- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sure, first-time Oscar nominees Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson are riding high right now — but the rest of the “Dreamgirls” creative squad, especially writer-director Bill Condon, must have felt bittersweet Tuesday morning as their movie jumped to the head of the pack with eight nominations. Yet three of those are in the best-song category, while the rest are for such second-tier awards as costume and art design. Not to worry: There’s plenty of company for an Oscar shutout party this year.

Sacha Baron Cohen — Love it or hate it, Mr. Cohen owned “Borat” (quite literally, too). Take away his improvisational performance, and you’re left with nothing but a smelly suit and one very naked fat man. That the movie is being recognized for best adapted screenplay (from its “Ali G Show” source, we presume) was easily Tuesday’s biggest head-scratcher.

“United 93” — Thanks for throwing Paul Greengrass a bone for best director, but, sorry, we’re still hungry. Years from now, when Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s pretentious “Babel” is on the ash heap of movie history, this harrowingly terse September 11 drama will still stand as a cinematic monument to the ill-fated heroes of its eponymous flight.

Jack Nicholson — With 12 nominations and three wins, the man certainly doesn’t lack for Oscar recognition. One of those trophies (for “As Good as It Gets”) was sorely undeserved, so Mr. Nicholson can stand a little snubbing. But let’s be honest: His performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” was worth a best supporting actor nod.

Jason Reitman — Scrap that pointless nomination for “Borat” and you’ve got room for Mr. Reitman’s sure-footed, libertarian-minded adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s wonderful comic novel “Thank You for Smoking.”

“Once in a Lifetime: The Rise and Fall of the New York Cosmos” — Oh, you just knew the world would be in for another trip down the red carpet for “Inconvenient Truth” star Al Gore. Fine. But there should’ve been room for this highly engrossing documentary about one of America’s unlikeliest sports sensations: a soccer team.

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