And the Oscar goes to ... whom?

March 24, 2002|By Phil Perrier

LOS ANGELES -- Judging from this year's Academy Award nominees, you would think all of the male members of the academy had been knocked unconscious and locked in a basement.

The contenders for Best Picture are A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings and Moulin Rouge. Oprah Winfrey's book club could have made these choices. Not one movie about soldiers, gladiators or cowboys. Perhaps after decades of critics bemoaning the lack of quality small films being nominated, this is a makeup year.

On with the predictions:

Best Actor: Russell Crowe, last year's winner for Gladiator, puts on a stunning performance as a troubled math genius loosing his grip on reality in A Beautiful Mind. Imagine Good Will Hunting meets Shine. Mr. Crowe will not win for two reasons: He won last year and his name is not Tom Hanks.

Sean Penn is a dark horse for his portrayal of a retarded man in I am Sam. Working against Mr. Penn: Almost nobody saw Sam and the whole mentally challenged hero genre is getting a little threadbare. (see Forrest Gump, Nell, Slingblade, The Green Mile.)

Will Smith gets a look for his turn as Ali. Aside from Ali tanking at the box office and earning mediocre reviews, Mr. Smith should like his chances. After all, the movie was hugely hyped and cost a lot of money, both things that matter to the academy. Whatever the outcome, at $20 million a picture, the Fresh Prince won't have to fight Danny Bonaduce any time soon.

Tom Wilkinson gets his first Oscar nomination for his role as Sissy Spacek's husband in the family drama In the Bedroom. Nobody has ever heard of Tom Wilkinson, and the words "family drama" may as well be "Oscar Death."

Denzel Washington will win the Oscar for Training Day. Why? Because he's been overlooked a time or two, it's a weak field and he's black and not named Spike Lee.

Best Actress: The nominees are Halle Berry for Monster's Ball, Dame Judi Dench for Iris, Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rouge, Sissy Spacek for In the Bedroom and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones's Diary.

Apparently, Judi Dench gets nominated every year by law because she's old and classy and English and she's done Shakespeare and she's a "Dame" (whatever that means). Forget seeing it. Has anyone even heard of Iris?

Sissy Spacek and Renee Zellweger are both wonderful actresses, but their nominations have the smell of Oscar filler this year. No, this year is coming down to either Halle Berry, who just keeps looking and acting better, and my pick, Nicole Kidman. Ms. Kidman will win more for her 10-year portrayal as Tom Cruise's adoring wife than for anything she did in Moulin Rouge. But then, the academy has always enjoyed playing God.

Best Supporting Actor: Who cares?

Best Supporting Actress: See Best Supporting Actor.

Best Picture: Gosford Park is a murder mystery involving English people, thus qualifying it for Best Nap. In the Bedroom's chances of winning are in the toilet. Lord of the Rings, cute but no cigar. Moulin Rouge, when monkeys fly. A Beautiful Mind, winner.

Lets hope next year's nominees are films about issues that matter to us, like sex and violence.

Phil Perrier is a stand-up comic and a free-lance writer. He lives in Los Angeles.

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