The Self-Made Critic's Guide to the Academy Awards 2002
Gather round and hear the voice of truth! And the winners will and
Best Supporting Actor
Let's start by eliminating two actors, Ethan Hawke and Jon Voight.
Voight's on screen for 13 minutes and Ethan didn't so much act along side
Denzel in Training Day as stay out of his way. Jim Broadbent may have
done the best acting of the year, sadly he spread it out over three
films, and for my money, his nomination for Iris wasn't even as
interesting or memorable as his work in Moulin Rouge. That leaves
Gandalf or Gandhi.
Right now, lots of folks will tell you to lean towards Gandalf, and if
Lord of the Rings begins to sweep everything under the sun, he may tag
along for the ride. But anyone who saw Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast (and
not nearly enough of you have done so) knows that this award was his the
moment the movie was released.
And in a slight upset, I believe the academy will agree.
Who Should Win: Ben Kingsley
Who Will Win: Ben Kingsley
Best Supporting Actress
Your first reaction when scanning the list of nominees in this category
is "That's it?" Sadly, none of these performances jumped out at me when
I saw the movies. Still we have five to choose from, and so let's take a
Marisa Tomei already won her award for this film nine years ago, and you
can't win twice for the same movie. Kate Winslet is still suffering from
Titanic backlash, so she can't possibly win. That leaves us two
well-respected Brits and one upstart American. When it comes to voting,
the two Brits cancel each other out and the plucky Jennifer Connelly wins
in a landslide. However, she doesn't really deserve it, for pretty much
the same reason Ethan Hawke doesn't deserve to win for Training Day. How
many people walked out of A Beautiful Mind talking about Jennifer
Connelly? No, this is between the plucky Brits from Gosford Park, and in
a landslide, Dame Maggie Smith deserves the award for being the only
character in that movie to stand out from any of the other characters.
Tell the truth, you loved absolutely every moment she was on screen. So
Who Should Win: Maggie Smith
Who Will Win: Jennifer Connelly
What was once a one-woman show has become a three-woman race. One month
ago, everybody in the world knew without a doubt that Sissy Spacek was
going to win this award. But then they nominated four other women, and
two of them have caught people's attention. First, the two "Oh, were
they nominated as well?" women this year are Judi Dench for a film that
no one saw, and Renee Zellweger for a film quite a few people saw. Judi
won't win because she's on screen for longer than 8 minutes, and she's
not allowed to win an award for any film where she actually has screen
time, and Renee won't win because, well darn it, she just looked too cute
in the bunny outfit, didn't she?
So, Sissy Spacek, Halle Berry or Nicole Kidman? Nicole Kidman can't win
because Hollywood would never give Nicole Kidman an Oscar before it gives
one to Tom Cruise. That leaves Halle or Sissy. Before Monster's Ball,
Halle was best known for gratuitously showing her breasts in Swordfish.
Before In The Bedroom, Sissy was best known for being someone who was
popular twenty-five years ago. And we all know the old saying "Age
Who Should Win: Sissy Spacek
Who Will Win: Sissy Spacek
Last year we had a two-horse race between Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe,
and that's exactly what we have this year, if you spell Tom Hanks
Oh sure, Sean Penn is a great actor, but just about any actor could have
gotten nominated in that role, so what's the big deal? Will Smith
certainly deserves praise for his Ali, but we're all much more interested
in Men In Black II to pay any attention to his serious roles, and quite
frankly, I get more and more annoyed when puts off the fun films to do
one of his "Give Me A Damn Oscar!" roles. Any other year, and I would
surprise many of you by saying Tom Wilkenson deserves the Oscar. He was
brilliant, subtle, powerful, believable. But since his name isn't
Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington, he's just one big loser.
So, Denzel or Russell? Pick your poison. If the voters care about the
performance, and nothing else, then the winner has to be Russell Crowe.
A Beautiful Mind was one of the most amazing portraits we've had in
eons. Russell did a lot of acting in this movie, and should therefore
get an "Acting" award. But the ultimate irony will befall him on Oscar
night, when one year after winning when he should have lost, he will lose
when he should have won and Denzel Washington, definitely a great actor
in a great role, will walk up to the podium. They'll vote for him, more
than anything, because after seeing him in Training Day, they'll be too
afraid not to.
Who Should Win: Russell Crowe
Who Will Win: Denzel Washington
It is a rule that if your picture isn't up for Best Picture, you can't
win Best Director. That actually rules out TWO of the nominees (this
makes less and less sense each year.) Since The Best Director Award is
voted on by directors, the award tends to go to the director who did the
best job under the most difficult of circumstances. That certainly rules
out Robert Altman, who, in his own words "Just turned on the camera and
waited to see what my great actors gave me." Yeah, that sounds tough.
So what's harder, directing the largest production in the history of
film-making, with gazillion locations, actors, costumes, effects, and
finding a way to make a fantasy epic a mainstream hit, or working with
The epic, but just barely.
Plus, if they give him the award this time, they don't have to bother
with him for the next two.
Who Should Win: Peter Jackson--Lord of the Rings
Who Will Win: Peter Jackson--Lord of the Rings
Best Animated Feature
New category. Three nominees. Two nominees that actually have a chance
of winning. At first, I was all excited about this award. As a big fan
of animation, I thought it was great to give animated features a chance
to shine. But then someone pointed out that now, animation is going to
be relegated to a second class citizen for all time. No longer will an
animated feature or performance be up for a regular award (Beauty and the
Beast was nominated for Best Picture, Robin Williams came very close to
being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Aladdin.) If we have a
Best Animated Feature, why not a Best Comedy? Best Horror Flick? Best
Film Featuring Pasta? Where does the madness end?
Anyway, Jimmy Neutron is only nominated because they wanted more than two
nominations. Monsters, Inc. or Shrek? When Shrek came out, it was
great. Have you watched it lately? Already old. If Shrek had been
released in November instead of May, it would win, but it has had time to
age, time to be shown for what it really is, a very clever version of a
story we've seen a hundred times before. Monsters Inc., on the other
hand, is still brilliantly original. And I think the Academy will notice
this as well.
Who Should Win: Monsters, Inc.
Who Will Win: Monsters, Inc.
Since we have learned that Best Director does not mean Best Picture, we
have to actually think about this one.
However, the one rule that remains in effect is, if your director wasn't
nominated, then you can't win. So buh-bye Moulin Rouge and In The
Bedroom. Gosford Park? Hardly. Just like with the directors, there are
two true candidates to choose from.
Oscars love a sweeping epic. Lord of the Rings is a sweeping epic.
Hence, Oscars love Lord of the Rings. But Oscars also love incredibly
moving and surprising dramas about real-life people. A Beautiful Mind is
an incredibly moving and surprising drama about a real-life person.
Hence, Oscars love A Beautiful Mind. Both movies are fine movies. Both
movies have issues. Lord of the Rings is long. And it doesn't so much
end as it screams "Come back next year!" A Beautiful Mind has been
accused of not being true to the story of John Nash. And it stars
Russell Crowe, who is doing all he can to piss everybody off.
Personally, the movie that I enjoyed more was A Beautiful Mind, and that
deserves to win, win, win. But I think the voters are going to try to
show that they're not a bunch of stodgy, elderly old men with no
connection to the public and vote for the movie with elves. If for no
other reason than to be able to wear their "I voted for Frodo" buttons at
Who Should Win: A Beautiful Mind
Who Will Win: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring