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Winners & Losers

From campaigns that worked to predictions that fell flat: sorting out this year's Oscar season.


WE'LL have to wait until Sunday to find out who takes home those hefty gold statuettes -- and who goes home empty-handed. But some winners and losers during Oscar season are so easy to spot that you can pick them out of a lineup blindfolded long before the envelopes are opened. That's because the Oscar race has a lot in common with ice skating and gymnastics: You often get graded on poise and good form, not just on performance. Here's a look at some of the victors and vanquished from this year's Oscar season.


Fox Searchlight: The studio not only ran a phenomenal "yellow bus that could" campaign for "Little Miss Sunshine," but also did just as good a job with their art-house entries, "Notes on a Scandal" and "The Last King of Scotland," something they'll use in sales pitches to filmmakers for years to come. What other studio can say they have a movie in all four acting and both writing categories in the same year?

Martin Scorsese: No matter what happens on Sunday with "The Departed," he's already a winner in Hollywood for bagging his biggest hit ever and coolly refusing to run around town desperately trying to win the hearts and minds of academy voters. If he wins without trying, expect the "non-campaign" to be the hot new strategy next year at Oscar time.

Al Gore: Whether "An Inconvenient Truth" wins best documentary, in the eight months since its release, the documentary's message -- that global warming is an issue of international urgency -- has become too overpowering to be ignored, either by the Bush administration, which spent years trying to muzzle or discredit scientists, or the national media, which largely treated Hollywood enviro-activists as fuzzy-headed dilettantes.

Miramax: Who would've guessed that in its first real year of Oscar campaigning, the new management would have two movies -- "The Queen" and "Venus" -- with a top acting nomination to go with "The Queen's" best picture nod?

Paramount Vantage's John Lesher: It's a big leap from being an agent to a studio chief, but when your first release ("Babel") becomes a best picture nominee, you've done a great job of putting your company on the map.


Brad Grey: Already so unloved that he makes Bob Yari look like the Dalai Lama, Grey has much of the town rooting against him after his antics at the Golden Globes, which saw him popping up, Zelig-like, in every publicity shot and reserving seats for himself at each Paramount table, even bumping his own specialty division chief from the "Babel" table so Grey could be there when the cameras were rolling.

Harvey Weinstein: If it wasn't bad enough that we have his "Shakespeare in Love" microphone-hogging to blame for the academy's idiotic "three-producer" rule, Weinstein found himself so out of Oscar contention that he had to run a best actress campaign for Sienna Miller, who had about as good a chance of landing a nomination as the babes in "Turistas."

David Geffen: You patiently wait 20 years until the right filmmaker comes along, assemble an all-star cast, carefully woo the media, earn plenty of admiring reviews, win a Golden Globe and then -- wham -- the academy bounces "Dreamgirls" out on its ear. Sometimes it's better to be an underdog than the favorite.

The Oscar bloggers: You'd think after the millions of words they wrote pontificating about the Oscars they could've come up with a better pick for best picture winner than "Dreamgirls."

Patrick Goldstein can be reached at

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