By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
2000 Was the year of the genre flickgladiator epics, hurricane movies, and chicken runsand it's now up to the Oscars to plow through all the storms and feathers and find some actual humans worth citing. The nominations will be announced on February 13, but being blessed with amazing mystical powers and a subscription to Daily Variety, I can tell you right now who's going to get what. Maybe.
BEST PICTURE: A smorgasbord of period pieces and confrontational dramas is pushing for the glory, all torn between social relevance and sheer titillation. The soggy field covers everything from flashy embarrassments like Quills (a/k/a Hideous Kinky) and seductive formula flicks like Billy Elliot (Shine with tutus and lollipops) to the wildly praised Trafficdrugs are badwhich some disgruntled audience members have been calling "Lifestyle television for women."
Without one solid front-runner, it seems even Battlefield Earth has a chance, but there aresome prize horses in the rat race. Among the shiniest contenders: Almost Famous(almost a hit), Gladiator(Ben-Hur for the "Get her" generation), Erin Brockovich(what consciousness raising! what cleavage!), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(lush scenery andkick-ass karatean art flick for real people), Cast Away(if you scream "Oscar" on a deserted island, do people still hear it? By God, yes!), Sunshine(180 minutes spanning three generationsand all they're asking for is one tiny little statuette).
But you can safely rule out: The Patriot(I was rooting for the British), Chocolat(an icky trip down the Hershey highway, though Miramax has worked up its usual frenzy around it), Wonder Boys(the Al Goreof moviesthey'll keep rereleasing it until it wins something).
The nominees will be: Cast Away;Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon;Erin Brockovich;Gladiator;Traffic.
BEST ACTOR: Angst is the key emotion here, and, as usual, the more outbursts the better. The most cantankerous contenders are Russell Crowefor Gladiator(the only thing in the movie that wasn't digitized), Javier Bardemfor Before Night Falls(Javier who? Oh, hush, he's a shoo-in), Geoffrey Rushfor Quills(that naked scene took balls), Sean Conneryfor Finding Forrester(the name's Forrester. William Forrester), Jamie Bellfor Billy Elliot(he can see dance people), Denzel Washingtonfor Remember the Titans(remember the grosses), George Clooneyfor O Brother, Where Art Thou? (how cute is he?), Tom Hanksfor Cast Away(he gained weight, lost weight, and talked to a volleyballdoes this not merit some recognition, people?), Michael Douglasfor Wonder Boys(Hollywood admires him for nabbing whatshername for only a million a year), Ed Harrisfor Pollock(what nextGary Siniseas Schnabel?), Ralph Fiennesfor Sunshine(on my shoulder makes me happy).
Fuhgeddaboudit: Kevin Costnerfor Thirteen Days(Waterworldwasn't thatlong ago), Colin Farrellfor Tigerland(too soon), Jim Carreyfor the Grinch movie (a/k/a Green Eggs and a Really Big Ham).
The nominees will be: Bardem, Crowe, Douglas, Hanks, Rush.
BEST ACTRESS: The field is dominated by seemingly lightweight types surprising us with chutzpah and pathos. The cream of the dreamgirls are Julia Robertsfor Erin Brockovich(it's her Norma Rae, and I really, really like her!), Laura Linneyfor You Can Count On Me(superb, but they'll notice her anyway), Björkfor Dancer in the Dark(everyone hated it, but she rocked as the sweet simpleton who murders, then sings about it), Joan Allenfor The Contender(the orgy hurt her presidential chances, but not her Oscar ones), Gillian Andersonfor The House of Mirth(a/k/a The House of Blues), Juliette Binochefor Chocolat(leave off the last eit's the efor extra servings), Cate Blanchettfor The Gift(a nomination might be in her cards), Ellen Burstynfor Requiem for a Dream(I felt she overacted, but hey, I'm not an Oscar voter), Michelle Yeohfor Crouching Tiger (Yeoh, mama!).
Sorry, ladies: Renée Zellwegerfor Nurse Betty(response to the movie needed resuscitation), Brenda Blethynfor Saving Grace(the potheads can't seem to get it together to vote for her).
The nominees will be: Allen, Björk, Burstyn, Linney, Roberts.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Character actors charmed their way to award consideration, gamely chewing scenery while grabbing for the gold. The top aspirants are Albert Finneyfor Erin Brockovich(if you didn't love him, you must be drinking tainted water), Oliver Reedand Joaquin Phoenixfor Gladiator(Phoenix is more of a favorite because he's alive, though he goes to too many parties), Willem Dafoefor Shadow of the Vampire(he didn't suck), Bruce Greenwoodfor Thirteen Days(Jack impersonation equals Oscar nomination), Benicio Del Torofor Traffic(he's been better in other movies, but Oscar's not known for timing), Giovanni Ribisifor The Gift(this could be his chance to prove he's not Benicio Del Toro), Alfred Molinafor Chocolat(around the corner, fudge is made), Jeff Bridgesfor The Contender(though his ethical president now seems unbelievable), Mark Ruffalofor You Can Count On Me(a/k/a O Brother, Where Art Thou Taking My Son?).
No way, José: Michael Cainefor Quills(didn't he win the last10 years?), Gary Oldmanfor The Contender(Phoenix already has the boo-hiss slot), Donald Sutherlandfor Space Cowboys(Tang and Depends don't mix).
The nominees: Dafoe, Del Toro, Finney, Greenwood, Phoenix.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Veterans dominate this category, oozing authority despite unflattering hairstyles. The hottest hotshots are Frances McDormandand Kate Hudsonfor Almost Famous (very famous), Catherine Deneuvefor Dancer in the Dark(the most glamorous factory worker since Kathie Lee's kids had to address envelopes), Julie Waltersfor Billy Elliot(no, she's not Brenda Blethyn), Kate Winsletfor Quills(being a laundress in thatmovie took a lot of Febreze), Dame Judi Denchfor Chocolat(there is nothing like a Dame Judi Dench), Catherine Zeta-Jonesfor Traffic(though her lavish pre-nup might be reward enough), Marcia Gay Hardenfor Pollock (a/k/a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Drunk).
Sorry, ladies: Lupe Ontiverosfor Chuck & Buck(the nominators aren't that swift), Zhang Yi Yifor Crouching Tiger (ditto), Jennifer Ehleand Rosemary Harrisfor Sunshine(their Tony Awards battle was scary enough).
The nominees will be: Dench, McDormand, Walters, Winslet, Zeta-Jones.
May the best woman winif she's nominated!