Donovan's 2003 Oscar PicksSubmitted by ryandonovan at 2003-03-10 00:37:42 EST
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DONOVAN'S OSCAR PROGNOSTICATION 2003
Why do I do this? We know I'll be wrong. We know idiocy rules supreme. Yet every year, I keep making these same predictions. A glutton for punishment, I guess.
Maybe it's me. Is that possible? Maybe all these films are actually GOOD, and I'm the moron. Maybe I can't see them for what they're worth. Maybe my favorite films are actually garbage.
Of course, I'm right, and all the eligible Academy members are buffoons. There's no other explanation possible. I am proved right once again this year, when the films competing for Academy Awards mostly range from bad to very bad. There are a few exceptions, but what does that matter? The good films won't win anything. And no matter what I predict, I can't foretell what garbage the Academy will crown victorious. It's like trying to figure out what NBC will put in the Thursday night timeslot before ER. You can't predict, but you know it will be crap. So here's your TV Guide, my Fourth Annual Oscar Picks. As always, I will give my Cheers and Jeers about who WILL win and who SHOULD win. But no matter what I say, we'll all probably end up watching Suddenly Susan.
SHOULD WIN: Gangs Of New York
WILL WIN: Chicago
You know what? I'll admit it. I've only seen two of the nominees. That's right, I said it. I saw Lord Of The Rings 2, and I just saw Gangs Of New York last week. The rest? Who cares? Honestly, who gives a bass's ass? This category is a misnomer, and it has never been truer than this year. It's as if the Academy had no independent thoughts, so they just picked whichever five films happened to be playing at the high-brow miniplex. And then they STILL didn't pick Talk To Her, one of the finest films of the year. Nor did they pick Adaptation, whose twisted genius will be misunderstood long after we're dead and buried. The remaining spots could have been filled with any of a number of films. Road To Perdition. About Schmidt. Shit, Kissing Jessica Stein. Even Star Wars: Episode II, for pissing out loud.
I shouldn't be so harsh on Gangs Of New York. That is the only film that deserves a nomination. And The Pianist actually sounds pretty excellent, but it's a bit too depressing to drop ten bucks on. Should be a promising Netflick, though. But Chicago? Didn't we learn anything from the tragedy of Moulin Rouge!? Somehow, Chicago is the leading vote getter, and the odds-on favorite to win everything. People can't see that wool has been pulled over their eyes. Probably because there's wool over their eyes. What's worse, the glorious name of the City Of Chicago will forever be sullied by this audaciously worthless film. As for The Hours, I can't even fathom wallowing into the depths of why this film was nominated. I hear it's got lesbians, though, so that's kinda cool.
SHOULD WIN: Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)
WILL WIN: Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)
I desperately wanted to root for Daniel Day-Lewis, as he is one of the greatest actors (if not THE greatest actor) of our time. If he made more than one film every five years, he'd be sweeping Oscars off his floor. And while his turn as the vile Bill The Butcher in Gangs Of New York was incredible, he was, I'm afraid to say, bested by Jack Nicholson. While Jack is one of the all-time greats, this will be his record fourth statuette. It's hard to give a compelling argument that he deserves four, while most truly gifted actors are lucky to get one. Especially considering that he helped Roman Polanski drug and anally rape a 13-year-old girl in 1977, and more recently, drove Laura Flynn-Boyle insane, forcing her into a state of depression, bulimia, and poor taste (note her wretched Golden Globe pixie tutu). I would love to sink to the level of the Academy members and vote for someone other than Jack, based on whose career deserved it, whose "time" it was, or whose sum body of work had not yet been given its proper due. But in doing so, I would undermine the original spirit of the Academy's founding fathers... which I know has been bastardized by the current members, but I still believe in it. So, who was the Best Actor In A Leading Role this year? It was Jack. And really, this might be his most deserving performance. For the first time ever, he wasn't playing Jack, with gnashing teeth, smarmy charm, and surgically enhanced eyebrows. He was playing a man. A man that I've met, I could swear it. A man that people love, but never really know. A glimpse into humanity, through the microscope of a deity.
SHOULD WIN: Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven)
WILL WIN: Nicole Kidman (The Hours)
All the Best Actress nominees have one thing in common: They all portray sluts. Julianne Moore's character cheats with the gardener, simply because she catches her husband making out with another man. Diane Lane plays a woman who cheats on her husband for no good reason, then continues to get pounded, salaciously loving every thrust of it. Salma Hayek's Frida Kahlo gets her fill of men AND women, including Leon Frickin' Trotsky, just because she finds her husband boning her sister. Renee Zellweger's Roxie becomes so famous she's infamous for her extramarital trysts. And Nicole Kidman's Virginia Woolf, although buried in the subtext, was definitely a whore with women... What do you think she used that big nose for? Five eager beavers, five female roles chosen as "the best". Welcome to the world that we live in.
With all due respect to Meryl Streep and her astonishing 14 nominations, Julianne Moore is probably the best actress working right now. It's even more remarkable that she's achieved that status in light of her disabilities: she's ugly, she has unnaturally-long yellow teeth, and she's aging badly. I think that's why I have so much respect for her, because she wins roles through the mind, not the pelvis. Nobody would invite her to the Casting Couch, unless they wanted her to clean it. Of Moore's other nominated performances, Far From Heaven is the first time she owns the film. Had the film gotten more acclaim in other categories, she'd be a shoe-in. But here comes almost-as-pasty Nicole Kidman. She's still riding high on last year's wave of success (not the least of which was one half of Tom Cruise's wealth), and this year she - egads! - strapped on a Cyrano schnozz. Wow, she wore a prosthetic... she must have given a great performance! I find it humorous that when beautiful people pretend to be ugly, it's "brilliant acting", and when ugly people pretend to be beautiful, it's "sadly implausible".
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
SHOULD WIN: Ndugu (About Schmidt)... but he's not even in the movie, so Chris Cooper (Adaptation)
WILL WIN: Chris Cooper (Adaptation)
About Schmidt featured the year's best Supporting performance, by a starving boy in Africa, Ndugu, whom Jack Nicholson writes to and supports by giving $2 a day. Brilliantly written and played, Nudgu was the simplest yet most inventive window character in any film in recent memory. So why wasn't he nominated? One small catch: he wasn't actually in the film. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about; if you haven't, then never mind. As far as the actors that were actually in the movies...
I'd like Ed Harris to win one sometime, but he's going to have to put in more than 10 minutes of screen time to get my vote. I'm not worried, though, since he still has his whole career to get one. Instead, I'm voting for Chris Cooper, character actor extraordinaire, who may never get another nomination (it would be a shame, but a harsh reality in an awards game that does not necessarily reward talent). Paul Newman will get plenty of career votes, plus several for his actual performance in Road To Perdition (he was outstanding, by the way). Had the film opened in December, he'd be the front-runner. As it is, he could pull it off. But the film's poor showing in the other categories will make it difficult. John C. Reilly barely squeaked in, probably based on Chicago's steam and his 3 other strong performances this year. Oddly, he's actually campaigning for himself to lose, since his bread-and-butter is playing nameless characters. And what's the kiss of death for an anonymous character actor? Fame. Can he fill theaters as a leading man? Let me put it another way: Have you seen his face? Of course he can't. If he wins, he'll never work in this town again. It's hard not to root for psychopath Christopher Walken, with his glass-shard eyes and his crinkled-tin-foil face. But it's a little hard to believe that this repellant man could be the father of teen-idol pin-up Leonardo DiCaprio.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
SHOULD WIN: Meryl Streep (Adaptation)
WILL WIN: Julianne Moore (The Hours)
This category is a little livelier than it has been in recent years, and is possibly more interesting than its male counterpart, which is usually the "cool" Acting category. Meryl Streep, in the coolest role of them all, deserves the gold for her adaptation of author Susan Orlean in Adaptation. However, Julianne Moore will in fact win, but for the wrong category... unless the Academy wants to make headlines by giving her both awards, which has never been done in a single year. So I doubt it. Catherine Zeta-Jones has a good chance by competing in this category, instead of the Best Actress category. If Chicago is the runaway train that it seems to be, it could drag this award along with it. Her fellow passenger, Queen Latifah, has already parlayed the nomination to her advantage, scoring a lead in the soon-to-be-forgotten Bringing Down The House. In a role more terrifying than her Misery kidnapper, sexually-charged Kathy Bates bares all in the unintentionally nightmarish About Schmidt. People applaud her nudity, saying, "She's brave and confident - that's wonderful. Good for her." Good for her, perhaps. Bad for us, definitely. Besides, when I gallivant publicly in the nude, nobody says, "Good for you." They usually say, "You're under arrest" or "Are you a woman?" In an interesting side-note, heavyweights Latifah and Bates (each of whom outweighs slumlord Harvey Weinstein by a full fitty) will square off in the first-ever Oscar Sumo Wrestling Match. The winner will get to eat 84-pounder Adrien Brody. Dom DeLuise will referee, and is expected to pull a rubber chicken out of his ass at some point during the match (assuming he can find his ass).
SHOULD WIN: Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York)
WILL WIN: Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York)
In my heart of hearts, I'm rooting for my misunderstood convicted-statutory-rapist brother, Roman Polanski. He and I are kindred spirits, two of a kind. We both run the risk of being arrested if we step foot in Los Angeles County. The only difference between us is that he likes older girls. But alas, the good guys don't always win. And besides, this is Martin Scorsese's year, thanks to the most impressive directorial feat of the year, his legendary life's work, and his inexplicable eyebrows. The only other real threat will come from Rob Marshall, for engineering the train wreck Chicago. This year's charity nomination went to the insanely talented Pedro Almodovar. He has no shot of winning, but the nomination is well-deserved. The only thing that puts Scorsese's Gangs Of New York ahead of Talk To Her is the grand scale.
I'm a little disappointed to see that Julie Taymor was not considered for her work as the conductor of Frida, which was a visual splendor and a deft piece of directing. A better story would have catapulted her into this year's race. I'm very surprised that more commotion was not made over her, considering the fact that only 2 women EVER have been nominated for Best Director. With all the focus on other inequalities in recent Oscar memory, I'm shocked that this hasn't become a pressure cooker yet. Don't worry, it will be. In the next two years, this will become THE hot-button issue, and it will make Halle Berry's 2002 acceptance speech look like a grade school piano recital. The door may be open, but I'm afraid the glass ceiling is still solidly in place.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Talk To Her
WILL WIN: Far From Heaven
While Almodovar won't win for Best Director, he should (but probably won't) win for writing the masterpiece Talk To Her. Whether you like the film or don't, the script was far superior to every other script this year. It had a better story, more originality, more complete characters (even the comatose ones), more colorful arcs, more sweet humor, more intriguing storytelling, more drive, and more quality female nudity than any other film this year. But it bears the scarlet letters - Spanish letters. American voters will have a hard time giving a writing award to a film not written in English, especially since it had to be subjected to translation and subtitling. The other Spanish-language film in this category, Y Tu Mama Tambien, was on the other side of the spectrum - it didn't even deserve a nomination. Probably the most over-rated critical darling of the year (particularly the un-rated version spotlighting too much Gilooly), this film should not even have gotten Academy consideration. The story was bland, and was only redeemed slightly by the revelations in the film's final scene. But if you like seeing the penises of adolescent boys (attention, Mr. Polanski), then you probably loved the script. I don't think the award will go to Big Fat Greek Woman Nia Vardalos, since the box office gross and the nomination are considered rewards enough. And I don't think it will go to Gangs Of New York, because the script was definitely not its strong point. Instead, I think they'll give it to Far From Heaven, since many feel it was overlooked in other categories. Those who think it deserved Best Picture or Best Director will lobby hard and vote often.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Adaptation
WILL WIN: The Hours
Here's a controversy that hasn't bubbled over yet... About Schmidt was shockingly not even nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar, after winning the sole screenwriting award at the Golden Globes. Well, here's some inside scoop for you... the tabulators confused About Schmidt with About A Boy, and handed a nomination to the wrong film. You can plan on seeing that splashed across Variety headlines in a few weeks. Just remember where you heard it first.
So, with the favorite out of the running, that gives a shot to the most deserving script, Adaptation. It probably won't win, due to its "quirkiness" (Hollywood-ese for "I liked it but didn't understand it") and its crowd-displeasing third act. I can't say that the third act matched the rest of the film's brilliance, but I liked it, and I thought it was appropriate. For those who are familiar with the REAL Charlie Kaufman's struggle and adventure in writing the script, the absurdity and clichéd events resolve the film in the only way possible. The writing of the film had gotten way out of control, so far out of control that Kaufman had not only included himself in the script, but also a fictitious twin brother Donald. Donald (a.k.a. Charlie's own confident and oblivious but self-loathed part-time personality) was successful, and was taking over the film. Crumbling to pressure and the absurdity of it all, Donald wrote in a Hollywood ending, complete with drugs, gunplay, car crashes, and attempted murder. How else could the movie have resolved itself? To add to the hysteria of the real-life situation, both Charlie and Donald were nominated for Academy Awards, marking the first time that a fictitious person has ever been nominated. If for no other reason, I hope it wins to see who will accept Donald's trophy. As for which script WILL win, if Chicago gets crowned Best Picture, there's a good chance it will take this award too. And you can never count out a Holocaust drama, so The Pianist is firmly in the running. But I think the award will go to the film that many critics have lauded as the best film of the year, The Hours, the Adaptation for the upper crust.
Well, there you have my two cents. What will the Academy actually end up rewarding? Stay tuned, Good Morning Miami is next.
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