EW gives the lowdown on three Oscar controversies -- ''Fahrenheit 9/11,'' ''Hero,'' and DVD screeners are all hot-button issues for the upcoming awards race

January 16, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

The Oscar race is already gearing up — and so are the headaches. Here’s the lowdown on three particularly high-profile hubbubs. Aspirin, anyone?

Fahrenheit 9/11, Best Pic?

By not submitting his incendiary film for best documentary consideration, Michael Moore, winner for 2002’s Bowling for Columbine, is gunning for a bigger award next February: Best Picture. He hopes to air his anti-Bush tirade on TV before the election — an Academy no-no for doc nominees. ”It’s good for your soul to give up something everyone says is so easily yours,” notes the ever-humble Moore on his website.

Screener Wars, Part Deux

On Aug. 27, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that all 6,000 of its members will be offered antipiracy DVD players designed to play specially encrypted discs (the machines are courtesy of Cinea, a Virginia-based tech company). The pros? ”It’s a free DVD player that plays every other DVD!” exclaims an AMPAS rep. The cons? Studios haven’t decided whether to use the coded DVDs, and those that opt to distribute ”normal” screeners are still at risk of having their films illegally copied.

The Death of Hero Worship

Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s well-reviewed flick topped the American box office two weeks in a row, but it’s ineligible for any ’05 nods. The film was already nominated in the Best Foreign Language category…in 2003. But if there were an award for longest shelf life…

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