February 13, 2003

The Good, The Bad, and The MIA

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As my mother entitled an e-mail to me, “WHAT ABOUT RICHARD GERE?” Many people were asking the same question as the 75th Academy Awards nominations were announced Tuesday morning. With many fantastic performances, a handful of sequels, and record-breaking openings the nominees were up in the air to the last minute.

Best Picture

This year’s clear front-runner Chicago topped the list because of alphabetical order. Coincidentally, maybe, but it will probably be on the top at the end too. The Hours also was not a surprise, as it has won many other critics awards. This so-called “chick flick” based on the novel of the same name will be Chicago’s closest competitor. The year’s artistic choice is the fabulous The Pianist. Not seen by many people, the Academy got out there to view this masterpiece which follows the life of a musically talented Holocaust survivor. One of the most graphic and moving movies of the year, The Pianist deserves its spot in this category. So those are the only movies that really matter, as the other two are ridiculous. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers? Give me a break! After drudging through the first hour and a half (and, oh no, that wasn’t even half of it), I gave up, took a nap and missed nothing. Gangs of New York was not that great and clearly not Best Picture worthy. This historical epic was a large disappointment in so many ways.

Best Actor

As previously stated, Gere was bluntly ignored. In the “role of his career” (and I hate to use that expression), Gere finally went over the top, as he is often criticized for being sedate. Jack Nicholson got a spot — big surprise. Whether or not his role in About Schmidt was deserving of this honor, he was a given. And on the other extreme, what is with Michael Caine? Who has seen The Quiet American? Trust me, while not having a large audience tells you nothing about a film, I literally have not meant one person who has seen this film. [Ed. Note- I’m that one person. Caine deserves this nomination.] Nicholas Cage also jumped in with his dual role in Adaptation, but he was in the shadow of his supporting cast. The leading contenders in this category are Adrien Brody for Pianist and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs. Brody carried the entire depressing film on his back and might push out the renowned Day-Lewis.

Best Actress

This contest begins with two “I’m a beautiful woman who is going to play a grotesquely ugly historical figure.” Salma Hayek was finally able to play Frida Kahlo and who can forget that unibrow? Also as memorable, Nicole Kidman’s nose as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. This category is for ACTING, not makeup. Julianne Moore was strong in Far From Heaven, but the movie lacked passion that could keep her from winning. Diane Lane in Unfaithful had her career-reviving role, but the release in early spring could be too far back for Academy members to remember. Last is Hollywood’s sweetheart Renee Zellweger. She should run away with this award (with Kidman her only real competition). It would have been nice to see Jennifer Aniston (The Good Girl) with these girls.

Best Supporting Actor

This is clearly the easiest decided category. Congratulations, Chris Cooper (Adaptation), you have already won yourself an Oscar. Rounding out the category is Ed Harris for The Hours, Paul Newman for Road to Perdition (this must be a joke), John C. Reilly for Chicago (riding on the film’s coattails; this was not his best role of the year, found in The Good Girl), and Christopher Walken for Catch Me If You Can. Dennis Quaid’s performance in Heaven was correctly left out.

Best Supporting Actress

Let’s get ready to rumble: Meryl Streep (Adaptation) v. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago)! Kathy Bates “bare” role in About Schmidt, Moore’s lonely housewife in The Hours, and Queen Latifah’s prison warden in Chicago (great singer, but an Oscar nomination?) will be on the sideline in this cat fight. My favorite this year was Catherine Keener in Full Frontal.

Best Director

These nominees mirror the Best Picture category except for Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her) ousting Peter Jackson for Towers. With this year’s heartfelt vote, Martin Scorsese (Gangs) might pick up his first directing Oscar, right out from under the unpopular Roman Polanski (Pianist), new kid Rob Marshall (Chicago), and Stephen Daldry (Hours).

All will be known after the evening of March 23 and while a great year of film has ended, the categories are already narrowed down.

Archived article by Cory Sinclair