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Michael Musto

The Only Oscar Predictions You Need to Read! But Gays Come Up Empty!

The Only Oscar Predictions You Need to Read! But Gays Come Up Empty!

Birdman Michael Keaton

Also: Bruce Jenner is a 'she,' thank you.

Predicting the Oscars is easier than pie this year. In fact, a lot of the major categories seem like total slam dunks just like last time. Then again, that's what I said the year I kept predicting Brad Pitt to win. So take it with a sprinkle of Hollywood fairy dust as I indulge in seriously educated guesses which only have a 99.99% probability of being right. Feel free to spank me if I'm wrong--please. Here goes:



At first, a Boyhood win seemed as inevitable as the lead character's puberty. It's an epic achievement that captures the delicacies of the maturing process, its actors were brave (and very available), and it's an American original, not to mention a perfect excuse to honor Richard Linklater after all these years. But Birdman is equally brave and has really been resonating with voters, some of whom have been privately murmuring that Boyhood just rambles. Birdman won the PGA, the SAG, and the DGA, (and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay), so it's on track to fly like a Birdman to the Oscar podium, the surreal father/daughter saga eclipsing the somewhat more grounded mother/son one.

I originally thought it was too weird to cop Best Picture, but the Oscars have been going for dark, daring stuff in the past few years, so it makes perfect awards sense after all. As for the other contenders, Selma and American Sniper have been beset by too much controversy, and The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game will cancel each other out as biopics about troubled geniuses played by Brits. I'm glad Imitation is in the running--it's a potent drama about the code-breaking gay genius Alan Turing--but it'll end up as unrewarded as Turing was in his lifetime (except for a probable screenplay award). The Grand Budapest Hotel won't get the big prize either. It's unfortunate that Wes Anderson has to battle it out with Inarritu and Linklater--they're all original auteurs who've valiantly refused to whore out--but at least his film will clean up in the visually oriented categories.


Michael Keaton for Birdman

Everyone thinks Eddie Redmayne will win for The Theory of Everything because he was in a wheelchair and he was really good, but even those who were put off by Birdman were amazed at Keaton's achievement as a former action star angling for credibility. (Sound familiar?) Furthermore, one thing Oscar loves even more than wheelchairs is the Matthew McConaughey-ization of a career, and that's just what Keaton managed with his revelatory work here. Normally, the straight playing the asexual gay victim (Cumberbatch) would be the kind of stunt Oscar adores, but Keaton's juggernaut is just too strong, especially when you consider the finesse with which he pulled off his two best set pieces (the confession to Edward Norton's character, and the no-holds-barred reading of the theater critic). As for Redmayne, he could well win next time for The Danish Girl, in which he plays the first person to get male-to-female reassignment surgery--that project reeks of Oscar gold. Meanwhile, Steve Carell is up for playing a real-life rich man with a creepy fixation on two wrestling brothers in Foxcatcher, but when a comedian wears a prosthetic, the nomination is generally the award. Maybe next year he can give Redmayne a fight with his performance as Garden State Equality advocate Stephen Goldstein in a movie about LGBT progress called Freeheld (though he might be in the supporting category). Finally--an unpunished gay hero.


Julianne Moore for Still Alice

It's finally her time, and though Still Alice is basically a glorified TV movie, Julianne does wonders with the touching role of an early onset Alzheimer's patient who's starting to forget some key facts. The Academy won't forget her body of work as they vote her this award via the biggest landslide since Julia Roberts. And if you need a gay angle to root for her, kindly remember that she played her character in the Psycho remake as a lesbian, and that in this year's Maps Of The Stars, she has a woman-on-woman interaction (though her character walked out on it. Fine, root for Reese Witherspoon!)


J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Veteran actor Simmons has won award after award for his faultless turn as a psychotic conductor in this thrilling clash of egos. It's certainly a step up from doing the voice of the yellow M&M, and awards groups have taken notice. His toughest competitor is the three-time nominee Edward Norton for Birdman, who I actually thought dabbled in more range and would also benefit from the lifetime achievement routine. But Simmons is considered more of a revelation and therefore will be crowned the winner.


Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Arquette is a longtime credible actress, who does very well as the mom who poignantly thought life would amount to more than what she ended up with. She let herself age on film, which is brave enough, but she also brought heart and soul to the role while also refusing to overplay. There's a chance that Emma Stone could sneak in and get the award because Oscar sometimes likes to anoint a pretty young thing with a golden tiara (Goldie Hawn, Marisa Tomei, Geena Davis, Mira Sorvino), plus the Birdman momentum could become unstoppable. But it's hard to imagine that this wouldn't be Arquette's year for Boyhood sainthood.


Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

An Oscar voter told me she's heard Inarritu is extremely hard to work with, but his reputation aside, she'll vote for him out of sheer admiration for the film. (Besides, her favorite, Selma director Ava DuVernay, wasn't nominated.) Richard Linklater would be a terrific choice for the absorbing Boyhood. After all, he did a whole lot of directing over a 12-year period. The logistics alone! But Birdman was also an extremely directed piece, and its look at narcissistic actors searching for redemption makes for a brash and original piece of work that gets people's blood simmering. If Inarritu becomes even peskier after winning, well, you can blame Oscar.

Oh, and Ida will win Best Foreign Film, Citizenfour will get Best Documentary, and "Glory" (from Selma) will be crowned Best Song. As for everything else? Who cares!!!!


No one in the media is going to get any awards for their coverage of Bruce Jenner's transition. Every report I've seen has insisted on calling the former Olympic star "he" and have talked about how Bruce is "becoming a woman." Please! Bruce, like all male-to-female transsexuals, is a woman. She's transitioning, but only her body is changing, not her gender. It's too bad that even Bruce's mother insisted on calling Bruce "he" in her statements (though at least mom is being extremely supportive, and that's nothing to take for granted).

By the way, something else that won't change is Bruce's sexuality. Transitioning doesn't turn you from straight to gay, or vice versa. So, if Bruce really likes women, it looks like she is a lesbian. And I can't really say I'm that surprised that someone who was in the Village People movie represents two segments of the LGBT community, LOL. Congrats, Bruce.


Even more tricksters than in Birdman pop up in Stephen Adly Guirgis's play, Between Riverside and Crazy. Guirgis (Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, The Motherf**ker with the Hat) has a rare gift for mixing crackling conversational banter with well-orchestrated melodramatics. With Riverside, he deftly blends the two genres for a fresh and fascinating character study about the limits imposed on entitlement and rights. Pops was a cop (but off duty) eight years ago when he was shot six times by a white officer, supposedly in a racially fueled incident. "Everybody don't like cops," says Pops. "Even cops don't like cops. Especially black cops."

Considering the recent, massively protested incident in which a black man was choked to death by a NYC cop, this plotline reeks of today's headlines, and any hint of anti-cop rhetoric gets instant applause. But in this play, it's more complicated than that. Pops happens to be cantankerous, feisty, and full of principles, though in some ways, he's a self-defeating con artist, just like everyone around him. His ne'er do well son, Junior, is a shambles of a human, in need of serious guidance; his not exactly intellectual girlfriend Lulu may or not be pregnant; and a Brazilian woman who tries to heal Pops via booze, sex, and incantations might not be the selfless visionary she seems. But concessions are made, lessons are learned, and Pops gets his mojo working again (literally) in ways that both amuse and rivet.

Austin Pendleton has directed with great skill on an effortlessly rotating set, and as Pops, Stephen McKinley Henderson (who's won acclaim for various August Wilson plays) gives a towering performance full of bitterness, bemusement, and heart. If someone doesn't immediately star him in an all-black Death of a Salesman, then something's wrong with the American theater, and I'm going to get bitter.

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Michael Musto