By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
BEST PICTURE: The witty-ish 'American Beauty' struck me as a watered-down version of various Christina Ricci movies, but its dark aesthetic and antimarital stance have made it a millennial shoo-in. 'The Green Mile' and 'The Hurricane both center on wrongly imprisoned African Americans, but while Academy thinking is that Mile ran long and fell short, The Hurricane is such a rousingly fraudulent amalgam of Gandhi, Raging Bull, I Want to Live!, and Lady Sings the Blues that you can expect a Rubin sandwich filled with nominations. Another mildly distorted yet riveting legal tale, The Insider, was so long you had to run out in the middle and have a smoke, but Oscar loves to inhale on that kind of social importance. And he also feels that The Talented Mr. Ripley has youngish sex appeal, Toy Story 2 has even younger merch appeal, and The Sixth Sense was last year's The Full Monty.
Fuggeddaboudit: Tarzan (me Oscar, you lose), Anna and the King (nature abhors a vacuum), Being John Malkovich (Oscar won't dive into its head), Boys Don't Cry (this time they will), Titus (tight ass is more like it when it comes to Academy tastes), The End of the Affair (a dignified fuckathon, but you leave humming the costumes).
The nominees will be: American Beauty, The Hurricane, The Insider, The Sixth Sense, Ripley.
BEST ACTOR: Kevin Spacey gave one of the year's best performancesno, not his Playboy interview, but in American Beauty. Ripley's Matt Damon was convincingly cuckoo and looked cute in trunks, while The Hurricane's Denzel Washington was a storm of dignity and looked hot in boxing shorts. Russell Crowe's off-putting brand of showy underplaying has delighted the Academy since Jane Darwell won for The Grapes of Wrath. And The Straight Story's cuddly Richard Farnsworth has suddenly got some mileage on his mower. Alas, while there's nothing Hollywood loves more than a restrained wildman playing an unrestrained wildman, Jim Carrey's virtuoso Man on the Moon performance isn't luring in the customers, and all that hype about how he became Andy Kaufman left millions saying "Andy who?"
Also fuggeddaboudit: Tom Hanks for The Green Mile (the mouse that snored), Kirk Douglas for Diamonds (Farnsworth's got the fogey slot), Sean Penn for Sweet and Lowdown (sweet, but low down on Oscar's priorities), Bruce Willis for The Sixth Sense (he let the kid rock the movie and now must pay for it), Jim Broadbent for Topsy-Turvy (Oscar's got a little listand he's not on it), Ralph Fiennes for The End of the Affair (the category's too tight and so are his lips), Rupert Everett for An Ideal Husband (he's friends with Madonna).
The nominees will be: Crowe, Damon, Farnsworth, Spacey, Washington.
BEST ACTRESS: Hilary Swank was so powerful in Boys Don't Cry that she can unstrap her breasts and start heading to the Oscars right now. Annette Bening was the target of American Beauty's misogynistic jokes, but she'll get them back with a nomination. Julianne Moore was nobly restrained in The End of the Affair, even when showing her titsplus she had a hack cough. Sigourney Weaver got raves for A Map of the World, and Oscar owes her for the year she lost twice. And though The Music of the Heart struck no chord with ticket buyers, we're talking Meryl Streep, folks. She passes gas, she gets nominated.
Fuggeddaboudit: Jodie Foster for Anna and the King (she had better chemistry with Hannibal Lecter), Winona Ryder for Girl, Interrupted (nomination, intercepted), Nicole Kidman for Eyes Wide Shut (the film needed more thighs wide open), Kate Winslet for Holy Smoke (I liked it), Janet McTeer for Tumbleweeds (every time something dramatic was about to happen, her character ran away), Gwyneth Paltrow for Ripley (no one wants a reprise of last year's acceptance speech), Susan Sarandon for Anywhere but Here (appealingly looked at sunsets and sang "Be Optimistic," but the movie tanked, so be pessimistic).
The nominees will be: Bening, Moore, Streep, Swank, Weaver.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Haley Joel Osment is a given for The Sixth Sensefor recognizing that Bruce Willis is dead. Ditto The Green Mile's childike Michael Clarke Duncan because of his ability to spew locusts into your mouth and make it stop hurting when you pee. In another superhuman feat, The Insider's Christopher Plummer played Mike Wallace better than Wallace himself. Meanwhile, Ripley's Jude Law will be the first person ever nominated for being cute. And the not exactly troll-like Tom Cruise gives a showboaty peformance as Magnolia's preening, woman-hating pig who believes, "No pussy has nine lives." By nominating Tom, Oscar can simultaneously thank him for slumming in an art piece and forgive him for Eyes Wide Shut.
Fuggeddaboudit: Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules (that feelgood abortionist movie), John Malkovich for Being John Malkovich (not exactly a stretch), Max Von Sydow for Snow Falling on Cedars (and falling and falling . . . ), Jason Robards for Magnolia (he had to sing an Aimee Mann song on his deathbed), Rhys Ifans for Notting Hill (personally, I was lunging at the screen).