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way!

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Oscar turns its golden back on Dreamgirls' and Volver's gay fans--but it's an interesting year for the lesbians.

OK, seriously, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences--are you convinced that gay men are going to tune in to the Oscars no matter what, just to see the dresses? Is this why you crap all over us? I mean, admittedly, I was Oscar's doormat for years, watching great movies get ignored while shitheaps like A Beautiful Mind and Braveheart took home the big prizes. But when Brokeback Mountain got edged out of Best Picture by Crash--the latter featuring a script allegedly written in fingerpaints--I finally got cynical about an event that has generally been known as the "gay Super Bowl."

But the Brokeback upset was just a warm-up for the nominations for the 79th annual Academy Awards, a shocking batch that, in addition to the usual exemptions and odd choices--Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond and not The Departed? Really?--contains shockers that could cause riots in West Hollywood and Chelsea.

I'm speaking, of course, about the outrageous snubs of Dreamgirls and Volver in the major categories. With nominations from the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and the Screen Actors Guild of America, Dreamgirls seemed like a shoo-in in the Best Picture category, alongside Babel (a.k.a. Crash in Five Languages), The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen. But no, like the film's Effie White in Las Vegas, Dreamgirls found itself taken off the lineup, with Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima--admittedly, a powerful film--sitting in its seat.

And who could have foretold a shutout for Dreamgirls' talented gay writer-director, Bill Condon? Heretofore a friend of the Academy--he won an Oscar for his script for Gods and Monsters and earned a second nomination for adapting Best Picture winner Chicago--Condon got ignored in the writing and directing categories, a repeat of the Academy's blatant disregard for his powerful film Kinsey. (The director slot did find room for the nausea-cam stylings of Paul Greengrass on United 93, a movie whose regard for peril over characterization makes it the art-house Poseidon.)

Speaking of friends of the Academy, Oscar also ignored Pedro Almodovar--a Best Foreign Film winner for All About My Mother and a Best Original Screenplay winner for Talk to Her--by excluding the filmmaker's powerful Volver from the Foreign Film category. At least the Academy acknowledged Penelope Cruz's knockout performance in the film--I'd be forced to pelt the organization's headquarters with paella otherwise--even though it seems all but predestined that Dame Helen Mirren will waltz off with the prize for her stellar work in The Queen.

Lesbians, on the other hand, have an interesting Oscar season ahead of them. For starters, Melissa Etheridge scored her very first Best Song nomination for "I Need to Wake Up" from the horror-documentary An Inconvenient Truth. And then, of course, there's Notes on a Scandal. Dame Judi Dench racked up another Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of a predatory, closeted schoolteacher who sets her sights on pedophile pedagogue Cate Blanchett (who's up for Best Supporting Actress). I've jokingly referred to the film as Chuck & Buck meets Up the Down Staircase, but this literary-trash epic has earned some outright condemnation in the queer community for hearkening back to bad-old-days melodramas like The Killing of Sister George and even Windows. Whatever your take on the film, it will be interesting to see the discussions that come up around the film during Oscar season.

Who knows? Given the current state of things, perhaps the fact that Notes is loathed in some quarters of the gay audience will help its Oscar chances.

Here's a quick queer look at some of this year's other nominations:

Who's Played LGBT Before: Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond (in Total Eclipse); Peter O'Toole, Venus (in Lawrence of Arabia, depending on how you look at it); Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness (in Six Degrees of Separation); Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland (in The Crying Game). Best Actress: Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal (in Iris); Helen Mirren, The Queen (in Losing Chase and, arguably, Caligula--which also featured O'Toole); Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada (in Manhattan); Kate Winslet, Little Children (in Iris and Heavenly Creatures). Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal (but only if you count her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator).

Monster House: While director Gil Kenan's would be the only name on the statuette, a computer-animated film featuring extensive motion capture lives and dies by its visual effects supervisor, in this case the talented (and gay) Jay Redd.

Rehearsing a Dream: This Documentary Short nominee features a number of talented 17-year-olds apprenticing under established artists like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams, and out composer-conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

Water: Deepa Mehta's latest is up for Best Foreign Film; it's part of a series with her previous works Fire (which dealt with a forbidden lesbian relationship in India) and Earth.

Dreamgirls: And no Best Makeup nomination? Are they kidding? At least the bravura performances of Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy were acknowledged. Despite the bum's rush in the major categories, Dreamgirls still leads the pack with eight nominations. Granted, three of those are in the Best Song category, but since each song features a lead vocal from a different singer--Hudson on "Love You I Do," Beyonce on "Listen," and Anika Noni Rose on "Patience"--it should make for an interesting Oscar-night number. Damn...I guess we all have to watch after all.

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