On Thursday, Oscar voters received the second, third and fourth DVD screeners sent to the full academy — all three from Sony Pictures Classics, which thus becomes the first major studio out of the gate: "Coco Before Chanel," "The Damned United" and "Whatever Works." Other SPC screeners ("An Education," "The Last Station," "Broken Embraces," "White Ribbon") will be sent later in derby season, a studio rep promises. "A Prophet" is eligible only in the race for best foreign-language film, which requires theatrical screenings, so DVDs of that will not be shipped.
The only previous DVD sent to all academy members was "Anvil! The Story of Anvil." Some bloggers reported that "The Messenger" was also sent, but that's not true. At least not yet. It was sent to journalists, but a copy won't be shipped to academy members for another week or so.
Economic hard times may severely limit the number of DVDs shipped to voters this year. There's widespread concern that such stinginess may hurt Oscar-caliber work in indie flicks that might have gotten a DVD blitz in more flush financial times.
The three current flicks shipped to voters are being campaigned in most major categories. However, the best shots for "Coco" are lead actress (Audrey Tautou) and screenplay. Michael Sheen hopes to score his first-ever acting bid for "Damned United." He failed to reap recognition for "Frost/Nixon" because he stubbornly refused to drop down from the lead race to supporting. It wasn't his fault that he got snubbed for "The Queen." "Whatever Works" may earn Woody Allen his 457th screenplay bid (actually, his 15th -- he won for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and best picture champ "Annie Hall"). Since Woody is a lucky charm to performers in the supporting actress race (Penelope Cruz, Mira Sorvino, two-time champ Dianne Wiest), there's hope for Patricia Clarkson and Evan Rachel Wood.
Photos: Sony Pictures Classics