Even the losers become winners Awards: The Oscars are not the only show in town. The Razzies "celebrate" the year's worst, and the Spirits are the outsiders' picks.

March 23, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES -- If there's an actor, filmmaker or film that hasn't picked up an award by day's end today, it won't be for lack of opportunity.

For tonight's Oscars are only the final act in a three-day-long trophy-bestowing frenzy that began Saturday in a Santa Monica tent, moved yesterday to a venerable hotel across Hollywood Boulevard from the famous Chinese Theater and won't end until near midnight tonight, when the last Oscar winners take their bow and Billy Crystal makes the inevitable crack about how it didn't take this long for the real Titanic to sink.

It's all part of the film community's annual self-love feast, the chance to remind itself of what a good job they're all doing or, in the case of the Razzies, be reminded how low they can go.

The Razzies, tagged "Oscar's evil twin" by founder John Wilson, have spent 18 years popping Hollywood's over-inflated egos, reminding folks how much of what Hollywood churns out is dreck.

This year's most-pricked ego belongs to Kevin Costner, whose resolutely self-indulgent "The Postman" earned a depressive five Razzies, for Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Song -- the latter for the film's entire score, as Razzie voters were unable to discern a clear dis-favorite.

Quoting critics from throughout the world, few of whom had any kind words for the film, "The Postman" was slammed as a "$100 million turkey," "a testimony to superstar indulgence" and "pure hubristic hokum."

Most uncomfortably, the film clocked in at over three hours, giving it, in the words of one critic, "a running time to test the human bladder."

As dishonored as "The Postman" was, it didn't suffer alone. Going into the ceremony, the year's clear loser was "Batman and Robin," earning 11 nominations in 12 categories. But, proving quantity doesn't always equal success (could this be an omen for "Titanic"?) the film hobbled off with only a single win/loss: Alicia Silverstone's Worst Supporting Actress as Batgirl.

Besides Costner, the Razzies' other multiple winner was NBA weirdo Dennis Rodman, for his performance in "Double Team." Besides earning the Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star citations, he shared the Worst Screen Couple award with co-star Jean-Claude van Damme.

Other winners/losers included "ConAir" for Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property" (the film includes lots of stuff blowing up, and "Speed 2: Cruise Control," Worst Remake or Sequel.

The Razzies were held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, just upstairs from where the first Academy Awards banquet was held, in 1929. One hopes the ghosts of Louis B. Mayer and the other Academy founders have a sense of humor.

On Saturday, the independent film community assured Robert Duvall that the 14 years he spent bringing Sonny Dewey to the screen was worth it.

"The Apostle," Duvall's study of a devout man's moment of horrible weakness, earned three of the top prizes at the 13th annual Independent Spirit Awards, held to honor films originating outside the Hollywood mainstream (although how outside is vTC matter of semantics: Miramax studios, whose films won several awards, is owned by Disney).

Duvall himself won awards for starring in and directing the film -- he also wrote it and served as executive producer -- while the citation for best feature was given to producer Rob Carliner.

His two Spirit awards in hand, Duvall admitted to some anxious moments, particularly when the show was two-thirds over and "The Apostle" had come up empty.

"Halfway through, I leaned over to Rob and said, 'Think we're gonna get skunked?' " a grinning Duvall told the assembled press.

Throughout the awards ceremony, held inside a tent within sight of the Pacific Ocean, everyone associated with the Spirit awards took pains to distance themselves from the older, more prestigious Oscars. The result was a looser, racier, hipper show -- much like a headstrong child obsessed with distancing itself from its parent.

The Oscars, for instance, will probably never see an in-your-face moment like the one unleashed as Kevin Smith was accepting his screenplay award for "Chasing Amy." After spending several minutes talking about his career and the challenges he's faced as a filmmaker working outside the major studios, Smith recalled his mother's reaction to his first film, "Clerks," the story of two friends, one who works at a convenience store, the other at a video store.

"She said to me, 'You spent 27 grand on that piece of garbage?' " Smith told the laughing audience. Smith ended by making nice, assuring his mom that she was the greatest.

Other Spirit award winners included Julie Christie, best actress for her turn as a faded film star and emotional cripple in "Afterglow"; Debbi Morgan, Best Supporting Actress for "Eve's Bayou" (which also was cited as Best First Feature, the award going to director Kasi Lemmons); and Jason Lee, best supporting actor for "Chasing Amy."

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