NY Mirror

Definitely honor-free will be Joseph Fiennes for Shakespeare (sorry, but the Bard didn't look like Rob Lowe).

The nominees: Redgrave, Dench, Bates, Allen, Kudrow.

SUPPORTING ACTOR:In contrast to all those heroic leads, this category will be filled with mid- and late-life moral complexity, served with a lite dressing. Michael Caine's Little Voice sleazebag has a shot, even though they're sleazily pushing him for Best Actor. Ed Harris could be recognized for directing the show within The Truman Show (and for putting up with the two screaming harridans in Stepmom). Billy Bob Thornton may have played one too many lovable retards, but his A Simple Plan one has an edge that spells Oscar. Geoffrey Rush maintained dignity in tights in Shakespeare, Elizabeth, and Les Miserables. And though Rushmore doesn't quite come off, Bill Murray's bittersweet performance is the kind of surprise turn the Academy likes. (Remember Red Buttons?)

The uninvited? Dylan Baker's sympathetic Happiness perv will not be Oscar's cup of cum. Brendan Fraser will be sadly overlooked— too cute— for Gods and Monsters. The Ryan and Thin Red Line guys meld into one big sanctimonious yet violent blur (though Nolte has a slight chance to pull a Sigourney Weaver and get a twin nod, for Line). Donald Sutherland's triumph in Without Limits was without patrons. Robert Duvall stole the roll— and the movie— in A Civil Action, but that was petty larceny. James Coburn made the line "Don't you sass me, goddammit!" soar in Affliction, but you can't get nominated for a line. And Bulworth's Oliver Platt can't get nominated for a line of coke.

Three British queens in the Oscar race: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters, and Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love
Three British queens in the Oscar race: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters, and Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love

The nominees will be: Caine, Harris, Thornton, Rush, Murray.

The Best Song will be that ghastly Mariah and Whitney duet from The Prince of Egypt— but at least you can count on them to brawl on the Oscars. Also, if any of the above contenders has a tracheotomy appointment or a house with children and no window guards, award them extra points.

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