What Hollywood Thinks

Dear David,

It’s brunch time in L.A., time for all the nominees to be finishing hair and make-up, putting the finishing touches on their to-be-analyzed gowns, loading into their limousines, and heading (east, presumably) into the most glamorous fake night of their lives. It will finally be dark when they emerge, ready to drink heavily one way or the other. Since this is the umpteenth time they have loaded themselves and their significant others into a studio-rented stretch since January, it is not quite anti-climactic, but the glare of midday makes it at least surreal. Each has gotten to know the others in their nominating class very well; like a monthlong extended class picture, the same people have been everywhere from their guild awards to the Golden Globes together, tightly smiling for the cameras, some winning, some always losing—by now, they know the odds as well as we do. The women have saved their best (they and their stylists think) outfit for last.

The same goes for the rest of us, who only started partying this week, and yet fatigue has already set in. It’s the same core list everywhere—only the décor changes (and the waiters’ outfits), and at the end of the parties, revelers have taken to saying, “See you tomorrow,” like it’s work. (I suppose it is.) At Bryan Lourd’s Friday night, camellia corsages were handed out at the door (a detail I loved), which is where Thursday night’s hosts Tom Ford and Richard Buckley greeted Saturday afternoon’s hosts Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenburg. In the corner, I spotted tonight’s host, Graydon Carter, chatting up the nominees. They look smaller in person, which always comes as a shock (and in my case a relief). Cate Blanchett mingled, as did the lovely Natalie Portman. Hilary Swank was about, as was Michael Mann and his terrific wife, Summer, and Taylor Hackford and Helen Mirren. By midnight, Ed Limato’s party had drained into Bryan’s and all the nominees had shown, and the night peaked when Jamie Foxx arrived simultaneously with P. Diddy’s crew. There was a jam at the door where it appeared as though P. was charmingly negotiating the entrance of his entire entourage, and quiet diplomacy was taking place. Vin Diesel, I would like to add, arrived in the vehicle du jour: a dark blue chauffer-driven SUV, his, with a satellite dome, sprouting a forest of antennas. Anyone who was anyone was driven in a dark blue SUV. If you were in a limo, it had been rented. New York was well-represented in the paparazzi as well: Radio Man, fixture in the New York shooting streets was outside, was patiently waiting for George Clooney, picture in hand.

Inside, directors (hot and young) and their gorgeous girlfriends (also young and hot) mixed with magazine types and moguls, the guys in jeans, their dates in high fashion, the waiters in white dinner jackets. The only person I could get to talk Oscar was Oscar professional and New Yorker Peggy Siegal, who in fact was on the Aviator payroll. She thinks MDB will win and has a fascinating East Coast/West Coast theory, mixed with a Harvey Weinstein conspiracy. She thinks that Marty Scorsese doesn’t have the profile here he does in New York (true), and that no one really worked Aviator in L.A. except Leo, who worked it wonderfully (“He went from place to place in a suit …”), which means he will win for his next nominated picture. (This good-boy behavior probably earned him his Globe.) She thinks Harvey overworked Gangs and underworked Aviator (he was busy!). The same could be said about the director nominations—and there is a backlash factor in the background. (Thus, the conspiracy.) And you, David, think this is all about the movie!

I think the unarticulated point here in the East Coast/West Coast sensibility debate is that Clint is beloved in the West Coast. This is a greater factor than Marty’s low profile. Marty is enormously respected here. He is a god. But Clint is god. A local god. So, it is New York god with not his best movie versus L.A. god with not his best movie. What will happen? 

The difference is that some people really love MDB. And it doesn’t really seem as though anyone really loves Aviator. The tide really has been swinging towards MBD since the Globes and Producer Guild produced early Aviator victories. Maybe it’s a perverse reaction to the right-wing taking on MDB. Maybe it’s the modicum of content that it has. Maybe it’s the Clint factor, or Harvey backlash. Maybe it’s none of the above and The Aviator will win, and Clint will win Best Director, and we are all just bloviating. I might just call it that way. No one would be surprised if that happened, you know. So, here goes:

Best Picture:

No One Would Be Surprised If … Aviator wins after all. Even though MDB has been picking up steam for weeks now, this one was conceived, born, and raised to be an Oscar baby. 

Or If … MDB Won. It has recent converts thanks to Rush Limbaugh.

­Everyone would Be Surprised If … any picture but the above two wins.

Best Director:

No One Would Be Surprised If … Clint wins. Perfect performances, and a subdued, controlled, wonderfully-directed star. Enough said.

People Would Be Somewhat Surprised But Still Happy If … Marty wins. “The guy deserves his Oscar” everyone will say on Monday morning. For Goodfellas.

Best Actor:

Not a Single Person in the Entire World Who Cares Will Be Surprised When … Jamie Foxx wins. Well, he was great (and blind and on heroin), and even though it was a biopic, we all loved it, and didn’t think we would.

Best Actress:

No One Would Be Surprised If … Hilary Swank wins again for a grueling, hard-to-watch, months-of-training-type virtuoso role. Has Oscar written all over it. Sorry, Annette.

People Will Be a Little Surprised but Nonetheless Happy If … Annette Bening wins for an incredibly difficult and subtle role, which got very little distribution, marketing, or publicity.

I Would Fall Off My Chair and Ascend Into Heaven If … Imelda Staunton Won for her truly great performance in Vera Drake. Justice would prevail in the world.

Best Supporting Actor:

No One Would Be Surprised If … Morgan Freeman won. He’s always great.

Everyone Would Be Shocked if … anyone else won.

Though, a Lot of Women I Know Would Be Thrilled If … Clive Owen won. Just to see him go to the podium and make a speech, any speech. But alas, it won’t happen.

Best Supporting Actress:

No One Would Be Surprised, But Many Will Be Irritated When … Cate Blanchett Wins for her performance or impersonation (depending on your interpretation) of Kate Hepburn in The Aviator.

Some People I Know (Like Me) Would Be Very Surprised but Very Happy If … Sophie Okonedo upset Cate for her terrific performance for the under-nominated Hotel Rwanda. Movies like this need their moral victories.

Same Goes for You and Many Others If … the divine Virginia Madsen, absolutely the best thing about Sideways, pulls an upset.

Original Screenplay:

Everyone Will Be Thrilled When … Charlie goes up to accept his award. What about his speech? Will he say the word “industry”? Will he thank his brother?

Adapted Screenplay:

No One Will Be at All Surprised and Everyone Will Whoop With Joy When … Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor get the award that beloved movies like this one and Lost in Translation always get: best screenplay. They deserve it.


No One Would Be Surprised If … Aviator cinematographer Robert Richardson wins, as the picture was absolutely gorgeous—that shot of Hughes entering the premiere was vintage Scorsese, vintage Richardson. The same goes for Production Design, by the way. The picture looked exquisite.


No One Will Be Surprised When … Thelma Schoonmaker Wins for The Aviator. Even though the editing in Collateral was pretty great.


I am going to give you The Passion on Best Score, because there is no academy sense of score, I have never heard anyone discuss scores, anywhere. Do I think the academy voters are capable of voting for the dread Passion if they like its score? Yes, for the most part. It will be interesting to see.

I am depressed that ABC has succumbed to pressure and made Robin Williams cancel his lampoon on James Dobson’s attack of SpongeBob SquarePants. We actually have censorship in this country. The only spicy moment has been spiked. Bad omen. Fingers crossed for Chris Rock to make up for it. Otherwise we sit and wait for a really cheesy acceptance speech or for someone to charge up to accept an award they were forbidden to receive. Or, God forbid, a winner to go over her allotted time in a fashion faux pas. Actually, any faux pas will do. Here’s hoping.

Have fun. Talk tomorrow.