14B - The Michigan Daily - Weekled Mail .ie - Thursday, March 20, 2003
Best of the rest: Oscar's forgotten awards
From editing to makeup the Academy has an award for everything ... really everything
By Joel M._Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
The Michigan Daily - WfEkeid
Oscars wil pick wrong winner
A trio of first-timers (Dion Beebe,
"Chicago;" Edward Lochman, "Far From
Heaven;" Pawel Edelman, "The Pianist") join
the late Conrad Hall ("Road to Perdition"), a
10-time nominee, and thrice-nominated
Michael Ballhaus ("Gangs of New York") in
the cinematography category. The Academy
thought enough of Hall's work on 1999's
"American Beauty" to honor him with his sec-
ond Oscar, and the fact that he died two
months ago sure helps his chances this year.
Scorsese should finally take home best
director for "Gangs of New York," but will his
oft-nominated art direction duo of Dante
Ferretti (seven times) and Francesca Lo
Schiavo (five times) also win their first
Oscars for "Gangs?" Probably not. It should
come down to "Frida" and "Chicago," with the
edge going to "Chicago," because it will win
pretty much everything else.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki's
"Spirited Away" is surrounded by four pieces
of standard American fare: "Ice Age," "Lilo &
Stitch," "Spirit: The Stallion of Cimarron" and
"Treasure Planet." If the Academy voters have
any sense, they'll give Miyazaki some long-
overdue props. But leave it to the Academy to
honor another boring American cartoon.
The visually-stunning "The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers" is the easy winner
here. "The Fellowship of the Ring" picked up
the award last year, and there's no reason "The
Two Towers" shouldn't follow in its footsteps.
Participation awards go to "Spider-Man" and
"Star Wars: Episode II -Attack of the Clones."
MUSIC - SCORE
John Williams is back for a 42nd time with
his score for Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If
You Can." He hasn't won since 1993
("Schindler's List"), so the man is due.
Williams is joined by Elmer Bernstein ("Far
From Heaven"), Elliot Goldenthal ("Frida"),
Thomas Newman ("Road to Perdition") and
Philip Glass ("The Hours"), whose minimalist
score proves that it doesn't take much to score
a movie these days.
MUsic - SONG
Is the Academy ready to give an Oscar to an
angry, foul-mouthed rapper? We can only
hope so - Eminem's "Lose Yourself," from
the 8 Mile Soundtrack, is far and away the best
choice. There are some other big names up for
this award: U2 for "The Hands That Built
America" ("Gangs of New York") and Paul
Simon for "Father and Daughter" ("The Wild
Thornberrys Movie"). Other nominees
include John Kander and Fred Ebb ("I Move
On" from "Chicago") and Elliot Goldenthal
and Julie Taymor ("Burn It Blue" from
Count on Flint native Michael Moore to
take home best documentary for the acclaimed
"Bowling for Columbine." Moore's only real
competition is from "Daughter from Danang,"
about the Vietnamese daughter of an
American soldier and her search for her moth-
er, but how many times have we seen this
already? Other nominees include "Spellbound,"
a behind-the-scenes look at the National
Spelling Bee, and "Winged Migration," a study
of migrating birds. An in-depth look at
America's disturbing gun obsession or some
flying birds? Tough choice.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
This one has to go to "Twin Towers." If
Bruce Springsteen made sappy short subject
documentaries instead of sappy rock records,
this is the kind of stuff he'd make.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Carlos Carrera's much-hyped "El Crimen
Del Padre Amaro," the story of a young
Mexican priest who tries to balance his reli-
gious convictions with his attraction for a
teenage girl, is the frontrunner in the foreign
language category. Other nominees include
"Hero" (China), "The Man Without a Past"
(Finland), "Nowhere in Africa" (Germany)
and "Zus & Zo" (The Netherlands).
The leader of the editing pack is Thelma
Schoonmaker ("Gangs of New York"), who
also won in 1980 for Scorsese's "Raging
Bull." Rounding out the list are Martin Walsh
("Chicago"), Peter Boyle ("The Hours"),
Michael Horton ("The Lord of the Rings: The
Two Towers") and Herv6 de Luze ("The
"Chicago," being a musical and all, should
probably have good sound, so let's just give
Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella and David
Lee the award for that one.
Between them, Richard Hymns and Gary
Rydstrom have 10 Oscars already. They can
each own another for "Minority Report" to
make that an even dozen.
This one should come down to three-time
nominee Colleen Atwood ("Chicago") and
Julie Weiss ("Frida"), who was, oddly enough,
nominated in 1995 for "12 Monkeys." Both
films are very deserving and both designers
have proved themselves before.
Only two options here: "Frida" and "The
Time Machine." Even though it wasn't nomi-
nated, the smart money is on the much-talked-
about prosthetic nose that Nicole Kidman
donned for "The Hours." What a joke! Don't
even ask'why "The Lord of the Rings: The
Two Towers" wasn't nominated.
SHORT FILM - ANIMATED
I haven't seen any of these, and neither have
you. Chris Stenner and Heidi Wittlinger's
"Das Rad" has the best title, and supposedly
it's about two talking rocks, so let's go with
that. Besides, remember the movie "Rad" with
the Bikes, that was sweet.
SHORT FILM - LIVE ACTION
These people were either too lazy or too
cheap to make a feature-length film, so why
should the Academy honor them with any-
thing? Random pick: "Johnny Flynton."
By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor
his Sunday night, the -eyes
of all television viewers that
aren't focused on news
from Iraq will most likely be watch-
ing "Hollywood's biggest night,"
where Academy voters more often
tend to honor lifetime achievement
and the power of advertising than
the actual quality of the nominees.
No matter what your parents say, the
climax of the Steve Martin-hosted event
will not be the honorary lifetime
achievement award being given to Peter
O'Toole ("Lawrence of Arabia," "King
Ralph"); the main event is the Best Pic-
ture category. Fighting for the award
this year is a suicidal author, a promi-
nent Polish piano player, a tap-dancing
lawyer, a knife throwing American
patriot and a ... well, he's kinda gray ...
and schizophrenic ... a creature named
Smeagol. Or is it Gollum?
Either way, 2002 boasted one of the
greatest catalogues of films released within a calendar
year and the challenge to the Academy was narrowing
the best down to five representatives of that feat. All in
all, their task was an impossible one and some deserv-
ing films missed the cut ("About Schmidt," "Far From
Heaven") and other worthy nominees never had a
chance ("Punch-Drunk Love," "Adaptation").
These snubs were all hurt by their own studio's
disadvantages in the marketing department; "Chica-
go," "Gangs of New York" and "The Hours" were all
produced or co-produced by Miramax Films. Har-
vey Weinstein's studio has made a name for itself the
last few years, earning unlikely nominations
("Chocolat"), near-wins ("The Cider House Rules")
and even the occasional win ("Shakespeare in
Love"). With its historical bottomless h
wallet approach to award promotion,t
it should come as no surprise that the
favorites this year for the award are
the nomination leader "Chicago" and .
nine-fold nominee "The Hours."
With this in mind, let's take a look at
the five nominees and the chances, if ,
any, that they hold of grabbing the
biggest golden boy of the evening.
With "The Pianist," Roman Polanski
triumphantly showcased that he still
has the talent that made him such a
legendary figure before he fled to
Europe to avoid rape charges. Through
its stark, honest portrayal of Polish
pianist's Wladyslaw Szpilman survival
during Nazi occupation, Polanski told
a Holocaust story never quite realized}
before -- a story less about faith than luck.
What's sad, however, is how Oscar buzz for "The
Pianist" has too often focused on Polanski's past and the
possibility of his United States appearance instead of
the quality of his film and its seven nominations. "The
Pianist" finally earned itself a little more of a name for
itself with its unexpected victory in the Best Film cate-
gory at England's February BAFTA Awards ceremony.
Yet, come Sunday "The Pianist" have the worst odds of
any nominee, a combination of Polanski backlash and
the smallest ad campaign, which unfortunately can be
more important than the worth of a movie itself.
"Gangs of New York" may have been a disappoint-
ment at the box office thus far for CEO
Weinstein and director Martin Scorsese,
but with 10 overall nominations including
the biggie for Best Picture, "Gangs" proved
possible all their hopes for Oscar glory. The
19th century tale of New York's Manhattan
roots of gang warfare simply took Scors-
ese's common themes of violence, ethnic
hostility and revenge and painted them on a
larger, more expensive canvas. Twice
delayed due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
and problems in the editing room, it was
going to take a hell of a spectacle for
Scorsese to quiet all the pre-release skepti-
cism; in the end, viewers failed to respond
but critics and voters voiced their support.
While practically assured of taking home
at least one trophy for Scorsese in the career
accomplishment/Best Director category,
"Gangs" faces a tough road from its Miramax competi-
tion. While the studio envisioned "Gangs" as its guar-
anteed nominee, "Chicago" and "The Hours" received
the better reviews and the early awards.
Before finally getting to the two films that actually
have any chance of winning this year's prize, the nomi-
nee most deserving the Oscar must be discussed. "The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," while not quite
living up to the emotion and adventure of the first
installment, still overshadows the other films as the
greatest technical triumph of 2002. Technical worth
does not guarantee a film the right to be called Best
Picture, but an accomplishment of the scale of "Two
Towers" has the power to overcome its shallow charac-
ter development and mistaken changes from the liter-
ary source to still be the greatest escape for
moviegoers of the year.
In addition to its failure in matching
"Fellowship" in critical and financial
success, "Two Towers" also earned only
six noms compared to the original's 13.
Six is nothing to compain about but it
echoes the dismal chance "Towers" has
for a Sunday night victory. The plain fact
is if the Academy could not honor Peter
Jackson's masterpiece "Fellowship" with
the trophy over last year's mediocre "A
Beautiful Mind," then what chance does
New Line have of pushing the newest of
the trilogy against films that actually
And then there were two. If "Chicago"
and "The Hours" were not the favorites
already, then the January Golden Globes
awards gave them such status. "Chicago" and all its
Rob Marshall choreographed Jazz seediness stole the
Best Picture Comedy/Music prize while "The
Hours" and its Stephen Daldry choregraphed bore-
dom took home the drama side. Okay, I'm being a
little hard on "The Hours" but for all of its nine nom-
inations, Daldry's film can only claim the pieces of a
great film: spectacular acting from its female leads
and an intelligent, socially conscious plot taken from
Michael Cunningham's book. However, Daldry,
along with cinematographer Seamus McGarvey and
composer Phillip Glass, infused too much style,
strings and gimmicks into the story of
three women facing the restricting gender
roles of different eras, in the process too
often distracting the viewer from the tal-
ents of Kidman, Moore, Streep and the
rest of the cast.
Now, "The Hours" does have a chance
come Sunday, but if it's time to place a bet,
put your money on "Chicago." Often,
most nominations (13) equal the win in
the biggest category of them all and
unpredictability is not one of the Acade-
my's strengths. Few expect this year to be
any different so come three in the morn-
ing, or whatever time it is that the Oscars
end, look for Weinstein, Marshall and pos-
sibly a couple jazz singers dancing in the
rows of the Kodak Theater.
Couresty of Universal
Couresty of Miramax