OSCAR NODS ARE OUT, WILL VIEWERS TUNE IN?

What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) –- Well, at least Jon Stewart now knows whom he should skewer March 5, when the “Daily Show” host takes his best shot at getting Hollywood to laugh at itself. The Academy Award nominations were out this morning, and a quick glance down the best picture nominees leads the Watercooler to identify several potentially offensive topics Stewart has at his disposal, including but not limited to: Senator McCarthy, racism, capital punishment, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writers coercing their sources and, of course, gay cowboys. Ooooh, we can hardly wait.
Photo: AP

Whether America will be interested, though, remains to be seen. The audience for Oscar night, despite endless coverage of dresses and stylists in both glossy magazines and the celebrity tabloids, has dwindled in recent years, despite an attempts to widen the night’s appeal by hiring comedian Chris Rock to host and bring in younger viewers with presenters like Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

So how will they do this year? Well, the line up of best picture nominees “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Crash,” “Good Night and Good Luck” and “Munich” could be viewed as a rather narrow, myopic view of how Hollywood sees itself, namely a liberal community of actors, directors and producers who want to be seen as fighting the good fight. Each of the movies offers Red State proponents any number of ways to reinforce that Hollywood is out of touch with mainstream America. And given this year’s box office performance, none of the honorees seem to stand a chance of living up to the Titanic draw that a blockbuster hit confers upon Oscar night.

But wait, maybe there’s a beloved leading man or lady who will draw in the crowds? Let’s look at the field. Best actors include Heath Ledger, a bit of a hottie but complicated given he’s nominated for playing a gay man; Joaquin Phoenix, long well respected as an actor, but not played up in the tabloids as a crush; David Strathairn, strong longtime character actor, but no heartthrob; Terence Howard, a break out this year and therefore a bit of an unknown; and Philip Seymour Hoffman, also an incredibly well respected actor, but once again, no stud. One thing all of these guys have going for them is that they earn kudos from New York and Los Angeles chattering classes. So that’s two cities that will tune in. And George Clooney, who’s earned genuine heartthrob status, will be well represented with a supporting actor nod for "Syriana" and a directing nod for “Good Night and Good Luck.” So now he’s hot and serious. That’s always sexy.

As for the women, we can count on best actress nominees Charlize Theron and Keira Knightly to look appropriately fetching, as will best supporting actress nominee Rachel Weisz. Reese Witherspoon is dependably gorgeous at these nights, and plays up her "I’m just a regular Mom" status to good effect. “Desperate Housewives” Felicity Huffman, nominated for her role in “Transamerica,” is well-known and well-liked by her TV fan base. Best supporting actress nominee Michelle Williams also has a TV crowd behind her thanks to her time on “Dawson’s Creek.” And Judi Dench, a well-respected actress who gets to put Dame before her name, brings in a bit of royalty.

All in all, the women seem likely to help bring in the viewers to the Super Bowl for women. ABC will just have to wait and see.

78th Annual Academy Awards Nominations

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (8 total nominations)
CAPOTE (5 total nominations)
CRASH (6 total nominations)
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (6 total nominations)
MUNICH (5 total nominations)

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Philip Seymour Hoffman, CAPOTE
Terrence Howard, HUSTLE & FLOW
Heath Ledger, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Joaquin Phoenix, WALK THE LINE
David Strathairn, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
George Clooney, SYRIANA
Matt Dillon, CRASH
Paul Giamatti, CINDERELLA MAN
Jake Gyllenhaal, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
William Hurt, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Judi Dench, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
Felicity Huffman, TRANSAMERICA
Keira Knightley, PRIDE & PREJUDICE
Charlize Theron, NORTH COUNTRY
Reese Witherspoon, WALK THE LINE

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, JUNEBUG
Catherine Keener, CAPOTE
Frances McDormand, NORTH COUNTRY
Rachel Weisz, THE CONSTANT GARDENER
Michelle Williams, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE
TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
KING KONG
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
PRIDE & PREJUDICE

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
BATMAN BEGINS
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
THE NEW WORLD

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
WALK THE LINE

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
CRASH
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
MUNICH

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
MURDERBALL
STREET FIGHT

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
THE DEATH OF KEVIN CARTER: CASUALTY OF THE BANG BANG CLUB
GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA
THE MUSHROOM CLUB
A NOTE OF TRIUMPH: THE GOLDEN AGE OF NORMAN CORWIN

ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
CINDERELLA MAN
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
CRASH
MUNICH
WALK THE LINE

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
DON'T TELL
JOYEUX NOEL
PARADISE NOW
SOPHIE SCHOLL -- THE FINAL DAYS
TSOTSI

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
CINDERELLA MAN
STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES
(ORIGINAL SCORE)
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
MUNICH
PRIDE & PREJUDICE

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES
(ORIGINAL SONG)
"In the Deep" -- CRASH
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" -- HUSTLE & FLOW
"Travelin' Thru" -- TRANSAMERICA

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
BADGERED
THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION
THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO
9
ONE MAN BAND

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
AUSREISSER (THE RUNAWAY)
CASHBACK
THE LAST FARM
OUR TIME IS UP
SIX SHOOTER

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
KING KONG
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
WAR OF THE WORLDS

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
KING KONG
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
WALK THE LINE
WAR OF THE WORLDS

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
KING KONG
WAR OF THE WORLDS

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
MUNICH

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
CRASH
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
MATCH POINT
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE
SYRIANA

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