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'Moneyball' strikes out at Oscars

Brad Pitt, a Best Actor nominee for

Brad Pitt, a Best Actor nominee for "Moneyball," poses at the 31st Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills. (Feb. 6, 2012) Credit: AP

"Moneyball" did not come away Sunday night with an Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor. But the fact the flick got nominated in those categories was triumph enough.

In fact, the movie garnered the second most nominations (six) for a baseball movie, behind only the 11 for "The Pride of the Yankees" in 1942.

Only three sports movies have won for Best Picture - "Rocky" in 1976, "Chariots of Fire" in 1981 and "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004.

Another sports-related figure in the spotlight Sunday, Best Actress nominee Rooney Mara, did not win her category, but being considered was a huge boost for her young career and losing out to Meryl Streep obviously is no shame.

Ms. Mara, as you probably know, is a great-granddaugther of both Steelers founder Art Rooney and Giants founder Tim Mara.

Sports were not completely shut out, because the documentary "Undefeated," about a Tennessee high school football team, took documentary honors.

The return of Billy Crystal as host did not stop the Oscar show's long slide into dullness and cultural irrelevance.

Two terrible signs for the venerable Academy Awards: 1. The show could well end up with fewer viewers this year than the Grammys, a reversal that not long ago would have been inconceivable. 2. I am a 51-year-old movie fan who has seen all 84 Best Picture winners and seven of this year's nine nominees, and yet even I now consider the Grammys more entertaining and relevant.

There will be more pressure than ever on the Oscars to ditch the lesser categories and turn the show more from awards to entertainment, as the Grammys have done successfully.

The NBA All-Star game did respectably in the ratings Sunday despite some overlap with the Oscars. The 5.4 overnight rating was the second best since 2005.

Friday night's All-Star Weekend festivities set a record for the Rising Stars game with 2.7 million viewers. Saturday night's events averaged 6.2 million, third best ever.


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