I'd like to thank the Academy, my parents, and all of the players who've made this possible. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
I'm assuming that many of you stayed up last night to watch the Oscars, and judging by my twitter feed I seem to be right. Did anyone dislike James Franco as much as I did? Or, alternatively, did anyone not dislike him as much as I did? I'd like that four hours of my life back. My other problem with the Oscars was this: I saw exactly two movies that got nominated for anything. And yet, I always feel like it's something I should watch. And even if I didn't feel like that, my girlfriend does. As you can imagine, it wasn't a particularly compelling show for me.
So I spent most of my time trying to figure out how I could tie it into Aston Villa. And at the end of the evening, as I was in bed trying to fall asleep, I realized we could have our very own AVFC best picture award. The rules are as follows:
- Only feature-length moments qualify. Like with the Academy Awards, we won't be giving this statue to a short, so any single highlights are out. That said, highlights play a major role in making a feature film, so they can help in the decision.
- The awards season began with the preseason. Do you have good memories of Aston Villa winning the European Championship in 1982? Sadly, that will not be covered here. Instead, we're left to deal with what this season has dealt us.
- We'll use the old Oscar format of only five nominees. Mostly because I don't think I could find ten worthy games from this season.
- Finally, only Aston Villa moments will count. This one is pretty self evident.
Anyhow, on to the nominees!
Aston Villa 3-0 West Ham United, August 14 -It seems so long ago, but our season started on such a fantastic note. Stewart Downing began what has been an excellent campaign with a 15th minute goal that got Villa Park jumping. Stilyan Petrov added another before the half, but the real highlight was soon-to-be-expatriated James Milner netting the game's third goal in the 66th minute. Villa fans at the time still had a tiny amount of hope that James would stay (remember, he had given Citeh a deadline), but the goal allowed fans to embrace their star and forget the drama surrounding him, if only for a few minutes. It was a great sending off for a fantastic Villan. Also of note: the first regular season match without MON in charge.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Aston Villa, September 26 - By the time this match rolled around, it was obvious that Villa weren't going to dominate the EPL. Heck, it had been obvious before the season. But the team had held their own despite having an interim manager and losing their best player to Manchester City, and other players to the injury list. But September 26 was to be new gaffer Gérard Houllier's first match, and the boys in claret and blue responded wonderfully. After an early Stewart Downing goal was negated by one from Wolves Stewart Jarvis, Emile Heskey provided the game winner in the 88th minute. The big man has his detractors, but it's easy to forget that he's come through big a few times this season. And the fact that the new gaffer got a win in his first match in such a dramatic style could have only been made more cinematic by being at Villa Park.
Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United, November 13 - Fresh off a last-second win against Blackpool at home, the Villans had two days of rest before taking on the then-unbeaten Manchester United. With injuries crippling Villa, things looked bleak, but a stunning showing from the youth kept the match scoreless going into the half. Villa appeared ready to play for a draw when Ashley Young drew a penalty kick in the 72nd minute. After he converted, Villa looked to have renewed energy, and scored again quickly on a counterstrike that I still think is the best goal I've ever gotten to watch. Of course, the defense crumpled a bit and let up two quick goals but came through with a draw. The disappointment of dropping two points was quickly forgotten by most fans as the focus shifted to "holy cow, our youngsters are good!"
Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City, January 22 - Villa were floundering going into the January transfer window, standing perilously close to the relegation zone. But a good run of form, coupled with the signings of Darren Bent and Jean Makoun left fans optimistic heading into the rematch; a chance to avenge an earlier 4-0 defeat at the hands of Citeh. In the 18th minute, Darren Bent showed us why he might be worth his huge transfer fee as he netted the match's only goal. After that, Villa sat back, played some superb defense, and grabbed three points at home against one of the best teams in the EPL.
Aston Villa 4-1 Blackburn Rovers, February 26 - Well, this one should be fresh in everyone's minds, but such a decisive victory - in a season in which those have been rare - has to get a nod here.
So what say you? Take a vote in the poll, and let's crown the AVFC Best Picture.
Which match deserves the title of the Aston Villa Best Picture?
Aston Villa 3-0 West Ham (8 votes)
Wolverhampton 1-2 Aston Villa (1 vote)
Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United (12 votes)
Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City (18 votes)
Aston Villa 4-1 Blackburn (7 votes)
46 total votes