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March 21, 2002 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-21

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U U w U U U

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, March 21, 2002

The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magadi

Overlooked films get their
recognition for screenplays

Spacek leads in class of
Best Actress nominations

Todd Weir
Daily Arts Writer
Salvation at last. The two awards
dished out at the Academy Awards for
screenplays are usually a place of com-

fort for many film admirers upset at see-
ing some of the best, most innovative
films of the past year shut out in the so-
called major categories. Do the names
"Trainspotting" and "Election" ring a
bell? Both were highly honored and well
reviewed during their release years but
then overlooked by Oscar. That is, over-
looked except for the screenwriting cat-
egories. Neither won the big gold guy,

but their nominations proved that the
old, crusty, traditional voters could rec-
ognize brilliance in at least the screen-
play format.
This year's nominees boast at least
three films that many think were
ignored come nomination time. Neither
"The Royal Tenenbaums" or "Ghost
World" have much of a shot this Sun-
day, but their nominations kept a few
movie aficionados from jumping off
buildings. (Both movies received only
this nomination.) "Memento" also
picked up a nomination for film editing
(where its odds are meager), but the
highly profitable independent film, told
in reverse, is one of the favorites for
original screenplay.
In the award for screenplay based on
material previously produced or pub-
lished, "Ghost World" goes up against
"A Beautiful Mind," "In the Bed-
room," "The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring" and
"Shrek." Yes, that's correct, "Shrek."
(It is based on a children's book about as
long as a blue book.)
As for a screenplay written directly
for the screen, "Memento" and "The
Royal Tenenbaums" battle "Amelie,"
"Gosford Park" and "Monster's
The screenplay for "A Beautiful
Mind" was penned by Akiva Goldsman,
a writer notorious for churning out
mediocre big-budget action flicks that
kill possible franchises ("Lost in Space"
and "Batman and Robin"). Goldsman

Courtesy otTouchstone
Director and screenwriter Anderson regrets to inform Gene he won't get an Oscar.

took home the Golden Globe award for
this category and will likely take home
Oscar for his overrated script that hinges
on a large plot twist.followed by the
mundane medical ups and downs of its
hero John Nash.
With its victory, "A Beautiful Mind"
will be prevailing over some of the best
scripts of recent memory. Many said it
was impossible to successfully adapt
"The Fellowship of the Ring" into a film
that pleased old fans and new. However,
Peter Jackson stuck closely to the novel
while instilling a constant energy into
every sequence.
That "Ghost World" was even nomi-
nated is noteworthy; the very alternative
anti-mainstream indie has no real reso-
lution and takes at least half an hour
before viewers even know what its really
about. It was one of the quirkiest and
funniest films of 2001, and at least the
nomination will help more people see it.
Todd Field's "In the Bedroom" is bril-
liant in its simplicity and its execution of

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Twenty-Fourth Distinguished Senior Faculty Lecture
and Testimonia l:
consequences of aftermath
Ross Chambers
Marvin Felheim Distinguished University Professor
of French and Comparative Literature
2001-2002 Warner G. Rice Humanities
Award Recipient
Tuesday, March 26
4:10 pm
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union
Presented by

creating an exposition hinting at one
film but turning into something com-
pletely different. Finally, "Shrek" deliv-
ered a very clever and humorous tale
that appealed to children and adults, but
the Academy would not be caught dead
giving a screenplay award to an animat-
ed picture.
In the original screenplay category,
the two favorites are "Memento" and
"Gosford Park." It is truly a toss up as
for who will win, and each would be a
worthy winner. This reviewer is going to
give the edge to Julian Fellowes' "Gos-
ford Park" which has earned itself four
awards so far. Julian Fellowes is an actor
turned screenwriter, and it shows in all
the wonderful and dialogue and charac-
ters he created.
The screenplay for "Memento"
deserves to take home the Oscar, and it
has won many critics' awards already,
but the Academy has proved that it is not
too fond of the Guy Pearce picture by
only honoring it with two nominations.
With story help from his brother
Jonathon, Christopher Nolan wrote one
of the most cleverly crafted and inven-
tive scripts ever (that's right, ever). The
story itself is quite good, but the imagi-
native structure is what gives its punch.
Several studios rejected the screenplay
because they found it too confusing -
now Nolan is getting the last laugh.
Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson col-
laborated on "The Royal Tenenbaums;'
mixing offbeat, subtle humor with beau-
tiful sequences of honest family emo-
tion. The Oscars are not ready to
embrace the "Rushmore" creators yet,
but one day they will have their chance
to thank their moms and teachers on the
stage at the Kodak Theater.
"Monster's Ball" is an excellent
melodrama that deals with real-life
tragedy in a sometimes explicitly real
manner. The script was elevated to even
greater heights by an incredible cast.
The two first time writers behind the
project showcase a great understanding
for the human condition, especially
hurt, which they will feel once they
suffer defeat.
The - optimistic French import
"Amelie" would probably have a great
chance if it came out of America, but the
Academy tends to neglect superior for-
eign films when it comes time to name
the winners.
When a screenwriter develops his
characters within a three-act structure
that includes scenes playing out as little
movies of their own, he dreams of a sat-
isfied audience. An Oscar is just an
added bonus to commemorate his

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
While Hollywood is still full of talk about
the lack of great roles supplied for women in
film, it is very difficult to believe this based
on the performances from actresses in 2001.
The category of Best Performance by an
Actress in a Leading Role boasts three first-
time nominees and two veterans used to the
pressure of Oscar night. In addition to these
five terrific performances, there were several
other leading actresses who deserved to have
their 2001 roles nominated but sadly got shut
out due to the intense competition. It was a
fantastic year for women and here are some of
the reasons.
The nominees for best actress include first
time nominees Halle Berry for her perform-
ance in "Monster's Ball," Nicole Kidman in

"Moulin Rouge" and Renee Zellweger in
"Bridget Jones's Diary." Judi Dench picked
up her fourth career nomination for her work
in "Iris" and Sissy Spacek earned her sixth
for "In the Bedroom."
The biggest surprise in this group is
Zellweger who stole a nomination many
thought might go to Audrey Tatou for
"Amelie" or Naomi Watts for "Mulholland
Drive." However, those workhorses over at
Miramax pulled a miracle again getting a
nomination for "Bridget Jones's Diary",
which was released in April. Films released in
the spring are usually too early to be remem-
bered by the Academy. The surprisingly enjoy-
able film owes most of its fun to its weight-
adding starlet, but Zellweger should practice
her "happy just to be nominated" speech
because come Sunday she won't be giving any
Besides Zellweger, the award really could
fall into the hands of any of the other four
nominees. For some, the day the nominations
were announced was a day of surprise, not
because Nicole Kidman was nominated but
because of the film for which she
earned it. Kidman's performance in
"The Others" was also Oscar-wor-
thy but the press' love for Baz
Luhrmann's drug-like experience
"Moulin Rouge" was enough to
make it the film of choice. Kidman
might win because often the voters
favor the star quality of their
actresses over the actual perform-
ances given (see last year's Julia
Roberts' win over Ellen Burstyn).
Also, "Moulin Rouge" has recently
picked up Oscar steam by winning
the Producer's Guild Award for
best picture. Kidman was beautiful
in the film and proved she can
rtesy of Miramax sing, too. However, this is not
Kidman's year.

Judy Dench's per-
formance as British
writer Iris Murdoch,
a talented woman
stricken with
Alzheimer's, was one
of the best of last
year, but not many
people in Ann Arbor
know this because
"Iris" has yet to be
released here (it
finally opens at the Berry stole gold at the Scr
Michigan Theater
tomorrow,, March
22). Dench is one of Oscar's favorites, win-
ning for her small but explosive supporting
role in "Shakespeare in Love" and recently
nominated for "Chocolat." Dench scored a
recent victory at the BAFTA awards but there
is no telling if the British Oscars are
any kind of forecast for the real
At one point, Halle Berry was not
even a guarantee for a nomination
but now she is quickly emerging as
one of the two frontrunners. Berry
gave the performance of her career as
an emotionally hungry and fragile
widow seeking comfort in the arms of
Academy snub Billy Bob Thornton.
Berry has won numerous awards for her
role, including the key Screen Actors
Guild trophy. Berry's nomination is also
important because no black woman has
been nominated for Best Actress since
Angela Basset in 1994. However, this Kid
year the Academy is not going to make Osca
another mistake; the actress who truly
deserves the award will get it.
Sissy Spacek is that actress. Spacek has
been the favorite since early December, later
winning the Golden Globe and other press
awards. Her amazing performance as a moth-

er deal
years c
20th Centur
in as clo
as she':
If Sp
it woul
she is
life, or


een Actor'

Judi Dench will not win an Oscar. So there.

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What's inside the mind of the Acadmy
Who miakes thcee selections? tee as mu~ch as how integral they
And on what grounds? The are to the plot.
Academ~y ritualistically and However, then. the nolninations
methodically botchtes selections are being placed solely ort th sub-
ever~y year. There are hosts of jective shioulders of the Academy.'
deserving' performnces. negatedSuibjectvity should lbe reseved for-
but that is not what this is about., journalists.
Within each Os a tegory are <:Actress Jenn~ifer Conil1y also
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