Either I'm getting better at picking these things or I'm just getting more delusional with time, but I think this year's Oscar prognostications could be the easiest yet.
Though Sunday's Oscars telecast may ultimately prove my inner Punxsutawney Phil to really be just a prideful Pinocchio.
With that, here are my annual predictions for who should and who will take home the shiny naked golden man.
SHOULD: Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler" No actor was so unequivocally as perfect for his role this year than Rourke. As a man ravaged by a lifetime of bad choices, Rourke's wrestler made you feel each mistake.
WILL: Rourke For once, let it be a Hollywood ending I can believe in.
SHOULD: Kate Winslet, "The Reader" The fifth time will finally be the charm for one of the most talented working actresses never to have taken home the hardware.
WILL: Winslet Never mind that her character is really a supporting role, Kate owns this movie and should soon own a shiny golden dude for her troubles.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
SHOULD: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight" No character was more creepy, no transformation more frightening than Ledger as the deranged Joker. In a dark movie, he was its black center.
WILL: Leger A win could provide the emotional zenith of the night, and a vindication for losing out for his marvelous portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain."
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
SHOULD: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" Lovely, passionate, funny and tragic, Cruz seems custom-made for her role as the tempestuous artist. Who says she can't act in English-language films?
WILL: Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Because a film with that many nominations can't walk away entirely empty-handed. And, well, Henson was good.
SHOULD: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire" No director put his stamp on a film while testing his range more than Boyle. Filmed entirely in India, the movie crackles with the British director's signature kinetic style while lushly encompassing new terrain and cultures.
WILL: Boyle He deserves an award for the beautiful, pull-back shot on the rooftops of the seemingly endless slums alone.
SHOULD: "Slumdog Millionaire" Any film that can turn a story that includes torture, murder, disfigurement and childhood prostitution into a feel-good (or goodish, according to Pat Clark) movie of the year has skills.
WILL: "Slumdog Millionaire" No film had me leaving the theater feeling more exhilarated.
So, place your own bets and break out the bubbly.
If you want to see me eat humble pie in real time, catch my live blog of the Oscars telecast starting at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at thehive.modbee.com/sceneit.
Elsewhere around the Scene:
Catch former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and recently controversial comic Victoria Jackson Thursday at the Black Oak Casino.
Her appearance is part of the casino's new weekly Comedy Showcase. An "SNL" cast member from 1986 to 1992, Jackson made headlines in the 2008 presidential election when she called Barack Obama a communist and compared him to the Antichrist.
The show is at 8 p.m. at Black Oak Casino, 19400 Tuolumne Road North, Tuolumne. No cover. 928-9300. ...
Catch a glimpse of former Modesto resident Janelle Ginestra in the new teen cheerleading comedy, "Fired Up," opening today in theaters nationwide.
Last spring, the Johansen High graduate was a contestant on the Bravo reality competition "Step It Up & Dance."
Ginestra appears in a group cheerleading scene and can be seen in the film's trailer. The aspiring dancer has kept busy since leaving the show last May, working in Hollywood and Modesto.
Locally, she has led dance workshops and seminars. And in Los Angeles, she filmed a scene in this winter's Adam Sandler film "Bedtime Stories," but the scene was later cut and did not make it into the finished project.
"Fired Up" is playing at the Brenden, Galaxy, Merced Mainplace, Modesto Regal, Showplace, Sonora Regal and Turlock Regal theaters. ...
And finally, mark your your calendars for the Feb. 27 return of rapper Too Short.
The Oakland-based hip-hop artist will perform at the Palladium on Feb. 27. Tickets are $10. Call 510-461-0510.