NY Mirror

And the Emmy for the gayest upcoming awards show goes to . . . not the Tonys this time, but the Oscars, which will finally have the theater queens out-bitched and out-swished! Yes, this year's Academy Awards—just like the Globes—will be a lavender-tinted celebration of homo love, even if the cowpokes are gloomy, Capote barely touches his boyfriend, and the transsexual doesn't get too sexual. (She's a straight woman anyway.) It was a gay-for-pay year peopled with actors who are on the road to golden glory, especially since in actuality they're totally, certifiably—we're told for sure—straighter than the line to the Kodak Theatre. That makes their performances oh so brave and committed, don't you know, while the gays who play straight all the time (like certain movie stars in their everyday lives) don't ever get recognized for all the challenging work that takes.

Anyway, FELICITY HUFFMAN has the ultimate stunt role in Transamerica—a potent Oscar seducer, not because it's all that great, mind you, but because of the attention-grabbing gimmick behind it. See, in Monster, CHARLIZE THERON only played a lesbian and in Million Dollar Baby, I mean Boys Don't Cry, HILARY SWANK was just a woman living as a man, but Felicity is a woman playing a biological man who becomes a woman. It's Victor/Victoria, except for real. Alas, the movie's other contrivances annoy—she can't tell her young squire that (a) she's had a sex change and (b) she's his father, because then the whole thing would end in 20 minutes. But Huff is still strong in the role and would probably win if only this wasn't the year of the better drag queen, REESE WITHERSPOON!

Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me get a grip and go category by category, listing all the panting wannabes of all genders, sexualities, and hair colors and then narrowing them down to the most throbbing contenders.

Heath, Jake, Felicity, and Philip pony up for Oscar
illustration: Glynis Sweeny
Heath, Jake, Felicity, and Philip pony up for Oscar


BEST PICTURE
The choices are heavy on the dark period pieces, many decked out in layers of taboo romance, homo or otherwise. The possibilities include: Brokeback Mountain (duh; from Spider Woman to Philadelphia to this, Oscar loves noble, doomed gays), King Kong (though it's not the big dong wielder they'd prayed for), Walk the Line (Ray with more sight, if less insight), Pride & Prejudice (but mostly pride), Match Point (they might reward Woody just for not casting himself opposite SCARLETT JOHANSSON), Capote (a gay Truman Show), Cinderella Man (the real Cinderella story would be this piece of unabashed hokum getting a nod), Good Night, and Good Luck (anyone who hates it should be blacklisted), The Constant Gardener (a popcorn movie about AIDS in Africa), Memoirs of a Geisha (I was hungry an hour later), A History of Violence (yay—a psycho hetero. And a stunning film, if too edgy for Oscar), Munich (but there's a common misconception that MEL GIBSON directed it), The Squid and the Whale (and the rabbit's foot), Syriana (no one understood one second of it, but they liked it), The Chronicles of Narnia (the lion and the witch are now fighting over their Oscar wardrobe), Crash (utter contrivance at its most compelling), Mysterious Skin (kidding. This really was the year's best movie, so forget it).

The actual nominees will be: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, The Constant Gardener, Good Night, and Good Luck, Walk the Line

BEST ACTOR
Most of the front-runners play characters who grapple with heavy moral issues in manly ways, while some just grapple with other men in manly ways. They include: JOAQUIN PHOENIX, Walk the Line (Hollywood's favorite harelipped hottie); HEATH LEDGER, Brokeback Mountain (insert Down Under joke); DAVID STRATHAIRN, Good Night, and Good Luck (and hello, nomination); PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, Capote (suddenly Seymour—Oscar finally notices the scene-stealing shlub); TERRENCE HOWARD, Hustle and Flow (but will the academy see fit to honor a nice pimp?); CILLIAN MURPHY, Breakfast on Pluto (Felicity Huffman must have been busy when he got cast); ERIC BANA, Munich (such a cute Mossad agent); RUSSELL CROWE, Cinderella Man (don't nominate him and he'll smash your face in); VIGGO MORTENSEN, A History of Violence (like his screen wife, I found him hottest when he was crazed and shooting people); RALPH FIENNES, The Constant Gardener ("His constipated thing really worked here," says critic JAMI BERNARD); JEFF DANIELS, The Squid and the Whale (excellent as always, but eligible nonetheless).

The nominees will be: Crowe, Hoffman, Ledger, Phoenix, Strathairn


BEST ACTRESS
The most prominent choices undergo radical transformations and, more importantly, costume changes, on the road to an awakening and maybe even a nomination. The top girls include Felicity Huffman, Transamerica (she may have lost a penis, but she'll be up for a trophy); REESE WITHERSPOON, Walk the Line (hey, she can sort of carry a tune); KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, Pride & Prejudice (old-style glamour must be rewarded at all costs); JUDI DENCH, Mrs. Henderson Presents (the movie was soggy crumpets, but my gal Judi passes gas and she gets nominated); CHARLIZE THERON, North Country (but she wasn't a dyke or even a killer this time); NAOMI WATTS, King Kong (the ape was her hairiest co-star since SEAN PENN); LAURA LINNEY, The Squid and the Whale (maybe they'll forget The Exorcism of Emily Rose); JOAN ALLEN, The Upside of Anger (alas, they'll remember Yes); ZIYI ZHANG, Geisha (if this part's the yin to her yang, Oscar can provide the win to her Zhang); GWYNETH PALTROW, Proof (though at the box office it went poof).

The nominees will be: Dench, Huffman, Knightley, Witherspoon, Zhang


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Here we have a slew of veterans—and JAKE GYLLENHAAL—doing their craggy but lovable thing in order to gruffly endear the voters. We got us some GEORGE CLOONEY, Syriana (he gained weight, plus he directed Good Night, and Good Luck, plus he was cute on Roseanne); MATT DILLON, Crash (he still makes my motor rev); DON CHEADLE, Crash (he's the one who wasn't Matt Dillon); BOB HOSKINS, Mrs. Henderson Presents (though I feel his cornball shtick should probably get a Razzie); WILLIAM HURT, A History of Violence (managed to sneak incestuous hints into his brotherly rage); ED HARRIS, A History of Violence (one eye was poked out by barbed wire, but the other one did great); PAUL GIAMATTI, Cinderella Man (it's not too soon to make up for Sideways); DANIEL CRAIG, Munich (the name's Craig. Daniel Craig); GEOFFREY RUSH, Munich (the name's Sellers. Peter Sellers); CLIFTON COLLINS JR., Capote (he slayed two fruits—Truman and moi); FRANK LANGELLA, Good Night, and Good Luck (his Paley was even more imposing than his impaler in Dracula); and of course Mr. Gyllenhaal for Brokeback Mountain (if he's supporting, then I'm RACHEL MCADAMS, but that's what they're promoting him as, so let's ease their pain and go along with it).

The nominees will be: Clooney, Dillon, Giamatti, Gyllenhaal, Langella


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The choicest choices seem to include ladies playing scorned babes and vengeful bitches, just the way we like 'em, though some were better at it than others. Among the most hopeful are MICHELLE WILLIAMS, Brokeback Mountain (the role made you expect heart-wrenching histrionics and critics generously assumed she provided that); CATHERINE KEENER, Capote (conversely, her part didn't go much of anywhere, but she imbued it with lots of life, plus she was in everything else this year from The Interpreter to The 40-Year-Old Virgin); various people from Pride & Prejudice (one of whom is the director's girlfriend); MARIA BELLO, A History of Violence (it's not too soon to make up for The Cooler); FRANCES MCDORMAND, North Country (it's not her fault it tanked); SHIRLEY MACLAINE, In Her Shoes (she almost hijacked the film and turned it into In Her Orthopedic Shoes); GONG LI, Geisha (similarly, she made this into The Gong Show); Scarlett Johansson, Match Point (the ball's in Oscar's court); RACHEL WEISZ, The Constant Gardener (maybe she'll wear her Frank-N-Furter getup again); AMY ADAMS, Junebug (let's hope her chances don't get swatted); ANNE HATHAWAY, Brokeback Mountain (if only the award was for best hairdo).

The nominees will be: Adams, Bello, Keener, Weisz, Williams

BEST SONG
I don't even care to speculate on what will be nominated here, but I do have to say I'm fed up with all those tunes written expressly for the closing credits just so they'll get noticed by the academy. These slipshod excuses for music serve to accelerate your journey to the exit so they can refill the theater while nabbing that nomination, which they always irritatingly manage to do, as if by law. Otherwise, this whole Oscar process is completely ethical and supremely worthy of your time and energy. Come on, we all know how important and life-changing a nomination can be. (Sophie what's her name, anyone?) See you on the 31st when the nominations come out. I'll be in intensive care.


WEB EXCLUSIVE

By the way, the Golden Globes were such a joyous, self-congratulatory wallow in Hollywood's love of all things gay—on screen, that is—but where was CYNTHIA NIXON's real-life girlfriend? Tied up in an attic somewhere with MARY CHENEY's?

As for the upcoming year's most attention-seeking Oscar contender, maybe it'll be the untitled-as-of-yet project BAZ LUHRMANN is working on. In keeping with the current mania for cute critters, it involves lots and lots of cows! A friend of mine recently dined with Baz and tells me the director seemed udderly smitten with the lead bovine babe. Moo, I mean true story.

Meanwhile, a much thinner creature, MADONNA, is doing the sure-to-be-awards-bound video for the fabulously catchy "Sorry," which I hear will involve her bouncing out of a Pimp-A-Ride van with tons of dancers and proceeding to roller skate into your mind. She's kabbalah on wheels!

But let me glide back to the Golden Globes and recover two more buried memories. I adored it when the Desperate Housewives crew ran up to accept an award and during a lull in the big guys' speechifying, TERI HATCHER broke from the backup line, skedaddled over to the mike, and blurted a non-witticism as FELICITY HUFFMAN threw her the most withering look since the Vanity Fair shoot. Me-ouch!

And in the pre-show, it was interesting when QUEEN LATIFAH told ISAAC MIZRAHI that she was in love with someone, but wanted to keep the person's identity a secret. That seemed to be hinting at some kind of revelation, but then, when Mizrahi asked who in the crowd she might have a crush on, she heterosexually declared, "George Clooney!" There were so many levels of weirdness to that remark that I'm doing the Felicity Huffman look as we speak.


musto@villagevoice.com

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