The Oscars gets an iPhone App, but is it award-worthy?

How could we miss Elizabeth Banks hosting the Sci-Tech awards?

Results for the Best Picture poll on the official Oscar iPhone App.

Results for the Best Picture poll on the official Oscar iPhone App.

Since it appears iPhone apps aren't disappearing anytime soon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has followed in the footsteps of Comic-Con and the Sundance Film Festival in releasing its own official iPhone application (although we're guessing ABC had a big hand in getting it done).  Available by searching "Academy Awards" in the iTunes store, The Oscars app is a pretty slick and free piece of entertainment.

While the app includes appropriate historical information, photos and a trailer for each nominee (or the film they were in), its primary use is to predict the winners on Oscar night.  The app lets you know how many categories you have to pick and selecting a winner.  Saving each winner is also pretty simple and confirmed by a push message that your vote has been saved.  Plus, you can easily switch your vote if you'd like.

The fun part of the app is you can also view the polling results of everyone else participating  So, at the time of this post, "Avatar" had 62% of the vote and "The Hurt Locker" found only 14% (I picked "Locker").  The users of this app also think Morgan Freeman has a better chance to win than George Clooney for Best Actor ((26% vs. 22%), but still have Jeff Bridges in the lead with 33%.  At this point, "Avatar" is dominating every category it's in, although it's cute that only 92% of voters think its going to win Visual Effects.  Losing that award would be one of the biggest upsets ever.

Now, unfortunately, this reviewer did find a few bugs.  On the Costume Design page there is no photo for "Bright Star" and, instead, "The Young Victoria" has a "Bright Star" photo instead of an image from the Emily Blunt period piece.  Whoopsie.  This bug follows "Young Victoria" in the Make Up category as well.

Also, after sending out my saved picks on Facebook connect, Twitter and Email (or so I thought), the app wouldn't let me return to send it via SMS/TXT.  After I closed and re-opened the app, it let me send via SMS/TXT, but I had to hold down the paste function to put in the canned message.  Unfortunately, it just included a link to get the app.  The only way to forward your actual picks is via E-mail.

The biggest  disappointing is that there is absolutely no historical information of previous winners or nominees on the app.  That is something most users would expect and the Academy should reconsider for the 2011 version.

Overall though, not bad for a first attempt.  Three out of four stars on the iTunes scale.

To check out HitFix's more elaborate iPhone Application, click here.  You can also click here to spawn The Oscar's iPhone App.

In other Oscar news...

- Not sure how we didn't find the time to note it, but the always entertaining Elizabeth Banks has been announced as the host for the Academy's annual Sci-Tech Awards. It's an inspiring choice considering how enthusiastically Banks has embraced new technology such as Twitter with her own @elizabethbanks account (and an impressive 90,000 plus followers).  Banks is also an accomplished actress and has appeared in such films as "W," "The 40-Year Old Virgin," "Zach and Miri Make A Porno," "Role Models" and "Definitely, Maybe."  She was also a producer of the Sci-Fi thriller "Surrogates" last year.  Her new duties will find her passing out 15 awards to 43 recipients at the Beverly Wilshire on March 20.  Banks joins an impressive list of previous hosts -- a few who eventually won Oscars -- including Renee Zellweger, Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner, Rachel McAdams, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson, Geena Davis and even Tom Hanks.

- Showing Hollywood's support of the relief efforts in Haiti are thankfully continuing, Quentin Tarantino is teaming up with a legion of accomplished artists for a new relief benefit.  "The Lost Art of 'Inglourious Basterds' will feature numerous new pieces of art inspired by the Oscar-nominated movie and be open to the public to preview and purchase this Thursday, Feb. 18 from 6-9 PM at the Upper Playground Art Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles.  For a preview, you can view the prints online here.  Tarantino will sign the prints which were created by David Choe, Sam Flores, Estevan Oriol, Grotesk, Jeremy Fish, Patrick Martinez, Alex Pardee, Dora Drimalas, Munk One, N8 Van Dyke, Rene Alamanza, Morning Breath and Skinner Davis among others.  Each print is going for $300 and will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.  The installation will last for four weeks so if you can't make it opening night, don't forget to hit LA's happening downtown this weekend for a good cause.  One of the more intriguing selections is embedded below.
 

 

For the latest in breaking entertainment news and commentary follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

The Lost Art of 'Inglourious Basterds' benefit
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