This is another guy named Dan.

By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
Forget predicting who will win the Oscar. Forget who should win the Oscar. Forget whether they’ll even have the Oscars.
Let’s just think about which nominees would make the most entertaining winners. After all, wouldn’t you like the Academy Awards to be more entertaining than usual?
We could use this bloated yet uniquely hypnotic annual ritual to distract us during such trying times. But if all we get are people thanking agents, mothers and God, that’s not much of a distraction.
We want a distraction.
With that in mind, here are some picks. If they don’t sound fun enough, don’t blame us, blame the academy. We had to choose from the nominees they gave us.
* Best actor: Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt Nicholson, who for some reason needs sunglasses indoors, is always a hoot. And before you say, “Yeah, but haven’t we seen him too much already?” consider the other possibilities: Adrien Brody, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Daniel Day-Lewis. None of them a laugh riot, though Caine may be good for a witty speech. Maybe Brody does stand-up in his spare time, and Day-Lewis could always demonstrate his shoe-cobbling technique.
But think about Nicholson’s comment at the Golden Globes. After admitting that he had just popped a Valium, he said he was surprised to win for best actor in a drama because he was under the impression that About Schmidt was a comedy. That’s not just funny, it’s witty.
When Nicholson won the Oscar in 1998 for As Good as It Gets, he danced onto the stage and said backstage that his kids would be happy: “They don’t know the difference between this and bowling, but they know Dad won.”
* Best actress: Renee Zellweger, Chicago. This is a tough call. The good news is that all five women are very visually entertaining. But we’re going to have to go with bubbly Renee. She gets really excited when she wins. She whoops, she yells, she can barely get a sentence out. Now that’s entertainment.
* Best supporting actor: Chris Cooper, Adaptation. You’ve got some real cool character actors in this one (Cooper, Ed Harris, John C. Reilly and Christopher Walken), and you’ve also got Paul Newman, a good old-fashioned movie star. But we’re going to go with Cooper because the guy is a chameleon. How many people who saw him as the nutty military father in American Beauty and the orchid thief in Adaptation even realized it was the same guy? We want to see and hear the real Chris Cooper.
* Best supporting actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago. Sure, Kathy Bates would be fun ó if she reprised her naked hot tub scene from About Schmidt. And Queen Latifah might bring down the house with a zinger or two.
But we’re going with Zeta-Jones, because she’s a hot mama-to-be. She’s expected to sing a number from Chicago with co-star and co-nominee Latifah. And we don’t just want her to win: We want her to dance!
* Best director: Roman Polanski,The Pianist. This would be interesting because Polanski is a fugitive from justice living in France. He’s not the most popular guy around and France isn’t exactly winning any popularity contests at the moment either. Would they beam him in from Paris via satellite? What would the award presenter say? “Wish you were here”? For sheer awkwardness, this would be a highlight.
Honorable mention: Talk to Her’s Pedro Almodovar. This is an excitable guy who speaks little English. It could make for the wildest moment since Life Is Beautiful’s Roberto Benigni climbed over the seats of Hollywood’s finest in his haste to get to the stage.
* Best documentary: Michael Moore,Bowling for Columbine. This is always the category in which you just never know who will launch into an outrageously inappropriate speech about some cause or other. But with Moore, it’s a sure thing that we’ll get a tirade. Here’s the good news: It will be a funny tirade.
* Best picture:The Pianist. This is the only movie nominated that isn’t associated in some way with producer and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Just to see the look on Weinstein’s face ó “I had four nominations up there and lost?” ó would please half of Hollywood.