Oscars 2002: Predictions & Commentary

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Oscars 2003

[Commentary made after the 2002 Oscars]

[Most of this was a posting made to rec.arts.movies.current-films during the afternoon of March 24 (before the Oscars were given out).]

OK, for the first time in 33 years, I'm missing part of the Oscars tonight. I sing in a choir giving an early evening performance. Thank goodness for recorders! But, it will be weird to walk in late and miss seeing what Whoopi does to open the show. Her appearance as Queen Elizabeth a few years back was just hysterically funny.

I've seen most of the major movies, will note what I haven't seen and will go ahead with my predictions anyway. For the last few years, I've been hedging my bets with a "will win" (WW) & "should win" (SW). [[Prediction percentage for 2002: 45%]]

Performance by an actor in a lead role

A very strong category, except for Sean Penn, whose performance was very erratic.

I haven't seen Training Day, but just the trailers & commercials show a very commanding performance by Denzel Washington. Washington has been owed a best actor award for ten years, when he didn't win for the amazing performance in Malcolm X. Unfortunately, Al Pacino was owed for performances before his performance in Scent of a Woman that year. I suspect Russell Crowe will win. His performance as Nash was superb, much, much better than his performance for the extraordinarily overrated Gladiator. Tom Wilkinson might sneak in, depending on how much the vote is split between Crowe & Washington. While In the Bedroom is a tragically flawed movie, Wilkinson's performance was a gem.

A note about A Beautiful Mind controversies. These accuraccy controversies seem to hit movies about men much more than movies about women, mostly in a move to detract from the actor's performance (think of Washington in Hurricane a few years back). History was reinvented with to a massive degree in Elizabeth, but I had no problem with the brilliant Cate Blanchett winning anyway. [[I should have said I wouldn't have had any problem with Blanchett, who should have beaten Paltrow that year, but... ;->]] What matters is the performance in the script that's written, & that's the main thing that should matter (though "corrections for past omissions" & politics & age do come into play in Oscar voting).

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Very tough category. It'll probably go to McKellen because of past omissions, but it could also go to Broadbent for the same reason. Both were absolutely perfect in their roles. Some people hated Jon Voight's performance in Ali, so I was suprised to see him here at all.

[[It was delightful to see Broadbent win; he'd played many different parts over the last year or so & was wonderful in every one. There are times when you make a prediction, turn out to be wrong & are delighted to have been wrong!]]

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Another very tough category (and it would have been even tougher if Jennifer Connelly was in this category where she belongs!). I haven't been able to bring myself to see Monster's Ball, but every bit of it I've seen show great performances by both Berry & Thornton. Berry deserves it, but Sissy Spacek will probably win anyway. If Spacek & Berry split the vote too much, Judi Dench might finally win a Best Actress award, and she would deserve it, too. So would Zellweger, but comedy actresses so rarely win that it's unlikely.

[[I think I started crying before Halle Berry did. To have a black woman finally win after Dandrige, Tyson & Bassett didn't previously was just great.]]

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

This is probably the only lock (well, I do suspect Ron Howard is a lock this year too). Connelly has really grown as an actress over the last few years (remember her in Labyrinth? The Rocketeer?) and was awesome as Alicia Nash. The acting in Gosford Park was too flat, though Mirren's performance was a slight stand-out. Tomei was great in In the Bedroom, but plenty of people felt she shouldn't have won for My Cousin Vinny, so... And Kate Winslet was also wonderful as the young Iris Murdoch.

Best animated feature film of the year

Fantastic Shrek was tops in a decent field.

[[Having the reactive characters in the audience was a nice touch!]]

Achievement in art direction

Moulin Rouge was a mess of a movie - a two-hour rock video. Why it won the Producer's Award as best picture, I'll never know. However, I suspect Oscar voters will want to give it something, & its art direction was very interesting. Not as good as LOTR, though LOTR still has two more chances to take this one home over the next two years. The other nominees in this category were interesting, but they're pretty much just rounding out the top five.

Achievement in cinematography

LOTR will probably pick up most technical awards (deservedly so), including this one.

Achievement in costume design

LOTR will probably pick up most technical awards (deservedly so), including this one. Moulin Rouge has a shot at this if it doesn't win Art Direction. Gosford Park might win this as an "also ran" award,

[[I'm a little surprised that Moulin Rouge got as many as two Oscars, but it least it one in the categories where it sort of wasn't a horrible thing to have happened!]]

Achievement in directing

I'm really torn between Howard & Jackson; Howard deserved the Oscar in the past & A Beautiful Mind does a fabulous job at really showing mental illness from the inside out & the outside in. But LOTR is such a landmark movie; we're currently in the golden age of the fantasy film (just this year: LOTR, Shrek & Harry Potter, last year, the extraordinarily beautiful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a small backward nod to 1987's The Princess Bride). I think, ultimately, Jackson deserves it this year but Howard will win.

[[I'm skipping the Wild Ass Guess categories, like documentary.]]

Achievement in film editing

Most like A Beautiful Mind, which is very well-paced, though either LOTR or Memento might sneak in.

Best foreign language film of the year

Amélie was charming!

Achievement in makeup

I don't understand why Harry Potter & Apes weren't nominated & Beautiful Mind & Moulin Rouge were, but...this is the one award LOTR has a lock on.

Achievement in music in connection with motion pictures (Original score)

No Award?

Oh, that's right...the music just didn't overly impress me this year, but the music for LOTR was more interesting than the other music.

Achievement in music in connection with motion pictures (Original song)

What was that about No Award? ;->

Actually, I really did like "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge, but as it was not written strictly for the movie, it was not eligible. I also rather like "May It Be," but Oscar voters love rock legends, so it'll go to Sir Paul McCartney.

[[Randy Newman is a lot like John Barry - writing the same music over & over again & finally winning an award for it!]]

Best motion picture of the year

I think LOTR & A Beautiful Mind will do another Director/Picture split. Oscar voters do overlook fantasy & SF films for major awards, but I think they might not this year. If not LOTR, it'll be A Beautiful Mind

Achievement in sound

Achievement in sound editing

Haven't seen Pearl Harbor, but sound editing awards tend to go to movies with the most explosions... ;->

Achievement in visual effects

Amazing effects.

Screenplay based on material previously produced or published

The adaptation of LOTR was wonderful, but I think it is less likely to see a fantasy movie win here than in the Best Picture Category. And A Beautiful Mind was extremely well adapted, despite the controversies about what was cut.

[[Well, I'd only skimmed the book A Beautiful Mind before watching the movie & the Oscars. I've since read the book. Now, I'm not so sure. The movie of A Beautiful Mind doesn't parallel the life of John Nash nearly as well as I'd thought. Alicia, in real life, is a much more ambivalent character than the completely selfless character portrayed in the movie. I think it's clear Nash "inspired" the movie, but the movie isn't as autobiographical as some people would want you to think. So while it's a fine movie on its own, I have very mixed feelings about it winning best adapted screenplay. LOTR was a much better adaptation as it did not fail to leave out large chunks of the book in translating a difficult work to the screen.]]

Screenplay written directly for the screen

This is a really very tricky category. I suspect it will go to Gosford Park because Gosford Park is a very traditional movie and it is unlikely to win anything else (except, maybe, costumes). Memento was a very, very interesting experiment, & I'd like to see more experimental movies get some notice. I loved The Royal Tennenbaums, but it's probably too quirky.