February 28, 2002

Oscar Buzz

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As if Hollywood needed an excuse to be pretentious, the Academy Awards — also known as the Oscars — have become Tinsel Town’s primary night of glitz and glamour. Held in the spring, the Oscars give actors, writers, producers, technical design teams, musicians, and an entire flock of other silver-screen faces an excuse to be seen. The awards are a general re-hashing of the previous year’s releases where the best of the best are given the coveted Oscar statuette.

The official nominations for the 2002 Oscars were recently finalized, throwing all of Hollywood and much of the entertainment world into a frenzy. Each year there are predictions and postulations as to just who will win the coveted awards. And though there are indefinitely more award categories today than there were 70 years ago, the top six categories remain the same as they did when the awards began.

The awards for best picture, director, actor, actress, supporting actor, and supporting actress are continually the highlights of the evening.

Currently, the national and international media are busy trying to predict who will walk away with the 13.5-inch statuette and who will leave the event empty-handed. Following this media-driven phenomenon, daze is proud to present our official predictions for the top prizes of the 74th Annual Academy Awards.

Best Picture

This year’s best picture category will be one to watch closely. Not only are the films listed all nominated multiple times under other categories (a fact that is not, in and of itself, that uncommon), but the themes and style of each of the films is drastically different from the others. Two of the nominations, Lord of the Rings and Moulin Rouge are grand in their scope and both rely heavily upon scenery, fantastical elements, and big budgets. Gosford Park and In the Bedroom both fall under the stark category of drama, while A Beautiful Mind is a dramatized biography.

Statistically, the film with the most overall nominations will probably come away with the Oscar in this category. If that’s true, then we can expect to see Elijah Wood and Peter Jackson take the stage for Lord of the Rings. However, don’t be surprised if A Beautiful Mind ends up snatching that statuette. These two are neck and neck, and should make for a tense and exciting few moments.

Daze Prediction:

Equal Likelihood, Lord of the Rings and A Beautiful Mind

Best Director

This race is slightly easier to predict due to the historical precedent set by the Academy. With fewer nominations than the other films, Mulholland Drive and Black Hawk Down leave their respective directors with little hope of an award. Similarly, Gosford Park’s director, Robert Altman, has already lost at the Oscars before — multiple times. That said, it seems that this race will once again be between A Beautiful Mind’s Ron Howard and Lord of the Ring’s Peter Jackson. But, because Jackson is a relative newcomer and Howard a hardened Hollywood veteran, this award seems likely to go to A Beautiful Mind.

Daze Prediction:

Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind

Best Actor

Though each of these actors has apparently done fine work with each of their respective films, this race seems to be one of the easiest to predict. Will Smith has star-power for sure, but Ali was only a marginal success and reviews were mixed across the board. Sean Penn in I Am Sam faces a similar problem; some really great reviews in the midst of many bland ones. As for Tom Wilkinson, well … had you ever heard of him before In the Bedroom started earning him praise? That leaves Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind and Denzel Washington for Training Day.

Because Crowe won an Oscar last year for Gladiator, it is statistically less likely that he will win an award this year. In addition to that, though Training Day didn’t break any box office records, it gave Denzel Washington a chance to break out of his good-guy-with-a-nice-smile role. In this film, he is somewhat sinister and bitter, something that could have really helped him with the Academy. Because of that dynamic role and his continued appeal, it seems that Denzel will be heading home with an Oscar.

Daze Prediction:

Denzel Washington, Training Day

Best Actress

In terms of coverage, both Halle Berry and Sissy Spacek have been barraged by media attention for their recent efforts. For Spacek, In the Bedroom was a comeback of sorts. Having been out of the mainstream spotlight for some time, Spacek’s performance in Bedroom received more than a few nods from critics and audiences alike. It seems likely, then, that the Academy took note as well.

However, with the release of Monster’s Ball, Spacek’s spotlight was shifted to Berry. Giving an intense and emotional performance as a widow who falls in love with her husband’s executioner, Berry just might be an upstart this year. As for Dench, Zellweger, and Kidman — a win would be a surprise.

As far as Kidman is concerned, simply appearing in an ambitious film and learning to sing probably isn’t enough to get her that little gold man. Iris and Bridget Jones’s Diary, though well received and lauded, don’t seem to be on the same level of competition as Monster’s Ball and In the Bedroom.

In the end, the Academy seems likely to side with the return of Spacek.

Daze Prediction:

Sissy Spacek, In the Bedroom

Best Supporting Actor

This category is one of the messier ones. With p%i