And the candidates are . . .

Adam Griffiths

There are two big shows on everyone’s minds at the moment.

For a while now, America has been following the best race ever – the one in which a woman, a black man and an old-school white man duke it out for voters in the 2008 presidential election. But after months of speculation, television takes a break from primary coverage Sunday night as Hollywood society goes all out in the only way its red carpet crowd knows how at the 80th Annual Academy Awards.

But last year’s Oscars were so dull, aside from the cool choreography and Ellen DeGeneres. So let’s put the acting and production awards in terms of America’s race.

Hillary Clinton’s pulling a classic Cate Blanchett, as classic as Blanchett can be. Blanchett has been recognized by the Academy once as a supporting actress. Clinton’s had her go in the White House. But both women got their big guns out for this year’s battle. Blanchett is nominated for her sweeping repeat as England’s Virgin Queen, aka her ability to lead a nation on the edge. Does Clinton have what it takes to take on the kings of the Middle East while maintaining domestic order in her palace? Tagline for a new blockbuster – “When Hillary’s away, Bill will play . with interns?” (Sex sells.)

Mike Huckabee is kind of the Philip Seymour Hoffman. Like Hoffman’s performance aside Tom Hanks in December’s Charlie Wilson’s War, Huckabee is the twisted, off-the-wall underdog when you get down to it. Both characters are very much, as Huckabee’s Web site biography begins, “out to show people that the American dream is still alive.”

For lack of a better parallel in recent memory, the ebb and impending flow of John McCain’s journey channels Alan Arkin’s recognition for his role as the tragic grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine. John has that lovable face and a warm, conservative exterior like any fiery grandfather. But while I don’t think we can expect any white powder on McCain’s nose, his health is an issue. I’m kind of waiting for someone to make a Sunshine parody in which his seven children – one for each decade – minibus their father’s body across the country after he strokes at inauguration. 2009’s best short film, anyone?

But I love Barack Obama as much as the next eager college-aged voter, and I can’t help but sit at the edge of my seat for the Halle Berry moment. It’s not a bad thing. I loved Monster’s Ball. I love change, so I hope. And I’m sorry if that makes me seem racist. But the precedent-shattering nature of this election truly is the platform upon which both Democratic candidates have built their campaigns. In other words, it’ll be as much a Berry moment for Obama as will be if it’s Clinton’s.

When it comes down to it, I don’t think anyone’s going to heart Huckabee, just like next to Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, Hoffman’s comedy really doesn’t stand a chance. Blanchett is more than pegged for the win in her nomination for Best Supporting Actress in her Bob Dylan reincarnation, and Clinton may be better suited for the No. 2 award in Washington. There’s really no chance for McCain because no one really thought Arkin could win, but people like to give prizes to old guys that have been around a while. So if anyone deserves a Best Actor award in this election, I’m standing in ovation for Obama.

He makes for some great publicity. He inspires hope. He preaches change. He gives the people what they’re asking for. He puts himself on their level.

But, wait, those are the kind of performances they give Oscars for.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore information design major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].