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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Who will receive the next Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes?

October 20, 2010 |  6:43 pm

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will announce the next recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award on Nov. 9. Let's hope it's not another old, white guy as usual: Al Pacino (age 60 in 2001), Harrison Ford (age 59 in 2002), Gene Hackman (age 72 in 2003), Michael Douglas (age 59 in 2004), Robin Williams (age 53 in 2005), Anthony Hopkins (age 68 in 2006), Warren Beatty (age 69 in 2007), Steven Spielberg (age 62 in 2009; he was to receive the award in 2008 but it was postponed due to the writers' strike) and Martin Scorsese (age 67 in 2010). Our forums moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum offers us these observations about the award's past:

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• It has been a decade since the last woman was honored (Barbra Streisand in 2000).

• It has been 28 years since the only minority was honored (Sidney Poitier in 1982).

• The honoree is typically an actor, actress or director in his or her 50s or older who is willing to attend and accept the award. The association also does not like to honor someone who has a strong chance at a nomination at the next ceremony.

• If a woman is chosen this time, the most likely person will be Meryl Streep. It is a rare year in which she has nothing in contention. Streep also has an astounding 25 nominations and 7 wins in her career. If not Streep, the other strong female contenders would be Julie Andrews, Ellen Burstyn, Carol Burnett, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Angela Lansbury, Mary Tyler Moore and Shirley Temple.

• If a minority is chosen for 2011, the most likely contenders would be Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones and Denzel Washington.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Mo'Nique reveals 'Precious' moment | Ricky Gervais toasts Golden Globes | Marvin Hamlisch scores again

December 9, 2009 |  8:00 pm

Monique Precious Oscars • Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss delivers a top 10 movie list -- animated films "The Princess and the Frog," "Up" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" top the chart -- as well as a roster of the top 10 performances which is led off by "Precious" supporting player Mo'Nique. TIME

Pete Hammond wonders whether Mo'Nique can win the Oscar without playing the game. Writes Pete, "with a five-night-a-week talk show that tapes in Atlanta, some things just aren't gonna happen. Believe me, her presence is felt at every Q&A director Lee Daniels and the other cast members do. I happened to moderate one with Daniels, Gabourey Sidibe and Paula Patton last night at the Crest Westwood for SAG, and even though Mo'Nique was not in the house, those voting members in the audience were very much aware of her work through the pointed nature of the questions asked by SAG members who had just viewed the movie and the answers given by the panel lauding her performance. Does absence make the heart grow fonder for Mo'Nique or give her potential competitors an opening?" NOTES ON A SEASON

• Mo'Nique did sit down for a revealing roundtable discussion with five other awards hopefuls -- Emily Blunt ("Young Victoria"), Patricia Clarkson ("Whatever Works"), Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Robin Wright ("The Private Lives of Pippa Lee"). During the frank conversation, she revealed how she handled the request by Daniels to film a very intimate moment for her character. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

• Both of the New Yorker film critics -- David Denby and Anthony Lane -- include "Up" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" in their top films of the year. The only other movies they agree on are "Up in the Air" and "The White Ribbon." NEW YORKER

• The seventh annual edition of the Emmy Awards for Business and Financial Reporting were handed out on Monday afternoon at Fordham University in Gotham. CBS won four of the eight competitive races, and lifetime achievement awards went to Paul Kangas, anchor of "Nightly Business Report" on PBS, and Linda O'Bryon of Northern California Public Broadcasting. NATAS

Golden_globesAnn Oldenburg has more of the bon mots delivered by Ricky Gervais during a recent conference call promoting his upcoming gig as host of the Golden Globes. "Gervais said more than once that he plans to have a cocktail or two while on the job. 'Over the three hours, I imagine my tie's going to come off and I'll get drunker and drunker. I don't know what the last hour's going to be like, but the first hour will be watchable.'" For Gervais, " 'This is the only' award show he can see doing. 'In all honesty. No one wants to see me mucking around at the Oscars. They're there to see if they've won the most important award of their life.' And the Emmys? 'I couldn't do the rehearsals. This is perfect. They said I could turn up and say what I wanted and get drunk. What's also nice is I've only been in this business about 10 years -- because I'm a very lazy person -- and I've achieved enough. I only do things that could possibly end my career. Cheers!' " USA TODAY

Mavis Spencer -- daughter of Golden Globe winning actress Alfre Woodard ("Miss Evers' Boys") and producer Roderick Spencer -- will be handing the hardware to the presenters at this year's Golden Globes. The gig always goes to the son or daughter of some famous Hollywood folk -- last year Rumer Willis (daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis) was Miss Golden Globes. GOLDEN GLOBES

Paul Gaita reports that Emmy and Tony winner Kristen Chenoweth will be hosting the 15th annual edition of the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. kudos Jan. 15 from the Hollywood Palladium. The newly named Critics Choice Movie Awards boast additional categories and will air on VH1. THE CIRCUIT

Marvin HamlischTodd Martens talks to grand slam awards winner Marvin Hamlisch about his score for "The Informant!" The three-time Oscar champ admitted, "Being about an unconventional character required an unconventional way of going about the score." As Todd writes, "For two weeks, Hamlisch said he composed and threw out multiple takes on the score before settling on the jovial direction the music ultimately took. 'We were playing the ultimate mind game. What we were trying to do was get into the mind of this guy, and given that he's under more pressure, what would he be thinking? It starts out where he has no problems. Slowly and surely the problems start, and he's lying bigger and bigger. The more he escalates, the more we get wilder and wilder -- get me some serotonin quick!' " POP & HISS

Dave McNary reports that the DGA will be feting Roger Goodman, Cleve Landsberg and Maria Jimenez Henley for lifetime career achievement and extraordinary contribution to the guild at the annual awards dinner Jan. 30. "Goodman draws the kudo for news direction, while Landsberg has been tapped for the Frank Capra trophy, given to an assistant director or unit production manager. Henley will receive the Franklin J. Schaffner award, given to an associate director or stage manager." VARIETY

Greg Ellwood previews next week's three movie kudofests -- the L.A. and Gotham film critics awards and the AFI top 10 list. Says Greg, "The big question is: can 'Up in the Air' go for the sweep? Well, yes, but most likely no." He thinks the three films in play with the critics will be "A Serious Man," "A Single Man" and "The Hurt Locker." And Greg thinks, "the AFI top ten will be a strong bellwether by many of who are serious contenders for Oscars' final ten this year (and by not making the list who isn't)." HIT FIX

Photos: Monique in "Precious" (Lionsgate); Golden Globes (NBC); Marvin Hamlisch (Los Angeles Times)

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Woody Harrelson drops back down to supporting race at Golden Globes

December 8, 2009 |  7:42 am
Woody harrelson The Messenger Ben Foster Oscars news

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has flip-flopped on its classification of Woody Harrelson as a lead star of "The Messenger."  Initially, he asked to be placed in the supporting race at the Golden Globes, but the eligibility committee bumped him up to lead alongside costar Ben Foster.

A HFPA spokesman tells Gold Derby: "Originally, it was a very close vote and almost evenly split between lead and supporting category.  When Harrelson’s management asked the eligibility committee to reconsider the decision, the committee members agreed to make the change to place Harrelson in the supporting category."

Nominations will be announced on Dec. 15.

Oscilloscope Pictures


Sean Penn snubs the Golden Globes again!

January 11, 2009 |  5:39 pm

For the past few weeks, Sean Penn promised the Golden Globes that, yes, he really will attend tonight's ceremony.

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Golden Globes leaders were a bit surprised, but pleased with the news. Sean Penn snubbed the show when he won for "Mystic River" (2003) and the no-show was so embarrassing that, when his name was announced as winner, director Clint Eastwood raced up to the podium to accept on his behalf. Clint conveyed how sorry Penn was that he couldn't be there, but he said that Penn would return the next year to present.

Penn didn't show up that next year either. No surprise. He has a history of snubbing key HFPA events. This year, for example, he didn't bother to attend the HFPA press conference for "Milk," so director Gus Van Sant and Penn's costars had to carry on.

Well, now that Golden Globes ballots are in and there's widespread suspicion that voters may snub him back despite his sweep of early derby awards bestowed by the New York, L.A. and broadcast critics, he just sent word a short while ago, that, oops, he can't attend this year, after all. Will he be missed? Golden Globe voters don't seem to like "Milk" much. Aside from the best actor category, the movie got shut out of other top categories.

Photo: Focus Features


Golden Globes really don't know if Anne Hathaway will win

January 10, 2009 |  5:26 pm

Golden Globe watchers are abuzz with skepticism over the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s assertion that its website didn't accidentally leak the news that Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married") will win best drama actress at Sunday's award ceremony.

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On Thursday, a star appeared next to Anne Hathaway's name on a list of "nominations and winners" at the site — a star usually signifies the winner. A reader in Honduras spotted it, tipped off blogger Perez Hilton, who blabbed the goof across cyberspace. The suspicion that HFPA leaked true information seemed plausible for two reasons:

1) Anne Hathaway is just the kind of hot, lovely ingenue whom Golden Globe voters often hail.

2) Hathaway proved she's got kudos momentum by tying Meryl Streep ("Doubt") at the Critics' Choice Awards that night.

The HFPA issued this explanation: "In the process of preparing for Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, a technician working on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's website made a mistake and a name of a nominee was randomly marked as a winner. The mistake was immediately corrected.

"The ballots are tabulated by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Only four executives of the accounting firm know the identity of the winners before the envelopes are opened and recipients are announced during the live telecast. No one else, including the members of the HFPA, knows who the winners are prior to the live announcement."

Is that really true? Yes, it's safe to say. Management of tallying the awards was taken out of HFPA members' hands after the Pia Zadora scandal of 1981. There was such an uproar over her winning the award for best newcomer after her tycoon hubby flew members to Las Vegas to see her sing at his casino that CBS refused to telecast the kudofest live the next year.

For the next five years the Golden Globes dangled in TV limbo. They had to settle on a taped TV show that was sold via syndication and aired after everybody knew the winners. Viewership was minimal, of course. Finally, the ceremony saluting films released in 1987 was picked up by ABC, then dropped due to low ratings. Cable network TBS took over the next seven telecasts (1988-1994), but the Golden Globes were desperate to get back on broadcast TV.

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Final Golden Globe classifications: 'W.' is no joke, it's a drama

December 2, 2008 |  9:47 am

Gold Derby got a sneak peek at the reminder list sent to voters of the Golden Globes, which reflects the final category-placement decisions made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's eligibility committee. I only spotted one shockeroo. Although "W." was submitted as a comedy, it was placed in the drama categories.

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Otherwise, it seems like the eligibility committee has deferred to most studios' wishes. All of the following performances, for example, were placed in the supporting races, even though that's dubious in some cases: Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire"), Kate Winslet ("The Reader"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Doubt") and Ralph Fiennes ("The Duchess," "The Reader").

My fingers will fall off if I try to type all of the movie titles entered, so, to keep things simple, here are the pix competing in the musical/comedy categories. If you don't see a movie listed here, that means it's in drama — or wasn't entered for competition: "27 Dresses," "Baby Mama," "Be Kind, Rewind," "Bedtime Stories," "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "Bottle Shock," "The Brothers Bloom," "Burn After Reading," "Cadillac Records," "Charlie Bartlett," "Choke," "Definitely Maybe," "Disaster Movie," "Drillbit Taylor," "Extra Ordinary Barry," "Fool's Gold," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Four Christmases," "Get Smart," "Ghost Town," "Hamlet 2," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "High School Musical 3," "House Bunny," "In Bruges," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl," "Last Chance Harvey," "Leatherheads," "Longshots," "The Love Guru," "Mad Money," "Maid of Honor," Mamma Mia!," "Marley and Me," "Married Life," "Meet Dave," "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," "My Best Friend's Girl," "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist," "Nim's Island," "Noble Son," "Nothing Like the Holidays," "Over Her Dead Body," "Pineapple Express," "A Previous Engagement," "The Promotion," "Repo! The Genetic Opera," "The Rocker," "Rocknrolla," "Role Models," "Run, Fat Boy, Run," "Semi-Pro," "Sex and the City," "Smart People," "Son of Rambow," "Soul Men," "Stepbrothers," "Swing Vote," "Teeth," "Tropic Thunder," "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," "The Wackness," "What Happens in Vegas," "What Just Happened," "Witness Protection," "The  Women," "Yes Man," "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," "Zach and Miri Make a Porno."

In the TV categories, 109 programs were entered, 67 in drama, 42 in comedy/musical. Here are the comedy submissions . . . .

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Celebs help Golden Globes to dole out $759,865 to charities

July 31, 2008 | 11:16 am

Yesterday the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. presented $759,865 in financial grants to charities at its annual luncheon welcoming the installation of new officers. Announcing the grants at the Beverly Hills Hotel were celebs such as Aaron Eckhart and Jon Hamm. Acceptance remarks on behalf of the grants were made by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (Film Independent Inc.), Rosario Dawson (IFP), Dana Delany (UCLA), Dakota Fanning (California State Summer School Arts Foundation), Chris Messina (Sundance Institute), Elizabeth Pena (National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers) and Rosie Perez (Inner-City Arts).

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Re-elected President Jorge Camara introduced the re-elected officers Mike Goodridge, vice president; Serge Rakhlin, executive secretary; and Meher Tatna, treasurer. The new Board of Directors is comprised of Mahfouz Doss (re-elected Chairman), Erkki Kanto, Lilly Lui, Paz Mata, Frances Schoenberger, and Armando Gallo (alternate).

"Despite last January's cancellation of the Annual Golden Globe Awards due to the Writers Guild strike that curtailed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's income, we're delighted to honor our ongoing commitment to support entertainment industry-related film school and non-profit organizations," said Jorge Camara, HFPA President.


U.S. foreign-lingo pix now eligible for top Golden Globe race

October 31, 2007 |  6:46 am

The Golden Globes just announced a new rule change that would've permitted "Letters from Iwo Jima" to compete in the top best picture race, as it did at the Oscars, instead of being relegated to best foreign-language film. This year "The Kite Runner" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" would've been able to make the cut, but, alas, they must stay put in the foreign slot because the rule change doesn't kick in till next.

CLICK HERE to read the press release:

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Golden Globes: Upcoming key dates announced

April 16, 2007 |  6:26 am

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The timetable for the next Golden Globes derby has been unveiled:

Oct. 18 — Final screening date for TV entries

Oct. 19 — Final date for press conferences for TV entries

Nov. 9 — Deadline for submission of Golden Globe entry forms

Nov. 14 — (9 a.m.) Cecil B. DeMille/ Miss Golden Globe announcement

Nov. 30 — Deadline for nomination ballots to be mailed by Ernst & Young to HFPA members

Dec. 5 — Final screening date for films

Dec. 6 — Final date for film press conferences

Dec. 10 — Deadline for nomination ballots

Dec. 13 — (5 a.m.) Nominations announced

Dec. 14 — Deadline for receipt of media credential applications

Dec. 26 — Final ballots mailed by Ernst & Young to HFPA members

Jan. 2, 2008 — Deadline for receipt of publicist credential applications

Jan. 9, 2008 — Deadline for receipt by Ernst & Young of final ballots

Jan. 13, 2008 — Golden Globes ceremony


Wait! Oscar game back on! Best picture = cloudy picture

February 1, 2007 | 10:24 am

There hasn't been this much Oscar suspense surrounding best picture since . . . well, last year. But at this point in the derby 12 months ago, many Oscarologists thought the top race was already finished since "Brokeback Mountain" appeared to be so far out in front after sweeping most precursor awards. Now we can see what a mess the race is — tea leaves scattered all over the derby track.

If "The Departed" wins at the Directors Guild of America this weekend as expected, it may appear to be out front. Over the past 20 years, the movie that won this guild prize went on to win best picture 15 times. Please note: I'm not talking about the DGA-winning director claiming the director's award at the Oscars next. Yes, the two usually line up, but that overlap can get a bit screwy and I'm too lazy to do the math.

Bestpicmystery

"The Departed" has a lot of other things going for it — things that usually matter in the selection of a best pic: it's packed with an A-List cast (and what A-Listers! Leo! Jack! Matt!) and has topped $100 million at the box office. But it's not about anything. It has no Message or Great Meaning. That's usually an important, even key, element ("Crash" = expose of racism; "Schindler's List" = expose of anti-Semitism). But not always essential. Some pure entertainments like "The Sting" and "Chicago" have triumphed.

So let's look to the Golden Globes for guidance instead.

The Globes dispense separate kudos for drama and comedy/musical pictures, which makes comparisons to the Oscars difficult, but in the past 62 years, the Academy Awards have validated one of the Globe's top pics 42 times. So that means odds are pretty good that "Dreamgirls" will win the best-pic Oscar . . . oops, I mean "Babel," if you just gauge prophesy by percentages. "Babel" just won best drama picture and it has the Message and Great Meaning, especially pertinent worldwide right now (expose of hysteria over terrorism), but it doesn't have huge box office success. Does that matter? As of this week, Entertainment Weekly and Time magazine say it doesn't. Both predict it will claim the big golden boy, though I have a hunch they'll change their minds after Marty Scorsese wins DGA this weekend.

"Letters from Iwo Jima" can't be written off. As we've learned again and again, Clint Eastwood pix should never be discounted. Three have been nommed for best pic in the past and two have won ("Unforgiven," "Million Dollar Baby"). One of those ("M$B"), ambushed the Oscar race two years ago, getting a sudden, late-breaking release at the end of the year just like "Iwo Jima." And it has a political pertinence to today, too — like "Babel," it has an Iraq thing going on, though more subliminal. "Iwo Jima" forces us to look back at a war we won and reconsider ourselves as the bad guys. It was declared to be 2006's best picture from the L.A. Film Critics Association. Granted, only 7 times in 31 years has LAFCA's choice repeated at the Oscars, but it successfully launched underdogs like "Rocky" and Eastwood's "Unforgiven." However, "Iwo Jima" showcases no big western stars and hasn't proven itself at the box office yet.

What about "The Queen"? Robert Osborne, author of the official Oscar book and official host of the academy's red carpet, thinks it can win, but it has few other boosters.

Lastly, there's "Little Miss Sunshine" — what looks like a fascinating possibility for upset spoiler. It's the one burst of emotional sunshine in an otherwise dreary lineup of contenders. Many people just don't love it, they love it. Recently, it won best picture from the Producers Guild of America, which has a pretty good track record forecasting the top Oscar; 11 of its 17 past choices have repeated. Last Sunday it won the ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild. Although only 5 of the past 11 SAG champs went on to win the Oscar, 3 of those did so in the past 4 years. Twice ("Shakespeare in Love," "Crash") its choice signaled upsets to come on Oscar night. But it doesn't have a nomination for best director and only one film in modern times has managed to pull off a top Oscar victory without that ("Driving Miss Daisy"). It's also not nommed for film editing. Often that's a telling tea leaf. No film since 1932 has won best picture without having either nomination.

So . . . the Oscar winner for best picture will be . . . ? Whatcha think? Click the "Comments" link below and tell us!

(Photos: Miramax, Warner Bros., Paramount Vantage, Fox Searchlight)


Do early wins make Forest Whitaker an Oscar lock?

December 28, 2006 |  9:03 am

Sure, as of right now, it looks like Forest Whitaker will win best actor at the Oscars for "Last King of Scotland." So far he's won almost every critics' award and, based upon what I'm hearing from within the ranks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, he'll probably nab the Golden Globe next.

Sometimes these award juggernauts are impossible to stop once momentum builds, as Geoffrey Rush discovered when he claimed the Academy Award for "Shine" soon after pulling off wins at the New York and L.A. film critics, then Globes.

But as Edward Douglas of Comingsoon.net notes below, let's not forget what happened to "Gangs of New York" star Daniel Day-Lewis. He swept up victories from the New York and L.A. Film critics, then SAG members, but lost on Oscar night to Adrien Brody ("The Pianist").

Many actors experienced the same Oscar heartbreak after sweeping the early kudos, but Day-Lewis is an especially good example to cite because he and Whitaker have something peculiar, and spooky, in common: both portrayed sinister roles with furious, eye-popping intensity. Day-Lewis was street gang leader Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting. Whitaker is Uganda's bloodthirsty dictator Idi Amin.

It's rare that villainous roles win Oscars. It happens from time to time, yes, as we saw with Anthony Hopkins prevailing as a devious serial killer in "The Silence of the Lambs." But Hopkins handled the role with such flamboyant excess and a taunting wink that it was hilariously campy. Whitaker really lets loose, too, but doesn't wash it down with chianti and fava beans. Hopkins had something else in his favor: his film was headed toward a best-picture win and, when that happens, stars often get to go along for the ride. There's not much hope that "Last King" can do that.

Thus it's entirely possible that Whitaker's early romp really mirrors the experience of Bob Hoskins, who won best actor from the N.Y. and L.A. Critics, National Society of Film Critics, the Golden Globes and BAFTA, but then lost to a film legend overdue for an Oscar: Paul Newman ("The Color of Money"). Whitaker faces a similar situation at the upcoming Oscars: Peter O'Toole ("Venus").

Which scenario do you think will end up applying to Whitaker this year? Click on the "Comments" link below.

Bestactors


Photos, from left: Whitaker, Day-Lewis, Hoskins, Rush.

(Fox Searchlight/ Miramax/ Handmade Films/ L.A. Times)



Oscars mystery: Can 'Dreamgirls' win best picture?

December 27, 2006 |  7:53 am

Officially, "Dreamgirls" is now a box-office hit that'll probably earn more than $100 million, which is the magic number movies usually need to surpass in order to win the Oscar for best picture.

So now we must ask: Can it really win?

There are two ominous omens opposing it. The first is a lack of major support from print journos. "Dreamgirls" is missing from the ranks of many key lists of Top 10 Films of 2006 — not cited by the New York Times, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter and Chicago Sun-Times (Richard Roeper), for example. Reviews have been good-to-excellent (scoring 76 at Metacritic.com), just not consistent, scream-from-the-rooftop raves like you see for "The Departed" (85 score) and "Letters from Iwo Jima" (91) — two serious "Dreamgirls" rivals. That's typical, though. More than 85 percent of leading film critics are guys, more than two-thirds of whom are straight. Testosterone usually blinds them and they get caught up in a game of macho swagger that's hilarious to watch when you see them gabbing at industry events. Sissy movies are not only dismissed, but pummeled like school kids by bullies. The critics' cocky strutting gets so out of hand that female critics start straining the hardest of all just to fit in. Sometimes even the gay boys, desperate for social approval, betray their own, but not always. Psychologists could have a field day analyzing the ridiculous dynamic of the phenom.

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When that phenom occurs, it doesn't mean that the male-dominated Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will follow suit. Often, they'll break and go their own way, if they become suckers for a film's emotionalism. It's curious how one male-dominated group (Oscar voters) can differ so significantly from another (film critics). The reason has to do with proportion, methinks (about a third of Oscar voters are women — a much-higher percentage than among critics), and age. Oscar voters are north of 50 years old. They're head-strong geezers who aren't afraid to break from the hormonal frenzy of young gangs. They have the wisdom of age, they don't confuse romantic yearnings with weakness and they appreciate sentiment, especially if it's selling well at the box office.

Support is not just weak among some U.S. print journalists, but some foreign ones, too. That's really strange, because Golden Globe voters usually side with Oscar voters when the academy breaks from the critics' consensus. At the Globes, Bill Condon isn't nominated for best director or screenplay. When you ask HFPA members why, you hear awkward mumbo-jumbo about how they like the performances in "Dreamgirls," but not the aesthetic execution of the film. I don't buy the sincerity of that response, frankly. It's clear from the looks on their faces that some HFPA members just don't want to like it. That was obvious while seeing them at the special screening of a 20-minute preview at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles back in September. Before and afterward, I heard many of them grousing in the lobby about how they don't expect "Dreamgirls" to do well overseas, which matters to them a lot, being foreign journalists.

Or was their grousing a tribal response by mostly white people? This is the most difficult question of all to ask this awards season, but it's the key point. As one of Hollywood's top studio chiefs told me a few weeks ago, "Brokeback Mountain" lost the Oscar for best picture last year because of anti-gay prejudice. Not hatred. Hollywood is obviously a gay-friendly place. It's just that voters — the vast majority of whom are straight, of course — didn't see it as their film. The same thing could happen with "Dreamgirls" among the mostly white voters — let's be honest. They might like the film, but pull back a bit emotionally from it because they don't feel like they belong amidst an all-black cast. Let's not forget how, up until the recent joint wins by Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, only one African-American ever won a lead-acting Oscar: Sidney Poitier ("Lilies of the Field"). No all-black film has ever won best picture. One all-black film is tied as the biggest loser in Oscar history ("The Color Purple").

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But Golden Globe voters picked "Brokeback Mountain" last year and they'll probably, despite some reservations, give "Dreamgirls" their award for best musical/comedy picture this year. Successful musicals usually win that category and chances are voters will want to acknowledge its importance in Yankee pop culture. Its only threat is "Borat" and voters can pay off that film in the best-actor race, giving Sacha Baron Cohen a separate chunk of gold.

When Globe and Oscar voters break from the macho groupthink of America's gritty print journos, we often see a sneak peek of that at the Critics' Choice Awards, which are bestowed by members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. They're mostly TV journalists who don't always goose-step with the mean print boys — they tend to be more in line with Oscar and Globe voters. This year they put "Dreamgirls" on their list of Top 10 films. "The Departed" and "Iwo Jima" are there, too, but what's important is they didn't shut out "Dreamgirls."

"Dreamgirls" is also on the Top 10 List of the American Film Institute, which occasionally breaks with the critics' gangs. If one of those rare splits is coming between tough critics and academy members, we need to see it happen here first. But "Dreamgirls" made this list.

There's another key sign that academy members feel differently about "Dreamgirls" — that, in fact, they love it. It's a story about showbiz, after all, and it's getting the most enthusiastic responses of all 2006 films from audiences at academy screenings. And, happily, many film critics love it, too. Most important of all is Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times, who wrote: "'Dreamgirls' is the entire musical package, a triumph of old school on-screen glamour, and we wouldn't want it any other way." It got one of the best rave reviews from the New Yorker, which declared that "a great movie musical has been made at last."

In the big Oscar picture, "Dreamgirls" will probably have another plus — the most Academy Award nominations, which usually foretells the best-picture champ. Over the past 20 years, the movie with the most bids has won best picture 16 times. The exceptions: In 1991, "The Silence of the Lambs" (7 noms) beat "Bugsy" (10), "JFK" (8) and "The Prince of Tides" (7). In 2001, "A Beautiful Mind" (8) beat "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (13), At the 2004 derby, "Million Dollar Baby" (7) beat "The Aviator" (11). At the 2005 race, "Crash" (6) upset "Brokeback Mountain" (8).

"Dreamgirls" could get 13: best picture, directing, writing, supporting actor (Eddie Murphy), supporting actress (Jennifer Hudson), art direction, cinematography, costumes, film editing, sound editing and mixing, and song ("Listen," "I Love You, I Do").

That doesn't mean that "Dreamgirls" will win, but it'll get a fair shot. Right now it's enjoying the spotlight of success, but part of that will wear off in weeks ahead as initial excitement levels off.

Then we can expect renewed surges for its chief rivals after "The Departed" wins best drama picture at the Globes and sentiment builds for Marty Scorsese to win his overdue Oscar for best director. Remember, that award usually pairs off with best picture. Historically, anyway. The voting pattern has split over the past six years. Three times the two awards have lined up and three times they haven't. The fact that there's a strong pull toward Scorsese right now signifies a pulling away from "Dreamgirls'" Bill Condon and therefore, maybe, "Dreamgirls."

There will also be a tugging away from "Dreamgirls" in favor of rewarding Clint Eastwood for taking a bold artistic chance with "Letters from Iwo Jima," which seems very different, very special.

"Dreamgirls" might fend off such tugs. The last musical to win best picture managed to do so — "Chicago" — when voters wished to reward an overdue director (Roman Polanski).

But — hmmmm — can "Dreamgirls"?

There's a big, perhaps crucial difference between these two musicals. "Chicago" had a strong heterosexual vibe. Man-hungry Catherine Zeta-Jones seduced Oscar voters with a naughty wink and a wiggle of naked thigh. Its story line was rather macho as it invited viewers to cheer on characters to get away with murder. "Dreamgirls," by contrast, features pretty gals in pretty dresses, but in a camp way, making it a gay man's dream. Uh-oh. Too "Brokeback Mountain"?


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