My new lalogo.gif column, The Scars Of Oscars, adds some fresh analysis to my previous online posting. Do read the whole column, but here are some excerpts:

“The negatives, not positives, will decide this year’s Academy Awards. That’s par for the course in Hollywood, where nastiness rules and niceness gets rolled. So, if you want to handicap the Oscars, just figure out who is envied most by the Academy voters and bet that those names probably won’t get called onstage at the Kodak Theater. letters.jpgTake Clint Eastwood (Letters From Iwo Jima), who scored Best Director and Best Picture noms. He deserves both, and the geriatrics who still make up the majority of Oscar balloters love the guy cuz he’s still got a prostate and balls. But Hollywood is also jealous of him because he’s won too many times. His Best Picture nominee Letters wasn’t anointed by any of the four major guilds (DGA, PGA, SAG and WGA). That hasn’t happened for eons. Give him more Golden Boys and the awards might as well be renamed the Clints (and remade with a big swingin’ dick besides). Problem is, this worshiped and wrinkly auteur won’t retire. So the Academy pries the viewfinder from his liver-spotted hands and picks from younger generations to make that walk to the podium. Yes, Marty Scorsese qualifies, even at age 64. Since he’s never won for Best Director, the envy factor in his case is null and void. Following my reasoning, David Geffen’s Dreamgirls was snubbed because Hollywood is jealous of him…

departed.jpg“Not that Dreamgirls is even in the same league with my own favorite, The Departed. I was floored that this tour de force from a major studio received less nominations than Pan’s Labyrinth from minor Picturehouse. Then I remembered that Warner Bros. is lousy at mounting Oscar campaigns (a huge handicap that only a legend like Clint seems able to overcome). Geffen is taking the high road and acting all “I don’t care” when you know he really wants to be kicking butt and taking names…

“This year’s seven-times nominated Babel was to global sociopolitical-multilingual bleakness what last year’s Crash was to Los Angeles’ sociopolitical-multilingual bleakness. (The Academy’s a sucker for pseudo-profound bleakness of any sort: witness other Best Picture winners of recent vintage like The English Patient, American Beauty, Million Dollar Baby and even Gladiator.) babel.jpgAs for other Best Picture nominees, while Little Miss Sunshine is the lighthearted darling, Oscar voters always seem to require intellectual heft, however half-baked, in their BP winners, which is why even the most deserving comedies almost never get nominated — like Borat, for example. Letters is lucky just to get noticed, while The Queen is too subtle and too Brit. (Especially since Mexicans have replaced Brits as the new toast of Hollywood. Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Arriaga and Guillermo del Toro all received screenplay nods, Alejandro González Iñárritu for directing, and Adriana Barraza for supporting actress.) So which pic will win? Hell if I know. It will be decided by PR. Oscar voters don’t want to seem out of touch with the public, which would favor The Departed, but they also pride themselves on not being prisoner to convention, which would favor Babel

queen.jpg“The Best Actress category pits Notes on a Scandal’s too-oft-honored Dame Judy Dench against winless Queen Helen Mirren. Even though Dench’s performance is more multilayered, Mirren wins as the object of least envy. This is the first year since 1927 that none of the Best Picture nominees were represented in the Best Actor category. There’s an outside chance that Leo (Blood Diamond) could score if his role in The Departed is factored in, but the Academy deems him too young and too infamous to win an Oscar — yet. So the contest comes down to sentimental favorite Peter O’Toole and shoo-in Forest Whitaker…

“For Best Supporting Actress, always the novelty-act category, it’s hard for the Academy to be jealous of four one-hit wonders (a little girl, the two Babel babes that aren’t Cate, and an American Idol loser). They’ll muster some envy of previous winner Blanchett, who seems to be in everything these days. little-miss.jpgThe voters will want to save Little Miss Abigail Breslin from a Tatum O’Neal–like future of heroin addiction. So it’ll be Jennifer Hudson. Best Supporting Actor won’t be Eddie Murphy because the town hates him. Not just because he squandered that megadeal he had for eons at Paramount, but also because he crapped on them during it. (This town never forgets that stuff. Two words: Lauren Bacall.) Besides, those Norbit trailers running now will ruin it for him. Mark Wahlberg should get the Oscar for The Departed, but the Academy’s jealous of his upward career trajectory. Alan Arkin has a shot. But the least enviable guy has to be comeback kid (literally) Jackie Earle Haley, not just for his creepy portrayal of a pedophile in Little Children but more for this Bad News Bears child actor’s back story… (Read the whole column here.)