Two trends define the Oscars – a burning desire to make superficial, hypocritical political statements (for which Halle Berry should be truly thankful) and the rewarding of actors who pull off an obvious transformation. This year, these two will combine, leading to a Brokeback Mountain sweep.
Why? Hollywood is seizing the chance to show how cool it is about homosexuality.
Of course, it’s not so cool that it would actually hire gay actors, preferring instead to reward Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron for their “bravery” in playing against their sexuality. So the question in the best actor category is which straight actor playing gay will win – Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain, or Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote. Most tip Hoffman.
Brokeback Mountain has no best actress nominee so it’s fortunate that Felicity Huffman put in such a strong gender-bending performance in Transamerica, where she transforms herself into a man who transforms himself into a woman – an even bigger gender-bending stretch than Michael Jackson donning a burqa for a day out in Bahrain.
She’ll take home the Oscar ahead of Reese Witherspoon, who pretended she could sing, and Keira Knightley, who pretended she could act.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams for the supporting categories; best director will also probably go to Ang Lee as part of the sweep. George Clooney has a good chance because Hollywood loves actors who transform themselves into directors, but he’s so often seen in the company of beautiful starlets that this surely won’t be his year.
And best picture will go to Brokeback Mountain, which out gay-creds Capote because it’s about cowboys rather than writers, who everyone expects to be gay.
So will Oscar night herald a new era of acceptance? Of course not. Gay actors won’t be cast because they’re seen as box office poison – the same brutal reason for using famous Chinese actresses ahead of unknown Japanese in Memoirs of a Geisha.
Oscar night is about slapping straight, attractive actors on the back for risking their reputations, not actually being inclusive. Genuinely gay actors will be left playing the same part they’ve always played in Tinseltown – in the closet.