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Category: Nicole Kidman

Oscar poll: Who'll win best supporting actress?

October 27, 2010 |  7:31 pm

At this time last year, Mo'Nique was already out front in the Oscar race for best supporting actress based upon the early buzz generated by "Precious" at the Sundance Film Festival. And there was no stopping her thereafter, of course. This year, there is no leader.

Supporting actress

Some pundits say Helena Bonham Carter is ahead thanks to "The King's Speech's" status as a best picture front-runner, but, truth be told, her role as the beloved "queen mum" Elizabeth isn't very expressive. Other seers say Dianne Wiest is ahead for portraying Nicole Kidman's doting mom in "Rabbit Hole," but that's just because she's an automatic Oscar grabber with past victories for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Bullets Over Broadway."

Lots of Oscarologists are betting on Hailee Steinfeld because she's got the grandstanding role as a sassy tomboy in "True Grit," but that didn't help Kim Darby in 1969. Even though Darby stole every scene of the original film version (some from feisty John Wayne, who nabbed the gold for lead actor), she wasn't even nominated.

So what about Jacki Weaver, whose "Animal Kingdom" led with the most nominations at the Australian Film Institute Awards today? Read more here.

This is one of those Oscar categories that usually becomes more clear once we've heard from the film-critics' awards in early December — after they picked the likes of Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock") or Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") in past years. 

Photos: "True Grit" (Paramount), "The King's Speech" (Weinstein).

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Is the Oscar derby already over?

September 23, 2010 |  6:08 am

At this point, it sure looks like we have solid Oscar front-runners for best picture ("The Social Network"), best actor (Colin Firth, "The King's Speech") and best actress (Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"). It's very possible that all three could trot across the derby finish line without tripping en route.

The Social Network Black Swan The King's Speech Oscars newsHowever, we must remember how these top races appeared at this point last year. We knew that "The Hurt Locker" might be nominated for best picture, but that wasn't a certainty, and the front-runners were presumed to be "Up in the Air," "Invictus" and "Avatar."  There were still high hopes for "Nine" and "The Lovely Bones," even "Brothers."

Looking forward on this year's derby track, what can beat "The Social Network"? "The King's Speech" may be more to the taste of those older chaps in the academy, but "Social Network" is more to the taste of the edgy film critics who are likely to heap best-picture prizes on it in early December, giving it the same early momentum that paid off for "The Hurt Locker" last year. But, wait! Isn't it a terrible thing to be the early leader? That's a widely believed fallacy, yes, but, in fact, that wasn't a problem for "Titanic," "American Beauty," "The English Patient" and many other eventual champs.

BEST-ACTOR RACE: "Crazy Heart" wasn't even scheduled to be released in 2009 at this point on last year's calendar, so Jeff Bridges wasn't yet in the running. The contest seemed to be a slugfest between George Clooney ("Up in the Air"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("Nine"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus"), Tobey Maguire ("Brothers") and Viggo Mortensen ("The Road"). Only Clooney and Freeman ended up with nominations.

Right now, it looks like the only contender who can topple Colin Firth for best actor is James Franco ("127 Hours"), but Jeff Bridges will be back in the derby, this time starring in Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit." The last version earned John Wayne the Oscar, of course, so we shouldn't rule out the possibility that Bridges could join the ranks of those few thesps, such as Tom Hanks and Spencer Tracy, who won back-to-back trophies. Also in this year's best-actor bout are Javier Bardem ("Biutiful"),  Robert Duvall ("Get Low"), Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network"), Ryan Gosling ("Blue Valentine") and Mark Wahlberg ("The Fighter").

BEST-ACTRESS RACE: We knew "The Blind Side" was coming out late in 2009, but no pundit except Pete Hammond (formerly of The Envelope, now at Deadline) took it seriously as a contender. In late September of last year, the leading contenders for best actress were Marion Cotillard ("Nine"), Abbie Cornish ("Bright Star"), Penélope Cruz ("Broken Embraces"), Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Helen Mirren ("The Last Station"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education"), Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones"), Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"), Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and Hilary Swank ("Amelia"). Nominees turned out to be Mirren, Mulligan, Sidibe, Streep and winner Bullock.

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Oscar buzz: 'Rabbit Hole' for best picture?

September 16, 2010 |  6:52 am

Oscar seers have been leery of "Rabbit Hole" because of its trouble finding a distributor, but Nicole Kidman has been getting strong buzz in the lead-actress race as a mother striving to cope with the death of her 4-year-old son.

Pete Hammond hails her performance as "brilliant" at Deadline Hollywood, adding, "This is easily her best work since winning an Oscar for 2002's 'The Hours.'"

Rabbit hole

Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise. The role earned Cynthia Nixon a Tony Award in 2006 for the Broadway production, which was also nominated for best play. But there's always been a strong suspicion that "Rabbit Hole" isn't really equal to its reputation — that it is lightweight fluff that's inexplicably stumbled into respectability. There was widespread shock among New York theater wags when it won the Pulitzer Prize.

More jaws dropped when John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") agreed to direct the screen adaptation. Many cynics doubted that even an edgy artiste like Mitchell could, well, pull a praiseworthy cinematic rabbit out of that hat, but New York Post scribe Lou Lumenick likes the "darkly funny" adaptation

Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) admits, "It's not half bad. A bit more than that actually. It isn't quite A-plus or A, but a solid A-minus, and it may begin to penetrate as a Best Picture contender down the road … With 10 nominations, yeah. Any film that inspires critics to clap has a shot in this game. So I think it's in there. It's a very decently made film."

However, there's a major plot complication in terms of all this Oscar buzz. "Rabbit Hole" still isn't scheduled to be released this year.

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Natalie Portman is the official Oscar front-runner

September 10, 2010 |  2:21 pm

"That's it! The best actress race is already over!" gasped a notable Oscar-tracking journo after witnessing Natalie Portman's dazzling diva turn in Darren Aronofsky's ballet thriller, "Black Swan," at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I was equally wowed and tempted to agree with that Oscar assessment except for one cautious reminder. At this point on last year's calendar we didn't know that the eventual winners of the last Academy Awards for best actress and actor -- Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") -- were even in the running.

Natalie Portman Black Swan-1

That said, it's still fun to make fierce pronouncements, so let's leap as boldly as Portman does on screen while she performs "Swan Lake": Yes, she's out front. Yes, Portman will be very hard to beat because she's got many strong advantages.

1) DIVA APPEAL: In "Black Swan," Portman gives in dance what many past winners did in song -- the full-throttle diva performance: Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl"), Liza Minnelli ("Cabaret") and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"). Unfortunately, ballet has played only a minor role at Oscars past, so it's hard to look backward for guidance to what will happen ahead. "The Turning Point" spawned two best actress nominees (who probably canceled each other out in the voting), Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, but they played dancers past their prime, not bouncing ferociously and constantly on stage.

2) GET PHYSICAL: Throughout the two hours of "Black Swan," Portman gives an even more athletic performance than Hilary Swank did when boxing her way to an Oscar victory for "Million Dollar Baby."

3) THE BABE FACTOR: Those notoriously frisky good ol' boys in the motion picture academy have clearly turned the best actress competition into a beauty contest in recent years: Sandra Bullock ("Blind Side"), Charlize Theron ("Monster"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours"), Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich"), Gwyneth Paltrow ("Shakespeare in Love") plus many more examples in between and earlier. Portman is knockout gorgeous in "Black Swan."

4) THE SEX FACTOR: Overt eroticism used to be a turnoff at the Oscars in more prudish times, but nowadays we're seeing those academy gents get excited by sexy roles. Some cynics say Kate Winslet ("The Reader") and Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") wouldn't have won without their brazen sex scenes. In "Black Swan," Portman has steamy masturbation and lesbian scenes.

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Toronto Film Festival lineup loaded with Oscar hopefuls

July 27, 2010 | 10:45 am

TIFFlogo-1024x309 The 35th annual edition of the Toronto Film Festival is scheduled to include the world and North American premieres of a slew of awards contenders. This year's festival is to kick off on Sept. 9 and run for 11 days.

Among the 50 titles announced Tuesday are the following films that could well figure in the contests for kudos this year:

"Another Year" -- The latest domestic drama by Mike Leigh ("Happy Go Lucky") is centered on a middle-aged couple (Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen) and their assorted friends and family, including a saucy alcoholic (Lesley Manville).

"Biutiful" -- Oscar champ Javier Bardem won best actor at Cannes for his portrayal of a dying father looking for redemption in this film from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel").

"Black Swan" -- Darren Aronofksy's psychological thriller revolves around a dancer (Natalie Portman) in competition with a young upstart (Mila Kunis) for the prima ballerina position.

"Casino Jack" -- Two-time Oscar champ Kevin Spacey portrays jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff in this political drama from George Hickenlooper.

"The Conspirator" -- Robert Redford's film about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln features James McAvoy as a war hero defending a mother (Robin Wright) accused of aiding her son in the plot to kill the president.

"Conviction" -- Tony Goldwyn's stirring biopic stars two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as the crusading Betty Anne Waters, who worked tirelessly to free her wrongfully imprisoned brother (Sam Rockwell) .

"The Debt" -- Oscar champ Helen Mirren joins forces with "Avatar" star Sam Worthington for John Madden's thriller about Israeli agents on the hunt for a Nazi in 1965.

"The King's Speech" -- Colin Firth plays King George VI and Helena Bonham Carter his supportive wife, Elizabeth, in Tom Hooper's historical drama, which focuses on the work of a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) who boosts the king's confidence.

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10 closest Oscar races in the past 20 years

November 22, 2009 |  4:36 pm

One of the shrewdest Oscarologists on the planet is Tariq Khan of Fox News, who often generously shares his views of current and past derbies with Gold Derby readers. Here he takes a nostalgic look  at the past two decades, offering his take on the most competitive derbies. Words below are Tariq's. Thanks, m'friend!

We’ve often discussed those Oscar races that seem just too close to call . . . where it’s clear (or at least seems clear) that the eventual winner will nab the Oscar with only a few more votes than his or her nearest competitor.

While we can never really know for sure (unless we get one of those top jobs at the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers,) we do have some idea of what may have been the closest races in Oscar history. Allow me to present what I believe were the 10 closest acting races over the course of the past 20 years.

Oscars close races Academy Awards movie news

1) Jim Broadbent in “Iris” over Ian McKellen in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” for best supporting actor of 2001: It seemed like McKellen had it in the bag. He was the only acting nominee of the 13 nods for “Rings,” he had payback votes from those academy members who felt that he should have won best actor of 1998 for “Gods and Monsters,” and he had claimed the SAG Award just a few weeks before the Oscar ceremony. Yet somehow he was edged out by Broadbent in the indie film “Iris.” There’s no doubt that Broadbent’s showy turn in “Moulin Rouge!” and sympathetic role in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” – both released in 2001 – helped to secure his upset victory. McKellen is probably still smarting from the loss, though he should take comfort knowing that the race was a squeaker.

2) Juliette Binoche in “The English Patient” over Lauren Bacall in “The Mirror Has Two Faces” for best supporting actress of 1996: I knew that Golden Globe and SAG winner (not to mention sentimental favorite) Bacall was vulnerable. She had a small part in a comedy that  was overlooked by the academy in every other major category. Plus she didn’t have a reputation for being the nicest person in show business. I nonetheless predicted her to win, believing that the opposition votes would go into too many directions (namely Barbara Hershey in “The Portrait of a Lady” and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in “Secrets and Lies”) for an upset to occur. Silly me. The academy love for “Patient” spilled over into the supporting actress race, carrying Binoche to a shocking victory. I still that think that Bacall registered lots of votes, and that Binoche just barely sneaked past her.

3) Russell Crowe in “Gladiator” over Ed Harris in “Pollock” for best actor of 2000: After buzz for Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” died down, the contest quickly turned toward Crowe and Harris. Crowe had just lost for “The Insider” and had the advantage of being in a best picture nominee (and eventual winner) – while Harris was a beloved veteran playing a real-life person who suffered endlessly on screen. I eventually settled on Harris, thinking that Hollywood would prefer to see him win – and thought I had nailed it when his co-star Marcia Gay Harden took the supporting actress prize. Sure, I was left eating crow on Oscar night – but I’m certain that Harris lost only by a hair.

4) Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny” over Judy Davis in “Husbands and Wives” for best supporting actress of 1992: The only question bigger than “how many votes did Tomei win by?” may actually be “who came in second?” – my guess being the sensational Davis as a neurotic New Yorker in Woody Allen’s fascinating comedy-drama. Davis had a strong performance in a semi-leading role, the Los Angeles Film Critics Award, and credentials that included a best actress nomination for the prestigious “A Passage to India” eight years earlier. Critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel both named Davis as their choice for the award, pointing to the rare and refreshing intelligence of her character in the film. With the British vote being split amongst fellow nominees Joan Plowright in “Enchanted April,” Vanessa Redgrave in “Howard’s End” and Miranda Richardson in “Damage,” it seemed that the Australian Davis would surely prevail. In the end, the whole Woody Allen-Mia Farrow-Soon-Yi Previn scandal probably tainted the film – and Davis’ Oscar chances. But Tomei couldn’t have won by too much.

5) Nicole Kidman in “The Hours” over Renee Zellweger in “Chicago” for best actress of 2002: While everyone seemed to think that Kidman was ahead in the derby because she was physically unrecognizable and had just come off a stinging loss for “Moulin Rouge,” I sensed that there were real drawbacks to her candidacy for best actress. She had minimal screen time for a lead Oscar (less than co-stars Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore). She had only one strong dramatic scene (and a relatively short one at that). And she had Zellweger and the “Chicago” steamroller heading straight toward her. Zellweger even edged out Kidman at the SAG Awards, suggesting a similar fate at the Oscars. When Denzel Washington finally opened the envelope he pronounced Kidman the winner “by a nose” – and he couldn’t have been more correct. 

6) Kim Basinger in “L.A. Confidential” over Gloria Stuart in “Titanic” for best supporting actress of 1997: Most Oscar pundits projected a win for Stuart for her spellbinding performance in “Titanic,” even though the film wasn’t really about acting. The chance to see the charming octogenarian take to the stage was seemingly irresistible. Here’s where the “Titanic” juggernaut actually worked AGAINST the film. Since academy members seemed to be voting for it almost everywhere on the ballot, the supporting actress race was one of the few places where they could throw a bone to the highly touted “Confidential.” Basinger and Stuart actually tied at the SAG Awards – I dare say that the same thing almost happened at the Oscars. (How nice that would have been.) 

7) Kevin Spacey in “American Beauty” over Denzel Washington in “The Hurricane” for best actor of 1999: Washington was the early favorite for his meaty role in “Hurricane,” and the previous supporting actor winner for “Glory” seemed due for a lead statuette. Then controversy hurt his film, leaving him with its sole nomination. As momentum for “Beauty” continued to grow, so did support for Spacey – who emerged victorious on SAG night. The two thesps appeared to be deadlocked, with pundits equally divided over the race’s outcome. The controversial Wall Street Journal poll – which correctly forecast every other race – showed Washington ahead with just the slightest lead. While the Journal was ultimately wrong on the outcome here, it was surely right on just how tight this race was. 

8) Kathy Bates in “Misery” over Anjelica Huston in “The Grifters” for best actress of 1990: In an exciting four-way race that included Joanne Woodward in “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” and breakout star of the year Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” it was surely misery for voters to select one name. While no one seemed certain, Huston was considered the safest bet. She was Hollywood royalty playing a tough-as-nails con woman, and “The Grifters” was nominated in other key categoriesto like director and screenplay. On Oscar night Bates was the unexpected winner, probably because of a split vote between Huston and Woodward. Forget about Jimmy Caan’s ankles. The scariest part of “Misery” is how close Bates came to not winning the Oscar. 

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Will 'The Sopranos' reunite at the Tony Awards?

May 26, 2009 | 12:35 pm

Among the list of 28 celebrities announced today as presenters at the June 7 Tony Awards are the usual assortment of talented thespians, including six Oscar winners. However, the names that stand out are a pair of Emmy champs — Edie Falco and James Gandolfini. Each won three of TV's top honor over the seven-year run of "The Sopranos." Two years ago, the much-hyped series finale of that mob crime drama whacked the competition in the ratings. Among the shows it trounced — that year's Tonycast.

Edie Falco James Gandolfini Emmy Awards The Sopranos Both Edie Falco and James Gandolfini were relatively unknown actors before "The Sopranos" made them household names after it debuted on HBO in 1999. Each had worked extensively in the theater when they were cast in these life-changing roles. Falco had made her Broadway debut earlier that year in the Tony-winning play "Side Man." And Gandolfini had been on Broadway twice — in the hit 1992 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the  flop 1995 adaptation of the Oscar-winning "On the Waterfront."

While Falco has returned to the rialto twice since becoming a star, neither of her efforts met with much success. She headlined poorly received revivals of "Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune" in 2002 and "'night Mother" in 2004. On the other hand, Gandolfini is a frontrunner this year in the lead actor race for his performance in best play contender "God of Carnage." And as his three co-stars from that dark comedy — Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden — are also presenting, we may not see Tony and Carmela together onstage at Radio City Music Hall.

One of Harden's chief rivals in the lead actress race is also presenting — two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, who returned to Broadway after a 46-year absence to rave reviews for "33 Variations." Less welcomed was Oscar champ Susan Sarandon, who was snubbed for "Exit the King." But good sport that she is, Sarandon will be on hand to present and no doubt cheer on her current co-star Geoffrey Rush, who is another strong contender in the lead actor category.

Jessica Lange, another two-time Oscar winner, was also snubbed for her two appearances on Broadway but returns to present as does Nicole Kidman, who was slighted a decade ago for her Broadway debut in "The Blue Room." Kevin Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner and a Tony champ as well, leaves his post as head of the renowned Old Vic theater in London to appear here.

A pair of four-time Tony winners will also be on hand to present. Angela Lansbury —  who earned two of her 18 Emmy nods for hosting the Tonycast in the 1980s — could tie with Julie Harris if she wins a fifth Tony this year for her featured work in the revival of the Noel Coward play "Blithe Spirit." Private Practice" star and presenter Audra McDonald has won four featured Tonys, two for musicals and two for plays. Three-time Tony champ Frank Langella will appear as will single winners Kristen Chenoweth and David Hyde Pierce.

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Which winners would you force to give back their Oscars?

March 19, 2009 | 11:22 am

Come to think of it, maybe Matt Damon was right when he recently said that the Oscars "get it wrong more often than they get it right."

If I were the king of the Oscars (someday — just you wait, Derbyites!) and had the power to take away past wins, the first awards I'd yank from the clutches of undeserved winners are these: Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours"), Sean Penn ("Mystic River" — I'd let him keep the Oscar if he'd won for "21 Grams" that year), Russell Crowe ("Gladiator"), Geoffrey Rush ("Shine"), Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt ("As Good as It Gets"), Al Pacino ("Scent of a Woman" — he could keep the Oscar if he'd won it for any other nomination any other year), Sally Field ("Places in the Heart"), Glenda Jackson ("A Touch of Class"), Cliff Robertson ("Charly") and Elizabeth Taylor ("Butterfield 8").

Oscars_outrages_edited1

Those are examples just among the living. If I had the monarchical powers to reach beyond the grave, all of the following would be in big trouble: Paul Newman ("The Color of Money"), Jack Lemmon ("Save the Tiger"), John Wayne ("True Grit"), Katharine Hepburn ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"), Ingrid Bergman ("Anastasia"), Lee Marvin ("Cat Ballou") and Charlton Heston ("Ben-Hur")

Oh, yeah, and I'd not only force another member of the royal class, Princess Grace of Monaco, to abdicate as Oscar queen for "Country Girl," but I'd make her give the 1954 best-actress crown to Judy Garland ("A Star Is Born") — along with an apology. Ditto Judy Holliday ("Born Yesterday") to poor Gloria Swanson ("Sunset Blvd.").

"Best pictures" that must be rescinded: "The Departed," "Braveheart," "Unforgiven," "Dances With Wolves," "Out of Africa," "Gandhi," "Rocky," "Ben-Hur," "Around the World in 80 Days," "The Greatest Show on Earth," and "An American in Paris."

All of the above are examples only since 1950. I'm too lazy right now — and too whipped up with outrage since starting to write this post— to go back further or to address the supporting races (Goldie Hawn in "Cactus Flower"!).

But the posters in The Envelope's Gold Derby forums don't shrink from any Oscar year and have been playing this same fantasy game themselves since just before the recent Academy Awards in February. Check out their fumings here. Click through the page numbers at the bottom and top of the forum thread to keep reading. And then add your own picks for an Oscar pull-back.

Caresa: "I would take away 'Crash''s BP Oscar and give it to 'Brokeback Mountain' in 2005."

Pacinofan: "'Since I think no one ever squandered their Oscar win more than Cuba Gooding Jr., I would take his Oscar and give it to ... anyone I happened to come across on the streets."

AJ: "Jack Lemmon should give his 'Save the Tiger' Oscar to Al Pacino for 'Serpico,' but Jack Lemmon deserved the lead Oscar for 'Some Like it Hot' over Charlton Heston in 'Ben-Hur.' "

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Can Amy Adams really pull off an upset at the Oscars?

February 10, 2009 |  3:02 pm

When Tariq Khan makes a bold Oscar prediction, take heed. He's one of the savviest Oscarologists I know and this year he's going where no other guru dares: out onto a thin, shaky limb for Amy Adams ("Doubt") for supporting actress. Interesting call! That category, after all, is where most Oscar upsets happen.

Tariq has one of the best Oscar prediction rates every year. Check out the forecasts he made last year for Fox News — he scored 100%. Earlier this derby season he was one of the first pundits warning us that Kate Winslet might be nommed for "The Reader" instead of "Revolutionary Road."

Below, Tariq makes his argument for Amy Adams, building his Oscar case carefully by citing past award trends and issues at play this year. I dare to disagree with him, though. I think the two points he's not giving enough due are the Babe Factor and the fact that, while, yes, Amy Adams has the most screen time, she doesn't have the big impact scene emotionally that, say, her costar Viola Davis has or even front-runner Penelope Cruz. The Babe Factor boosts Cruz hugely, I think, and it's a trump card that shouldn't be downplayed. Over the last two decades the largely male academy has turned the lead and supporting actress winners' circles into a beauty pageant.

But Tariq has proved me wrong often in the past. Just for Gold Derby readers, he's written out his case below.

Amy_adams_doubt_oscars_academy_awar

I know that most pundits seem to think that Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is ahead in the supporting actress race. However, I am going to make a bold prediction: Penelope Cruz will lose to Amy Adams in "Doubt."

I'll admit that I'm not certain about this, the way I felt certain last year that Julie Christie in "Away From Her" would lose to Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose." Still, there are some key historical voting patterns that suggest an upset victory by Adams over Cruz may be likely. Allow me to explain.

An Oscars upset usually happens when two factors are in place: support for the presumed front-runner is softer than people realize and support for another nominee is stronger than people realize.

First, let's take a look at reasons why support for Cruz may be weaker than we think it is.

1.) She lost both the Golden Globe and SAG Awards. True, she lost to Kate Winslet in "The Reader," who isn't competing in this category at the Oscars. But how can one really be a front-runner without winning at least one of the two awards? In the previous 14 years (since the inception of the SAG awards), only nine out 56 nominees have won an acting Oscar without a Globe or SAG win. They are Kevin Spacey in "The Usual Suspects," Juliette Binoche in "The English Patient," James Coburn in "Affliction," Russell Crowe in "Gladiator," Marcia Gay Harden in "Pollock," Denzel Washington in "Training Day," Adrien Brody in "The Pianist," Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine" and Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton." That's a 16% Oscar success race for those with neither a Globe nor SAG victory. It's true that the other four supporting actress nominees this year face the same odds -– but they're the same odds faced by Cruz.

2.) Her film, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," is up for no other awards. Remember the one-nomination wonder factor I used when dismissing the chances of Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" and Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" last year? Well, I'm using it again here. Over the past 15 years, only four actors have won Oscars for films not nominated for any other awards. They are Jessica Lange in "Blue Sky," Angelina Jolie in "Girl, Interrupted," Charlize Theron in "Monster," and Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland." That's four out of 60 nominees, just under 7%. And Jolie, Theron and Whitaker were all both Globe and SAG champs, while Globe winner Lange only lost the SAG race to Jodie Foster in "Nell" because no one had seen her long-shelved "Blue Sky." (The film played in just a handful of theaters for about a week.)

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Golden Globes nominations reax: Don't got 'Milk'?!

December 11, 2008 |  9:13 am

The biggest jaw dropper among the Golden Globe nominations is the omission of "Milk" in the best picture category, of course — just one day after it won that prize from the New York Film Critics Circle. Can it still win at the Oscars? Sure. Twice, Oscar's eligible best pic champs weren't even nommed at the Golden Globes: "Crash" and "The Sting." Besides, we're used to the Oscars and Golden Globes going their own ways recently. The Golden Globes dispense separate kudos for drama and comedy-musical races, which makes comparisons to the Oscars difficult, but in the past 64 years, the Oscars have validated one of the Golden Globe top pics 42 times. Over the past three years, they disagreed on best picture, which is odd. Last year, the Oscars opted for "No Country for Old Men," Globers went for "Atonement." Two years ago: Oscars, "The Departed"; Globes, "Babel". Three years ago: Oscars, "Crash"; Globes, "Brokeback Mountain."

Golden_globe_panel3_2

It's also curious that Cate Blanchett is missing from the lead actress lineup while her costar Brad Pitt got nommed and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is up for best pic. A lot of pundits had predicted that the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. would take care of Pitt with a supporting-actor nom for "Burn After Reading" and snub him in lead in favor of Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino"). However, please note that I didn't fall for that in my predictions! (Voters still took care of Clint in the music categories with two bids.) In the past, Brad won one Globe ("12 Monkeys," 1995) out of three nominations. Cate Blanchett has won two Globes for seven nominations: lead drama actress for "Elizabeth" (1998); and supporting for "I'm Not There" (2007).

Since Angelina Jolie got nommed for "Changeling," that means both halves of Brangelina will be at the Globes. Too bad Jennifer Aniston didn't make the list for "Marley & Me." She was considered to be a serious contender in the comedy-musical race for lead actress.

Other notable acting snubs in the film races at the Golden Globes:

Will Smith, "Seven Pounds"
Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Josh Brolin, "Milk"
James Franco, "Milk"
Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"

Globers are so crazy for musicals that if a successful one gets nominated it almost always wins the best pic prize. Consider these champs of recent years: "Sweeney Todd," "Dreamgirls," "Walk the Line," "Chicago," "Moulin Rouge!" and "Evita." Heck, they even nominated flops like "The Producers" and "Phantom of the Opera." So there was a chance that they might give a top slot to super-hit "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." I'd heard ahead of time from trusty Globe sources that that was unlikely, but some said that the HFPA might toss Zac Efron a bone. That didn't happen either, though. Whazzup? Don't Globers like bubblegum?

Lucky that Ben Stiller has a good sense of humor. He got snubbed for his "Tropic Thunder" but got upstaged by supporting stars Robert Downey Jr. and, in an uncredited role, Tom Cruise

Photo credit: Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

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EXCLUSIVE: Why Baz Luhrmann loves tripping up the derby with wild ponies like 'Moulin Rouge!' and 'Australia'

December 1, 2008 |  2:50 pm

Seven years after director Baz Luhrmann experienced a crazy romp through the kudos derby riding "Moulin Rouge!" he's back with "Australia. " What does he think of awardsmania? Why does he risk the wrath of gritty film critics to make his wildly romantic movies in the cynical 21st century? Last Wednesday night, Baz and I teamed up to do a Q&A screening chat at the Directors Guild of America theater in New York. We didn't have enough time to cover all key topics, so we hooked up again on Friday afternoon to continue dishing — this time with a video camera tuned in so you can watch.

Camerawork by Paul Sheehan


Sean Penn goes gay — dying for another Oscar?

November 29, 2008 | 10:33 am

Good news for Sean Penn fans: At the end of "Milk" — SPOILER ALERT — you get to watch your hero get blown away by gunfire.

Sorry, but that seems to be the price Penn must pay if he wants to win another Oscar to match the chunk of academy gold he nabbed for 2003's "Mystic River." That's because gay roles that win Academy Awards for actors almost always must suffer ghastly deaths.

Gay_oscars

No star has ever won an Oscar for portraying a gay, lesbian or transgender person who lives happily ever after. The character of Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gets to live, yes, at the end of "Capote," but we know that he'll end up croaking from booze and pills someday while stumbling around Joanne Carson's house in Beverly Hills.

The five other roles that paid off with Oscars have horrible ends on screen: Tom Hanks dies of AIDS in "Philadelphia," Hilary Swank gets beaten to death in "Boys Don't Cry," Nicole Kidman commits suicide in "The Hours," Charlize Theron is executed in "Monster," and William Hurt gets shot — much like Sean Penn — in "Kiss of the Spider Woman."

If you don't count roles that just hint at a character's homosexuality (Paul Newman in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" or Tom Courtenay in "The Dresser"), I've tallied up 28 gay, lesbian and transgender roles that have been nominated for Oscars. (Have I missed any? If so, click the comments link below.)

Nine get killed off. Some snuff themselves: Kathy Bates uses a pistol in "Primary Colors," Ian McKellen drowns himself in "Gods and Monsters," Ed Harris jumps out a window in "The Hours, " Javier Bardem dies of AIDS in "Before Night Falls."

The fact that Sean Penn is heterosexual in real life hikes his Oscar hopes significantly. No gay person has ever won an Academy Award for playing gay, and only two openly homosexual actors have been nominated for portraying someone with a lavender lilt: James Coco and Ian McKellen. Coco wasn't officially and fully "out" of the closet, but he was candid about his private life to friends and colleagues and frequently flaunted a flamboyant nature in public.

ACTORS NOMINATED FOR GAY ROLES
(X = Winner)
Estelle Parsons ("Rachel, Rachel") (1968)
Peter Finch, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (1971)
Al Pacino, "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)
Chris Sarandon, "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)
John Lithgow, "World According to Garp" (1982)
Marcello Mastroianni, "A Special Day" (1977)
James Coco, "Only When I Laugh" (1981)
Robert Preston, "Victor, Victoria" (1982)
Cher, "Silkwood" (1983)
X - William Hurt, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1985)
Bruce Davison, "Longtime Companion" (1990)
Tommy Lee Jones, "JFK" (1991)
Jaye Davidson, "The Crying Game" (1992)
X - Tom Hanks, "Philadelphia" (1993)
Greg Kinnear, "As Good as It Gets" (1997)
Ian McKellen, "Gods and Monsters" (1998)
Kathy Bates, "Primary Colors" (1998)
X - Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry" (1999)
Javier Bardem, "Before Night Falls" (2000)
Ed Harris, "The Hours" (2002)
X - Nicole Kidman, "The Hours" (2002)
Julianne Moore, "The Hours" (2002)
X - Charlize Theron, "Monster" (2003)
X - Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote" (2005)
Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica" (2005)
Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain" (2005)
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain" (2005)
Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal" (2006)

Photos: TriStar, Island Alive, Miramax, Fox Searchlight

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