The Oscars through an Off Base lens

Brian Harper, Cal Ripken Jr.

You might disagree with the Baseball Writers' Association of America when we vote for our annual awards, but you have to give us this: At least most of us own up to our ballots. You know who to rip on Twitter when we vote for Miguel Cabrera over Mike Trout for MVP.

Can't say that about Academy Award voters. You didn't have that option when the Oscar went to "The Artist" instead of "Moneyball."

Which movie should win Best Picture on Sunday? Here's my annual run-analysis of the nominees:

"Philomena": This was my favorite movie of the year. Steve Coogan plays an ex-reporter who helps Judi Dench track down the son who was taken away from her shortly after his birth at a convent many decades earlier. That sounds depressing; but as I mentioned when the movie came out, this is a buddy road trip, comedy, drama and mystery all rolled into one.

Splendid as always, Dench received a Best Actress nomination for her performance. This is her seventh Oscar nomination, and all of them have been since she turned 63 years old. Who else has had latter-life success like that? Other than Jamie Moyer, of course.

Dench is 79 now, and she has lost much of her sight due to macular degeneration. Yet she continues to act superbly. She is like Derek Jeter, a true professional still performing gracefully despite advancing age and frequent injury. Except Dench has better range.

"Her": Director Spike Jonze tells an engaging story set in the not-too-distant future when people begin having deep and substantial relationships with the voices on their smartphones. (Apparently, Manti Te'o was ahead of his time.)

When I think of cellphones, I occasionally recall spring training in 1992 when my counterpart covering the Twins for the opposition newspaper started carrying a mobile phone with him at all times. He was ridiculed and criticized for it; but within just a few years, cellphones were as ubiquitous with baseball writers as mustard stains on their shirts.

Now, of course, beat writers spend much of their time on their smartphones tweeting the starting lineups and what the manager just said in the daily dugout press conference. So much time is devoted to instantly reporting these trivial items that beat writers rarely are able to get into the visitors clubhouse for opposing views and color. I think this hurts rather than helps coverage. But I also recognize that it is a virtual requirement on a beat that has become a stressful, draining 24/7 occupation.

So it isn't much of a stretch to imagine a man having a relationship with his cellphone, given the way we are all tethered to them. And cellphones certainly have come a long way since Brian Harper and Cal Ripken Jr. were using these models:

"The Wolf of Wall Street": This is an entertaining movie, though it goes on much longer than necessary ... much like a Red Sox postseason game. Based on a true story, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a New York character who lives a wild, high life of rampant drug abuse, sex and shady-to-illegal financial dealings before he is finally charged and convicted of felonious crimes.

No, his character is not based on Lenny Dykstra.

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