Donovan's 2001 Oscar PicksSubmitted by ryandonovan at 2001-03-20 00:31:51 EST
Rating: 0.33 on 4 ratings (4 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
DONOVAN'S OSCAR PROGNOSTICATION 2001
Last fall, after attending the Toronto Film Festival, I predicted a few Oscar hopefuls from the Fest, and I’ll remind you that I was pretty dead-on. As I forecasted, Joan Allen, Javier Bardem, Ellen Burstyn, Cameron Crowe, Willem Dafoe, Ed Harris, Ang Lee, and Frances McDormand were all recognized by the Academy for their work. A few others that I named (Darren Aronofsky, Gary Oldman) got raw deals, and were overlooked. My predictions continue. In order to help you in your office pools, for the second year, I offer my thoughts on who WILL win, and more importantly, who SHOULD win the Academy Awards.
SHOULD WIN: Traffic
WILL WIN: Gladiator
Times will change, governments will fall, but one thing will remain constant: The Academy will always disappoint. Such will be the case when Gladiator, a film that didn’t even deserve a nomination, wins Best Picture. While I bash Gladiator, I didn’t hate it. It was one of the better films in this hum-drum year. But I was jaded by the fact that it sold out a little on the DVD release, where the line “At my signal, unleash hell!” was changed to “At my signal, let the dogs out!” in order to cash in on a pop trend. In a similar move, You Can Count On Me will be released on video under the title ‘Closer Than My Peeps You Are To Me’, since writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is reportedly such a big Shaggy fan. The thinking man’s choice for Best Picture is Traffic, like it or hate it. Sadly, the Academy tends to follow the thought pattern of least resistance: “Moral dilemma… No clear answer… Uncomfortable situation… Award loser.” Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will win the Best Foreign Language Oscar (and probably Best Director), which will be enough for voters. Chocalat doesn’t have a prayer, but Miramax has a penchant for bribing Academy members and generating momentum. Plus, that song in the commercials by the Corrs is damn catchy.
SHOULD WIN: Tom Hanks (Cast Away)
WILL WIN: Tom Hanks (Cast Away)
That’s right, Tom Hanks. Fuck Russell Crowe and the Meg Ryan he rode in on. I was a fan of him after The Insider. But these days people won’t get off his nuts. Now people are retroactively praising him for L.A. Confidential and Romper Stomper. It won’t be long before Virtuosity is acclaimed as “pure acting genius”. Hanks will become the first man to win three Best Actor statuettes (Jack Nicholson has won thrice, but one of the awards was for Supporting Actor). Hanks will be further honored by replacing Sacagawea on the U.S. Gold Dollar coin. Javier Bardem, of course, will be honored on the Three Dollar Bill for his portrayal of poet Reinaldo Arenas. I’m an Ed Harris fan, but his nomination alone was a long shot. And as for Geoffrey Rush, his performance in Quills in no way measures up to his past winner, Shine.
SHOULD WIN: Ellen Burstyn (Requiem For A Dream)
WILL WIN: Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich)
My oh my, people love Julia, she who feels that she has achieved such Mono-Moniker status that she sued for the rights to the domain name ‘julia.com’. I wasn’t blown away by Julia’s performance, but it was very solid. I don’t find her particularly objectionable, so she might as well get the award. However, Ellen Burstyn’s portrayal of an aging woman addicted to diet pills, television, and the attention of her son, deserves the award. Her performance breaks the heart of anyone with a mother. Burstyn doesn’t need another Oscar to prove that she’s an outstanding actress; she’s got the current hit TV show ‘That’s Life’ (if you didn’t catch the sarcasm there, you might as well stop reading this article). Somehow, I missed Laura Linney when predicting Torontified nominees. I thought she’d get a nomination eventually, I just didn’t think it would be for this role. As for Joan Allen, this isn’t her year, but it soon will be.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
SHOULD WIN: Benicio Del Toro (Traffic)
WILL WIN: Benicio Del Toro (Traffic)
This is essentially a toss-up between Benicio Del Toro and Willem Dafoe. The Academy will appreciate Del Toro’s subdued, quietly tormented performance, rather than Dafoe’s (appropriately) excessive, over-the-top vampire portrayal, just as the Globe trotters did. On the negative side for Del Toro: People have criticized his performance because his Spanish accent was not authentically Mexican. However, nobody said a word about Russell Crowe’s Spanish accent in Gladiator, which was authentically Australian. On the negative side for Dafoe: He is so damn ugly. The Max Schreck vampire makeup actually made him look more human. This is the same guy that played Jesus in Martin Scorcese’s controversial The Last Temptation Of Christ. I don’t think the film was loathed because of its unsettling subject matter; I just think people hated to see the Son of God as such an ugly motherfucker. The remaining three nominations should have gone to other actors. Joaquin Phoenix isn’t even the best actor by the name of Phoenix. His dead brother, River, is more entertaining as a corpse. Phoenix, Albert Finney, and Jeff Bridges stole spots from more deserving actors, Gary Oldman (for The Contender), Bruce Greenwood (for Thirteen Days) and James Woods (for The Virgin Suicides). Oldman is sensational in nearly every role he plays, and is the best actor never to have been nominated for an Oscar. Greenwood’s turn as JFK established him as a legitimate actor. He no longer has to work on barrel-scrapers like Wild Orchid and Dream Man, as he did fervently for a decade. The soft-core industry will certainly miss him. Woods went unnoticed in perhaps the best performance of his career, including Ghosts Of Mississippi and Salvador.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
SHOULD WIN: Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock)
WILL WIN: Kate Hudson (Almost Famous)
It looks like Kate Hudson’s mother, Goldie Hawn (an Oscar winner herself), was right when she gave her daughter the following sage advice: “You might need a bi-weekly stomach-pumping to remove the come from all the dick you’ll have to suck, but in the end it will all be worth it.” I hope she loses just because she got a little too carried away with her Almost Famous groupie role and married drug-addled Chris Robinson of the oh-so-currently-hip Black Crowes. For shit’s sake, couldn’t she at least find a washed-up singer from the late 90’s? Frances McDormand had very little presence in Almost Famous, but people are raving about her anyway, on the strength of one scene (where she scolds would-be-child-corrupter Billy Crudup over the phone). I was hoping to see Kathleen Turner’s name on the ballot for The Virgin Suicides, where she, just like James Woods, turned in one of her top career performances. My vote goes to Marcia Gay Harden because she reminds me of a memorable lap-dancing stripper named Hardened Gay Marcia.
SHOULD WIN: Steven Soderbergh (Traffic)
WILL WIN: Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Steven Soderbergh deserves it, but with two nominations in this category, he might cancel himself out, as he did at the Golden Globes. Or, the voters will load up one of his nominations (Traffic) in order to honor him for both films, but that is not likely. I’m secretly rooting for fellow Illini alumnus Ang Lee. Boasting the likes of Lee, Roger Ebert, and Andy Richter, the University of Illinois is quickly becoming a hotbed of Hollywood heavies. Ridley Scott used to be such a film pioneer, but nowadays he’s building replicas rather than blazing trails. To attain his Gladiator nomination, he ripped off Steven Spielberg's style from Saving Private Ryan, and used the technique inappropriately. Then he accepted the directorial table scraps of Hannibal. Next I hear he’s looking into a fourth installment of Look Who’s Talking. Darren Aronofsky deserved a nomination for Requiem For A Dream. He represents everything that is good about the future of film direction. Now that he’s been catapulted into helming blockbusters (he has been given the daunting task of resurrecting the Batman franchise), I fear that he might not do more substantial work that would earn him future Oscar nominations. I was also hoping to see Mike Figgis nab a nom for Timecode, which was, no offense to Lee, the most innovative (if not the laziest) directorial feat of the year. Disappointingly, this year’s charity nomination instead went to Stephen Daldry for Billy Elliot.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Almost Famous
WILL WIN: Almost Famous
I’d like to call Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count On Me one of my “Toronto discoveries”, but I was actually not overly impressed with it. It’s hard to believe that the Academy adored that average script, yet ignored Lonergan’s career-defining swan song, The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle. You Can Count On Me has won most of the screenwriting awards this year, and is seen by many as the favorite. But it is too obscure to win; Academy voters will feel that the nomination was enough. Instead, the award will (and should) go to Cameron Crowe for Almost Famous. We’re not talking earthquakes here, but it was certainly the most moving script that didn’t stoop to tear-inducing sucker-punches. Most of the critically acclaimed acting in the film came less from the actors and more from Crowe’s splendid script.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Traffic
WILL WIN: Traffic
Traffic certainly deserves to win, but the actual winner is a tough call. The length, unpopular preaching, and inevitable editing (which made the story disjointed and somewhat confusing for some) will hurt its chances. This film will likely be seen as more of a directorial feat. But if Steven Soderbergh gets dissed for directing (which I think he will), Traffic will get this award. Otherwise, look for Miramax’s Big Brother propaganda tactics to steal a victory for Chocolat. If you’re looking for something to bet against, you can find it in O, Where Art Thou Coen Brothers?, appropriately titled because it’s astonishing that the Fargo authors actually penned this piece of shite. To paraphrase the late Chris Farley: “I need two copies of that script… One to take a dump on, and one to wipe my butt with.” Never one to shy away from predictions, I can tell you that Memento (opening this month) will win this category next year. Go see it. I also highly recommend the article in the March issue of Esquire, which reprints the short story (written by the director’s brother) that inspired the film.
There you have it. Now that I have stated my opinions, I rest on my faith in the Academy. And if history has taught us anything, that means you should bet on Erin Brockovich, Geoffrey Rush, Juliette Binoche, Jeff Bridges, Julie Walters, and Stephen Daldry.