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Oscar '99 Nominee Predictions

Opening Commentary: It is officially almost time, the Oscar nominations are upon us.  In two days time, there will be a great little listing in front of every film aficionado in North America as they try to figure out who will win. Once that list is out, we will be in a new ballpark, one that means a difference between Julianne Moore becoming a multiple winner in one evening (doubtful) or a husband and wife team coming off with an award each (maybe) or a young upstart taking the prize for a star making role (probable).

Everything has changed since I last took a look at the Oscar nominee predictions on 21 December.  The Green Mile died and was resurrected; The Hurricane became the biggest corruption of facts since the Watergate hearings; and The Talented Mr. Ripley went from front-runner in many categories to biggest guild shutout.

And my predictions are no more perfect than anyone else’s, this is a tough thing to predict and no amount of knowledge about the business (unless you happen to work for Price Waterhouse) can make the biggest dent in the predictions.  One person I know makes some of the best and most accurate predictions by simply listening to a few rants about the probable nominees and goes with his gut feeling (admittedly, there are some gut feelings that I passed on, like Reese Witherspoon, who I think has a great chance of taking the nomination that Sigourney Weaver has eyes on).

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. Unfortunately, there are many contenders that I still have not seen (Boys Don’t Cry, Titus, Sweet and Lowdown, All About My Mother), so I might be a little slow on some questionable nominees (Kimberly Pierce, Anthony Hopkins, Samantha Morton, Cecilia Roth).

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, NSFC = National Society of Film Critics, CFC = Chicago Film Critics, FFC = Florida Film Critics, SeFC = Southeastern Film Critics, KFC = Kansas Film Critics, LVFC = Las Vegas Film Critics, DFC = Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics, OFCS = Online Film Critics Society, EFA = European Film Awards, GS = Golden Satellites, GG = Golden Globes, IS = Independent Spirit Awards, OMPA = Online Motion Picture Academy Awards, WGA = Writers Guild, SAG = Screen Actors Guild, PGA = Producers Guild, ASC = Society of Cinematographers, ACE = Cinema Editors, SMPTAD = Art Directors, CDG = Costume Designers Guild, MAG = Makeup Artists Guild, MPSE = Sound Editors, CAS = Cinema Audio Society, DGA = Directors Guild; [H] = Honorary Award, W = Winner, N = Nominee or Runner-Up).  And *** denotes a film or artist that has a pretty good chance of upsetting my top five (I will have no more than 3 in a category).

So let the games, and lamenting (what was I thinking with so many The Sixth Sense nominations?) begin.


Best Picture

13 February Predictions – 3 of 5 from 21 December
American Beauty (W: NBR, BrFC, SDFC, SeFC, KFC, LVFC, DFC, OFCS, GG; N: LAFC, NYFC, CFC,
Being John Malkovich (W: NSFC, GS; N: NBR, NYFC, TFC, BrFC, SDFC, CFC, SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, GG, OMPA, PGA)
The Insider (W: LAFC, OFCS, GS; N: NBR, BrFC, CFC, SeFC, GG, OMPA, PGA)
The Sixth Sense (N: BrFC, SeFC)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (N: NBR, BrFC, LVFC, GS, GG, OMPA)

Other Possibilities: All About My Mother, Boys Don’t Cry, The Cider House Rules, The End of the Affair, The Green Mile, ***The Hurricane, Magnolia, Man on the Moon, ***The Straight Story, ***Topsy-Turvy, and Toy Story 2.

I must admit that as the days come down to the wire, the Best Picture race seems more and more open.  I think that this is more to blame on the recent guild awards than anything else.  By most opinions, The Talented Mr. Ripley looked destined to grab a slot for the Best Picture race, if not a major contender for the award, but with its cold reception from the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and Actors Guild, Ripley might just be knocked out.  That would leave a spot for The Hurricane, which did impressively at all three of those awards; or there is the critically lauded, and previous prediction, The Straight Story, a great film that could have been a major runner for a nomination if Buena Vista had even tried to make an Oscar campaign.

Having done surprisingly well with the guild awards (with the exception of the important, at least in this category, Producers Guild), The Sixth Sense may just grab up a nomination.  I’m placing uneasy money on it.

The momentum (“oh, for the sake of momentum”) was on the side of Being John Malkovich up until the night of the Golden Globes, where it lost the Best Comedy/Musical to Toy Story 2.  All the same, I still think that the Spike Jonze film will grab that Fargo/Babe/Life is Beautiful (or would it be Shakespeare in Love) spot.

And I feel very good about the other two.  American Beauty is a sure thing, if not a sure bet to win; and The Insider has more critics on its side than needed for advancement here.  Expect these names to be rolled off by Dustin Hoffman come Tuesday.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  American Beauty.

Best Director

13 February Predictions – 3 of 5 from 21 December
Norman Jewison - The Hurricane (N: GG)
Michael Mann - The Insider (W: NBR [H], GS; N: LAFC, OFCS, GG, OMPA, DGA)
Sam Mendes - American Beauty (W: LAFC, BrFC, SDFC, NSFC, FFC, SeFC, KFC, DFC, OFCS, GG; N: NYFC, TFC, CFC, LVFC, OFCS [H], GS, OMPA, OMPA [H], DGA)
Anthony Minghella - The Talented Mr. Ripley (W: NBR; N: LVFC, GS, GG, OMPA)
M. Night Shyamalan – The Sixth Sense (N: DGA)

Other Possibilities: Pedro Almodóvar for All About My Mother, Paul Thomas Anderson for Magnolia, ***Frank Darabont for The Green Mile, Lasse Halstrom for The Cider House Rules, ***Spike Jonze for Being John Malkovich, ***Stanley Kubrick for Eyes Wide Shut, Mike Leigh for Topsy-Turvy, David Lynch for The Straight Story, Kimberly Pierce for Boys Don’t Cry, and David O. Russell for Three Kings.

I would have placed Anthony Minghella as a great competitor for the Best Director award over Sam Mendes just a month ago, but now, after Minghella failed to grab even a nomination from the Directors Guild, I’m just hoping that the fellow will earn a nomination.

Like their pictures, Michael Mann and Sam Mendes have secured nominations, and are the only pawns fighting for the award come March.

I’m thinking that The Hurricane will fail to grab a Best Picture nomination, having an insufficient following in the entire membership, but that the directors will jump at nominating Norman Jewison (the Academy seems to get a kick out of giving honorary awards to people and then nominating them the following year, as was done with Paul Newman and Henry Fonda, both of whom won).  If Jewison fails to get the sappy nomination, Frank Darabont, a fellow DGA nominee, could come out with the spot despite the lackluster opening for his film The Green Mile.

Considering the Academy’s tendency to nominate some new talent, I feel that M. Night Shyamalan will ride in with his film.  This, Shyamalan’s second film, is his most accessible and the type of film that would get such a nomination (of course, considering my feelings on the film’s final moments, he could also be considered for the sappy film spot).  If he should fail to ignite enough of a storm to grab the up-n-coming director nod, my money is on Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, or, to a lesser extent, David O. Russell.  (By the way, I know that American Beauty is the first film from Sam Mendes, but Mendes is already linked into Hollywood having worked with many big names on Broadway.  Plus who would believe that it was his first film.)

Maybe, oh, maybe, they will do justice to Stanley Kubrick and his painfully underrated final opus by nominating him, though I’m even beginning to doubt it.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Sam Mendes – American Beauty.

Best Actor

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
Jim Carrey - Man on the Moon (W: BFC, GG; N: TFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA, SAG)
Russell Crowe - The Insider (W: NBR, LAFC, BrFC, NSFC; N: NYFC, SDFC, CFC, SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, GS, GG, OMPA, SAG)
Richard Farnsworth - The Straight Story (W: NYFC; N: LAFC, CFC, SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, GS, GG, IS)
Kevin Spacey - American Beauty (W: TFC, SDFC, FFC, SeFC, KFC, LVFC, DFC, OFCS, OFCS [H]; N: NYFC, NSFC, CFC, GS, GG, OMPA, OMPA [H], SAG, SAG [H])
Denzel Washington - The Hurricane (W: GG; N: CFC, GS, OMPA, SAG)

Other Possibilities: ***Jim Broadbent for Topsy-Turvy, ***Matt Damon for The Talented Mr. Ripley, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Flawless, ***Anthony Hopkins for Titus, Sean Penn for Sweet and Lowdown, and Terence Stamp for The Limey.

One last time (I know, the ballots are in, so this is in vain), please give Terence Stamp a nomination for The Limey; he was absolutely incredible.

Three names, Spacey, Washington, and Crowe, are all considered to be sure bets for nominations, having already been awarded by major critics and organizations, as well as being great word-of-mouth performances (however dismal the box office was for The Insider, the performance from Russell Crowe became all the talk from those that did see it [though, I still think Al Pacino was the better of the film’s two leads]).

I know that his chances have digressed over the last few weeks, but I remain stout on a Richard Farnsworth nomination, it just seems in the cards.

I’m also feeling somewhat secure on Jim Carrey taking a nomination.  He really should have been nominated last year, and the performance he gave in Man on the Moon was nothing to frown upon either.

If anyone takes either of the open positions, it will be Matt Damon, but the slow death of The Talented Mr. Ripley’s Oscar chances is making him look like a lost cause (but, who better to beat a dead horse than me).  Hopkins, Broadbent, and Penn all have mediocre chances, at best (though I’m starting to have this weird feeling about Broadbent).

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Kevin Spacey – American Beauty.    

Best Actress

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
Annette Bening - American Beauty (W: SDFC, OFCS [H]; N: CFC, SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, GS, GG, OMPA, OMPA [H], SAG, SAG [H])
Janet McTeer - Tumbleweeds (W: NBR, GS, GG; N: NYFC, CFC, CFC [H], OFCS, IS, SAG)
Julianne Moore - The End of the Affair (N: NYFC, CFC, GS, GG, OMPA, SAG)
Hilary Swank - Boys Don't Cry (W: NBR [H], LAFC, NYFC, BFC, TFC, BrFC, NSFC, FFC, SeFC, LVFC, LVFC [H], DFC, GS, GG; N: CFC, OFCS, IS, OMPA, SAG)
Sigourney Weaver - A Map of the World (N: GS, GG)

Other Possibilities: Nicole Kidman for Eyes Wide Shut, ***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.

Nothing changes here, I still feel secure (at least somewhat secure) with my five predictions from December.

Bening, McTeer, and Swank all look like sure things, Moore looks like a pretty safe bet, and Weaver seems to have enough to grab the fifth spot.  If anyone takes a nomination other than the aforementioned four, it will be Reese Witherspoon, who seemed to have gained some support up until the Golden Globes.  Of course, there is always the Meryl-factor.  Let’s just pray it does not come into place.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry.

Best Supporting Actor

13 February Predictions – 4 of 5 from 21 December
Tom Cruise - Magnolia (W: NBR [H], FFC [H], GG; N: CFC, OFCS [H], GS, OMPA, OMPA [H], SAG, SAG [H])
Michael Clarke Duncan for The Green Mile (W: BrFC; N: CFC, CFC [H], SeFC, OFCS, OFCS [H], GG, SAG, SAG [H])
John Malkovich - Being John Malkovich (W: NYFC; N: LAFC, CFC, SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, OFCS [H], OMPA [H], SAG [H])
Haley Joel Osment - The Sixth Sense (W: BrFC [H], FFC, SeFC, KFC, LVFC, LVFC [H], DFC, OFCS, GS [H]; N: SDFC, NSFC, CFC, CFC [H], OFCS [H], GG, OMPA, OMPA [H], SAG)
Christopher Plummer - The Insider (W: LAFC, BFC, NSFC; N: NYFC, CFC, LVFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA)

Other Possibilities: ***Wes Bentley for American Beauty, ***Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules, Chris Cooper for American Beauty, and ***Jude Law for The Talented Mr. Ripley.

While the impending Tom Cruise nomination leaves my feathers unruffled (though I would much rather see Philip Seymore Hoffman, John C. Reilly [who New Line touted in competition for the lead actor category], or Philip Baker Hall nominated for Magnolia in this category) and the really, really hopeful John Malkovich and Christopher Plummer nominations make me ecstatic (all hail Christopher Plummer), I am highly unhappy with my other two predictions.

While I felt the kid did an effective job for his age, there is little in the Haley Joel Osment’s performance from The Sixth Sense to leave me with the “that kid was incredible” impression.  I’ll take, and cross my fingers for, Wes Bentley any day.  And it probably is not best that I start on the Michael Clarke Duncan performance, one of the most overrated of the year (no actor can do a worse crying fit than him, except, maybe, Vin Diesel).

If there is any chance in heaven that Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, or Jude Law could take the Duncan spot (let’s face it, the Osment nomination is a lock) I would rejoice by watching – however cringe filled – none other than Armageddon again (yes, when I bring out the big guns, you know I mean business)

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Tom Cruise - Magnolia.

Best Supporting Actress

13 February Predictions – 3 of 5 from 21 December
Cameron Diaz - Being John Malkovich (N: LVFC, OFCS, OFCS [H], GS, GG, OMPA, SAG, SAG [H])
Anglelina Jolie - Girl, Interrupted (W: BrFC, GG; N: SDFC, CFC, OMPA, SAG)
Catherine Keener - Being John Malkovich (W: NYFC, FFC, SeFC, KFC, OFCS, GS: N: CFC, LVFC, OFCS [H], GG, OMPA, SAG, SAG [H])
Julianne Moore - Magnolia (W: NBR, FFC [H], DFC, GS [H]; N: NYFC, NSFC, CFC, OFCS, OFCS [H], OMPA, SAG, SAG [H])
Chloë Sevigny - Boys Don't Cry (W: LAFC, BFC, NSFC, LVFC, GS; N: NYFC, CFC, SeFC, OFCS, GG, OMPA, SAG)

Other Possibilities: ***Thora Birch for American Beauty, ***Cate Blanchett for The Talented Mr. Ripley, Toni Collette for The Sixth Sense, ***Samantha Morton for Sweet and Lowdown, and Sissy Spacek for The Straight Story.

What I once called the least competitive award has become a small bout.  Two of my initial predictions , Sissy Spacek and Samantha Morton, have dropped off my short list to make way for two that might just win it.

The two women from Being John Malkovich are pretty much locks, though the more acclaimed Keener seems a little more steady into her nomination (I actually found Diaz to be the better of the two, but I seem to be in a very small minority on that count).  Also locked is Anglena Jolie, especially after winning the Golden Globes award (what is with the Hollywood Foreign Press and Jolie, this is the third year in a row that they have awarded her, and for a mediocre, at best, film).

I’m iffy on Moore.  I think that if she gets a nomination she will probably win, but she is not necessarily a sure bet.  The film may very well be taken less admirably by the large senior vote of the acting branch (though Cruise’s chauvinist character was no less disjointed as Moore’s drug addicted gold digger), which would hurt her chances of a nomination here, though making a nomination for her in the lead actress category more likely (despite being rather immoral at times, her character in The End of the Affair is just showy enough to grab better chances than the large ensemble driven Magnolia).

Independent film darling Chloë Sevigny looks to be a lock for a nomination on the coattails of Hilary Swank.  Having not seen Boys Don’t Cry yet, I cannot give a straight out opinion on her acting ability in the film.  But considering Sevigny’s previous work (in what I call “that crap from Harmony Korine”), the actress from independent films that most deserves a nod one of these days is Parker Posey.  Of course, there’s always Toni Collette up for The Sixth Sense.

If there is a single sense of decency in the Academy, Cate Blanchett would be nominated for her understated, but scene stealing turn in The Talented Mr. Ripley.  It really is for the best since the award was, near literally, stolen from her last year (please, there is not a chance in hell that Paltrow was the better actress between her in Shakespeare in Love and Blanchett in Elizabeth).  Man, I need to start doing a Memo to the Academy every year before the ballots are due.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Julianne Moore - Magnolia.     

Best Adapted Screenplay

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
The Cider House Rules - John Irving (W: NBR, GS; N: SDFC, GG, WGA)
Election - Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (W: LAFC [H], NYFC, SDFC, FFC, SeFC, OFCS; N: NSFC, LVFC, IS, OMPA, WGA)
The End of the Affair - Neil Jordan
The Insider - Eric Roth & Michael Mann (N: SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, GG, OMPA, WGA)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Anthony Minghella (N: LVFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA, WGA)

Other Possibilities: Angela's Ashes by Laura Jones, ***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, Snow Falling on Cedars by Ronald Bass, and Titus by Julie Taymor.

I feel good about my predictions here; almost all seem to be destined for a nomination.  The Cider House Rules, Election, and The Insider all seem sure bets.  Meanwhile The Talented Mr. Ripley looks like a safe prediction in the fourth position (once again, if not for the loss of Ripley’s momentum, I would have considered the film to be the frontrunner to win). 

The fifth position seems to be taken by Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair script.  The fifth Writers Guild nomination went to October Sky, but I am incredibly dubious on the chances of that film to fill the void left by an End of the Affair loss of nomination.  Despite some late breaking musings on the films extensive dramatic rewriting of history, The Hurricane may take the nomination, but the New York Post turning completely against the film hurts its chances.  The Green Mile and Eyes Wide Shut scripts both serve as questionable replacements for the fifth spot, even though their films have been the two biggest disappointments in terms of honors this year.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  The Cider House Rules – John Irving. 

Best Original Screenplay

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
American Beauty - Alan Ball (W: BrFC, SeFC, GG; N: LAFC, TFC, SDFC, NSFC, CFC, LVFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA, OMPA [H], WGA)
Being John Malkovich - Charlie Kaufman (W: LAFC, BFC, TFC, SDFC, NSFC, LVFC, OFCS; N: NYFC, CFC, SeFC, GS, GG, IS, OMPA, OMPA [H], WGA)
Magnolia - Paul Thomas Anderson (W: TFC; N: CFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA, WGA)
The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan (W: GS; N: CFC, SeFC, LVFC, OFCS, GG, OMPA, WGA)
Three Kings - David O. Russell (N: GS, WGA)

Other Possibilities: All About My Mother by Pedro Almodóvar, ***Boys Don't Cry by Kimberly Pierce and Andy Bienen, 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.

There is quite a competitive race for a nomination in the Original Screenplay category. I’m rather sure about Being John Malkovich, The Sixth Sense, and American Beauty gaining nominations.  This is the category most open to new, cutting-edge films.  American Beauty and Being John Malkovich are two films that we do not see too often (however close American Beauty resembles Ordinary People on the surface, there is quite a bit of difference).  From this line of thinking, one can guess that Magnolia and Three Kings will fill the other positions.  Plus, Paul Thomas Anderson was nominated before with Boogie Nights and, according to various sources, Three Kings was very well taken at Academy screenings (but how often do they report that a film did poorly at an Academy screening?).

But this line of thinking makes the entire listing look like a salute to modern films (yes, I’m including The Sixth Sense, despite my feelings of coolness for the film beyond its various high points).  So it could very well be that the modern morality tail of Boys Don’t Cry grabs a spot (probably the Three Kings nod).  However, we cannot count out Topsy-Turvy, one of the best written stage films ever (ages better than Shakespeare in Love, both as a film and as a screenplay).  Mike Leigh had a nomination with Secrets & Lies a few years ago, and this could very well happen again here.  And as a final entry, there is old, faithful Woody Allen, who seems to get a nomination every time he changes gears (and there is no questioning whether Sweet and Lowdown is different from Deconstructing Harry or Celebrity, he has not done anything like this since Zelig, Purple Rose of Cairo, and Stardust Memories, all dating back to the eighties).

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  American Beauty – Alan Ball.  

Best Cinematography

13 February Predictions – 4 of 5 from 21 December
American Beauty - Conrad L. Hall (N: LAFC, NSFC, CFC, LVFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA, ASC)
The Insider - Dante Spinotti (W: LAFC; N: ASC)
Sleepy Hollow – Emmanuel Lubezki (W: BFC, OFCS, GS; N: NYFC, NSFC, CFC, LVFC, OMPA, ASC)
Snow Falling on Cedars
- Robert Richardson (W: FFC, LVFC, DFC; N: CFC, GS, OMPA, ASC)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - John Seale (N: CFC, LVFC, GS, OMPA)

Other Possibilities: Being John Malkovich, Bringing Out the Dead, The End of the Affair, ***Eyes Wide Shut, The Green Mile, The Hurricane, Magnolia, The Matrix, ***The Sixth Sense, ***The Straight Story, and Three Kings.

It is always nice to think about the honoring of cinematographers, especially when there have been so many great efforts this year.  Like most categories, The Insider and American Beauty are locks for nominations, with the inclusion of Sleepy Hollow here.  I think that Snow Falling on Cedars will grab up a nomination for Robert Richardson, one of the most revered cinematographers in film history.

The fifth spot is a little open with The Talented Mr. Ripley the frontrunner (if the film does not grab a nomination here, expect it to be counted out pretty much everywhere else).  Tak Fujimoto, one of the best modern cinematographers, could take that Ripley position with his work on The Sixth Sense considering the film’s chances in most categories.  The well talked of Freddie Francis work on The Straight Story could also prove nomination worthy, but I’m still not sure.  One the few categories that Eyes Wide Shut has not been shut out of seems to be here, where Larry Smith could gain the film’s only nomination.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  American Beauty.

Best Film Editing

13 February Predictions – 3 of 5 from 21 December
American Beauty - Tariq Anwar & Chris Greenbury (N: LVFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA, ACE)
The Insider - William Goldenberg & Paul Rubell (N: GS, ACE)
The Matrix – Zach Staenberg (N: LVFC, OMPA, ACE)
The Sixth Sense
– Andrew Mondshein (W: GS; N: ACE)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Walter Murch (N: GS, OMPA, ACE)

Other Possibilities: Any Given Sunday, Being John Malkovich, Bringing Out the Dead, Eyes Wide Shut, ***The Green Mile, Magnolia, ***Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, and ***Three Kings.

I’m going to side with the American Cinema Editors here, giving positions to all five of their nominees.  American Beauty and The Insider can be bet on, and Ripley looks to be rather favorable (if there was not a rule against it, Walter Murch should have gained a nomination, if not a win, for his reediting of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil).

The Matrix and The Sixth Sense seem like sound choices, though they could easily be raplaced by Sleepy Hollow or Three Kings.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  American Beauty.

Best Sound

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
Fight Club (N: OMPA, MPSE)
The Matrix
Sleepy Hollow
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (N: GS, OMPA, MPSE, CAS)
Three Kings (N: MPSE)

Other Possibilities: ***American Beauty, End of Days, ***The Haunting, The Insider, The Mummy, ***The Sixth Sense, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Toy Story 2, and The World is Not Enough.

There are actually two different guilds that award film sound design, the Cinema Audio Society and the Motion Picture Sound Editors.  This makes things a little easier giving me more films to look at and compare the chances of (it also helps that as many as twenty films can gain a nomination at the MPSE).  Since this category is usually filled with action/adventure films with one deviation, I’m going to simply go with all action adventure films with my two deviation choices as backups.  There is nothing to say that American Beauty and The Sixth Sense will be unable to garner a nomination, it’s just the action films pose such a threat.

I’m rather sure on Sleepy Hollow and The Matrix, the year’s most aurally impressive films, and I feel good about Star Wars since the Academy will assuredly honor it somewhere (though it stands a much better chance of grabbing a Best Visual Effects nomination).  My final two choices, Fight Club and Three Kings, are both expendable; either of these films could be replaced by American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, or, aghast, The Haunting come Tuesday morning.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  The Matrix.

Best Sound Effects Editing

13 February Predictions – 2 of 3
Fight Club (N: OMPA, MPSE)
The Matrix
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (N: OMPA, MPSE, CAS)

Other Possibilities: Any Given Sunday, ***The Green Mile, The Mummy, and ***Three Kings.

Thankfully the Academy gives out a listing of seven semifinalists for this category, because otherwise I would have assuredly given a prediction to Sleepy Hollow, which actually has better sound effects than six of the seven semifinalists.  Expect The Matrix to place, and probably win.  The Academy must suck-up to George Lucas, so Star Wars will probably be nominated, though it is not a sure bet.  I feel that Fight Club will be the third choice, with The Green Mile and Three Kings closing in on its position.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  The Matrix.

Best Visual Effects

13 February Predictions – 3 of 3 from 21 December
The Matrix (W: LVFC; N: GS, OMPA)
Sleepy Hollow (N: GS, OMPA)
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (N: LVFC, GS, OMPA)

Other Possibilities: The Mummy, ***Stuart Little, Wild Wild West, and The World is Not Enough.

Once again The Matrix is the prospective frontrunner (the film seems to be the American Beauty of the technical awards).

No matter how much you cannot stand Jar Jar Binks, the character was revolutionary in special effects, and that alone should bring Lucas his most probable nomination.  Sleepy Hollow and Stuart Little are competing for the final position, and I’m leaning towards the former to grab the nomination.  There are many singing the praises of Stuart Little (I personally did not see the infatuation with the mouse, he looked fake to me), which causes it to be a very close race to the finish between it and Hollow.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  The Matrix.

Best Makeup

13 February Predictions – 0 of 3 from 21 December
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (N: OMPA, MAG)
Bicentennial Man
(N: MAG)

Other Possibilities: Blast from the Past and ***Topsy-Turvy.

On 21 December I made my early predictions in this category with The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, and Sleepy Hollow.  Well when the semifinalists came out, I found that none of my predictions even made it to that list (in fact the none of the five semifinalists made it to the other possibilities section either).  So I had to start from scratch.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Life seem destined to garner the top two positions thanks to being filled with scenes using make-up.  But the rest of the list uses makeup only sporadically or to a much less showy extent:  the occasional aging of Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek in Blast from the Past, the face construction of Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man, and the period and stage makeup of everyone involved in Topsy-Turvy.  Expect Bicentennial Man and Topsy-Turvy to duke it out for the final position.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Best Costume Design

13 February Predictions – 3 of 5 from 21 December
The End of the Affair
Sleepy Hollow (W: GS; N: LVFC, OMPA, CDG)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (N: OMPA, CDG)

Other Possibilities: American Beauty, Angela's Ashes, Anna and the King, The Emperor and the Assassin, Eyes Wide Shut, Fight Club, The Green Mile, ***An Ideal Husband, Man on the Moon, ***The Matrix, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Snow Falling on Cedars, and ***Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

The Costume Design category usually includes some futuristic film, but I have a feeling that only period pieces will take the stage this year (if any film set in the future is nominated, expect it to be either Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace or The Matrix).

The Talented Mr. Ripley and Sleepy Hollow seem set for nominations, with Titus and Topsy-Turvy serving as safe bets.  The final position looks to be in the ballpark of The End of the Affair, with An Ideal Husband and Anna and the King serving as valid replacements.

If any modern costumes make the short list, expect Eyes Wide Shut or American Beauty.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Best Art Direction

13 February Predictions – 4 of 5 from 21 December
Anna and the King (N: GS, OMPA, SMPTAD)
The End of the Affair
Sleepy Hollow
The Talented Mr. Ripley (N: OMPA)

Other Possibilities: American Beauty, Angela's Ashes, The Cider House Rules, ***Eyes Wide Shut, Fight Club, The Green Mile, ***The Haunting, ***An Ideal Husband, The Insider, The Matrix, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Red Violin, Snow Falling on Cedars, and Three Kings.

The Talented Mr. Ripley, Titus, and Sleepy Hollow look like safe bets for a nomination in Art Direction, despite Ripley’s lack of Society of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors nomination.  The exploding set of The End of the Affair and the highly detailed sets of Anna and the King look like strong possibilities.

The long talked about sets of The Haunting may change this category and the beautiful modern look of Eyes Wide Shut may just pay off with nominations, put jus does not look to be in the cards.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Best Original Score

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
American Beauty - Thomas Newman (N: LVFC, OFCS, GG, OMPA)
The Red Violin - John Corigliano (N: GS, OMPA)
Sleepy Hollow - Danny Elfman (W: GS; N: LVFC, OMPA)
Snow Falling on Cedars - James Newton Howard (N: GS)
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Gabriel Yared (W: BrFC; N: LAFC, LVFC, GG, OMPA)

Other Possibilities: Angela's Ashes by John Williams, 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 Insider by Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke, The Legend of 1999 by Ennio Morricone, Magnolia by John Brion & 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, Titus by Elliott Goldenthal, and Toy Story 2 by Randy Newman.

American Beauty, Sleepy Hollow, and The Talented Mr. Ripley look like strong nominees, if any of them are left out it will be quite a surprise.  The other two positions are rather open.  I’m thinking the beautiful score for The Red Violin and the highly dramatic score for Snow Falling on Cedars.  But there is nothing to say that Eyes Wide Shut, The Green Mile, The End of the Affair, and The Straight Story could all take those two open positions.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  American Beauty – Thomas Newman.

Best Original Song

13 February Predictions – 5 of 5 from 21 December
"Beautiful Stranger" - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (W: LVFC; N: GG, OMPA)
"The Great Beyond" - Man on the Moon
"Save Me" - Magnolia (N: LVFC, GS, GG, OMPA)
"When She Loved Me" - Toy Story 2 (W: GS; N: LVFC, GG, OMPA)
"You'll Be in My Heart" - Tarzan (W: GG; N: LVFC, OMPA)

Other Possibilities: "Amphibian" from Being John Malkovich, "La Resistance Medley" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, “Lullaby for Cain” from The Talented Mr. Ripley, "Mountain Town" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, ***"Music of My Heart" from Music of the Heart, "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, ***"When I Look at You" from Bicentennial Man, and "The World is Not Enough" from The World is Not Enough.

I’m not going to cross my fingers on a South Park tune grabbing a nominations, it’s just not going to happen.  In the place of those South Park songs, expect “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan and “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 to be holding up the cartoon quota (with the succeeding award to go to either of them).

This year’s brooding artsy song should be going to “Save Me” from Magnolia, especially considering the rumored heights New Line has gone to for the film to get this nomination.  The A/C friendly nominee will most assuredly be going to the horrible Austin Powers song “Beautiful Stranger,” however undeserved it may be.

I’m giving the fifth position to “The Great Beyond” which very well could be simply wishful thinking.  Of course if my choices were the nominees “La Resistance Medley” and “Lullaby for Cain” would be here in much more glory.

As a side note, “Music of My Heart” and “When I Look at You” could very well spoil my predictions considering that the former was written by Diane Warren and the latter was performed by Celine “didn’t she retire?” Dion.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  “When She Loved Me” – Toy Story 2.

Best Documentary Feature

13 February Predictions – N/A from 21 December
American Movie (N: NSFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA)
Buena Vista Social Club (W: NBR, LAFC, NYFC, BrFC, NSFC, FFC, KFC, OFCS
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (W: DFC; N: LAFC, NYFC, NSFC, OFCS, GS, OMPA)
On the Ropes (N: IS)
The Source (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: Amargosa, ***Beyond the Mat, ***Genghis Blues, One Day in September, Pop & Me, Smoke and Mirrors: The History of Denial, and ***Speaking in Strings.

The most maddening category of them all is also one of the hardest to predict (who, in a million years, would have thought that Hoop Dreams, the year’s most critically acclaimed film, would have been forgotten in this category years ago?).  I’m playing by ear and saying that Wim Wenders will gain a nomination for the fun Buena Vista Social Club and Errol Morris will get (surprisingly) his first nomination for Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.

This year’s Hoop Dreams, On the Ropes, should garner enough praise in the branch to grab a nomination, though Beyond the Mat could hurt On the Rope’s chances considering their undeniable similarities.  The satirical take on Sundance-driven independent filmmaking, American Movie, might grab a nomination, though its mocking of the industry it needs support from could hurt its chances.  I feel rather good about The Source getting a nomination, not because it has Dennis Hopper and Johnny Depp, not because it is about a revolution in literature, but because it is directed by the fellow that edits all the film montages during the Academy Awards (though they just might leave Chuck Workman off after that horrid “Cowboy Heaven” montage last year)

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  Buena Vista Social Club.        

Best Foreign Language Film

13 February Predictions – 4 of 5 from 21 December
All About My Mother - Pedro Almodóvar (Spain) (W: NBR, LAFC, NYFC, BFC, BrFC, CFC,
East-West (Est-Ouest) - Régis Wargnier (France) (N: NBR, GG)
The Cup – Khyentse Norbu (Bhutan) (N:
Rosetta - Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (Belgium) (N: NYFC,
Three Seasons - Tony Bui (Vietnam) (N: GS)

Other Possibilities: ***Brazil's Orfeu from Carlos Diegues, Canada's Set Me Free (Emporte-Moi) from Léa Pool, Denmark’s Mifune from Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, ***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.

Of those named as semifinalists for the Foreign Language Film nomination, I have only seen the Vietnam entry Three Seasons, so it is rather hard for me to remark on those contending for a nomination (though most will agree that having seen all the contenders cannot make predicting this category much easier).

Expect All About My Mother, the year’s most cordially taken foreign film to grab a nomination (and win).  Otherwise, the race is rather open.  I’m siding with Cannes prize winner Rosetta and Sundance prize winner Three Seasons as probable other nominees.  The other two are open, with my choices of East-West and The Cup due to having heard about them the most.

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:
  All About My Mother – Pedro Almodóvar (Spain).

Best Live Action Short

13 February Predictions – N/A from 21 December
Cirque du Soleil – Journey of Man
Killing Joe
Mutual Love Life
The Witness

Other Possibilities: Bror Min Bror (Ties Nico), ***The Dance of Shiva, Kleingold (Small Change), ***Major and Minor Miracles, and ***My Mother Dreams of Satan’s Disciples in New York.

Few categories are as fun as the two short film categories; they are literally shots in the dark for me.  I’ve neither seen nor heard of any of the films placed on the Live Action semifinalist listing.  So I chose Cirque du Soleil – Journey of Man since I’ve head of the group.  The other four films as well as the three back-ups were chosen simply because of their titles.  How could the Academy pass on a title simply named John?  If I have named off all the nominees correctly, that will be quite the surprise.
Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  John.

Best Animated Short

13 February Predictions – N/A from 21 December
The Old Man and the Sea
The Phox, the Box, and the Lox
Village of Idiots
When the Day Breaks

Other Possibilities: Humdrum, ***The Indescribable Nth, Monseiur Pett, ***My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts, and ***Three Misses.

Unlike the Live Action Short category, I have actually heard of some of the semifinalists.  As the nominations have come closer and closer I have heard the titles The Old Man and the Sea, The Phox, the Box, and the Lox, and When the Day Breaks for some time (in fact, I think When the Day Breaks won some major award).  Of course that only takes care of three nominees, so the other five marked were all chosen due to their titles (and who could refrain from nominating a film entitled Village of Idiots or The Indescribable Nth).

Early, Early, Early Winner Prediction:  When the Day Breaks.



American Beauty...8

The Talented Mr. Ripley...8
The Insider...7
Sleepy Hollow...6
Being John Malkovich...5
The Sixth Sense...5
The End of the Affair...4
The Matrix...4
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace...3
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me...2
Boys Don’t Cry...2
Fight Club...2
The Hurricane...2
Man on the Moon...2
Snow Falling on Cedars...2
Three Kings...2
Anna and the King...1
Bicentennial Man...1
The Cider House Rules...1

Girl, Interrupted...1
The Green Mile...1

Map of the World...1
The Red Violin...1
The Straight Story


Toy Story 2...1

Analysis by:
David Perry