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Good Morning Oscar, February 11: What’s Up, Docs?

Good speeches, good and bad shorts, and a couple of juicy controversies in the doc world

Not all awards-show speeches are boring. Kyle Buchanan finds the nine best ones so far this season; they include the writers of "Modern Family" at the WGA Awards, Betty White at SAG, Christian Bale at the Golden Globes (below) and Brad Bird's videotaped speech for the Annie Awards. He also cheats a little by including a couple of presenters (who get to read off TelePrompTers), but that's okay because one of the presenters, Stephen Colbert at the National Board of Review, has my favorite line of the piece as he introduces "The Social Network": "It has been a huge success, grossing $94 million domestically… To put that in perspective, that is only $6 million dollars less than Mark Zuckerberg gave to the Newark school system to seem like less of a jerk after the release of 'The Social Network.'" (Vulture)

Christian BaleDavid Poland weighs in on the Academy's reluctance (as expressed to TheWrap) to let a disguised Banksy onto the stage of the Kodak Theater should "Exit Through the Gift Shop" win: "They should be inviting Banksy to deface the walls next to red carpet (while pretending not to) … Because he is one of the world’s greatest marketers to exactly the demographic that the Academy is desperately pandering to at every bloody turn … anyone under 40!" (The Hot Blog)

A.O. Scott tackles the Oscar-nominated short films, which open Friday in theaters. In the animated field, he likes Pixar's "Day & Night" and Bastien Dubois's "Madagascar, carnet du voyage," and thinks the other three entries are "a bit studied and stale." In live-action (the weakest category, he says), he loves "Na Wewe" but  not much else. And among the documentary shorts, he's partial to "Poster Girl" and "The Warriors of Qiugang," while feeling that the other nominees "show some of the limitations" of the short-doc form. (The New York Times)

Meanwhile, one of Scott's favorite short docs, "Poster Girl," turns out to have ignited a real fight over credits inside the Academy. Although bits and pieces have leaked out via Roger Ebert and David Poland, AJ Schnack digs up both the details and the backstory of a contentious process in which the AMPAS board of governors overruled two separate decisions by the documentary branch that only director Sara Nesson deserved a nomination. The governors made producer Mitchell Block a nominee as well – and the whole story involves bad blood and feuds that go back decades (and, naturally, involve Michael Moore). (All These Wonderful Things)

Nicole Sperling has facts and figures about the use of iTunes to allow SAG voters to screen a variety of Oscar films online this year. 20th Century Fox says 21,000 members viewed more than 58,000 movies; Paramount says "The Fighter" was viewed online between 10,000 and 15,000 times; and Weinstein says "The King's Speech" was viewed about 5,000 times, though it was one of the few films to send DVDs to the entire membership. "The one blemish on the experiment was that the majority of the films available were pirated at least once each," she says, "though that's hardly a bad rate compared to how often DVD screeners are pirated." (Awards Tracker)