The Oscar Race Decoded!

This year's Academy awards nominees (which will be announced on January 23) are bound to celebrate tyrants, accents, tyrants with accents, violence, and stories "inspired by real life," if not always inspired. The front-runners are anyone playing a world leader written by PETER MORGAN as well as all manner of teachers and/or pedophiles with their tongues out and trousers down. Let me run down the rundown in the major categories before the nominees are run down by their own success.


BEST PICTURE
Falling through the cracks will be:World Trade Center (a feel-good picture about 9-11); United 93 (a feel-bad picture about 9-11. One of the year's best-reviewed movies, but the nominators can't remember that far back. Some of them can't even remember 9-11); Volver (it's foreign); Pan's Labyrinth (ditto—and it sounds like some kind of new-style bread restaurant); Letters From Iwo Jima (though the "shit pot" scene is amazing); Stranger Than Fiction (and duller too); Notes on a Scandal (I'm scared of that dyke); The Good Shepherd (it spans the history of the CIA—in real time); Flags of Our Fathers (raised a red flag at the box office); Little Children (too many sexual hypocrites disliked this movie about sexual hypocrisy); Happy Feet (even real penguins don't get Best Picture nods); The Painted Veil (even real Merchant Ivory flicks stopped getting Best Picture nods); Bobby (real Altman films did get Best Picture nods, but out of respect for his death, this flick won't); Children of Men (it makes United 93 look like Happy Feet); Apocalypto (the Jews will kill Jesus again before this one gets nominated)

Forrest Whitaker in Last King of Scotland
photo: Courtesy Film Four & DNA Films Limited
Forrest Whitaker in Last King of Scotland

image
Helen Mirren in The Queen
Laurie Sparham/Miramax Films

The nominees will be: The Queen (about a big queen dealing with Di's death—no, not Elton John); Babel (a/k/a Crash '06); The Departed (The arm battering! The ground splattering! The screaming if Marty loses again!); Little Miss Sunshine (a dark, edgy family succumbs to all the warm, familiar road-trip formulas); Dreamgirls (there's got to be something light in the top five—if you consider a musical melodrama about greed and corruption to be light, and strangely enough I do)


BEST ACTRESS
Tumbling into non-recognition will be: BEYONCÉ KNOWLES, Dreamgirls (they nominated the realDiana Ross, but she had to shoot up and throw up and give it up for over two hours. Beyoncé's part doesn't allow her to wallow nearly enough); CATE BLANCHETT, The Good German (the bad casting); ANNETTE BENING, Running With Scissors (terrific, but most observers feel the movie collapsed under its own weirdness); MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, Sherrybaby (she appealingly elevated it from a Lifetime movie, but I'm one of three people who saw it, and the other two weren't thrilled); RENÉE ZELLWEGER, Miss Potter (Are we even sure it is Renée and not Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo?): NAOMI WATTS, The Painted Veil (tramp finds redemption in China, but is hungry again an hour later)

The nominees will be:HELEN MIRREN, The Queen (the biggest lock since Mother Teresa's chastity belt); MERYL STREEP, The Devil Wears Prada (all right, everyone, gird your loins); JUDI DENCH, Notes on a Scandal (she had to deliver the year's most impossible line, "Lasagna tends to disagree with my bowels. I'll ask for a small portion"); KATE WINSLET, Little Children (if we reward her for playing bad girls, maybe she'll stop doing cutesy shit like The Holiday); PENÉLOPE CRUZ, Volver (yet another knife in Tom's back)


BEST ACTOR
Falling into crack vials will be: MATT DAMON, The Good Shepherd and The Departed (even two crime flicks can't seem to get him arrested); EDWARD NORTON, The Illusionist (he flubbed his biggest trick—keeping my eyes open); Ed Norton, The Painted Veil (this freak is busier than Cate Blanchett); RYAN PHILLIPPE, Flags of Our Fathers (nobody cheats on my Reese and gets away with it!); DEREK LUKE, Catch a Fire (it didn't); TOBY JONEs, Infamous (if they nominate him, they're admitting they were wrong last year); KEN WATANABE, Letters From Iwo Jima (alas, the letters don't say, "You're nominated, Mister!"); RICHARD GRIFFITHS, The History Boys (he's groping—for a nomination); JAMIE FOXX, Dreamgirls (everyone hates him for dumping Effie—and for doing Miami Vice); NICOLAS CAGE, World Trade Center (you couldn't even see him through all that smoke); DANIEL CRAIG, Casino Royale (shaken, not nominated)

The nominees will be: LEONARDO DICAPRIO, The Departed (it helps that he was also in Blood Diamond—or does it?—plus he's finally become sort of a man); PETER O'TOOLE, Venus (Quick, before he melts. Besides, who else could bring such dignity to the scene where he tries to lick the girl's finger after she rams it into her snatch?); FOREST WHITAKER, The Last King of Scotland (he does a mean Amin and will be the first 220-pound nominee since Shelley Winters); WILL SMITH, The Pursuit of Happyness (where there's a Will, there's a podium); RYAN GOSLING, Half Nelson (I was half awake. Let's wait till he gets a role deserving of his talent. Nah, let's not.)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Missing the golden boat will be: CATHERINE O'HARA, For Your Consideration (though she's hilarious, and in mocking the Oscar race, the movie shows the award's stunning power); Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal (the year's fourth cradle robber; don't kiss me, Cate); Cate Blanchett, Babel (Enough already!); Maggie Gyllenhaal, World Trade Center (she should have named the baby Oscar instead of Olivia); MARIA BELLO, World Trade Center (Ciao, Bello!); VERA FARMIGA, The Departed (last name pronounced . . . oh, never mind); SHAREEKA EPPS, Half Nelson (though I'm shareeka-ing her praises); PHYLLIS SOMERVILLE and JANE ADAMS, Little Children (they'll sadly get lost in the pedo shuffle); THANDIE NEWTON, The Pursuit of Happyness (she interrupted the pursuit a little too much); FRANCES DE LA TOUR, The History Boys (it was a de la Tour de force, but one we'd already seen onstage); EMILY BLUNT, The Devil Wears Prada (she was adorable, but she should get a sitcom, not an Oscar); SHARON STONE, Bobby (if you do nails and hair and underact in a forest, does anyone hear it?); EMMA THOMPSON, Stranger Than Fiction (a/k/a Murder, She Wrote); EMILY WATSON, Miss Potter (compared to her, even Renée isn't quirky); BRITTANY MURPHY, The Dead Girl (please, she just lies there)

The nominees will be: JENNIFER HUDSON, Dreamgirls (Beyoncé is frantically trying to pack on some pounds as we speak); ADRIANA BARRAZA, Babel (she stole the movie from all the marquee names, who surely now want to deport the bitch); RINKO KIKUCHI, Babel (it could be a Kikuchi coup); ABIGAIL BRESLIN, Little Miss Sunshine (though she's aging rapidly); CATE BLANCHETT, Notes on a Scandal (I changed my mind. I'm entitled. Again.)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Plummeting into the abyss will be: JACK NICHOLSON, The Departed (the dildo scene destroyed his cred; been there); BRAD PITT, Babel(he has a great phone scene, but otherwise he just looks concerned a lot); ADAM BEACH, Flags of Our Fathers (though I'd love to have sex on the Beach); STANLEY TUCCI, The Devil Wears Prada (A kind gay at Vogue? Spare me, girl.); MICHAEL SHEEN, The Queen(no one wants to vote for Tony Blair); BRYAN COX, Running With Scissors (his turds-in-the-bowl scene was delightful but paled next to Iwo Jima's shit pot); ALAN ARKIN, Little Miss Sunshine (though he played dead better than a Scarlett Johansson movie); MICHAEL CAINE, Children of Men(he was a little too good for a nomination); LIEV SCHREIBER, The Painted Veil (he already got his prize—Naomi Watts); IAN MCKELLEN, The Da Vinci Code (he got raves, but the movie was a cheap forgery).

The nominees will be: MARK WAHLBERG, The Departed (Marky Mark, Oscar nominee? What a world.); EDDIE MURPHY, Dreamgirls (Ditto. Showbiz is a wondrous place for the redemption of those who've lost their way.); BEN AFFLECK, Hollywoodland (Double ditto. The movie died more suddenly than George Reeves, but Ben—a B star playing a B star—got an A comeback by stealing the whole thing.); DJIMON HOUNSOU, Blood Diamond (he has that great speech—"Kill me! I'm dead already!"—and Hollywood is in love with endlessly noble Africans); JACKIE EARLE HALEY, Little Children (Keep him away from the kids—but not the Kodak Theatre!)

I'll see you all there as well. I'm dead already, but don't kill me. I'm living for the Oscars! musto@villagevoice.com


Web extra: Don't read this if you're grossed out by self aggrandizement or celebrities of a certain age. In fact, don't read any braggy, whiny thing I ever write or you might get so violently sick you'll never be fabulous again. Here goes: My book party last week at Room Service was like a very special episode of The Love Boat. The guest list was colorful and kitschy, all springing to extra life because a sea of photographers had turned the place into a giant apocalyptic flash that could make the blind see again. It was a two-hour photo op consisting of nothing but people posing for other people—and that's just how life should be at all times, isn't it? I was in heaven, my face cracking from all the sincere smiling (something I'm not exactly used to doing; I don't even generally engage in insincere smiling). Finally able to throw a party instead of just go to one, I aimed to eliminate the usually de rigeur setup of photogs having to stand outside to get boring arrival shots, which always leads to a lack of wattage—and access—inside. This time, everyone invited was let in—and as it happened, they were all either names, press, or celebutantes, all commingling on a plane of radioactive surrealness.

Tina Louise dropped by for a three-hour tour. Joan Rivers swung around to glitter, gab, and talk QVC. And Mariel Hemingway popped up, posing with me, cohost Perez Hilton, and Paper's Mickey Boardman. When Patrick McMullan set up a shot and said, "The girl should be in the middle," Mariel and I looked at each other and started laughing, as if to say, "Which one in this group is the girl?" When I told her my movie club recently watched Lipstick—the '70s fashion-world film she made with her late sister Margaux—she grinned and said, "I always tell people I was the older one."

All through the room, the whole gossip gang could be spotted: Cindy Adams, Jacob Bernstein, David Patrick Columbia, Jada Yuan, Ben Widdicombe, Mandy Stadtmiller, Ron Mwangaguhunga, Jason Bellini, and David Hershkovits. We all interviewed each other for hours! And the biggest gossip shocker was that, although it was open bar, hardly anybody lined up to get a drink! Party people are so hideously composed nowadays.

The hint of publicity, I guess, proved intoxicating enough. At first I thought it was ballsy of gay porn mogul Michael Lucas to pitch me an item at my own party, when I was supposed to be pushing myself, but that's his style. And besides, it was a good item: Lucas just got a letter from the late Federico Fellini's legal team demanding he cease all sales of Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita. Lucas is fighting back, saying there's no connection, his own storyline having much more to do with rimming and fucking than Fellini's. Meanwhile, I pray Fellini's people don't realize my column and book are both called La Dolce Musto!

Come showtime, Murray Hill entertainingly toasted and roasted me, Bridget Everett belted a song about her "canhole," and Julie Atlas Muz provided a sophisticated flesh feast. Cohost Rosie Perez chatted up Ivana Trump, and by 1 a.m., when Cazwell took the stage, there was a whole new wave of hotties and nutjobs. By then, my butt was cracking from all the sincere smiling.


Another web extra:

But wait, back to the awards stuff! The Golden Globes were long and fascinating and long and sparkly and dull and long. They were both a serious harbinger of the Oscars and a maddeningly loosey goosey summit of stars and their favorite cocktails. My chronological reactions to the telecast: CLOONEY cracks that Leo is the year's best supporting actress. Does he know something? . . . Jennifer Hudson actually wins that category, then "Listen" loses for song. Beyonce looks like she‚s been shot in the crotch twice . . . Renee is squinting so hard WARREN BEATTY probably looks young to her . . . Even without narrowing one's eyes, Reese looks about 12 and skinnier than a fingernail. (Well, she just lost 160 pounds—you know, Ryan Phillippe.) . . . CAMERON looks like she fell off a gay wedding cake. JUSTIN looks like he needs one . . . SALMA and Penelope are both there, probably making eyes at each other. Or maybe they're the same person . . . Meryl neglected to thank the one individual she couldn't have done it without—ANNA WINTOUR . . . Eddie Murphy is suddenly the most dignified one in the whole room—no, the whole business. What a sick world! . . . Annette is holding a glass as she loses. She's sipping harder as she loses a second time. One more awards show and she'll need a cold compress . . . Peter Morgan starts out with anti Iraq remarks and is quickly told "Please wrap up." Few were applauding him anyway—half because they didn't want to be "controversial" and the other half because they didn't get it. . . . PRINCE got stuck in traffic—yeah because he stopped it in that outfit.

Ugly Betty's mother looks OK. Dad must be a beast . . . Not one person has mentioned Martin Luther King. They're too busy thanking their makeup artists, God, and Paramount. . . SACHA BARON COHEN saves the night with his tribute to "the anus and testicles of my costar." I cry....Marty's butt and testes are fine, but he must get rid of those eyebrows by Oscar time. Plus Helen needs to be way less composed and Forest has to come up with something more focused than "wow, wow, wow." But otherwise, everything's right on track. Point me toward tomorrow. (Sorry to end so abruptly, but I was getting a "please wrap up" signal.)

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