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December Oscar Watch

All eyes are on Jodie Foster and Kathy Bates

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After what appears to be a fairly weak first 11 months of the year for leading ladies, December should more than make up for lost time: Sharing the spotlight will be Jodie Foster as a wild child in Nell, Miranda Richardson as T.S. Eliot’s unhappy wife in Tom & Viv, Kathy Bates as a murderess in Dolores Claiborne, Marisa Tomei as a Cuban-American immigrant in The Perez Family, Sigourney Weaver as a former political prisoner who turns the tables on her presumed tormentor in Death and the Maiden, and Cannes Best Actress winner Virna Lisi as history’s worst mother-in-law in the French import Queen Margot. In addition, Meg Ryan’s appearance in I.Q. may help to remind Academy voters of her work in When a Man Loves a Woman, and Susan Sarandon’s post-Client double whammy in Safe Passage and Little Women (left) should give voters plenty to choose from. Men won’t be shoved aside entirely, but some of them may be hard to recognize: 1993 Best Supporting Actor Tommy Lee Jones goes bald and bad with a challenging starring role in Cobb, Gary Oldman bewigs himself as Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, and Peter Falk gets lost under latex as a very old man in the comedy-drama Roommates.