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Raves for our 75-page Oscar Guide (#640/641, Feb. 22) dominated this week’s mail. ”I must tell you how much I enjoyed this Oscar issue!” gushes Jennifer Lepre of Glen Ridge, N.J. ”Loved the flashbacks and articles going back 25 years and beyond.” Paul L. Johnston of Nunda, N.Y., was also sold: ”And the Oscar goes to…EW for its vibrant coverage of Oscar nominations. How very clever to juxtapose [past Oscar hopefuls] with today’s nominees.” Less sanguine were reactions to Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review of Britney’s Crossroads. Says Blanca Sanchez of Chicago: ”A Beautiful Mind and Crossroads [get] a B+? Amazing! Seeing as Russell Crowe is an Oscar contender, perhaps Britney should prepare her acceptance speech now.”

Gold Toasts

Expectations of complete coverage of this year’s Oscar nominations were wildly exceeded by the efforts of your creative staff. The beautifully written profiles, coupled with the well-executed ”theme” articles, resulted in a double issue that truly deserved your declaring it ”special.” Congrats to all! THOMAS C. RIZZO JR. San Francisco

Since when has Oscar nominated only two films for Best Picture? It’s unfair to limit the ”showdown” on your cover to The Fellowship of the Ring and A Beautiful Mind. Baz Luhrmann’s musical garnered just as many nods as Mind. I personally would have liked to have seen cover art featuring all five Best Picture nominees. DAN STEELE College Station, Tex. overdrama9@hotmail.com

Kudos to your Oscar issue and especially your pictorial homage to the non-nominees, notably Tilda Swinton. If only the voters would come out of the deep end long enough to watch some of the movies before they voted! DOYLE KERSEY Broomfield, Colo. dkersey736@aol.com

The annual Oscar edition was as good as ever, if not better. I just couldn’t put it down. I especially enjoyed the ”Mommies Dearest” section, but I felt you omitted the greatest example of maternal sacrifice, Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas. Many believe that this was Stanwyck’s greatest performance, and one that should have won the 1937 Oscar. TERRENCE BRADLEY Los Angeles

Snubbing Baz Luhrmann in the Best Director category for Moulin Rouge is easily the most intelligent thing that the Academy did in this year’s nominations. How that cliche-ridden, overacted, and utterly one-dimensional assault on the senses has gained such popularity is beyond my comprehension. Luhrmann’s excessive stylization is not a substitute for genuine directing talent, and I am just glad that enough Academy members realized this to bump him out of the nominations. TRAVIS PITTMAN San Francisco elalael@hotmail.com

If only the Academy could cover the Oscars as well as your issue did. Yet again, it nominates a picture but fails to recognize the director! Without Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge would have lost all the originality and excitement that it conveyed to the viewers. ERIN COLLINS Walker, Mich. ErinPJ91@aol.com