NEW YORK – A notably nasty Oscar race is going down to the wire — ballots are due tomorrow and the awards are next Sunday — with mudslinging and denials flying fast and furious.
Schizophrenic math genius John Nash — the subject of A Beautiful Mind — appeared on 60 Minutes last night to deny reports he was gay and anti-Semitic, while a fascinated Hollywood tried to assess the fallout.
The film has been criticized for not touching on these allegations, which surfaced two weeks ago, which some suspect were planted by competing studios.
"This is really down and dirty stuff, and I can't imagine it will help A Beautiful Mind, " one longtime Oscar watcher said of the film, which is nominated for eight awards, including Best Picture.
"And at this point, any spin is probably too late — most ballots are mailed two weeks before Oscar night."
On 60 Minutes, Nash and Sylvia Nasar — whose 1998 biography inspired the movie about the Nobel Prize-winner's struggles — admitted he made anti-Semitic remarks while he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
"I did have strange ideas during certain periods of time," said Nash, 73.
"It's really my subconscious speaking."
Nash, who remarried his wife last year after being divorced for many years, also denied reports he is gay.
Universal Pictures Chairwoman Stacey Snider charged there was a deliberate attempt to smear her studio's movie at a crucial point in the Oscar race.
"The timing of this latest wave of missives and their orchestration has to be calculated," she said.
The studios behind the other Best Picture candidates have denied involvement.
Experts said it was difficult to say what impact the charges have had on Oscar voting.
An online poll by Variety yesterday had the Tolkien epic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which has 13 nominations, leading A Beautiful Mind by 46 percent to 23 percent, with 12 percent of voters undecided.