The Oscars are the pop culturist's Super Bowl. Highbrow grapples with lowbrow on the gridiron of Hollywood and Vine. For example:
Highbrow: Arriving at the Kodak Theatre, preparing to be feted for your brilliant acting.
Lowbrow: Being ogled by Giuliana DePandi and vetted and shredded by the Riverses.
The acting nominees will be wallowing in the glow of a career zenith, but isn't it more fun to remember the dark splotches on their résumés?
Heck, Eddie Murphy's experiencing both highbrow and lowbrow at the same time: The "Dreamgirls" star is a front-runner for the Best Supporting Actor statuette, and he's currently starring in "Norbit," the critically reviled comedy in which he plays both the feckless title character and his 400-pound wife.
"Astonishingly crass and vulgar," says LA Weekly.
"I'd like to thank the Academy," says Murphy.
Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson" Highbrow: Lauded at Sundance for his performance in 2001's "The Believer," he's also a jazz guitarist and singer.
Lowbrow: He's the first "Mickey Mouse Club" alumnus to be nominated for an Oscar.
Penélope Cruz, "Volver" Highbrow: The first Spanish-born actress to be nominated earned the best reviews of her career ("witty, wry and elegant," says Slate).
Lowbrow: At 16, she guest-starred -- in varying degrees of undress -- on the erotic French TV series "Série Rose."
Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" Highbrow: He trained in opera at the University of Southern California, graduating in 1982, and six years later won best actor at Cannes for Clint Eastwood's Charlie Parker biopic "Bird."
Lowbrow: He starred in "Battlefield Earth,"deemed the "worst movie in living memory" by Time magazine.
Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed" Highbrow: The executive producer for the beloved HBO series "Entourage" was praised for his acting in "Boogie Nights" and "I [heart] Huckabees."
Lowbrow: As Marky Mark, he break-danced in a puddle-pocked warehouse in the 1991 "Good Vibrations" music video.
Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada" Highbrow: She's considered, well, the greatest living film actor (this is her record-setting 14th nomination, 11 of which have been in the lead category).
Lowbrow: She recently signed on to play Donna in the film adaptation of the ABBA stage musical “Mamma Mia!” For the love of musical theater, stop.
Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children" Highbrow: This nomination is probably the highest his brow has gotten.
Lowbrow: He's the third alum of 1976's "The Bad News Bears" to get a nod. The others were Tatum O'Neal ("Paper Moon") and Walter Matthau ("The Fortune Cookie"). Both won.
Helen Mirren, "The Queen" Highbrow: It's her second nomination for playing royalty; the other was for her Queen Charlotte in 1994's "The Madness of King George."
Lowbrow: She played Caesonia in "Caligula," that blood-spattered semi-pornographic film from 1979.
Peter O'Toole, "Venus" Highbrow: This is his eighth nomination in 44 years (the first was for 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia.").
Low brow: He played Tiberius Caesar in "Caligula," that blood-spattered semi-pornographic film from 1979.
Last-Minute Party Plans Don't have a party to go to tonight? Crash these -- after you call to make sure they haven't sold out:
DC FilmSociety's 15th annual viewing party.Doors at 6:30 p.m. The fundraiser usually sells out at the door, so get there at 6 p.m. to snag tickets. There's a silent auction, too. Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. $20. 703-486-2345.
Oscar Night America. 6 to 11:30 p.m. The event, which benefits the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area, includes an open bar, hors d'oeuvres and a red carpet stocked with paparazzi and screaming fans. Cocktail attire. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. $75. 202-328-6000.