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Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman: Who will be 2014 Oscar’s fairest princess?

HOLLYWOOD CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Actress  Naomi Watts arrives Oscars Hollywood   HighlCenter February 24 2013 Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actress Naomi Watts arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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Updated: March 27, 2013 6:07AM



While Hollywood is still buzzing about Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards, the entertainment industry insiders already are chatting up the top possibilities for the films and performances that will be key players in 2014’s awards season!

DIANA VS. GRACE: One intriguing matchup could throw extremely close friends and fellow Aussies Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts into competition with each other. This year, Kidman will be seen in the title role of “Grace of Monaco,” a film focusing on Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly’s 1950s transition to the consort of Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (played by Tim Roth) — and her role in helping him overcome a sticky tax issue with the government of France.

Meanwhile, “Diana” will be released in September — with Watts playing another princess, Britain’s ill-fated Diana, but during the final two years of her life when she was romanced by surgeon Hasnat Khan and she campaigned against land mines.

BIG CHICAGO TIES: There is a lot of anticipation for the film being made of Chicago playwright Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning “August: Osage County.” Being released in time for Oscar consideration this coming November, the film stars a Who’s Who of mega-talent, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Dermot Mulroney, Margo Martindale and Benedict Cumberbach.

While the film’s producers include Our Town’s Steve Traxler and ex-Chicagoan Jean Doumanian, formerly Woody Allen’s longtime producing partner, the production team includes some familiar names as well: George Clooney and Grant Heslov (who just won Sunday for producing “Argo”) and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Talk about heavy hitters!

MAJOR REMAKE: Many expect there to be awards buzz for Baz Luhrmann’s reprise of “The Great Gatsby,” with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the title role opposite Carey Mulligan as Daisy and his good pal Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. F . Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel earlier was made into a popular 1974 film starring Robert Redford.

IN THE RUNNING: Many Tinseltown types are excited to see DiCaprio’s other big 2013 film, “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Ditto for Cumberbach’s in “The Fifth Estate” as the controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.Tom Hanks

could be back in the awards season mix playing Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks,” all about Disney’s journey to turn the Mary Poppins books into a movie, with Emma Thompson cast in the role of author P.L. Travers.

There’s also a lot of early excitement over “The Butler,” with Forest Whitaker playing the White House chief usher who served under eight U.S. presidents.

Finally, many think Matthew McConaughey could get awards chatter this winter after he’s seen in “Dallas Buyers Club,” loosely based on the real-life story of Ron Woodroof. McConaughey has undergone tremendous weight loss to play Woodroof, a very homophobic, womanizing drug user who back in 1986 was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS and told he has 30 days to live. That’s back when AIDS mostly was seen as a disease only attacking gay men.

FILM’S FUTURE: The six students and aspiring filmmakers who were tapped for the Motion Picture Academy’s first “Oscar Experience College Search” just finished a week in Hollywood they will never forget. “I still can’t believe it all,” Columbia College Chicago undergraduate A.J. Young told me Monday morning during a phone chat on “Good Day Chicago” at WFLD-Channel 32.Along with DePaul student

Abe Diaz — plus four others from film schools around the country — Young spent a week getting special behind-the-scenes tours of major industry sites in Los Angeles.

The highlight for the aspiring cinematographer was to be a special on-stage participant at the Academy Awards show Sunday night — helping to hand the Oscars to the presenters in each category. Though he shared the stage with

Jack Nicholson, Charlize Theron and Sandra Bullock, it’s not them he gushed about.

Said Young, “I got to meet my hero,

Roger Deakins,” nominated for the cinematography Oscar for “Skyfall.” His competition included Janusz Kaminski, a Columbia Chicago alum who was up for “Lincoln” and previously has won two Oscars.The little golden man ended up going home Sunday night with “Life of Pi” winner

Claudio Miranda.

The Nielsen Co. said Sunday’s show was the most-watched Oscars telecast in three years. The audience of 40.3 million people was a slight increase over last year’s 39.3 million people. Thanks perhaps to host Seth MacFarlane, the ratings among viewers 18-49 were up 11 percent.

SPORTS SHORTS: Nice touch by Michael Jordan: One week after celebrating his 50th birthday, MJ was dining at his self-named steakhouse on Michigan Avenue. Spotting a newly engaged couple dining nearby, Jordan immediately sent over a bottle of champagne to celebrate their big day. … Blackhawks goalie Cory Crawford made the scene the other day at Prasino Wicker Park. … Urban Meyer, head football coach at Ohio State, was spied dining at Tavern on Rush with Wisconsin’s new head coach, Gary Andersen — joining Meyer’s fellow Notre Dame alum, the one and only Peter Schivarelli, veteran manager of those iconic rockers, Chicago.

BY GEORGE! The National Hellenic Museum on South Halsted has snared a well-known newscaster as honorary chairman of its “Ambrosia Ball” — George Stephanopoulos, chief political correspondent for ABC News and co-anchor of “Good Morning America.” The Saturday gala at the Palmer House, chaired by Dr. and Mrs. George J. Korkos, will also honor Anthony S. Papadimitrious, president of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.



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