Critic's Picks

Film: The Oscars

March 23, 2003|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,SUN STAFF


Academy Pick: Chicago, because it thrillingly revitalizes the movie musical, and because Los Angeles knows, even better than Chicago does, how to turn notoriety into show-biz clout.

Sragow Pick: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (above), for preserving the life of larger-than-life spectacles while conjuring awe-inspiring images -- and putting them at the service of an epic story that sees the good and evil within us all.


Academy Pick: Rob Marshall, because in Chicago he brings contemporary cutting and pizazz to singing, dancing and banter while showcasing his rich human material, the tip-top performers, instead of reducing them to hideous puppets a la last year's Moulin Rouge.

Sragow Pick: In the inexplicable absence of Peter Jackson (The Two Towers), Roman Polanski (above), for expressing the strength of artistic conscience with harrowing beauty in the bracingly unsentimental Holocaust tale The Pianist.


Academy Pick: Michael Caine, because he caps a career of unceasing industry and accomplishment with a performance in The Quiet American that is surgically cutting and brave in its emotional nakedness.

Sragow Pick: Ditto.


Academy Pick: Renee Zellweger, because in Chicago she zestily brings old-fashioned gumption and musical-comedy chops to a fresh new minting of that perennial backstage figure, the amoral innocent.

Sragow Pick: Diane Lane (above), for expressing a real woman's explosive sexuality in Unfaithful with vibrancy and imagination equal to action poetry.


Academy Pick: Christopher Walken, because he gives grace and depth to the fallen father in Catch Me If You Can -- and because his dancing scene reminds us that he should have co-starred in Chicago.

Sragow Pick: John C. Reilly (above), for showing, in Chicago, how a dash of poignant lyricism can redeem the same sort of luggish-hubby role that makes him such a drag in The Hours.


Academy Pick: Meryl Streep (above), because to Oscar voters she remains "Magic Meryl," and because her characterization of a New Yorker journalist in Adaptation is uncannily insightful in its comic self-absorption.

Sragow Pick: Catherine Zeta-Jones, for lighting up the soundstage and every multiplex or movie palace where Chicago makes its home, while achieving sizzling sluttishness -- the essence of impurity.

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