The Brunching Shuttlecocks Features

You think you know who's going to win the Academy Awards? You're wrong! Only I know! And I am going to share this information with you so that you can win every Oscar pool you enter and split the money with me 50-50.

See, the Oscars have nothing to do with being good, they are all about MOMENTUM. If The Truman Show had been released in December, Jim Carrey would be up for an Oscar. Likewise, if A Thin Red Line had been released in February, it would have gotten as much Academy attention as BASEketball.

So heed my words, here is who will win the important awards - and why.

Best Supporting Actor:

If you asked any of the major critics, or watched any of the previous award shows, you would know that this award belongs, lock, stock and barrel, to Bill Murray for Rushmore. Except he's not nominated. Lord knows why. Right now everyone in the academy is saying "Didn't you nominate Murray?" "I thought you were going to!" So what we have are 5 good performances by 5 actors we all know quite well. Robert Duvall (A Civil Action) - nominated last year for The Apostle, Ed Harris (The Truman Show) - nominated three years ago for Apollo 13, Geoffrey Rush (Shakespeare In Love) - who won two years ago for Shine, Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan) - nominated two years ago for Sling Blade, and James Coburn(Affliction) - who has never been nominated in his life.

Tell the truth, before Tuesday, you didn't even know James Coburn was IN Affliction. But here he is, he's nominated, and he's going to win. Why? Because he's a LEGEND, he's never won, and he's up against four guys who have already tasted a piece of the pie. Coburn is getting old, he's going to die soon, so this is his year to win.

Winner: James Coburn

Best Supporting Actress:

Every year, one of the Supporting Awards goes to someone doing something slightly comedic. Every Year. Well Coburn's role in Affliction is nothing but dramatic, so that means it's gonna be one of the chicks. That rules out Lynn Redgrave in Gods and Monsters and some chick I've never heard of from Hilary And Jackie (Yeah, I've never heard of it either. Man, where do they dig up these movies?) Actually, it may also rule out Brenda Blethyn in Little Voices, but I have absolutely no idea (although her name is kind of funny, which may count for something) and it doesn't matter, because she won't win anyway.

So it comes down to Kathy Bates in Primary Colors and Judi Dench from Shakespeare In Love. Kathy was brilliant. She was great. She ruled every scene she was in. She even died in the end. But she's already got an Oscar. Judi is going to win, even though she's only in the movie for about eight minutes. Why? Because she was supposed to win Best Actress last year for Mrs. Brown, and the Academy feels really badly about letting her down. It's a perfect situation. They pay Dench back for slighting her, and they give an award to a comic performance, thereby avoiding being called stodgy for yet another year.

Winner: Judi Dench

Best Actor:

Roberto Benigni, the Italian actor/director/writer who created and starred in the critically acclaimed Italian film Life Is Beautiful, is going to win an award. But not this one. He may be good, but damn it, the Academy likes their actors to speak English in their movies!

Nick Nolte has gotten a lot of acclaim for his role in Affliction, and the Academy loves to award drunks, but they've never forgiven Nick for making Three Fugitives, so he's out of luck.

Tom Hanks was good in Saving Private Ryan. If he won, he'd obviously give a great acceptance speech. But tell the truth, when you were watching Ryan, didn't you kinda feel like Tom was basically doing Tom? The reason he's so good at playing a decent human being is that he IS a decent human being. He won't win. It'd be his third, and they will never allow three Oscars to go to the star of Bosom Buddies.

Edward Norton from American History X was a surprise nomination. He took Jim Carrey's spot. They nominated him to spite the director of the movie, who had a huge feud with Norton over the cut of the film and got all pissy at the entire Industry. Nominating Norton is Hollywood's way of saying "Don't mess with us little man, we take care of our own." Nice gesture, but he won't win.

That leaves Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters. First of all, he's British, and the Academy loves British people. Secondly, he plays a Hollywood legend, and the Academy loves people who portray Hollywood legends. Thirdly, I haven't yet eliminated him, so he's kinda the last man standing.

Winner: Ian McKellen

Best Actress:

This is a crap shoot. Personally, I think I'd roll the dice for Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. First of all, they will want to make sure that Elizabeth wins at least one award, and most of it's other nominations will go to Shakespeare In Love, and secondly, it'll be really cool if Blanchett wins Actress and Judi Dench wins Supporting Actress, because they're playing the same character. How cool is that?

The other four nominees are all over the place. Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station) won't win because... well have you ever heard of her? Neither has the Academy. Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie) won't win because even though she was nominated last year, no one knows who she is. She's just the weird chick who does the art-house film every year and gets nominated. Whatever, moving on. Meryl Streep (One True Thing) won't win because she's won a zillion times or something like that, and One True Thing was a bomb. End of story. Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love) won't win because she's too young, a total babe, and hugely popular. She's not going to be allowed to win until she's old, ugly, and retro.

Winner: Cate Blanchett

Best Picture:

This winner will also win the Best Director category because how could anyone do the best job of making a movie and not make the best movie?

3 films in WWII and 2 films in Elizabethan England. So this year's perfect film would have been a WWII drama in corsets.

Actually, this makes it really easy to narrow the field. What was the best Elizabethan film? 13 nominations means the Academy thinks Shakespeare In Love wins that title. What was the best WWII film? 11 nominations and the name Steven Spielberg means Saving Private Ryan gets the nod. So we've managed to eliminate Elizabeth, A Thin Red Line and Life Is Beautiful. See how easy this is?

So, epic war story or period-piece romantic comedy? Duh. There is one word that can be attributed to almost every Academy Award Best Picture. Epic. Think big. Think Titanic. Think English Patient. Think Braveheart. Think Forrest Gump. Think Shindler's List. Those are the last five. They are all pretty damn big movies. Epic wins. Always has, always will. Was Saving Private Ryan the Best Film of 1998? Who cares? It gets the Oscar. And so does Spielberg.

Winner: Saving Private Ryan.

I hope this brief look helps you win lots and lots of money. Which after all, is what the Oscars is all about.

Editor's Note:

For the record, James Coburn is 71 years old, and is about as ready to kick as Paul Newman.

Thanks for all the e-mail about the SMC - I was finally able this week to give the Self Made Critic his yearly review for 1998, and based on your suggestions, this is what it said:

SMC Strengths: Making other people feel that their lives are at least a little exciting, by providing a new low in the benchmark of loser-ness.

SMC Weaknesses: Writing idiotic reviews, having no life.

I think the review was fair, don't you? For his yearly bonus, I gave him two tickets to the premiere of "Highlander 4" and $20 to get a haircut.

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