Gibson's reprehensible meltdown with the cops and his outburst of bigotry may have had something to do with it. It did get a couple of technie noms.

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Minneapolis, Minn.: Hi, just some comments ... I, too, am disappointed that Leo did not get a nod for "The Departed" but I see why. I am really happy that Mark Wahlberg, who is great and always underrated, did get a nod. He was awesome in that movie.

Lastly, kudos to the academy for not nominating diva Beyonce for "Dreamgirls." Jennifer Hudson blew her out of the water.

Desson Thomson: I agree all around. Beyonce was perfectly fine but simply not as deep a character.

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Bowie, Md.: Clearly, I'm in the minority, but I don't get the hype on "Little Miss Sunshine." While the performances were enjoyable and funny, and I was waiting tensely for how the pageant would turn out, I thought the very end was too cutesy and, as a whole, that the movie didn't add up to much -- it was just "cute." What am I missing?

Desson Thomson: I can understand your feelings about the end. But as an audience member I was happy to let it happen, to accept it. It's a subjective thing. It's a true audience picture, I think.

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Hyattsville, Md.: If "An Inconvenient Truth" wins for best documentary can we expect Al Gore to announce his candidacy during his acceptance speech? Wouldn't that be a terrific first?

Desson Thomson: I don't expect to see him make that announcement, given the present proliferation of candidates for president. And I suspect he would not choose the Oscars to do such a thing. But if he wins, he will certainly enjoy playing with implication in his speech. It'll be an interesting moment, if it happens.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the Best Actress category. For me, it's Dench vs. Mirren, but the performances are so vastly different -- do you have a pick? Also, what's up with "Volver" not being nominated for best foreign film or best picture? It seemed to have so much buzz...

Desson Thomson: This year's best actress category is one of the most amazingly competitive I have seen in some time. I think they are all amazing. And you're right, how do you judge one against the other? I don't know the mystical reasons for "Volver" not being nomm'ed. But all of those noms in that category this year are terrific films.

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Washington, D.C.: How did Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" not get a Foreign Film nomination? This was real breakthrough year for Latin and Hispanic talent, and perhaps the best known auteur gets the shaft. Almodovar acceptance speeches have always been an award show highlight!

Desson Thomson: I hear you T-Town. I can offer no explanation.... I was surprised too. But I am glad Penelope Cruz got the nomination. Well deserved.

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Dulles, Va.: Explain the thinking behind excluding "Dreamgirls" from Best Picture? It seems unbelievable with the GG win and the most Oscar noms, but every year there always seems to be a serious slight. Maybe it's Eastwood working behind the scenes to knock them out, so his film got in. Thanks for the great work!

Desson Thomson: Thanks very much! Every year of every Oscar then, now and in the future will lead to speculation of this kind. After all, only five are chosen. It's a subjective call. I don't think it's as political as you do, in this case. I believe people -- in the Academy -- wanted to see the performers nomminated but not the picture. I feel the same way, to be honest.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: With a very active 5-year-old at home and little time to get out to the movies anymore, my husband and I will have a rare night out this weekend. The last movie we saw was "The Departed," which my husband loved, and I liked, except it was too violent for my taste. We have also seen "Little Miss Sunshine," which we both enjoyed. So here are the option for this weekend: "The Queen," "Last King of Scotland," "Babel." Of these, which would be your priority?

Desson Thomson: All three are good. "Queen" should be your first choice, and see the others when you can...

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Washington, D.C.: I saw "Babel" last week and loved it -- it's more character-driven than plot-driven, which is what I found appealing. Just those little moments with each person, especially Rinko Kikuchi's character, that brought you into their various worlds.

It's a shame there's been no Oscar talk for "The Painted Veil." Saw it this week and it was excellent, if a tiny bit predictable. And "The Prestige" is the year's best film as far as I'm concerned.

Of course I'm one of those people who thinks the screenplay nominations are generally a better reflection of film quality than Best Picture, so there's my bias.

Desson Thomson: Thanks. Good points. And I agree that "Painted Veil" deserved something.

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Baltimore: What's with Sacha Baron Cohen not getting a Best Actor nomination? What he did was a far more impressive acting accomplishment than any I can recall lately. In general I think great comedy is harder to pull off than a weepy role but rarely gets the trophies. What do you think?

Desson Thomson: Maybe they're terrified of the speech he'd make. It's weird that the movie is nominated for adapted screenplay -- gor a movie that makes comedy out of its guerilla style improv?

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Alabama: Is there any chance that Abigail Breslin will win for "Little Miss Sunshine?" I would love to see her acceptance speech.

Desson Thomson: There IisS a chance. Remember little Anna Paquin winning for "The Piano?" It can be done.

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Buffalo, N.Y.: Any chance "Pan's Labryinth" wins best foreign film and a couple technical categories and emerges as the big winner? Also, how is "Borat" an adapted screenplay?

Desson Thomson: Good chance, yes. And I am also scratching my head about the "Borat" nom.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: To me, the nominees look significantly more racially diverse than usual, which is nice -- would you say that's an accurate impression? And if so, why is that the case this year?

Desson Thomson: Maybe there's more racially diverse movies out there anyway. And "Babel" sort of crowns that achievement.

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Washington, D.C.: Seems like a good time to remind folks that "excluded" and "snubbed" may not be the right way to describe films that didn't make the nomination lists. It's a competitive field and there are only five slots per category. I doubt there was an agenda to keep "Dreamgirls" out of the list for Best Pic, Brad Pitt off the list for Best Supporting, etc. etc. I think the only exception is probably "Apocalypto," which might have gotten more noms had it not been for the Mel-ness of it all.

Desson Thomson: Good points. Thanks.

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Largo, Md.: Hi, Desson, loved Pan's Labyrinth -- will it win Best Foreign Film? I haven't seen the others in this category.

Desson Thomson: I loved it too. It should win. But "Lies of Others" is truly great too. And so are "Days of Glory" and "Water and After the Wedding."

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Washington, D.C.: So glad to see Ryan Gosling's nomination. He was fantastic in "Half Nelson." Was he the biggest surprise of the Lead Actor race?

Desson Thomson: I expected to see him there. He's been getting rave reviews and he was on many end-of-the-year lists.

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New York:"Notes on a Scandal" -- yes or no? I love both Dench and Blanchett.

Desson Thomson: Great, great movie.

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Silver Spring, Md.: So, Desson, has it become de rigeur for the Academy to include one indie in the list of Best Picture nominees? Truly, is "Little Miss Sunshine" one of the five best pictures of the last year?

Desson Thomson: To answer that definitively is foolhardy. It's certainly enjoyable and it reached people. And there's something to be said for that. How do you judge a film that aims for that kind of impact versus Pan's "Labyrinth" or "Borat"? Apples versus pears versus oranges versus pomegranites. I would put it on my top ten for sure. It probably wouldn't make my top five.

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Washington, D.C.: Thank you for doing this chat, Mr. Thomson. I am writing because I am startled to the reaction to "The Queen." It won a Globe and now it's up for Best Picture at the Oscars. I have to say, I do think it is very interesting thematically. And it is a reasonably well-written, well-acted picture. But it felt to me like nothing more than a good made-for-the-BBC movie. Certainly not better than "Dreamgirls," "The Good Shepherd," "Children of Men," "Pan's Labyrinth," etc. I don't see how this film -- though a fine little picture -- is worthy of a Best Picture nom in a year like this. Can you please give your opinion?

Desson Thomson: Ooooh, have to disagree. I thought it was touching and extremely deserving. And the fact is, BBC TV is better than most movies. So I don't think of it as a peg down to say something smacks of that.

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Washington, D.C.: One dissenter here on "The Queen" -- I felt like I knew how the entire movie was going to unfold, and that's exactly how it unfolded. I agree that Mirren's performance was great, in the same way that Russell Crowe's performance in "The Insider" was great -- the actor totally disappeared into the character. That said, I was bored.

Desson Thomson: Ummm, I think we ALL know how "The Queen" turns out because it's a true story? But glad you appreciated the performance.

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Screenplay: The "Borat" screenplay being mostly improvisation shouldn't hurt the chances of a win... remember Ring Lardner won in that category for "M-A-S-H," even though they barely even used his script.

Desson Thomson: It's up against some pretty impressive talent.

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Re: "Borat" -- adapted screenplay: I believe it's because the screenplay was adapted from a TV show.

Desson Thomson: Yeah, that's what I figured. Pretty dodgy as we say in England.

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Bond, James Bond: Dang, I was really hoping the dark portrayal of Ian Fleming's character could foray into a dark horse nomination for Daniel Craig. Or at least some costuming! But alas, the Academy can be so cliche with their period-piece costume nominations.

Desson Thomson: Ha ha, maybe so. I dug "Casino" big time too.

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Fairfax, Va.: I finally got to see "The Last King of Scotland" and I laughed out loud when Whitaker first came on screen and was speaking... not laughing because it was a poor acting job but just laughter from disbelief that he was so amazing. It was perfection. It would be a huge injustice if he does not win.

Desson Thomson: I agree but I am too sentimentally attached to O'Toole winning to even think about it.

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"Dreamgirls:" To me, the musical aspect of the movie (ie: where they broke into song instead of having a dialogue) seemed like a cheap way of avoiding a real script. It really detracted from what could have been a very good movie.

Desson Thomson: I guess, then, you don't like musicals. That's what they do.

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Oxford, Miss.: So what's the strangest nomination this year, in your opinion? I'd probably vote for Best Actor: Ryan Gosling "Half Nelson"

washingtonpost.com: Survey: Biggest Surprise Nomination?

Desson Thomson: Well, as I said, he's been getting raves. It's only a surprise because a lot of people didn't see that film. The surprise for me is "Volver" and no Leo for the Departed. But hardly ground shaking.

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Washington, D.C.: Why wasn't "Volver" nominated for foreign language or direction? I thought it was excellent story telling and would love to see Penelope win, although I am sure Helen Mirren will take the statue, your thoughts?

Desson Thomson: I would say Helen wins, but anyone who sees Dench as well -- and they are supposed to see all the films before voting -- is going to have serious second thoughts ... And yeah, "Volver" deserved bigger and better.

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Arlington, Va.: How good are the chances for "Children of Men" to pick up the cinematography or film editing awards? I'd have preferred that it received more attention, but not walking away with at least one of those statues would actively irk me.

Desson Thomson: I hope it gets something too.

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Wondering: You've referred to your top ten a few times ... Can you list em' for us???

washingtonpost.com: From Iwo Jima to Kazakhstan: Our Critics' Top Films of 2006

Desson Thomson: I guess this was it. As I said, we had to do a list on time for the end of the year and some of the best movies didn't even start arriving till the turn of the year, including "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Children of Men."

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Falls Church, Va.: Just saw "Children of Men" this weekend. Depressing but incredibly well done. You already answered questions about the movie itself not being nominated. But what about Clive Owens? He was incredible and practically carried the movie. You saw his character evolve so seamlessly that you know the acting was superior. Any thoughts why he was overlooked?

Desson Thomson: I think he was lost in the greatness of the story....

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Washington, D.C.: Desson, please. Saying "The Departed" was a great movie strains your credibility. The rat at the end of the movie alone was worthy of a student film. It was highly unimaginative (except for some of the acting), and doesn't deserve a rightful place in the pantheon of Scorsese masterpieces. Just admit this is a sympathy vote for a man who long has been overlooked for an Academy award.

Desson Thomson: I strain credibility all the time through having an opinion of my own. I thought the movie was terrific and the spoiler that you have now introduced to the world was a piece of comedy and I found it funny.

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re: "Children of Men:" Why do you think it's not getting more nominations? Is there something about it that the voters find objectionable? Or is it really about lack of promotion? It's kind of sad to think that the big awards may really come down to who the studios are promoting most heavily.

Desson Thomson: There simply isn't room for every good film in the Oscars to get everything they deserve. This should be common knowledge.

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Richmond, Va.: Any chance of Paul Greengrass winning? Personally I think it's the best and guttiest movie of the year. Just a great movie without the political correctness of "World Trade Center," which I hated. Do you think the Academy might not nominated it for Best Pic out of P.C. concerns?

Desson Thomson: I think you garbled your last sentence. So I'm not sure what your exact question is. Do I think the Acad nommed it because of P.C. concerns? Maybe so. But more because it was on many top 10 lists. I think it's great it was nominated and well deserving.

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Washington, D.C.: Hiya! Always great to have you online. What's your take on the "Good Shepherd"? Worth it, or wait for the DVD?

Desson Thomson: Hiya and thanks! I enjoyed it up to a point. I found it very watchable, but ultimately too long and not as compelling as I wanted it to be.

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Arlington, Va..: Really ... was Meryl Streep that good in "The Devil Wears Prada" or did she get it for being her? Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie but I never heard anything over-the-top outstanding about it. Or was there a lack of women to nominate?

Desson Thomson: I would like to dispel the cynicism of the question and answer: she is incredible in that role. She deserves the nom.

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Washington, D.C.: Good afternoon! I was determined not to see "The Queen" because I've had it up to my right eyeball with anything related to the late Princess Diana. However, I will definitely check that out this weekend.

I totally agree with you about "Dreamgirls." As someone who saw the original Broadway performance 20 years ago, as great as the movie was, it was pretty showy and not as deep as some of the other picks. By the way -- one of the local stations had people to call in and compare Ms. Hudson's performance with Ms. Holliday's. I have to agree with the majority. As one gentleman stated, when Ms. Holliday sang the signature song, you could feel her pain and tell she was hurt. With Ms. Hudson, hers is a more angry performance and you get the sense that she will "cut you."

Desson Thomson: Holliday's performance -- which I saw on YouTube.com -- cannot be outdone. Cannot. Be. Outdone.

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Alexandria, Va.: Is there a sweeter Hollywood redemption story this year than Jackie Earle Haley's? Moocher! Kelly Leek! I thought "Little Children" was uneven and sort of so-so, but found his storyline and performance (and the performance of the actress who plays his mother) tremendously moving. So much depended on his physical presence: so tiny, so ravaged, so drawn in. Great casting and terrific work. Delighted with this nomination.

Desson Thomson: I totally agree with you. Absolutely.

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"Dreamgirls": Actually, I love good musicals. I liked the new "Chicago," and I love the oldies ("West Side Story," "My Fair Lady," etc). This was not a well-crafted musical.

Desson Thomson: Okay, I can buy that.

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Silver Spring, Md.: "The Departed" is a remake of one of my favorite Hong Kong movies, "Infernal Affairs." I thought "Infernal Affairs" was light years better than "The Departed," and I'm a Scorsese fan. Have you seen "Infernal Affairs"? If so, what did you think of it?

Desson Thomson: I have it on DVD and intend to see it. Sorry, can't answer that one yet.....

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Washington, D.C.: I thought Streep's performance in "Devil Wears Prada" was over-rated, one dimensional and not worthy of an Oscar nomination.

Desson Thomson: (Sound of gameshow buzzer.) I disagree.

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Washington, D.C.: I completely agree with you on your assessment of "Dreamgirls." I am going to see it in the theater one more time, but the film overall was flawed. For those who disagree, at least with the additional song nominations we (barring a Beyonce show like years past) should be able to see/hear Jennifer Hudson sing on Oscar night. That is my personal victory. The song might not be fantastic, but her voice sure is.

Desson Thomson: Thanks!

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Meryl Streep is NOT a Brit!: But I get what you mean when you place Dench, Mirren and Streep together.

Desson Thomson: Yes, I know she's not a Brit. I guess I was answering too quickly!

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Baltimore: Desson: Queen Latifah was nominated for best supporting actress, yet it never turned into any substantial roles ... Will Jennifer Hudson meet the same fate?

Desson Thomson: Good question. I would be pleasantly surprised if she finds a better role that works so well for her.

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Washington, D.C.: How did Cuaron not get nominated for Chil"dren of Men. Sa"? what you want about it's story -- I thought it was brilliant -- but the fact that it didn't get any technical nods for its incredible filmaking seems to render the technical categories moot. You think we have gotten to the point where the Academy uses these categories to hype unpromising bloated studio films?

Winner of "4 Academy Award Nominations" for "Dreamgirls," etc...

Desson Thomson: I understand where you're coming from. His direction was amazing.

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Washington, D.C.: I loved "Little Children" and I know that there's no chance that Kate Winslet will get the Oscar given the Mirren/Dench/Steep competition. But does Jackie Earle Haley have a shot at it? I've seen most of the films nominated in that category, and frankly, Haley was hands down the best of the lot.

Desson Thomson: He gets my vote.

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Arlington, Va.: Why wasn't Anne Hathaway nominated for "Devil Wears Prada." My friends and I all thought her performance was much better and a bigger part of the success of the movie then Meryl Streep, but then Meryl Streep and Judy Dench (yuck!) could mail in a performance and end up nominated.

Desson Thomson: I think Streep was "The Man," so to speak. And Hathaway was just the central character used narratively well but not such an acting standout. Same with Cate Blanchett in "Notes on a Scandal." She's in the right position narratively but not really using her chops. Of course that's just my opinion.

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Washington, D.C.: For once the Academy didn't buy the hype. "Dreamgirls" was overhyped and then was a disappointment. Murphy and Hudson were good, and they got nods. Exactly the way it should be.

Desson Thomson: I can go along with that.

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Ashburn, Va.: Desson, love your reviews! Since the topic today is Oscars, does "Little Miss Sunshine" have a chance? It is a great flick, but I think Hollywood will ignore this since it is a comedy. Do Arkin and Breslin even have a shot at winning? It would be great to see this movie win something in the big categories. I've watched it over and over again. Great! And that isn't to discount the other actors or movies, but this one needs something for providing us with a reminder of the message that "no matter what, families stick together."

And will we hear an acceptance speech from Al Gore during the Oscars? Thanks and I hope there are some good movies coming out soon (winter was dreadful for movies).

Desson Thomson: Sorry I answered this later -- I know it was submitted earlier than the ones on the same subjects that I answered. Thanks for the compliment. And I have to say, I can't see them going for "Little Miss Sunshine" unless -- as with "Crash" -- too many voters cancel each other out by going for different movies, which then allows a smaller film to win.

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New York: Funny you mention soul when saying "Chicago" was worth every nod, somewhat agree but it too was a spectacle and seemingly over-the-top in a lot of aspects. Yet it received a nom/won an Oscar for best pic. Plus, historically, I could be wrong, musicals used to fare well with the Academy.

Question: Somewhat disappointed by the announcements but must give the Academy kudos for its diversity this year. Do you have any thoughts about the number of minorities nominated this year? If so, do you see this as something that will continually happen?

Desson Thomson: Good questions and points. You know, Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx have won best actor now in the past 2 years. Not bad for diversity -- such a high-profile prize.

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Falls Church, Va.: Didn't see you answer this yet: Do you think Meryl can beat Helen/Judi? Do you think Judi can beat Helen?

Desson Thomson: It's between Judi and Helen, I think. I suspect Helen wins. I want Judi.

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Columbia, Md.: I'm with you in rooting for O'Toole -- one of the most incredible screen actors of all time. But is the momentum for Forrest Whitacker too much?

Desson Thomson: Probably....

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Seattle: So it's Scorsese against Eastwood again! Will the Academy finally give one of the greatest directors of our time a statuette, or will it go to Clint yet again?

Desson Thomson: Scorsese wins it this time ... finally...

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Washington, D.C.: I was disappointed not to see any of the actors from "Pan's Labyrinth" nominated, especially Maribel Verdu. Why was the movie not considered for the best picture category?

Desson Thomson: Let them get in line with all the other people who are not getting what they deserve. That's the nature of the biz.

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Washington, D.C.: Desson, thanks for chatting with us. What are your thoughts on this apparent "Biopic Era" we have going? I'm dreading that this year will see the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars go to ... people playing real people from history! I don't care how well Forest Whitaker portrayed Idi Amin; he had a complete template to work with! Try inventing a character out of nothing. Try making the audience root for a diamond-smuggling war profiteer. Roles like DiCaprio's in "Blood Diamond" need to be rewarded. He even pulled off "bling bang!"

Desson Thomson: You're welcome. I think it's a mistake to think it's easier to play a real character. In many ways it's harder. An actor has to come up with his or her own interpretation that evokes the person but doesn't imitate. It's not easier.

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RE: Diversity: I much prefer to see Diversity in genre than race when it comes to winners. I'm still bitter "American History X" got robbed by something like "Titanic" or whatever it was that year. That's why something like "Children of Men" would never win -- violence is only okay for the Academy if it is Mob- or WWII-related.

Desson Thomson: Interesting.

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Desson Thomson: Ladies and gents, we are 10 minutes over the time. I am sorry I can't get to everyone's questions. I'd be happy to answer them again in two weeks when I resume my biweekly Friday chat. Till then, go see these movies, especially the lesser ones. They need your support. Get back to me with your thoughts and feelings. And look for me, Ann and Steve to do some kind of Oscar video thing online very soon. Could rank as a cult classic ... My best to all of you....

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