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Erik the Movieman's 2000 Oscar Predictions

Charlize Theron and Tobey Maguire in The Cider House Rules
by Erik Childress

March 26 is the big day. Hollywood’s big day and a big day for those of us who gather our friends, lounge in front of the television and act like prognasticators on who the big winners will be. It’s been awhile since the Oscar cast provided a show where one film was not the overriding favorite to sweep. Shakespeare in Love was a big surprise (to many) last year, but how many really doubted that Saving Private Ryan would lose to the Miramax marketing machine? So it was a surprise, an unpleasant one at that, but still a surprise. This year, who dares challenge American Beauty? It’s the overwhelming favorite publicly and even critically among the major nominees, so unless the voters have been scripting a more plot-twisted show with their ballots, we’re in store for very few surprises. Turns out the best part of March 26 may just be the return of Billy Crystal to the hosting duties we all know and love. But let’s get to the predictions – who will win and who should win.

Best Picture – I don’t buy the publicity surrounding the newfound marketing for The Cider House Rules. Not for a minute do I believe a serious challenge is being mounted by Miramax again. It is a well-liked film but it does have its major opponents as its story not being as rich as it seems and focusing more on the romance aspect. So count it out now. The Green Mile pushed and struggled to get its nomination after months of awards snubbing. And with only four nominations to boot, it doesn’t seem like a safe bet here. The Insider seems to be the best competition to American Beauty here, but the only one that scares me is The Sixth Sense, if only for the reason that its even nominated. But $275 million in fooled audiences and critics just giving decent positive reviews for the film make it a likely underdog even if it does have what I call the “Ghost”-nomination. But even I cannot convince myself that it will take home the trophy.

Best Actor – The single most exciting race in all of the major categories. It comes down to two people and one of them isn’t Sean Penn who is the longest of longshots. But then it gets interesting. The next two that I’m ruling out could have a legit shot if my two horses cancel each other out. Russell Crowe was terrific in The Insider and will be terrific again. It’s his first nomination and that will be award enough. But what about Richard Farnsworth. The Academy loves to recognize it’s old-timers. Think Jessica Tandy and Jack Palance. He’s the oldest nominee and seemingly well-liked in a film that, unfortunately, probably wasn’t seen by enough people. My guess is he’ll fall by the Lauren Bacall wayside to make room for the final two nominees. Kevin Spacey had the best performance of the year, hands down. He has won the Screen Actors Guild award and is in the film looking for an It Happened One Night/Cuckoo’s Nest/Silence of the Lambs-type sweep. But, wait a minute, there is Denzel Washington giving a performance that is easily the best thing in a flawed movie. Sure, The Hurricane is flooded in controversy now. But can you imagine the controversy if he doesn’t win? I smell Jesse Jackson coming because I think Spacey is going to win.
Will Win: Kevin Spacey “AMERICAN BEAUTY”
Should Win: Kevin Spacey “AMERICAN BEAUTY”

Best Actress – This field seemed open and shut until the Screen Actors Guild awards. Hilary Swank has won every preceding award to the Oscars and nothing was standing in her way – until Annette Bening won the SAG award. Bening was the only possibility of competition here with unknown Janet McTeer and been there/done that Meryl Streep as category fillers. Julianne Moore was in half the movies that came out in 1999 and usually that doesn’t hurt unless you’re up against an actress playing a woman playing a boy. Don’t count Bening out of this race, but Hilary Swank has been the favorite for months and everyone loves to vote for a transgender performance, even if it wasn’t as chameleon-like as everyone says. The articles talking about an upset are starting to come out now, but I think Swank will overcome the BS and win the award.
Will Win: Hilary Swank “BOYS DON’T CRY”
Should Win: Hilary Swank “BOYS DON’T CRY” (with reluctance)

Best Supporting Actor – Oddsmakers are starting to drift towards Michael Caine here for two reasons. One – he won the SAG Award. Two – The Miramax Marketing Machine. It’s a terrific performance, but Caine has won before. I don’t care if it’s the first time he’s done an American accent, he’s not going to win. Neither is Michael Clarke Duncan, who was wonderful in The Green Mile, but was a simpler performance than the rest. Count out Jude Law too as the “just an honor to be nominated” nominee. That brings us to the underdog and the due. Haley Joel Osment is the only person worthy of a nomination for The Sixth Sense. He was great and the way he conducts himself with the press only makes him more likable. If that twist-with-a-movie-wrapped-around-it film is to be honored in anyway – this is the way to do it. But Osment has to stand aside for Tom Cruise. This is his third nomination and he should have won at least once before. He also has the two-movie factor going for him with Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut in 1999. The Academy also loves when big moviestars take salary cuts and appear in smaller parts (See Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting). Add that in with a rich performance in Magnolia and you’ve got your winner.
Will Win: Tom Cruise “MAGNOLIA”
Should Win: Tom Cruise “MAGNOLIA”

Best Supporting Actress – This nameplate is already engraved. If you play a wild character, especially a supporting one, brash and loud, you are going to win. The only nominee that fits those qualifications is Angelina Jolie in one of last year’s worst films. Jolie is an incredible actress, but this is hardly her best work, unfortunately overshadowing better work by Catherine Keener and Chloe Sevigny. Toni Collette doesn’t even belong here giving the most overrated performance of the year and Samantha Morton may be the first actress in a Woody Allen film in a long time not to win the supporting Oscar when nominated.
Will Win: Angelina Jolie “GIRL, INTERRUPTED”
Should Win: Chloe Sevigny “BOYS DON’T CRY”

Best Director – The winner of the Director’s Guild award has failed only four times not to win the Oscar. The last time was Ron Howard in 1995 when he failed to even get a much deserved nomination for Apollo 13. Sam Mendes won it this year. His film was American Beauty. It’s going to win Best Picture. Case closed.
Will Win: Sam Mendes “AMERICAN BEAUTY”
Should Win: Sam Mendes “AMERICAN BEAUTY”

Best Original Screenplay – Being John Malkovich was original, but not great. The Sixth Sense sucked. Nuff said. Magnolia and American Beauty were both great, both neither were entirely original. Let’s just take the word “original” out of the equation and just focus on the best screenplay. American Beauty is poised for a sweep here even if I think Magnolia is more epic in its reach. American Beauty’s strength though is on the page where Magnolia’s was in the direction.

Best Adapted Screenplay – The rule of thumb with screenplays is that the winner is virtually always a nominee for Best Picture. That rules out Election even though it was the Writer’s Guild award. It also rules out The Talented Mr. Ripley. The Green Mile was a virtual page-by-page retelling of the Stephen King novel minus one chapter. This brings us down to The Cider House Rules and The Insider. The latter is a more complex and audacious screenplay adapted from just a Vanity Fair article. But The Cider House Rules was adapted by its author, the beloved John Irving, and with all the problems he’s had getting his novels developed into decent movies, you have to believe he’s about to receive an Oscar.

Best Original Song – This seems to be a clear cut choice. Music of My Heart is the generic feel-good song that’s popular on radio but doesn’t add much to the movie. Though terrific, Aimee Mann’s Save Me from Magnolia is the outside artsy choice (see “Miss Misery” from Good Will Hunting) and doesn’t stand a chance. Will the Academy have the balls to vote for Blame Canada. I doubt it since the nomination is balls enough. That brings us to two songwriters who have lost time and time again at the Oscars. The first is Randy Newman who wrote a beautiful tearjerking song for Toy Story 2. The other is (personal favorite) Phil Collins who wrote five songs for Disney’s Tarzan including nominee “You’ll Be In My Heart” which is a perfect capsulation of the film’s themes, doing just what a Best Song nominee should. It’s a toss-up over which song is actually better but Collins’ song was a #1 hit on the charts all through the holidays and he’s got the 5-to-1 song advantage over Newman and we know how bodies of work are rewarded at the Oscars. The academy also still owes Phil apologies for letting Ann Reinking perform Against All Odds back at the ’84 Oscars.
Will Win: “You’ll Be In My Heart” TARZAN
Should Win: “You’ll Be In My Heart” TARZAN

Best Original Score – This is a tough one and could go multiple ways, especially since Disney doesn’t have a nomination. History points once again to a Best Picture nominee. That rules out three. Angela’s Ashes got its single nomination here for John Williams, who should have been nominated for Star Wars, and won’t win here. The Talented Mr. Ripley is the best score here evoking the beauty and intrigue of the film’s setting and story. Don’t be surprised if The Red Violin comes out of nowhere to win since some voters think since an instrument is listed in the title, it automatically has a great score. The two Best Picture nominees are American Beauty and The Cider House Rules. Thomas Newman has been racking up the nominations over the last six years and Beauty may be his shot to win here even if its simplistic and evokes the memories of some of his other scores like The Shawshank Redemption and Unstrung Heroes. The Cider House Rules, on the other hand, has a lush romanticized score that is filtered throughout all the TV ads and also gives Miramax the chance to win two awards for this film for their effort.


Best Visual Effects – Apparently this is a much tighter race than I originally thought. Many people are putting their money on The Matrix. But the Visual Effects award usually goes to the film with the greater amount of special effects over quality (See: Independence Day over Dragonheart) – but in this case I think the greater amount of special effects also equal the best effects. And what film had more special effects than Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace? They were also better effects – because the best effects don’t seem like effects. Think not just of the Pod Race or the space battles. Think Jar Jar Binks, the underwater city, the neverending waterfalls of Planet Naboo, and the literally all special effects battlefield sequence between the robots and the Gungan. The Matrix effects were simple and obvious and it’d be a crime if Star Wars doesn’t win.

Best Makeup – Four nominees this year and all kinds of makeup present. Fat suits can equal Oscars. Just ask Rick Baker for The Nutty Professor (1996). This is the case with the Fat Bastard makeup in the Austin Powers sequel. Old-age makeup works sometimes. Such is the case with Life. How about robots? Well, Robin Williams was more in a robot costume than robot makeup. If this confuses voters, Bicentennial Man will win. That leaves Topsy-Turvy (which I have not seen), a film that I’ve heard more about the technical production than the actual quality of the film. This is one of the more perplexing of all the categories, because the Academy does like to throw a loophole in your whole Oscar ballot by electing a film like Topsy-Turvy here. So I’ll go against the norm here.

Best Art Direction – Eliminate Cider House Rules and Talented Mr. Ripley from the start. They are not flashy enough to win. But the Oscar could go to any of the other three nominees. Anna and the King, Sleepy Hollow and Topsy-Turvy all boast first-rate massive set productions. I’d love to see Sleepy Hollow win here but I think Anna and the King will be rewarded for its technical merit over its lack of box office power.

Best Costume Design – Let’s make this a two-horse race. Take out Talented Mr. Ripley for the costume design was not that complex. Sleepy Hollow and Titus were nice, but not as grand as Anna and the King or Topsy-Turvy. Anna and the King had costumes for elephants and Topsy-Turvy had designs for an entire theater production as well as period costumes outside the theater. If Anna and the King wins anything it will be for Art Direction.
Should Win: STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (but it’s not nominated)

Best Cinematography – Sleepy Hollow is unquestionably the best cinematography here evoking the entire atmosphere of that film. Snow Falling On Cedars had a lot of snow and pretty images, but who saw it? The End of the Affair and The Insider both had superior cinematography as well, but so did American Beauty. With a perfect blend of brightness and shadows in suburbia, this will give American Beauty a nice even five Oscars for the night.

Best Film Editing – Eliminate Cider House Rules once again. Also take out The Sixth Sense for all it will be taking home is a big donut. The Insider is a worthy nominee but it’s looking at a probable 0-for-7 night as well. This category usually alternates between a Best Picture nominee and a quick-cutting blockbuster. That makes it American Beauty vs. The Matrix. Both films were nominated for the precursor editing awards and I’m gonna go with the winner. But if it doesn’t win, it will be American Beauty.

Best Sound - This category has recently been dominated by the big blockbusters. You know – the ones that utilize every woofer in the theater. Forget The Green Mile and The Insider. Forget the token nomination for The Mummy. This comes down to The Matrix and Star Wars. Matrix had great sound – but who can forget the pulse and head-pounding nature of the pod race, not to mention the lightsaber duels, space battles, and battles period.

Best Sound Effects Editing – History says the winner of Best Sound wins Sound Effects Editing and vice versa. Nice to see Fight Club nominated anywhere, but there’s no need to write any further.

Well, that’s it. I don’t pretend to know anything about the short films (animated and live action) that get nominated so I’ll refrain from picking those. My final two picks I have no commentary on since I haven’t seen all of the nominees.

Best Foreign Film – ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER

Best Documentary Feature – BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB

There you go. I hope I’m right and I hope I’m wrong. Except about The Sixth Sense.

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originally posted: 03/21/00 06:27:43
last updated: 02/13/04 19:53:07
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