Every award season some columnist-blogger will point to a tawdry downmarket film starring an Oscar contender and ask, “Is this [fill in the blank]’s Norbit?” The term — a proper, non-italicized noun — refers to a belief that Eddie Murphy didn’t win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his Dreamgirls performance because Norbit, one of his coarse, low-rent comedies, was released on 2.7.07 — right smack in the middle of Oscar voting — and in so doing reminded Academy members that Murphy had never been especially committed to serious, quality-aspiring films or roles, and so a majority turned against him. But an exploitation film selling at the AFM can’t be a Norbit — it has to be a general theatrical release. And it has to open in January or February when the voting is actually happening. And it can’t be a one-off. A Norbit points not to a single paycheck role but to an actor’s continued downmarket inclinations. It reminds everyone that he/she has often wallowed in crap and that the current Oscar-calibre performance in question is an exception to the rule.