Sure, it may look like Oscar bait: the radical physical transformation, the heroic back story based upon real life. (Read more about the book it's based on — HERE!) Kidman may even give the best performance of 2009. All that means nothing if academy members won't watch the film.
That was the big, ugly secret about Oscar voting we learned three years ago when faced with a similar movie in the best-actress derby. Very few academy members bothered to watch their DVD screener of "Transamerica." They never saw Felicity Huffman's dazzling, heart-breaking turn as a misfit man, dressed as a woman, who encounters his long-lost son on the eve of dad having a sex-change operation.
Amazing movie. Knock-out performance that haunts you for years afterward. But very few Oscar voters bothered to watch it. Heck, two academy members who are among the hottest Oscar campaigners in the biz -- who both had major ponies in the 2005 derby -- recently confessed to me that they didn't watch their "Transamerica" screeners! Top Oscar campaigners who are supposed to have exceptional interest in all this!
"It's true — nobody watched that screener," studio chief Harvey Weinstein sighed last year as we recalled that 2005 Oscar race. "What a shame. There's no question that Felicity gave the best performance that year. Unbelievable. But, like you, I had trouble finding anyone who saw the movie."
Worse, Oscar voters gave the best-actress gold to Reese Witherspoon for a lightweight, ho-hum perf as June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line." Reese didn't belong in the lead category — it was supporting role and certainly not deserving of any special notice. But we Oscarologists know that stuff doesn't matter. For some crazy reason that year all Hollywood suddenly got all swept up in a frenzy over how fab Reese is — in everything she does, so — what the heck? — let's give her the Oscar for "Walk the Line"!
Next up: What hope do you think there is that academy fuddy-duddies will actually watch Nicole Kidman's film about the world's first post-op transsexual?
"Nicole Kidman will star in and produce 'The Danish Girl,' based on the true story of Danish artists Einar and Greta Wegener," says the Hollywood Reporter. "Their marriage took a sharp left turn after Einar (Kidman) stood in for an female model that Greta (Theron) was set to paint.
"When their portraits become wildly popular in 1920s Copenhagen, Greta encouraged her husband to adopt the female guise. What began as a harmless game led Einar to a metamorphosis and landmark 1931 operation that shocked the world and threatened their love."
(Penguin Putnam Books)