NOTES ON A SEASON

Peek into Oscars crystal ball

As party panic ensues, get your mind off the revelry-free possibilities with a look at awards past and what that bodes for the nominees. (Sorry, Coen brothers.)

Setting the scene

By now most of the pundits have settled on “No Country” to grab Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor Javier Bardem. (Richard Foreman / Miramax Films)

"Oh my God, this is a disaster. Now what are we going to do?" lamented one studio publicist handling a bunch of nominees and potential winners.

No, he wasn't talking about the WGA strike or the Super Tuesday primary results.

It was the just-announced cancellation of the Vanity Fair post- Academy Award party that had him sweating. For a weary flack, the VF soiree was always a reliable place to dump off your nominees and winners, but now what happens?

Stay at the Governors Ball until Wolfgang Puck runs out of chocolate miniature Oscars?

Drop them off at the Beverly Hills Hotel for Norby Walter's Night Of 100 (Aging) Stars?

There's always the Elton John AIDS benefit but you have pay for that.

So just when you think this awards season couldn't get any loopier, Graydon Carter puts the shrimp away in solidarity with the writers. Hollywood has officially entered the Twilight Zone.

This has to be a dream scenario for the academy. First, the Golden Globes implode and now Vanity Fair is voluntarily turning the Governors Ball into the place to be après Oscar.

Even though other Oscar party-givers like Entertainment Weekly, Ed Limato and Dani Janssen are also going AWOL that weekend, the star-studded, press-free, super casual, all A-list " Night Before" party over at the Bev Hills Hotel pool on Saturday the 23rd looks to be an even hotter ticket than usual. Since the pricey tickets benefit the Motion Picture and Television Fund (with some of that going to needy writers), the town can feel good about getting jiggy there at least.

Gotta have some fun, especially after a season that just seems to keep on going until the bitter end.

Ballots have been in academy hands for a week. The Oscar nominee lunch is over. Most guilds have already handed out their award. And yet, still no one is slowing down, even on the Q&A circuit.

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" had a packed screening and Q&A session at the Pacific Design Center on Tuesday night with producer Kathleen Kennedy and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.

Kennedy told us she cast her Oscar ballot right away, something other members have been indicating as well. They waited until the last minute for the nomination phase, but for the final vote most seem to be mailing it early (ballots are due Feb. 19).

That possibility doesn't stop anyone from getting out there to press the flesh and talk up their contenders.

Monday night, the below-the-line crew of "There Will Be Blood" hit the Harmony Gold event while down the street at the Chateau Marmont, where "La Vie En Rose" best actress nominee Marion Cotillard was spending the last night of her month-long stay in L.A. at a crowded party thrown in her honor by Chopard and Picturehouse.

The next day, she boarded a plane for Paris but promised to return in 10 days for an extended stay that will include the Oscars and a starring role opposite Christian Bale and Johnny Depp in Michael Mann's "Public Enemies," rolling in March.

Also that night, "Atonement" director and show-biz trouper Joe Wright came to a Landmark screening Q&A at 9:30 p.m. following a 14-hour day spent at the Los Angeles Times building where he was shooting his first American movie, "The Soloist" with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx.

He was joined by his nominated "Atonement" and "Soloist" art directors, costume designer, editor and cinematographer along with screenwriter Christopher Hampton, who was also out earlier signing copies of his script at Book Soup.

No rest for the weary when you're up for 14 BAFTAS and seven Oscars.

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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