Grrr! Oscars Catch-Up, Comedy Stop

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

That's how I feel right now, busy playing catch-up on all the Oscar nominations, from best movies to actors and actresses.

I'm trying to squeeze in every flick before Sunday, when I'll be coming to you Live from the Red Carpet right here in a streaming video program, beginning at 5 p.m. ET, where in addition to the stars I'll have Roger Friedman, Bill McCuddy and various others giving us their take on Hollywood's Senior Prom.

My money is on Reese Witherspoon to win best actress honors for her awesome portrayal of June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line," a film that should have been nominated for Best Picture but lost out to "Munich," "Crash," "Capote," "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Brokeback Mountain."

Besides being a terrific actress, Witherspoon lights up any screen she shows up on — big and small. If she stops at my camera, I'll be hard-pressed to keep from stuttering.

Philip Seymour Hoffman will win for "Capote," although my hat is off to Joaquin Phoenix. Both of these talented actors dive headfirst into their characters with such abandon that virtually none of their own personalities can be detected.

Best picture I think will go to "Crash," a gritty film that hits on all levels of racism from every race imaginable. The thing that makes Paul Haggis' film so good is that it makes a larger case for racism than the typical white/black version that historically dominates these types of films. Here, racism is evident in every character's struggle, and it's interesting to see how they all believe they are victims of bigotry, even as they practice it.

Matt Dillon is nominated in the best supporting actor category for his portrayal of a troubled L.A. cop, and Haggis is nominated for Best Director.

George Clooney deserves to win the best director award. The way he tells the story of Edward R. Murrow's plight against Sen. Joseph McCarthy is nothing short of stunning, from the black-and-white film to the amazing editing and artful shots of cigarettes and song.

If you haven't seen it yet, you really should.

"Hustle and Flow" star Terence Howard, who is up in the best actor category, will probably not win the big award, mainly because of the film's subject matter. But he has finally arrived after decades of excellent work. His aspiring rap artist pimp is so sympathetic, you find yourself rooting for him and his posse of prostitutes, even as he peddles the lowest common denominator product to the lowest common denominator humans.

Howard, along with Thandie Newton, are also two of the best things in "Crash," by the way.

I'm saving "Brokeback Mountain" for last. I haven't seen the "gay cowboy flick" yet, and I hadn't planned to before receiving the assignment. It's just not for me, and I would expect people to respect my decision not to see it, as I respect theirs for loving it.

Some other flicks left to watch are "The Squid and the Whale," a best screenplay entry, and "Tsotsi," a favorite to take the statuette for best foreign film.

Outside of the Kodak Theater festivities, I have plans to hit the Independent Spirit Awards after-party, as well as those for The Weinstein Company and Elton John's shindig.

Stay tuned.

The Comedy Stops ... Grrr!

Mrs. Grrr and I left baby Maxine at the grandparents and headed to the Tropicana casino-hotel in Atlantic City with my sister and brother-in-law. It was one of the rare "date nights" that we've shared sans kids in the last two years.

The Grrring part of it was the horrible ticket agent at "The Comedy Stop," a stand-up comic spot in the casino's "Quarter" area, a New Orleans-themed mall and restaurant oasis on the Jersey Shore.

When I asked for four tickets, the woman nearly took my head off by rudely asking "the 9 o'clock or the 11:15 show?" Then she spit out two tickets.

When I told her I ordered four, she shot me daggers with her eyes and told me I only ordered two. My brother-in-law Joe, seeing the steam about to explode out of my ears — not because of the mistake — but because of her attitude — told me he'd get his two tix and to wait at the host stand — where we had already tipped generously.

There's nothing worse than going to a place where you're looking forward to laughing and getting hit with an attitude before you even get in. But I didn't let the front of the house ruin the funny show or the good service inside.

Just as I was leaving I decided to look at my credit card receipt, and wouldn't you know it, I did order four tix, because that's what the woman charged me for. Imagine my delight when the manager refunded me the two tix.

Look, we all have bad days, but it shouldn't be the customer's concern.

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