If there was an Oscar for best extra, Russell Dalton could be a contender. The political science professor, Web master for UCI at the Movies, and part-time actor has a long list of credits, from a bewildered fairgoer in "Spiderman" to a reunion attendee in "Something Wild." Dalton's take on the Academy Awards March 7? There should be different best-picture categories instead of one catchall grouping. And, of course, there should be a best-extra award. His 2009 flick picks:
Best film: "Avatar," a visually stunning visit to another world that opens the doors of moviemaking to whatever one can imagine.
Best drama: "Up in the Air," a tale of our times with George Clooney at his best.
Best comedy:"Hangover," a raucously funny story of male bonding, camaraderie, and what happens in Vegas if you're (un)lucky.
Best action/sci-fi: "Star Trek" revived one of the major franchises in modern films with a new crew and new adventure under J.J. Abrams' excellent guidance. Local connection: Parts are filmed in Tustin blimp hangars, and a Vulcan child is played by the granddaughter of engineering professor William Sirignano.
Best indie: "The Hurt Locker." You probably don't want to see a movie about a bomb disposal squad in Iraq, but this film is more about people and life. Worth the risk.
Best animation:"Up." Pixar does it again! Animation used to be for kids, but this story should move anyone with a pulse.
Dr. Alberto Manetta, director of the UCI School of Medicine's Office of Diversity & Community Engagement, has been appointed to the Health Professions Education Foundation board of trustees. The state-run entity helps improve access to healthcare in underserved areas of California by offering scholarships and loan repayments to aspiring and practicing health professionals dedicated to serving in those areas. Manetta is the founding director of UCI's PRIME-LC, the nation's first medical education program specifically addressing the healthcare needs of the Latino community.
Stephen Ritchie, civil & environmental engineering professor and Institute of Transportation Studies director, will receive the 2010 Frank M. Masters Transportation Engineering Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers at the group's annual conference in October. Ritchie is being honored for his innovative work in the development and application of new technologies in transportation engineering.
Virginia Trimble, physics & astronomy professor, has been awarded the 2010 George Van Biesbroeck Prize by the American Astronomical Society. The prize honors individuals for long-term, extraordinary or unselfish service to astronomy. Trimble has published at least 600 papers and served on more than 100 committees for about 10 professional societies.
Anthropology professor Leo Chavez has garnered two awards from the American Anthropological Association. He earned the 2009 Prize for Distinguished Achievement in the Critical Study of North America for his research on immigration and Latin American health issues, and he won the AAA's Association of Latina & Latino Anthropologists 2009 Book Award for The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens and the Nation.