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Early Oscar '99 Nominee Predictions

Opening Commentary: With a variety of critics association awards handed out, Hollywood Foreign Press nominations (Golden Globes and Golden Satellites), and Miramax purchasing the front cover of Variety for The Cider House Rules, the race for the Oscars is now officially underway.

There have been many big films so far this year, arguably more than last year, and there are still a few left (as of press time, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tumbleweeds, Magnolia, The Hurricane, and The Cider House Rules are still unreleased, at least in my area). But whether Norman Jewison's latest has bowed yet or not, the race has begun and seen many surprises already.

Take for example the New York Film Critics Circle. Their unpredicted choice of leftfielder Topsy-Turvy left most awards analysts at a loss for words. They may have chosen predictable films in other categories, but the Best Director and Picture win for Topsy-Turvy has placed the Mike Leigh film in the Oscar spotlight. One must remember that he and his film were nominees back in 1996 with Secrets & Lies. The New York Film Critics, as well as the Toronto Film Critics that chose Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia for Best Picture and Best Director, has made this one of the most interesting awards seasons ever. Few things are for sure.

Look at The Green Mile. Two months ago it was the frontrunner in everything from Picture to Director to Actor, but now, after a cool critical response (though the Broadcast Film Critics did nominate it for Best Picture) it looks to be shut out. I did not find the film to be awards worthy and evidently neither did many other film critics. When I vote in the Online Motion Picture Academy Awards early next year, I know that my vote for Best Picture will not be for The Green Mile and I doubt many others will. And this is the film that Zeusefer (online Oscar analyst extraordinaire) said was the promised winner for Best Picture just a month ago (in his defense, we must remember my wild Eyes Wide Shut awards predictions from earlier this year; it's hard to gauge a films success without having seen it).

So now that we are in one of the few lulls in the awards season (the next awards announcement is the National Society of Film Critics on 8 January), I have decided to look at the Oscar prospects at this moment.

Remember: I am not the best at predicting the nominees ahead of time. I have great luck at predicting winners (yes, I'm going to bring up my Binoche upset over Bacall prediction again), but I'm bad at the nominees. Plus it is over a month until the actual nominations, and much can change between now and then (I still have not seen The Hurricane and Magnolia, much to my dismay).

In parenthesis are awards and nominations given in that category (NBR = National Board of Review, LAFC = Los Angles Film Critics, NYFC = New York Film Critics, BFC = Boston Film Critics, TFC = Toronto Film Critics, BrFC = Broadcast Film Critics, SDFC = San Diego Film Critics, EFA = European Film Awards, GS = Golden Satellites, GG = Golden Globes; [H] = Honorary Award, W = Winner, N = Nominee or Runner- Up).

So now my own version of Alex Fung's "wild, flailing guesses with little basis in reality."

Note: due to how far away the actual nominations are, I'm only going to give explanatory remarks on picture, director, and acting awards. Also I'm not going to work with the Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short Subject, and Best Documentary Feature nominations since I have absolutely no idea what films are in competition (though I have a feeling that Buena Vista Social Club will get a nomination for Best Documentary Feature).

Best Picture

21 December Predictions
American Beauty (W: NBR, SDFC; N: LAFC, NYFC, BrFC
, EFA, GS, GG)
The Hurricane (N: GG)
The Insider (W: LAFC; N: NBR, BrFC, GS, GG)
The Straight Story (W: EFA; N: NBR, NYFC)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (N: NBR, BrFC, GS, GG)

Other Possibilities: All About My Mother, Being John Malkovich, The Cider House Rules, Cradle Will Rock, The End of the Affair, The Green Mile, Magnolia, Man on the Moon, The Sixth Sense, and Topsy-Turvy.

The race for Best Picture is not near as tough as previous years. It's not that there has been a lack of great films; it’s just that few of them are Oscar material (if Election, Being John Malkovich, or Fight Club pick up a Best Picture nomination, I will eat my words). Four critical favorites and The Hurricane, a more Oscar type film, mainly hold the race. It and The Straight Story are the only titles on my listing that I think might be shut out. I included The Straight Story due to the fact that it should reach heartstring of a particularly large elderly vote in the Academy. The Insider and American Beauty are promised their nominations due to their wide critical acclaim and raking in of critic's awards. My inclusion of The Talented Mr. Ripley is based on many things (critical acclaim, critic's prize runner-up, directed by previous winner), but the main reason that I think the film set to get a nomination is that it is co-produced by Miramax, who will do anything for an Oscar nomination. Though Miramax is spending more time and money on The Cider House Rules, it is Ripley that I think will pay off.

Best Director

21 December Predictions
Stanley Kubrick - Eyes Wide Shut
David Lynch - The Straight Story (W: SDFC; N: NYFC)
Michael Mann - The Insider (W: NBR [H]; N: LAFC, GS, GG)
Sam Mendes - American Beauty (W: LAFC, TFC, BrFC, SDFC; N: NYFC, GS, GG)
Anthony Minghella - The Talented Mr. Ripley (W: NBR; N: GS, GG)

Other Possibilities: Pedro Almodóvar for All About My Mother, Paul Thomas Anderson for Magnolia, Frank Darabont for The Green Mile, Milos Forman for Man on the Moon, Lasse Halstrom for The Cider House Rules, Scott Hicks for Snow Falling on Cedars, Norman Jewison for The Hurricane, Spike Jonze for Being John Malkovich, Neil Jordan for The End of the Affair, Mike Leigh for Topsy-Turvy, Tim Robbins for Cradle Will Rock, and David O. Russell for Three Kings.

I'm sure that I have caused a few chuckles from the regular readers of this column due to the first name on the director list. But my choice of Stanley Kubrick is not completely due to my personal respect for the late director, I truthfully think he has a shot. Sure much of his chances went away with the lack of a Golden Globe nomination, but there are many in the director's branch that looked up to Kubrick and may choose now to award him with a nomination (though if he does get the nomination, it is a safe bet that Shelley Duvall will not vote for him). As for the others, Mann and Mendes, like their films, are promised nominations thanks to early awards and buzz, and Minghella will almost assuredly ride on the coattails of his film (though I've heard great things about his direction of the film, so the nomination is probably worthy). My fifth choice is Lynch, who I think has the nomination whether his film gets the Best Picture nomination or not. The departure from the dark, disturbing films he has made for years brought him kudos from around the board (I've heard that he was the star of the Cannes Film Festival this year) and should bring him a nomination.

Best Actor

21 December Predictions
Jim Carrey - Man on the Moon (W: BFC; N: TFC, GS, GG)
Russell Crowe - The Insider (W: NBR, LAFC, BrFC; N: NYFC, SDFC, GS, GG)
Richard Farnsworth - The Straight Story (W: NYFC; N: LAFC, GS, GG)
Kevin Spacey - American Beauty (W: TFC, SDFC; N: NYFC, GS, GG)
Denzel Washington - The Hurricane (N: GS, GG)

Other Possibilities: Jim Broadbent for Topsy-Turvy, Matt Damon for The Talented Mr. Ripley, Kirk Douglas for Diamonds, Ralph Fiennes for The End of the Affair, Tom Hanks for The Green Mile, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Flawless, Anthony Hopkins for Titus, Tobey Maguire for The Cider House Rules, Al Pacino for The Insider, Sean Penn for Sweet and Lowdown, and Terence Stamp for The Limey.

Once again, the critic's speak, and the nominees are promised to include Richard Farnsworth, Kevin Spacey, and Russell Crowe. Denzel Washington pulls off a performance that looks to be very Academy-based, and Jim Carrey is probably going to get this nomination (a worthy one, might I add) partly due to his snub last year. If the Academy has any clue as to who is most deserving of a nomination (over all but Spacey), they should nominate Terence Stamp for his mesmerizing turn in Steven Soderbergh's The Limey. This and Ian Holm's The Sweet Hereafter performance are the two most understated male performances this decade. It is a shame that there is little chance of a Stamp nomination.

Best Actress

21 December Predictions
Annette Bening - American Beauty (W: SDFC; N: GS, GG)
Janet McTeer - Tumbleweeds (W: NBR; N: NYFC, GS, GG)
Julianne Moore - The End of the Affair (N: NYFC, GS, GG)
Hilary Swank - Boys Don't Cry (W: NBR [H], LAFC, NYFC, BFC, TFC, BrFC; N: GS, GG)
Sigourney Weaver - A Map of the World (N: GS, GG)

Other Possibilities: Jodie Foster for Anna and the King, Nicole Kidman for Eyes Wide Shut, Frances O'Connor for Mansfield Park, Cecilia Roth for All About My Mother, Meryl Streep for Music of the Heart, Emily Watson for Angela's Ashes, Kate Winslet for Holy Smoke!, and Reese Witherspoon for Election.

This is one of the smallest categories in competition, but also one of the hardest to predict (especially for me, having seen only 4 of the 13 films [stupid platform releasing; and where's Boys Don't Cry, for that matter]). Swank and McTeer pretty much have all the critic's awards, while Bening and Moore (both of which have a single prize of their own) should enjoy ridding in on the coattails of their films (though I have not seen the film yet, Moore is always rather good, so it is probably a worthy nomination; and Bening is superb in the film, though many seem to disagree with me on that front). The Academy loves great performances from film veterans that have never really had that great a showing at the Oscars (hence the Lynch nomination in Best Director), which is why I chose Weaver's acclaimed work as a possible nominee. The only actress that I've heard enough about in the line of buzz for this category that could dethrone one of these five women in Reese Witherspoon, who's performance in Election earlier this year was a star-making turn. But, of course, the Academy might push her to the side, thinking that she will have another chance for an award in upcoming years (this same argument could be made for Swank in Boys Don't Cry, but the amount of prizes she has taken has discounted any doubts).

Best Supporting Actor

21 December Predictions
Tom Cruise - Magnolia (W: NBR [H]; N: GS, GG)
Jude Law - The Talented Mr. Ripley (N: GS, GG)
John Malkovich - Being John Malkovich (W: NYFC; N: LAFC)
Haley Joel Osment - The Sixth Sense (W: BrFC [H], GS [H]; N: SDFC, GG)
Christopher Plummer - The Insider (W: LAFC, BFC; N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Wes Bentley for American Beauty, Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules, Chris Cooper for American Beauty, Michael Clarke Duncan for The Green Mile, Bill Murray for Cradle Will Rock, Stephen Rea for The End of the Affair, David Strathairn for A Map of the World, and Max von Sydow for Snow Falling on Cedars.

This is, dare I say it, the most hotly battled for category in my opinion. There are just so many great male supporting players this year, and choosing five is quite the task. My money is on Plummer and Malkovich, due to their heavy turns in two of this year's best films. I know that personal opinions can be the downfall of any Oscar predictions, but I cannot help but think these two have nominations (though their lack of Golden Globe nominations do not help). Cruise, like Weaver in the Best Actress category has gone against type and fame, and the choice will probably pay off. I seriously doubt that Law will be kept out of a nomination; his work has been looked over for too long (the performance he gives in Gattaca should have made him a star). Law is probably going to ride in with the film and keep his spot due to heavy adoration from those that have kept an eye on him (then again, this may very well be the musings of someone that has been eyeing an actor for so long that it automatically seems like the actor is assured a promising future [though look at previous "discoveries" Kevin Spacey and Quentin Tarantino, both of whom would go onto great work]). That leaves Haley Joel Osment. His turn in this year's surprise hit, The Sixth Sense, has Oscar written all over it, just ask Tatum O'Neal, Anna Paquin, Timothy Hutton, and Patty Duke. The Academy loves it when a minor gives a great performance, and the great financial success of the film does not hurt. I personally thought that the kid was a bit overrated (yes, a strong performance, but nowhere near Wes Bentley's brooding Rickie Fitts in American Beauty), but it is highly doubtful that my opinion should change his Oscar prospects (just ask Atom Egoyan and Joel and Ethan Coen, my adoration can mean nothing come Oscar time).

Best Supporting Actress

21 December Predictions
Cameron Diaz - Being John Malkovich (N: GS, GG)
Samantha Morton - Sweet and Lowdown (N: LAFC, GS, GG)
Julianne Moore - Magnolia (W: NBR, GS [H])
Chloë Sevigny - Boys Don't Cry (W: LAFC, BFC; N: GS, GG)
Sissy Spacek - The Straight Story (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Thora Birch for American Beauty, Cate Blanchett for The Talented Mr. Ripley, Toni Collette for The Sixth Sense, Anglelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted, and Catherine Keener for Being John Malkovich.

After an incredibly strong Best Supporting Actor category, the Supporting Actress category seems rather limp. Sure, Natalie Portman (Anywhere But Here), Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut), and Emily Watson (Angela's Ashes) gave great supporting actress nominatable performances, but they are all being touted as lead players by their studios. So instead of the normal mixture of independent and mainstream talent in other categories, I simply took to the critically acclaimed independents here. Four of the five have either been given a critical award, or have been in the Oscar buzz for so long that they might as well just be given the award (okay, maybe just Moore here). The only one that has not been too noted is Spacek, who gives the type of performance in The Straight Story that usually wins Oscars. Her age should help chances; she is the only person over forty in the list (not just of those five, but of all those named above), and the Social Security crowd makes up most of the Academy.

Best Adapted Screenplay

21 December Predictions
The Cider House Rules - John Irving (W: NBR; N: SDFC, GS, GG)
Election - Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (W: LAFC [H], NYFC, SDFC)
The End of the Affair - Neil Jordan
The Insider - Eric Roth & Michael Mann (N: GG)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Anthony Minghella (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Angela's Ashes by Laura Jones, Bringing Out the Dead by Paul Schrader, Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael, Fight Club by Jim Uhls, The Green Mile by Frank Darabont, The Hurricane by Armyan Bernstein and Christopher Cleaveland and Dan Gordon, An Ideal Husband by Oliver Parker, The Iron Giant by Brad Bird, Mansfield Park by Patricia Rozema, Snow Falling on Cedars by Ronald Bass, Titus by Julie Taymor, and The Winslow Boy by David Mamet.

Best Original Screenplay

21 December Predictions
American Beauty - Alan Ball (W: BrFC; N: LAFC, TFC, SDFC, GS, GG)
Being John Malkovich - Charlie Kaufman (W: LAFC, BFC, TFC, SDFC; N: GS, GG)
Magnolia - Paul Thomas Anderson (W: TFC; N: GS)
The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan (N: GS, GG)
Three Kings - David O. Russell (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: All About My Mother by Pedro Almodóvar, Arlington Road by Ehren Kruger, Boys Don't Cry by Kimberly Pierce and Andy Bienen, Bowfinger by Steve Martin, Cradle Will Rock by Tim Robbins, Holy Smoke! by Anna Campion and Jane Campion, The Limey by Lem Dobbs, Man on the Moon by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, The Red Violin by François Girard and Don McKellar, The Straight Story by John Roach and Mary Sweeney, Sweet and Lowdown by Woody Allen, Topsy-Turvy by Mike Leigh, and Toy Story 2 by John Lasseter and Peter Docter and Ash Brannon and Andrew Stanton.

Best Cinematography

21 December Predictions
American Beauty - Conrad L. Hall (N: LAFC, GS)
The Insider - Dante Spinotti (W: LAFC)
Snow Falling on Cedars - Robert Richardson (N: GS)
The Straight Story - Freddie Francis (W: NYFC)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - John Seale (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Angela's Ashes, Being John Malkovich, Bringing Out the Dead, The Cider House Rules, The End of the Affair, Eyes Wide Shut, The Green Mile, The Hurricane, Magnolia, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, and Three Kings.

Best Film Editing

21 December Predictions
American Beauty - Tariq Anwar & Chris Greenbury (N: GS)
Fight Club - Jim Haygood
The Insider - William Goldenberg & Paul Rubell (N: GS)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Walter Murch (N: GS)
Three Kings - Robert K. Lambert

Other Possibilities: Anna and the King, Any Given Sunday, Being John Malkovich, Bringing Out the Dead, The Cider House Rules, Cradle Will Rock, The End of the Affair, Eyes Wide Shut, The Green Mile, The Iron Giant, Magnolia, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, Snow Falling on Cedars, Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, and The Straight Story.

Best Sound

21 December Predictions
Fight Club
The Matrix
Sleepy Hollow (N: GS)
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (N: GS)
Three Kings

Other Possibilities: American Beauty, Cradle Will Rock, End of Days, The Haunting, The Hurricane, The Insider, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, The Mummy, The Sixth Sense, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Thomas Crown Affair, Toy Story 2, and The World is Not Enough.

Best Sound Effects Editing

21 December Predictions
The Matrix
Sleepy Hollow
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace

Other Possibilities: Fight Club, The Green Mile, The Haunting, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, The Mummy, The Sixth Sense, Three Kings, and The World is Not Enough.

Best Visual Effects

21 December Predictions
The Matrix (N: GS)
Sleepy Hollow (N: GS)
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, The Haunting, The Insider, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, The Mummy, The Sixth Sense, Stuart Little, Wild Wild West, and The World is Not Enough.

Best Makeup

21 December Predictions
The Mummy
Sleepy Hollow
The Sixth Sense

Other Possibilities: Anna and the King, End of Days, The Green Mile, The Insider, Man on the Moon, The Matrix, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Snow Falling on Cedars, Stigmata, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Wild Wild West.

Best Costume Design

21 December Predictions
An Ideal Husband (N: GS)
The End of the Affair
The Red Violin (N: GS)
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Titus (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: American Beauty, Angela's Ashes, Anna and the King, Cradle Will Rock, Eyes Wide Shut, Fight Club, The Green Mile, Man on the Moon, Mansfield Park, The Matrix, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Mummy, Sleepy Hollow, Snow Falling on Cedars, and The Winslow Boy.

Best Art Direction

21 December Predictions
The End of the Affair
The Haunting
Sleepy Hollow (W: LAFC; N: GS)
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Titus (N: LAFC, GS)

Other Possibilities: American Beauty, Angela's Ashes, The Green Mile, Anna and the King, The Cider House Rules, Eyes Wide Shut, Fight Club, An Ideal Husband, The Insider, Man on the Moon, Mansfield Park, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Sixth Sense, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Straight Story, Tea with Mussolini, and Three Kings.

Best Original Score

21 December Predictions
American Beauty - Thomas Newman (N: GG)
The Red Violin - John Corigliano (N: GS)
Sleepy Hollow - Danny Elfman (N: GS)
Snow Falling on Cedars - James Newton Howard (N: GS)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Gabriel Yared (W: BrFC; N: LAFC, GG)

Other Possibilities: Angela's Ashes by John Williams, Being John Malkovich by Carter Burwell, Bringing Out the Dead by Elmer Bernstein, The Cider House Rules by Rachel Portman, The End of the Affair by Michael Nyman, Eyes Wide Shut by Jocelyn Pook, The Green Mile by Thomas Newman, The Iron Giant by Michael Kamen, Magnolia by Aimee Mann, The Sixth Sense by James Newton Howard, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace by John Williams, The Straight Story by Angelo Badalamenti, Three Kings by Carter Burwell, and Titus by Elliott Goldenthal.

Best Original Song

21 December Predictions
"Beautiful Stranger" - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (N: GG)
"The Great Beyond" - Man on the Moon
"Save Me" - Magnolia (N: GS, GG)
"When She Loved Me" - Toy Story 2 (N: GS, GG)
"You'll Be in My Heart" - Tarzan (N: GG)

Other Possibilities: "Amphibian" from Being John Malkovich, "The Animal Song" from The Other Sister, "Anywhere But Here" from Anywhere But Here, "Blue Eyes Blue" from Runaway Bride, "Eyes of a Child" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, "I Love You" from Runaway Bride, "La Resistance Medley" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, "Mountain Town" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, "Music of the Heart" from Music of the Heart, "New" from Go, "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, "What's Simple is True" from Ride with the Devil, "When I Look at You" from Bicentennial Man, and "The World is Not Enough" from The World is Not Enough.

Best Foreign Language Film

21 December Predictions
All About My Mother - Pedro Almodóvar (Spain) (W: NBR, LAFC, NYFC, BFC, BrFC
, EFA; N: GS, GG)
East-West (Est-Ouest) - Régis Wargnier (France) (N: NBR
, EFA, GG)
Mifune - Søren Kragh-Jacobsen (Denmark) (N: EFA)
Rosetta - Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (Belgium) (N: EFA)
Three Seasons - Tony Bui (Vietnam) (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Bhutan's The Cup from Khyentse Norbu, Brazil's Orfeu from Carlos Diegues, Canada's Set Me Free (Emporte-Moi) from Léa Pool, Germany's Aimée and Jaguar from Max Fäerberbõck, Greece's From the Edge of the City from Constantinos Giannaris, India's Earth from Deepa Mehta, Iran's The Color of Heaven from Majid Majidi, Russia's Moloch from Alexander Sokurov, Sweden's Under the Sun from Colin Nutley, and Wales' Solomon And Gaenor from Paul Morrison.


The Talented Mr. Ripley...9
American Beauty...8
The Insider...7
Sleepy Hollow...6
The Straight Story...5
The End of the Affair...4
Being John Malkovich...3
The Matrix...3
The Sixth Sense...3
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace...3
Three Kings...3
Boys Dont Cry...2
Fight Club...2
The Hurricane...2
An Ideal Husband...2
Man on the Moon...2
The Mummy...2
Snow Falling on Cedars...2
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me...1
The Cider House Rules...1
Eyes Wide Shut...1
The Haunting...1
Map of the World...1
Sweet and Lowdown...1
Toy Story 2...1
Tumbleweeds... 1

Analysis by:
David Perry