winners underlined in red
* = prediction
+ = personal pick
*Prediction: Despite a lot of critical accolades, it seems unlikely that the Brothers Weinstein will be able to translate that into Oscar glory for In the Bedroom, a film that appears to be more admired than loved; the same also applies to Gosford Park (though I find it inexplicable how that film can be liked, let alone nominated in this category). This leaves three films with very convincing support for their possible wins. A Beautiful Mind is the type of sentimental, triumph-over-adversity tale that screams Oscar; strong reviews and box office plus a number of precursor awards also help. The Fellowship of the Ring also received tremendous critical praise and is a box office blockbuster; it also gets another leg up for going into the race with the most nominations. Moulin Rouge! was counted the odd film out due largely to the surprise snub of its director, Baz Luhrmann; the film has since rebounded with an even bigger surprise: winning the Producers Guild Award. Also, of the three, Moulin is the one that arguably has the most vocal and passionate following, not to mention the best awards campaign, one that was aggressive (lots of ads), classy (check out those glowing quotes from classic musical icons such as Robert Wise and Cyd Charisse), and fun (that "living billboard" on Sunset Boulevard featuring live can can dancers).
But then there are the big minuses against each of the three. Moulin was one of the most divisive films of the year, with detractors every bit as passionate in their negativity. The Academy hasn't been quick in embracing fantasy films, and while Fellowship has that epic quality that typically translates into votes, would voters want to cast their ballot for an epic that is so clearly unfinished? (At least the original Star Wars, the film's common Oscar analogy, was self-contained.) And like many of Ron Howard's films, Mind seems more well-liked than really loved, and more people have come to dislike the film in the wake of the questions about historical accuracy. But I think the so-called smear campaign on Mind won't work and that the film will come up on top, for in the end business matters overall, and being a co-production between big studios Universal and DreamWorks, it should win the bulk of the votes.
+My Pick: There wasn't and never will be quite anything like Baz Luhrmann's glorious musical fantasia, which after an opening of excessive hyperactivity evolves into one of the most sincere and original love stories to hit the screen in recent memory.
The Winner: Again, the bottom line rules the roost as yet another studio co-production takes the top prize. In my predictions piece, I noted how very few people were terribly passionate about this film. Based on their speeches, it seems none of the people who won from the film are, either.
*Prediction: Lukewarm reviews for the films in which they starred should spell instant doom for Penn and Smith. I see the perceived two-man race in this category to be not between Crowe and Washington but between Wilkinson and Washington. The fact that Crowe won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award is a bit misleading as an Oscar indicator since he didn't win those awards last year; the only big trophy he took for his Gladiator work was the Oscar. And unlike previous consecutive Oscar winner Tom Hanks, Crowe isn't exactly the cuddly type, and the factual concerns over his film can only do damage. Much like his performance in Bedroom, Wilkinson can sneak up and surprise; his and co-star Sissy Spacek's performances were quite dependent on one another, and a vote for perceived front-runner Spacek could easily translate to one for Wilkinson. That said, there's so much strong sentiment for Washington being owed for such consistently great work over the years that he should come out the winner for (another attention-getter for voters) a change-of-pace bad guy role.
+My Pick: Wilkinson, whose piercing subtlety as Bedroom's anguished father was the film's greatest--and largely unsung--asset.
The Winner: While the landmark historical significance of Washington and Halle Berry's wins cannot and should not be discounted, it is my sincere hope that their victories also go down in history as being for two first-rate and very deserving performances--a fact that seems to be a bit drowned out at the moment, by supporters and cynics (and, sadly, there are a number of them right now) alike.
*Prediction: It would be easy to cross Dench and Zellweger off the list because Iris was too little-seen and Bridget was too light; while those certainly are factors, I eliminate them for the fact that Miramax is channeling most of its campaign dollars in this category toward Spacek, who had the clear lead in the category at nomination time. But what a difference a month makes. Berry's SAG win indicates a possible shift in momentum, and while it would a do a terrible disservice to Berry's remarkable work to simply vote for her in the interest of making history, all the talk of the possibility awarding the first leading actress Oscar to an African-American would certainly cast some votes her way. Fox has devised a superb campaign for Kidman; the "She sings, she dances, she dies" slogan is catchy while succinctly conveying the multi-faceted nature of her performance. Also for support in the Kidman case, one must not discount the Russell Crowe factor. In 2000, there was perhaps no actor talked about more than Crowe, and that high visibility had to have contributed to his victory; in 2001, it was all about Nicole, and not for just one, but two highly regarded performances. But then I think back to Jessica Lange winning in this category in for her work in 1994's Blue Sky; Lange was a well-respected veteran actress/former Oscar winner who hadn't had a showcase role in a while, earning rave reviews for work in a fairly small film. Sounds exactly like Spacek's situation this year (though, admittedly, Lange faced considerably weaker competition).
+My Pick: No one else here had quite the emotional rollercoaster to navigate as Berry, and she bravely, memorably threw caution and all else to the wind to deliver an astonishingly raw and natural feat of acting.
The Winner: (see Best Actor, above)
*Prediction: Again, remove two choices right off the bat: Voight's Howard Cosell impersonation received decidedly mixed reviews (as did the film); Hawke's surprise nod is highly unlikely to translate into a surprise win. Sir Ben is a definite possibility, for his ferocious villain act startled most viewers, but his film was released way back in June, and its rough violence and language could be a problem for older voters. Broadbent won the Golden Globe and earned strong notices for his Iris work, and a vote for him would also count as a default acknowledgment for his other supporting performances in Bridget Jones's Diary and especially Moulin Rouge!; however, is his film a bit too small for its own good? That would leave the likely choice to be Sir Ian, a well-respected thespian whose performance has been hailed as a huge key to Fellowship's success.
- Jim Broadbent, Iris
- Ethan Hawke, Training Day
- +Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast
- *Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Jon Voight, Ali
+My Pick: Sexy Beast sprung to life whenever Kingsley showed up on screen, and his electrifying intensity still echoes in the memory.
The Winner: One of the cooler moments of the night was Broadbent's little plug for Moulin Rouge! at the end. Has that ever been done before, a winner for one film cheering on another in his acceptance speech? Alas, if only Baz and company had better luck overall.
*Prediction: The only lock of the night, and with so many categories where a variety of nominees can plausibly win, if someone derails the Connelly express, that would be the only real shock of the night. The Gosford grand dames should cancel each other out (thank God almighty for that), but if any one of them could sneak in, it would be SAG winner Mirren. Oscar loves a good comeback, and although former winner Tomei doesn't like her Bedroom success to be deemed as such, in voters' eyes it would be; should her film sweep the top two acting awards, she could plausibly ride that wave. This is Winslet's third nomination and some could believe she's due, but I doubt her umpteenth spunky free spirit role is the key to victory. So Connelly should receive her due recognition after years of being underappreciated...
+My Pick: ...and rightfully so. Russell Crowe may have had the flashier part, but it's Connelly's rock solid work as the woman who (fancifully) stands by him that provides the film's best moments.
The Winner: Even with a monotone acceptance speech and an unusually drab dress that did her fabulous figure no favors, Connelly still looked radiant. Or maybe I'm just too ecstatic that she showed up at the ceremony sans her prickly paramour, Josh Charles.
*Prediction: As much as it pains me to say, Lynch has no shot in Hades of winning this, given the Academy's terribly wrong snub of his brilliant film in all the other categories (no Naomi Watts in Best Actress? Grrr...). Scott's film was a bravura technical achievement, but with no accompanying Best Picture nod, he won't win the prize. This, again, leaves a trio with some legitimate shot at the award. Septuagenarian Altman, who's never win, could win a default career achievement prize here, but since he's gone out of his way in recent weeks to remind everyone of his anti-Hollywood views, the Academy will likely wait to give him a proper lifetime achievement prize. Jackson successfully tackled a huge undertaking with Fellowship, but would the Academy want to reward him right now, when the trilogy has just gotten off the ground? Still, the fact that his film is the nomination leader cannot be discounted. Even so, this is Opie's to lose--he's a child of Hollywood, well liked, won the DGA Award, and is considered by some to be owed for Apollo 13. So there it is.
+My Pick: If Mulholland Dr. were just an endless loop of the astonishing "Llorando" scene, Lynch would still deserve this above all the other competitors.
The Winner: Now that they've given a statue to Opie, let's hope they won't do it ever again (or at least not for a film such as the decent but far from outstanding A Beautiful Mind).
*Prediction: Despite the wide acclaim, Ghost World's chances are about nil; this is the film's only nod. Shrek is a popular favorite, but are voters ready to award a script for an animated feature? Bedroom may be too dark, subtle, and--in the end--too small, leaving this a race between Fellowship and Mind, with the latter having the edge, thanks to the various precursor awards Goldsman has (inexplicably) won. That said, Fellowship could very well take it if the questions about Mind's accuracy become too overwhelming.
- *A Beautiful Mind - Akiva Goldsman
- +Ghost World - Daniel Clowes & Terry Zwigoff
- In the Bedroom - Rob Festinger & Todd Field
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, & Peter Jackson
- Shrek - Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Joe Stillman and Roger S.H. Schulman
+My Pick: Ghost World grows richer with each viewing, due in no small part to the rich characterizations, biting humor, and genuine sense of humanity.
The Winner: Never did I ever think I'd hear the title Lost in Space ever uttered in a non-derisive fashion at an Academy Awards ceremony.
*Prediction: Tenenbaums got its only recognition here, and it has little buzz and support for it, so out it goes, unfortunately. Amélie will be considered too slight--and it's in French, fer Chrisssakes!--so better luck next time, Harvey. Monster's Ball is mostly a triumph of acting over some occasionally shaky writing, so out that goes. That leaves Memento and Gosford, and while the Academy often uses this category to reward innovation and experimentation (Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects), I suspect they'll stick to the straight and narrow and give Gosford its token recognition here--even if the script, like the movie, is crap.
+My Pick: Memento. Was there anything else on this list so carefully, exquisitely constructed? I think not.
The Winner: I don't care what anyone says: Fellowes is not funny, and Gosford was every bit as tedious and boring as the nether region known as the Barbra Streisand/Robert Redford portion of this year's show.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Winner: All those dollars Harvey Weinstein threw at Amélie, all for naught.
The Winner: It was cute how the main characters in each of the films was shown as being seated in the crowd. One could only wonder what they would've done had Richard Linklater's Waking Life been nominated. Oh, and note to that woman who sat next to Shrek and Donkey: if you're the struggling actress that I believe you to be, your overwrought mugging, laughing, and pointing isn't going to set your agent's phone lines on fire.
The Winner: I guess the only thing the Moulin lovers and haters could agree on was Mrs. Luhrmann's fabulously flamboyant fashion sense.
The Winner: That Fellowship's four wins all came in relatively minor categories proves, once and for all, that stodgy old Academy viewers will never see a fantasy film as being more than a technical achievement.
The Winner: (see Art Direction, above)
The Winner: It's nice to see Ridley Scott's film recognized for the bravura technical exercise that it is despite being an also-ran in the overall nominations race.
The Winner: (see Cinematography, above)
- A Beautiful Mind - Greg Cannom & Colleen Callaghan
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Peter Owen & Richard Taylor
- +Moulin Rouge! - Maurizio Silvi & Aldo Signoretti
The Winner: (see Cinematography, above)
The Winner: I suppose it's nice that Newman finally won after so many dead-end nominations, but why did it have to be for this most atrocious so-called tune? If he had to win for any song, it should've been two years ago, for Toy Story 2's heartbreaking ballad "When She Loved Me."
- "If I Didn't Have You," Monsters, Inc. - Randy Newman
- +"May It Be," The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Enya, Nicky Ryan, & Roma Ryan
- "There You'll Be," Pearl Harbor - Diane Warren
- "Until...," Kate & Leopold - Sting
- "Vanilla Sky," Vanilla Sky - Paul McCartney
The Winner: (see Film Editing, above)
- Amélie (Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain) - Vincent Arnardi, Guillaume Leriche, & Jean Umansky
- +Black Hawk Down - Mike Minkler, Myron Nettinga, & Chris Munro
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Gethin Creagh, & Hammond Peek
- Moulin Rouge! - Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Roger Savage, & Guntis Sics
- Pearl Harbor - Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, & Peter J. Devlin
The Winner: Now, the folks at Disney can brand their upcoming Vista Series DVD special edition of Michael Bay's much-maligned film as being an Academy Award winner.
The Winner: (see Cinematography, above)
- AI Artificial Intelligence - Dennis Muren, Scott Farrar, Stan Winston, & Michael Lantieri
- +The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Jim Rygiel, Randall William Cook, Richard Taylor, & Mark Stetson
- Pearl Harbor - Eric Brevig, John Frazier, Ed Hirsh, & Ben Snow
- Children Underground - Edet Belzberg
- Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton - Susan Froemke
- Murder on a Sunday Morning - Jean-Xavier de Lestrade & Denis Poncet
- Promises - Justine Shapiro & B.Z. Goldberg
- War Photographer - Christian Frei
LIVE ACTION SHORT
- The Accountant - Ray McKinnon & Lisa Blount
- Copy Shop - Virgil Widrich
- Gregor's Greatest Invention - Johannes Kiefer
- A Man Thing (Meska Sprawa) - Slawomir Fabicki & Bogumil Godfrejow
- Speed for Thespians - Kalman Apple & Shameela Bakhsh
The Winner: For once, a short film winner that everyone has actually seen.
- Fifty Percent Grey - Rouairi Robinson & Seamus Byrne
- For the Birds - Ralph Eggleston
- Give Up Yer Aul Sins - Cathal Gaffney & Darragh O'Connell
- Strange Invaders - Cordell Barker
- Stubble Trouble - Joseph E. Merideth
- Artists and Orphans: A True Drama - Lianne Klapper McNally
- Sing! - Freida Lee Mock & Jessica Sanders
- Thoth - Sarah Kernochan & Lynn Appelle
The numerical tie at the top between A Beautiful Mind and The Fellowship of the Ring is misleading; it was clearly the night for feel-good movies about schizophrenia, as the quartet of trophies taken by the Ron Howard film were all in big-league categories. The irony of the night was that Miramax's sole trophy went to the one contender the studio probably paid the least attention to: Iris.
Prediction-wise, I matched my best record of going six for eight in the major categories of Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Screenplay, missing only Actress and Supporting Actor, which went to the people I had believed to be second in line.
74th Annual Academy Winners/© Michael Dequina