We Got The Oscars Over Here!
by B.C. Edwards
in the air. The crisp smell of good movies coupled with
the decaying stench of bad movies dressed up to look like
good ones. It's Oscar Season again. While it may have been
a slow year for movies, it's sure gotten interesting at
the end. This year we have some totally unprecedented nominations.
Some major upheavals and the promise of many a glorious
cat fights. If you like you can have a look at the official
Oscar ballot here.
In the four acting categories for example, out of the twenty
nominees there are only three (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and
Bill Murray) for movies nominated for best picture; of the
remaining seventeen acting nominations there are only four
movies that are nominated for ANYTHING other than acting
(Cold Mountain, The Last Samurai, In America, Pirates of
The Caribbean). This implies a schism between the performance
and the technology that is here-to-for unheard of.
There were massive upsets in almost every category. Notably
Foreign Language where almost none of the expected movies
were nominated, just about anything that was remotely successful
overseas (Goodbye, Lennin!, The Return, and the golden globe
winning Osama) was axed by the academy. In their place we
have complete unknowns, like Sweden's "Evil" a
movie that hasn't even been picked up for US distribution.
The only expected placeholder is Canada's Barbarian Invasions.
Speaking of subtitles 'City Of God' which was completely
snubbed for last year's Foreign Language Oscar is now up
for FOUR of them this year (Director, Screenplay, Cinematography,
Editing), and these are major categories. No one saw this
coming, everyone's reeling wide-eyed
that I know who is a fanatically obsessed with the Oscars,
I mean. Which is really only me. So, I'm reeling wide-eyes.
This is almost identical to last year's original Screenplay
nomination and win by Pedro Almodovar for 'Talk To Her'
a movie that didn't get selected by Spain as it's representative.
Except this is way bigger.
the third year in a row Renee Zellweger is nominated for
an Oscar. Everyone says that she is cake walking through
Supporting Actress. Personally I hope she turns into the
Susan Lucci of the Oscars, nominated every year, never winning,
mascara running down her face at all the after parties.
The academy has often been quite liberal with their dispensing
Supporting awards (Rosie Perez, Cuba Gooding Jr. to name
a few) so I'm pulling like all hell for Patricia Clarkson
(although I'm secretly pretending she was nominated for
The Station Agent).
Lead Actress is the most exciting race of the entire
night. There are some heavy hitters (Diane Lane, Naomi Watts,
Samantha Morton) and some new comers to the Oscars (Charlize
Theron, Keisha Castle-Hughes). The Academy usually switches
between giving the award out to a singular performance (acting
only, no other nominations -- Berry - Monster's Ball, Swank
- Boy's Don't Cry) and to the nomination powerhouse (Kidman
- The Hours, Roberts - Erin Brokavitch, Paltrow - Shakespeare
In Love). This year, however, none of the nominated movies
are up for anything aside from acting awards (well In America
is up for Best Screenplay, but it won't win so it doesn't
count) which means the powerhouse option is out and it's
really anybody's game. Personally I'm pulling for Morton
or Theron simply because I've seen the movies and their
performances are excellent (Morton much more subtle than
Theron but equally as good.) Lane and Watts both deserve
the award, more for past work than the movie they're up
for (and I'm one of the few who thinks that Oscars given
on the basis of past merit and various snubbary is perfectly
fine). Keisha Castle-Hughes (The Whale Rider) is possibly
the biggest surprise of a nomination in like four years,
again no one saw this coming, and if she wins she'll be
the youngest Best Actress in Oscar history. Needless to
say she doesn't have a chance.
Best Actor and Supporting Actor on the other hand
are dead races to me. For some reason I've got nothing invested
in the men this year. I guess I'm pulling for Bill Murry
to win an award just because he'll probably say something
quirky, witty, hilarious and touching in the same sentence
but honestly I just don't care. Nice to see Johnny Depp
nominated, though, but what does it say to an actor's career
when it's for a Disney adventure movie. For Supporting Actor
all I really care about is that Alec Baldwin and Ken Watanabe
DON"T WIN. I like them both fine, but those two movies
are such piles of crap that for them to tout their Oscarness
on their posters and DVD commercials will make me physically
Feature is my favorite category. I'm a sucker for animated
movies and that they're finally being recognized as actual
films, rather than something to occupy your kids while you
fuck your boyfriend, is a beautiful thing. This is the third
year that the award has been offered. The first year showed
a pretty major snub in that Waking Life wasn't nominated
(personally I hated the movie, but come on, anything is
better than Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius), which seemed to
imply that the category was for children's cartoons only.
Last year there was little change in this viewpoint; all
five of the movies nominated were children's movies, although
that Spirited Away won is a fact that still gives me goose
bumps. This year we have The Triplets of Belleville nominated
along side Finding Nemo and (ugh) Brother Bear. While Triplets
has no chance in hell of winning, its nomination is pretty
freaking cool. This is a movie that is not specifically
for kids, it's beautiful and subtle and slow and fascinating
in a way that kids might enjoy but only adults can really
digest. There is also virtually no script, like maybe five
or six lines of actual dialogue most of which is French,
none of which is subtitled. Triplets of Bellville is animation
at its most base form. And the fact that the academy actually
saw it as something good is way cool.
Documentary Feature is right up there with Animated
Feature as my favorite category. Last year I was heart broken
to see Spellbound fall before Columbine, but simultaneously
thrilled that Michael Moore finally got some props for his
movies. This year it will be much the same. Errol Morris
(who practically invented the Documentary as we know it)
has been making some of the best movies I've ever seen and
for the first time is finally recognized by the academy
with a nomination (The Fog Of War). The Weather Underground
(a favorite at Sundance last year) also eked its way into
a nomination and makes the independent filmmaker all the
more of a presence at the ceremony. However both it and
Morris are going to be swept away by the even more popular
Sundance film, Capturing The Friedmens. This is very bitter
sweet, Friedmens is a superb movie, very well made and deserving
of everything it gets. What sucks is that the Fog of War
is a better movie; it's just not as controversial. It would
have been nice to see Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial
Killer here too. That's the documentary about the execution
of the woman that Charlize Theron plays in Monster.
So enough of the punditizing. Who is actually going to win?
Well if I gave away all my secrets I wouldn't be a lock
for the Oscar pool that I'm running. But there are some
really easy tips for whom to expect to walk away with that
golden dildo of cinematic art.
WHO WILL WIN:
For the minor technical categories: Film Editing, Sound
The Lord of The Rings, across the board. It probably won't
win all of them but it will win most of them. If LOTR isn't
up for something go for a movie that's up for best picture,
Master and Commander for example.
For the complete unknowns: Short Subjects, etc.
No one ever sees these. They just vote on the name that's
the catchiest. For example I will stake my shirt AND all
of my underwear on the fact that Chernobyl Heart is going
to win Best Documentary Short Subject simply because it's
got something to do with poor Russians dying of Radiation
For Best Original Song
I have no idea how they pick this one. Personally I just
don't care. So long as Randy Newman never wins another one
of these, I'm fine.
For the major technical categories: Cinematography,
Costume Design, Score, etc.
Pretty much the same as the minors, but go with your gut
a little more. Who knows? Maybe City of God will actually
pull an upset never seen before. These categories are much
less knee jerk votes for the Best Picture winner. The Academy
Members actually seem to think about who to vote for here.
For Animated, Documentary and Foreign Language Features
Finding Nemo, Capturing The Friedmans and The Barbarian
Invasions, no contest. Sigh.
This is generally tricky. Usually the Best Picture will
win best screenplay, so match up your votes accordingly.
This year the race of races is Original Screenplay. These
are five totally different movies each garnering different
types of critical appeal. Personally I want the award to
go to Dirty Pretty Things, but In America would be good
too. Finding Nemo
not so much. It really wasn't the
writing that made the movie good. It was that lesbian fish.
I'm not sure. Usually just vote for who you want to win
the LEAST and you'll do pretty good. Zellweger, Keaton,
Baldwin and Penn, for example. This is where the Oscars
make you feel dirty.
General philosophy says to go with the best picture winner,
but that's only worked for two of the past five years (American
Beauty, A Beautiful Mind). The other three times the award
has gone a movie that is almost the polar opposite of the
Best Picture (Saving Private Ryan vs. Shakespeare In Love;
Chicago vs. The Pianist; Gladiator vs. Traffic). The long
and the short of it is I have no idea who will win. City
of God and Lost in Translation are out, they should just
be happy to be on the board. So either Lord of the Rings
will sweep director and picture, or Mystic River will counter
the epic fantasy adventure with some moving emotions.
The epic of epics: The Return Of The King. Period.
So there you have it. If you actually made it all the way
through this article then it probably means you're as messed
up in the head as I am. I have no idea what it is about
this stupid parasitic ceremony that captures our attention
so fervently but there it is. Tune in next month for complete
coverage of the ceremony graciously hosted by (oh God no!!!!!!)