Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

Tirade of the Week


2.21.00

1999 Oscar Nominations: The Inside Scoop


The following is an imaginary dialogue between our intrepid reporter and a cynical, callous, brutally honest Academy spokesperson. In this scenario, I ask the spokesperson about this year's Oscar nominations.

---------------------
BEST PICTURE
---------------------
AMERICAN BEAUTY
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
THE GREEN MILE
THE INSIDER
THE SIXTH SENSE

---------------------

ME: So, how come THE HURRICANE isn't on here?

BRUTALLY HONEST ACADEMY SPOKESPERSON: Well, we had to pick between two movies about a black guy unjustly imprisoned. So, we went with the one starring a white guy.

ME: I see. Well, how about THE CIDER HOUSE RULES? It's a fine film, but it wasn't among the Golden Globes Best Picture nominees, and here it is on your list.

BHAS: What are you, kidding? Miramax spent tons of money on the CIDER campaign. You couldn't turn around without seeing an ad: "For Your Consideration: Fifth Orphan on the Left, Best Supporting Actor, CIDER HOUSE RULES." I mean, c'mon. CIDER HOUSE was the George W. Bush of the Oscars this year -- money is what wins a campaign. Last year the big ad whore was SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. Miramax understands the business.

ME: I take it that USA Films, the distributor of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, didn't have quite as much money as Miramax in their Oscar ad budget.

BHAS: So? That's their problem.


-------------------
BEST ACTOR
-------------------
Russell Crowe, THE INSIDER
Richard Farnsworth, THE STRAIGHT STORY
Sean Penn, SWEET AND LOWDOWN
Kevin Spacey, AMERICAN BEAUTY
Denzel Washington, THE HURRICANE
-------------------

ME: Level with me: Does Richard Farnsworth really have a snowball's chance?

BHAS: Fuck, no. His nomination is his award, and besides, if he actually won, we'd have to sit there for an hour waiting for him to drag his 80-year-old ass up to the stage. Who needs to see that? That's not Oscar magic. Better to remember him as he was.

ME: But he's not dead yet. Anyway, Sean Penn's nomination was a surprise.

BHAS: Yeah, whatever. We just needed a fifth guy to fill in for Jim Carrey.

ME: That was my next question. Why this second consecutive snub?

BHAS: Because if he was ever going to get nominated for anything, it would've been this serious biopic. And he wasn't nominated. Message: You're never gonna be nominated, Jimbo, so go back to your little fart-humor movies for kids and be happy with your Globes and shut the fuck up.

ME: What's your problem with Carrey? Benigni won last year.

BHAS: You answered your own question -- the wop won last year. We're gonna give an Oscar to two goofballs in a row? Besides, Benigni played a goofball Jew in the Holocaust -- how can we not give it up for that?

ME: Um, Carrey also played a goofball Jew, but never mind.

BHAS: Also, MAN ON THE MOON made two things at the box office, jack and shit. The Oscar is not a consolation prize for poor box-office performance. Well, there was that year when Jessica Lange won for that movie two people saw [BLUE SKY], but hey, it was her time and she has nice tits. Next question.


--------------------
BEST ACTRESS
--------------------
Annette Bening, AMERICAN BEAUTY
Janet McTeer, TUMBLEWEEDS
Julianne Moore, THE END OF THE AFFAIR
Meryl Streep, MUSIC OF THE HEART
Hilary Swank, BOYS DON'T CRY
--------------------

ME: This is pretty much a replay of the Globes Best Actress Drama roster, except that McTeer got cut-and-pasted over from Best Actress Comedy and Sigourney Weaver is gone.

BHAS: Yeah, well, who's seen A MAP OF THE WORLD? You?

ME: Not yet.

BHAS: Well, see, there you go.

ME: But a nomination for Weaver might have meant a much wider release for her film, instead of the limited platform it's getting next weekend.

BHAS: Kid, we're not in the charity business, okay?


-------------------------------------
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
-------------------------------------
Michael Caine, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
Tom Cruise, MAGNOLIA
Michael Clarke Duncan, THE GREEN MILE
Jude Law, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
Haley Joel Osment, THE SIXTH SENSE
-------------------------------------

ME: This is exactly the same roster as the Globes nominations. Not that Jude Law didn't deserve it, he's a good actor, but I wonder if Matt Damon's and Gwyneth Paltrow's previous recent wins ruined their chances this year?

BHAS: Yeah. Spread the wealth. But he's not gonna win anyway.

ME: Probably not. I understand Haley Joel Osment was in tears when he didn't win the Globe. You think he's going to lose to Tom again?

BHAS: Oh yeah. And the big black guy too. Denzel's going to win for THE HURRICANE and one black winner per year is enough.


---------------------------------------
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
---------------------------------------
Toni Collette, THE SIXTH SENSE
Angelina Jolie, GIRL, INTERRUPTED
Catherine Keener, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
Samantha Morton, SWEET AND LOWDOWN
Chloe Sevigny, BOYS DON'T CRY
---------------------------------------

ME: I was happily surprised to see Toni Collette on the list. She was very believable in her role.

BHAS: Yeah, but she's not believable as an Oscar winner.

ME: This is going to go to Angelina Jolie, isn't it?

BHAS: What do you think? Nobody ever heard of the other four nominees, and Jolie is a major babe.

ME: I fail to see what difference that makes in the voting.

BHAS: How old did you say you are, kid?


-----------------------
BEST DIRECTOR
-----------------------
Sam Mendes, AMERICAN BEAUTY
Spike Jonze, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
Lasse Hallstrom, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
Michael Mann, THE INSIDER
M. Night Shyamalan, THE SIXTH SENSE
-----------------------

ME: So THE GREEN MILE is this year's Best Picture nominee that apparently directed itself...

BHAS: Oh, for Christ's sake. What are you bitching about? Darabont's out, but Spike Jonze is in. Where's the problem?

ME: The problem is that Jonze's film should also be in the Best Picture running, but never mind. I suppose Darabont will have to be content with his Adapted Screenplay nomination.

BHAS: Which he's not gonna win.

ME: I was surprised not to see Anthony Minghella or Neil Jordan among the nominees, since they were on the Globes list.

BHAS: C'mon. Minghella just won, and Jordan won Best Screenplay a while back.

ME: That was eight years ago.

BHAS: What are you, Jordan's pimp? Did you see IN DREAMS?

ME: Yes, but I'm willing to overlook that.

BHAS: We're not.


----------------------------------------
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
----------------------------------------
AMERICAN BEAUTY, Alan Ball
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, Charlie Kaufman
MAGNOLIA, Paul Thomas Anderson
THE SIXTH SENSE, M. Night Shyamalan
TOPSY TURVY, Mike Leigh
----------------------------------------

ME: Are you serious? MAGNOLIA for Best Screenplay?

BHAS: Hey, the kid's got talent. Frogs? I would've never thought of that.

ME: He has a tin ear for dialogue, he writes paper-thin characters, he sets up situations he doesn't resolve, and then he throws in the frogs to cover for it all.

BHAS: You're talking about 99% of all screenwriters, except for the frogs. The frogs are what set him apart.


----------------------------------------
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
----------------------------------------
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, John Irving
ELECTION, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
THE GREEN MILE, Frank Darabont
THE INSIDER, Michael Mann & Eric Roth
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, Anthony Minghella
----------------------------------------

ME: Any chance ELECTION, a total happy surprise in this category, might win?

BHAS: No chance in hell. Giving an Oscar to John Irving will be Hollywood's way of feeling literary.

ME: As opposed to literate.

BHAS: Y'know, you're starting to get on my nerves, kid.


-----------------------------------
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
-----------------------------------
AMERICAN BEAUTY, Conrad L. Hall
THE END OF THE AFFAIR, Roger Pratt
THE INSIDER, Dante Spinotti
SLEEPY HOLLOW, Emmanuel Lubezki
SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, Robert Richardson
-----------------------------------

ME: SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS?

BHAS: It's a pretty movie.

ME: Pretty dull, from what I understand.

BHAS: Hey. This isn't Best Editing, it's Best Cinematography. It looked good. Hence the nomination.

ME: Did you actually see it?

BHAS: Hell, no. What are you, nuts?


----------------------------------
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
----------------------------------
ANNA AND THE KING
SLEEPY HOLLOW
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
TITUS
TOPSY TURVY

----------------------------------

ME: I just have to ask, what actual "costumes" were there in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY?

BHAS: Well, there were a lot of really nice shirts.

ME: Oh right, I forgot, Jude Law did have some dope phat pants.

BHAS: C'mon, they can't all be period costumes. I mean, 100 years from now, these clothes we're wearing now will be considered period --

ME: Skip it.


-------------------------------
BEST ART DIRECTION
-------------------------------
ANNA AND THE KING
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
SLEEPY HOLLOW
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
TOPSY TURVY

-------------------------------

ME: I admire CIDER HOUSE RULES but I didn't notice any particular excellence in the way of art direction. I mean, half of it is set in a shabby orphanage and the other half is set in a shabby apple orchard. And I really question the nomination for RIPLEY -- all they had to do was point a camera at Venice, for Christ's sake.

BHAS: So what should we give the nod to, LAKE PLACID?

ME: Maybe BEING JOHN MALKOVICH deserved it more, what with its 7 1/2 floor and its other imaginative sets, like Craig Schwartz's workshop, etc. Or the recreated Limerick slums in ANGELA'S ASHES. Or the otherworldly virtual-reality gamerooms in EXISTENZ.

BHAS: Listen, CIDER HOUSE had to get at least some minor nominations because it doesn't look good for a Best Picture nominee to have too few nominations. Even the front runner, AMERICAN BEAUTY, only has eight.

ME: So why don't we just nominate THE CIDER HOUSE RULES for, say, Best Film Editing. Since the editing in that film was so dazzling and innovative.


----------------------------
BEST FILM EDITING
----------------------------
AMERICAN BEAUTY
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
THE INSIDER
THE MATRIX
THE SIXTH SENSE

----------------------------

ME: Stop laughing at me.

BHAS: What? I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you.

ME: But I'm not laughing. I would've liked to see RUN LOLA RUN on this list.

BHAS: RUN LOLA RUN doesn't qualify because it came out in 1998.

ME: Whaaat? It came out in America in 1999.

BHAS: Technically it's a 1998 film according to Leonard Maltin's book and the Internet Movie Database.

ME: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL is technically a 1997 film according to Leonard Maltin's book and the Internet Movie Database, but that got major nominations and awards in 1999, including a nomination for Best Picture!

BHAS: Whoa whoa, there's no need to shout, I'm sitting right here.

ME: But I suppose LOLA gets shafted because it's not Miramax, right? It's distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, which barely has enough money to give their films a proper release, much less a big Benigni-sized Oscar ad campaign!

BHAS: Calm down, kid. You're spitting on me. Check the rulebook, you'll see where you're wrong about this.

ME: Okay, I will. I'll get back to you on this.

BHAS: You do that.


--------------------
BEST MAKEUP
--------------------
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
BICENTENNIAL MAN
LIFE
TOPSY TURVY

--------------------

ME: I assume the nomination for AUSTIN POWERS is for Fat Bastard, since the Austin/Dr. Evil makeup jobs didn't get the first film any nomination.

BHAS: No, actually it's for Mini-Me. You know that guy's really 6'4"?

ME: That joke was beneath even you.

BHAS: Hey, they can't all be gems.


--------------------------------
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
--------------------------------
AMERICAN BEAUTY, Thomas Newman
ANGELA'S ASHES, John Williams
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, Rachel Portman
THE RED VIOLIN, John Corigliano
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, Gabriel Yared
--------------------------------

ME: Why wasn't SOUTH PARK nominated for Best Score?

BHAS: We eliminated the Best Score Musical/Comedy category this year because there weren't enough worthy nominees.

ME: Christ, you had TOY STORY 2, SOUTH PARK, and TARZAN -- you couldn't have picked two other ones at random?

BHAS: We don't "pick at random."

ME: Could've fooled me.


-------------------------------
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
-------------------------------
"Blame Canada," SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, UNCUT
"Music of My Heart," MUSIC OF THE HEART
"Save Me," MAGNOLIA
"When She Loved Me," TOY STORY 2
"You'll Be in My Heart," TARZAN
-------------------------------

ME: I have to say I'm glad you included "Blame Canada." Now, is there any connection between the nomination of a SOUTH PARK song and the fact that the Oscar show will have no musical dance numbers this year?

BHAS: No comment.

ME: Will the Best Song nominees be performed at all? If so, I wonder what you're going to do about "Blame Canada" since it was sung mainly by the late Mary Kay Bergman. It also must be the first Oscar-nominated song in history to contain the words "fart," "bitch," and "fuck."

BHAS: What's your point, kid?

ME: Nothing, I guess.


-------------------------------
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
-------------------------------
THE MATRIX
STAR WARS EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE
STUART LITTLE

-------------------------------

ME: This category has really become a horse race between the films with the biggest budget for CGI, hasn't it? And basically the movie with the most money wins.

BHAS: Sure. Hell, nothing's stopping a film like BOYS DON'T CRY from spending millions of dollars on digitally created characters.

ME: In that case, why wasn't EYES WIDE SHUT nominated for its fantastic digitally created characters blocking our view in the orgy scene?

BHAS: Kid, you must go around angry all the time. It's not healthy. Have you seen anyone about this?


------------------
BEST SOUND
------------------
THE GREEN MILE
THE INSIDER
THE MATRIX
THE MUMMY
STAR WARS EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE

------------------

ME: Ah yes, THE GREEN MILE -- that pinnacle of enveloping sound design. I'll never forget the awe-inspiring aural ambiance of shoes walking on concrete floors...

BHAS: Hey, not every movie is SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, all right? Little wise-ass.


--------------------------------------------
BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
--------------------------------------------
FIGHT CLUB
THE MATRIX
STAR WARS EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE

--------------------------------------------

ME: I confess I've never understood this category. Isn't it just sound effects? What is involved in the editing of sound effects? Isn't it basically the same as sound? And how can you accurately judge achievements in these categories when sound varies so much depending on what sound system you're listening to?

BHAS: Kid, I think you need to get laid or something.


---------------------------------------------
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
---------------------------------------------
EAST-WEST (France)
CARAVAN (Nepal)
SOLOMON AND GAENOR (UK)
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Spain)
UNDER THE SUN (Sweden)
---------------------------------------------

ME: It's likely that ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER will rise triumphant here. You think Americans will actually get to see any of the nominees that don't win?

BHAS: No. Not that they'd even go see them if they WERE released in America. They won't even rent them. "Hey, what's this movie SOLOMON AND GAENOR?" "Who cares? Hey, let's rent JERRY SPRINGER TOO HOT FOR TV." Even the Best Foreign Film winner sits on the shelf at Blockbuster, collecting dust.

[Ed. Note: Here we get into nitpicking about the lame Academy rules for Best Foreign Film which you can skip over if you want to]

ME: I notice that UNDER THE SUN, the Swedish entry, was first released in Sweden on December 25, 1998.

BHAS: Yeah? So?

ME: RUN LOLA RUN was first released in Germany on August 20, 1998.

BHAS: Yeah? So?

ME: This is a good time to ask why RUN LOLA RUN didn't get --

BHAS: The official Academy rule regarding foreign language films eligible for an award this year clearly states, "This award (Academy Statuette) will be given for the best feature-length motion picture produced with a basically non-English dialogue track, first released in the country of origin between November 1, 1998 and October 31, 1999." UNDER THE SUN was released within that time period. RUN LOLA RUN wasn't.

ME: So UNDER THE SUN squeaks through and RUN LOLA RUN gets shut out for having opened ten weeks too early.

BHAS: Right.

ME: This despite the fact that it wasn't nominated last year, either -- when, according to this rule, it would have been eligible.

BHAS: Right.

ME: Even though they both came out in 1998.

BHAS: Right.

ME: By the same token, if a really good foreign film had come out in its country of origin in November, 1999, it wouldn't be eligible for an award this year.

BHAS: Right.

ME: But your rules also state that if a foreign film opens in Los Angeles County between January 1 and December 31 of a given year, and it wasn't nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category the previous year, it's eligible for any of the other awards. So theoretically RUN LOLA RUN, which opened in Los Angeles on June 18, 1999, could have been nominated for Best Editing, Best Director, Best Actress, even Best Picture this year.

BHAS: Not exactly. A film can be submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Film category, and if it doesn't make the cut, it's not eligible for any awards the following year.

ME: So, RUN LOLA RUN could have been submitted for Best Foreign Language Film consideration last year and not been accepted. Then this year, whether it had been nominated the previous year or not, it wouldn't be eligible.

BHAS: Right.

ME: So basically just because it might have been passed over for a Best Foreign Film nomination last year, there's no way it can get anything else this year no matter how good it is.

BHAS: What are you, obsessed with RUN LOLA RUN or something?


---------------------------------------------
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
---------------------------------------------
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB
GENGHIS BLUES
ON THE ROPES
ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER
SPEAKING IN STRINGS

---------------------------------------------

ME: Okay, since BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB is the only nominee anyone's heard of, much less actually seen; and since it's critically acclaimed and by far the most financially successful nominee ... considering the Documentary voters' usual stellar logic, what are its chances of winning the Oscar?

BHAS: Practically nil. Now, if it were a Miramax documentary...