Let's assume for a moment that the writers' strike completely derails this year's Academy Awards ceremony. What to do for alternate entertainment? One option is to spend the time renting and watching some of the Oscar-nominated titles already on DVD (The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford and Across the Universe, for starters). But the best option is to slowly pore over these alternate movie awards, CL's own Oscar-worthy picks for some of the unheralded highlights and low points from the 2007 movie year.
Best Performance by a Nonprofessional Actor: Brian Dierker in Into the Wild. Director Sean Penn hired this Arizona river guide to help him behind the scenes, but ended up so impressed by Dierker's natural charm and easygoing manner that he subsequently chose him to play Rainey, Catherine Keener's hippie companion, in a key supporting role. Here's hoping this isn't the only time we'll see him on screen.
Most Miscast: Jessica Alba as brainy scientist Sue Richards in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Best Triple Play: Josh Brolin for No Country for Old Men, American Gangster and In the Valley of Elah.
Strike Three, You're Out!: Nicolas Cage for Ghost Rider, Next and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Best Cameo Appearance: Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu in Grindhouse. Runner-up: John Waters as the flasher in Hairspray.
Best Performance By An Animal: Abbey, the heroic German shepherd co-star of I Am Legend. Runner-up: That ferocious pit bull that won't leave Josh Brolin alone in No Country for Old Men.
Worst Performance By An Animal: Alvin (and Simon and Theodore) in Alvin and the Chipmunks. Runner-up: "Wild Hog" Tim Allen in Wild Hogs.
Most Humiliating Use Of An Animal: The poor mutt in Because I Said So who, after hearing moans emanating from an Internet porn site, not only has to hump the furniture but lick the computer screen as well. I guess he won't work in this town again.
Most Unexpected Movie Trend: Unplanned pregnancies. Knocked Up, Juno and Waitress all kept a smiley face on the situation; 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Lake of Fire presented grimmer circumstances.
The Plummeting I.Q. Award: As of press time, Alvin and the Chipmunks has grossed over $200 million, roughly $50 million more than four of the five Best Picture nominees combined (No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton, Atonement and There Will Be Blood).
Worst Movie Song Title: "I Was Zapped by the Lucky Super Rainbow," from Good Luck Chuck. Runners-up: "The Tale of the Horny Frog," from The Heartbreak Kid; "First Amendment Blues," from Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone.
Best Feel-Bad Movie: The Coen Brothers thriller No Country for Old Men.
Worst Feel-Bad Movie: Brian De Palma's Iraq War expose Redacted.
Most Startling Male Nudity: Viggo Mortensen's steam room skirmish in Eastern Promises.
Most Startling Female Nudity: Malin Akerman's puffy crotch shot in The Heartbreak Kid.
Slick Thriller That Was Much Better Than Expected: Fracture, starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling.
Slick Thriller That Was About As Bad As Expected: Perfect Stranger, with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis.
Sequel That Deserved A Better Fate At The Box Office: 28 Weeks Later.
Sequel That Deserved A Worse Fate At The Box Office: Shrek the Third.
Best Movie Tie-In Product: The hamburger phone from Juno.
Worst Movie Tie-In Product: The Quentin Tarantino As Rapist Number One action figure from Grindhouse.
Movie Most Likely To Be Embraced By The Religious Right: The Heartbreak Kid. Lila (Malin Akerman) is sexually adventurous, and she has the libido and imagination to back her up. That trollop! Why doesn't she stay in the missionary position -- and the kitchen -- like a good American woman? Actually, why is it that in most American movies, a healthy sexual appetite (at least ones possessed by women) is always depicted as a vice or disease to be shunned?
Movie Quote Likely To Endure Years After The Fact: "He's the cheese to my macaroni." -- Juno. Runners-up: "Friend-o." -- No Country for Old Men; "I drink your milkshake!" -- There Will Be Blood.
Least Deserving Of All The Attention: Dane Cook. He was serviceable in Dan In Real Life, terrible in Good Luck Chuck and Mr. Brooks.
Most Deserving Of All The Attention: Our elders. Into the Wild's Hal Holbrook (83 later this month) and American Gangster's Ruby Dee (83 now) earned Oscar nominations; Waitress' Andy Griffith (81) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly's Max von Sydow (78) deserved to join them.
Most Accurate Critical Assessment: "I will confess that the only thing that kept me watching License to Wed until the end (apart from being paid to do so) was the faith, perhaps misplaced, that I will not see a worse movie this year ... If the beloved with whom you see License to Wed can't stop talking about how great it was, you might want to cancel the nuptials. Or, if it's too late for that, call a lawyer." -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times. Runner-up: "The Bucket List manages to make a running joke out of coffee beans made from the feces of Sumatran tree cats. It's a very expensive form of shit, we're told, but not nearly as much as the one right before our eyes." -- Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly.
Most Delusional Critical Assessment: "Lions for Lambs is certain to become the most talked-about movie of 2007!" -- former Maxim writer Pete Hammond, the current "quote whore" king whose effusive praise can be spotted on the print ads and DVD boxes of countless bad movies (The Number 23, Hannibal Rising, El Cantante, Wild Hogs, you name it).
The Annie Hall Award for Best Date Movie: Stardust. Magic, romance, and the magic of romance -- how can ya top that? Runners-up: Across the Universe; Ratatouille; Paris, Je T'aime.
The Patch Adams Award for Most Shameless Schmaltz Dripped Onto the Screen: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. A decent idea gone terribly astray. Runners-up: The Bucket List; Martian Child; Evan Almighty.
Logical Marquee Match-ups: Shooter and There Will Be Blood; Why Did I Get Married? and The Ex; Starting Out in the Evening and We Own the Night; The Invisible and I'm Not There; Sunshine and Awake; Into the Wild and The Savages; Across the Universe and No End In Sight; The Condemned and Death Sentence; After the Wedding and Knocked Up; Interview and Talk to Me.