Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Quiero Ser (I Want to Be.)
The Man on Lincoln’s Nose
Predictions are in the order I think they have a chance of winning the award (except the short film categories, which are unranked and each listed as “Toss Up”). I have added notations to each indicating how strong I think they are a contender.
Winner Prediction (c-Win Pred Date Set) — Chance at Win —
Other Nominees — Chance at Win —
- Gladiator – David H. Franzoni, Branko Lustig, Douglas Wick (c-12/21) — Even —
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Li-Kong Hsu, William Kong, Ang Lee — 3:2 —
- Erin Brockovich – Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher — 2:1 —
- Traffic – Laura Bickford, Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick — 4:1 —
- Chocolat – David Brown, Kit Golden, Leslie Holleran — 10:1 —
Commentary: To say that Gladiator is a shoe-in is like saying Al Gore lost the presidency by a landslide. Gladiator has the three best Oscar predictors, the Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globe and PGA award. However, Crouchiing Tiger or Erin Brockovich could easily sneak in with a win. Crouching has the best shot, being the most successful and most nominated foreign film in history; however Gladiator has the most nominations this year, which is the best predictor of all.
- Ang Lee – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (c-3/11) — Even —
- Ridley Scott – Gladiator — 3:2 —
- Steven Soderbergh – Erin Brockovich — 3:1 —
- Steven Soderbergh – Traffic — 5:1 —
- Stephen Daldry – Billy Elliot — 30:1 —
Commentary: With the DGA and Golden Globes both going for Ang Lee, it’s a safe bet that Lee is the favorite among directors. The problem is that many feel that picture and director should go hand-in-hand and with the likelihood of a Gladiator win, Ridley Scott also has a good chance. The thing is that there are rumors that Crouching Tiger could be history’s first foreign language best picture winner. Then again, the competition is split there and between the double-Soderbergh nomination, leaving a harsh battle where any of them ould end up on Top.
- Russell Crowe – Gladiator (c-3/15) — Even —
- Tom Hanks – Cast Away — Even —
- Ed Harris – Pollock — 5:2 —
- Javier Bardem – Before Night Falls — 3:1 —
- Geoffrey Rush – Quills — 10:1 —
Commentary: With the SAG award going to a Supporting Actor, this race has all the earmarks of a surprise winner. Let’s look at the facts of each nominee: Javier Bardem is nominated for a foreign language performance. Only two lead actors have ever won for foreign performances: Sophia Loren and Roberto Benigni. Unlike Benigni, Bardem has done no stunts to get himself in the minds of the voters, making him an unlikely candidate; he also lacks the precursor awards to support a victory. Russell Crowe is currently the favorite. A victory for him would like mimic the swell of support for Ben-Hur, which was nominated almost identically. He also has on his side a sense of obligation for not nominating him for L.A. Confidential and not giving him the trophy for The Insider. Tom Hanks has on his side sheer name recognition. He’s also got the New York Film Critics and Golden Globe awards to help him along. However, he does have several things working against him. He’s twice honored. This meanns that voters will think twice about giving him his third Oscar, putting him in the company of Hepburn, Bergman and Nicholson who all won their third trophies after long careers. They may not think this is his moment in the sun. The second thing that hurts him is that he could not overcome Del Toro at the SAGs, even with heavy support. This means that his popularity has dwindled heavily since his nomination, that and his film was virtually shut out. Geoffrey Rush doesn’t have much going for him. He’s won before and the Academy won’t feel hard-pressed to honor him again so soon; he’s not a Hollywood legend in need of two trophies. Ed Harris is also an odd duck. His nomination follows suit with the surprise nomination last year of Sean Penn and his Supporting Actress co-star. This means that he’s just well-liked enough to get nomination votes, but after losing for his well-loved role in Truman Show, a win at this point may not be possible, but a huge vote split could put him in the Top seat.
- Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich (c-1/22) — Even —
- Ellen Burstyn – Requiem for a Dream — 2:1 —
- Laura Linney – You Can Count on Me — 3:1 —
- Juliette Binoche – Chocolat — 10:1 —
- Joan Allen – The Contender — 20:1 —
Commentary: This is the race to watch. Many insiders will cite Julia Roberts as the only winner. It’s for good reason, she has three heafty precursors on her side: Los Angeles Film Critics, the Golden Globes and SAG. All this and the fact that she lost for her heavily loved performance in Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman, many feel she is due. Also, the screen’s other major box office draw, Tom Hanks, already has a trophy, why shouldn’t she. The problem then is Ellen Burstyn, a screen veteran has numerous nominations on her belt and a win back in the 70s for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. She also has a large number of precursor awards, 9 total. The problem is that a lot of people didn’t like the film, which makes it difficult to honor her and she needed more notable critics groups to award her, instead of the one Chicago Film Critics. Linney’s lucky to have the New York Critics on her side, but not even that can help after her film being virtually ignored by the Academy and without the support for her co-star Mark Ruffalo; support for her isn’t all that great. Binoche and Allen simply don’t have the votes to carry them to the win. Binoche already has an Oscar and while Allen doesn’t, she holds the vaunted position of actress we love to nominate, but not honore, despite some of this past decades best supporting performances.
Best Supporting Actor
- Benicio Del Toro – Traffic (c-3/15) — Even —
- Albert Finney – Erin Brockovich — Even —
- Willem Dafoe – Shadow of the Vampire — 3:1 —
- Jeff Bridges – The Contender — 15:1 —
- Joaquin Phoenix – Gladiator — 20:1 —
Commentary: In the supporting actor category, the battle is on between the two SAG winners. Del Toro, winner of the Lead Actor prize is currently the front-runner, but it’s a neck-and-neck race with the SAG Supporting Actor winner. Del Toro has New York Critics, Golden Globes and Chicago on his side while Finney only has SAG. What helps Finney is that he’s an acting veteran with 4 previous nominated performances. According to recent tradition, the eldest actor in the competition who is mosst respected will win. Unfortunately, Del Toro’s huge support base may assist him in winning, especially since Traffic is likely to be ignored most everywhere else. What’s holding him back is his all-foreign-language performance, something many voters are turned off by. As for the rest, Dafoe could easily pick up the pieces of a Del Toro-Finney vote split and win for a very mimicking performance. He also has the Los Angels Film Critics to back him up. As for Bridges, he has no precursor support and virtually no chance. The same goes for Phoenix who won his precursor awards for all three of his performances this year, not just one. This didn’t help Julianne Moore score an Oscar last year and it won’t help this year.
Best Supporting Actress
- Kate Hudson – Almost Famous (c-1/22) — Even —
- Judi Dench – Chocolat — 3:2 —
- Julie Walters – Billy Elliot — 3:2 —
- Frances McDormand – Almost Famous — 4:1 —
- Marcia Gay Harden – Pollock — 15:1 —
Commentary: Hudson sits on a new tradition that may carry over for years to come. She is a second generation actress nominated for a well-liked performance. Her pedigree alone should guarantee her a win. However, Dench’s recent win at the SAG Awards may boost her chances enough to win. Add to that her sterling theater career and the fact that Hollywood LOVES her, regardless of what she does and there may be some who feels she’s still owed for losing for Mrs. Brown, even though she’s been honored since for Shakespeare in Love. Walters could benefit from a vote split between any of these ladies. She’s a previous Oscar nominee to boot. However, the seeming lack of support for Billy Elliot may have shut down her chances, but many may feel it the only way to honor the film. McDormand has Los Angels Film Critics on her side, which could help. Along with her 6 other precursors, she’s tops in the field with only Hudson close with 6. Harden has her honor…being nominated. She was picked because of her ties with Ed Harris in the Best Actor category, but also from her win at the New York Film Critics.
Best Original Screenplay
- Almost Famous – Cameron Crowe (c-12/6) — Even —
- Erin Brockovich – Susannah Grant — 3:2 —
- You Can Count on Me – Kenneth Lonergan — 2:1 —
- Billy Elliot – Lee Hall — 10:1 —
- Gladiator – David H. Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson — 20:1 —
Commentary: Why am I not going with the WGA winner to win here? Because many feel that Cameron Crowe’s coming of age drama reminds them too much of themselves as kids. There’s also a feeling that Crowe, who’s never been honored, deserves a nomination after his film was snubbed. The snubbing itself may give rise to competition from Julia Roberts’ opus Erin Brockovich who has enough popularity that it may eclipse others in this category. A screenplay by a woman doesn’t hurt matters as Thelma & Louise achieved a similar feat based on the power of its stars. However many pundits will pick the WGA winner You Can Count on Me as the winner. The problem is that not a lot of people have seen the film and it will severly hurt its chances. Billy Elliot’s popularity peaked too early and without significant other nominations, the film is virtually dead in the water. As for Gladiator, it was a feat just to get nominated and like the Ben-Hur epic it reminds so many people of, there’s little likelihood of a win, since some will consider it mimickry.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Traffic – Stephen Gaghan (c-3/5) — Even —
- Wonder Boys – Steven Kloves — 2:1 —
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai — 4:1 —
- Chocolat – Robert Nelson Jacobs — 10:1 —
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen — 15:1 —
Commentary: This is a tough battle. Not between best picture nominees, but between a nominee and an also-ran. Traffic should have no problem winning as its only likelihood of a win is in Supporting Actor and many feel it deserves so much more for displaying the drug scene in such an interesting manner. However, many people, including scribes, will see this as their chance to honor that little film with a big star that was virtually ignored. We already know the editors liked it enough to nominate, perhaps there’s enough support for a Wonder Boys victory. Crouching Tiger could win if there’s a huge crushing campaign and sweep for the film. If it can eclipse Gladiator in Editing, Crouching could very well sweep all the way to best picture. As for Chocolat, it was a miracle to get nominated and will be a bigger miracle to win. If only O Brother, Where Art Thou? weren’t nominated, Chocolat would be the no-chance-in-hell nominee.
Best Original Song
- “Things Have Changed” – Wonder Boys (Bob Dylan) (c-12/6) — Even —
- “A Love Before Time” – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Jorge Calandrelli, Tan Dun; James Schamus) — 2:1 —
- “I’ve Seen It All” – Dancer in the Dark (Bjork; Lars von Trier, Sjon Sigurdsson) — 5:2 —
- “My Funny Friend and Me” – The Emperor’s New Groove (Sting, David Hartley; Sting) — 10:1 —
- “A Fool in Love” – Meet the Parents (Randy Newman) — 15:1 —
Commentary: If it weren’t Bob Dylan, the race would be more interesting, but it is, so there’s no real competition. Love Before Time has its roots as a best picture nominee (something the other nominees in this category can’t claim). Then again, the love-or-hate Dancer in the Dark could be recognized for not being recognized in the pointless Original Song Score category. Sting could pull a surprise victory, but the true unlikely hero is the perennial Oscar loser Randy Newman who’s only real chance at a win came last year with his ballad from Toy Story that got trounced by the uninteresting Phil Collins love fest.
Best Original Score
- Gladiator – Hans Zimmer (c-5/27) — Even —
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Tan Dun — 3:2 —
- Malena – Ennio Morricone — 5:1 —
- Chocolat – Rachel Portman — 10:1 —
- The Patriot – John Williams — 20:1 —
Commentary: This is a rough battle and one of the many places you can spot an early Crouching Tiger or Gladiator sweep. If Gladiator can hold on, which is likely with a scribe like Zimmer at the helm, it can probably win bset picture; however, if Dun’s eclectic score for Crouching Tiger can win here, it could be a bumpy night for Gladiator. Morricone could receive a tribute for the Miramax-driven nominee Malena. Chocolat and The Patriot, however, are virtually out of the race.
- Gladiator – Pietro Scalia (c-3/5) — Even —
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Tim Squyres — 3:2 —
- Traffic – Stephen Mirrione — 2:1 —
- Almost Famous – Joe Hutshing, Saar Klein — 4:1 —
- Wonder Boys – Dede Allen — 7:1 —
Commentary: Like Original Score, this is the place to spot an early CTHD/Gladiator sweep. If Gladiator holds on to its ACE win to capture a victory here, best picture won’t be far away (as nearly every best picture winner wins this category). If CTHD does well here, look for a possible CTHD sweep of the evening’s awards (as best picture must also be the night’s big winner, according to tradition). Traffic has a chance, simply for being an original editing piece. While the pseudo-period dramas Almost Famous and Wonder Boys were lucky enough just to be nominated.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Peter Pau (c-12/21) — Even —
- Gladiator – John Mathieson — 3:2 —
- The Patriot – Caleb Deschanel — 3:2 —
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Roger Deakins — 4:1 —
- Malena – Lajos Koltai — 20:1 —
Commentary: This own’t be nearly as big of a surprise. If it weren’t for the ASC going for The Patriot, this race might be easier to predict. So, to predict the race, we must go to the next best predicting precursors: the Los Angeles Film Critics, Online Film Critics and the only 100% prediction record Online Film and Television Association. The verdict: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. All three organizations went for the film and with the opulent beauty of the oriental epic, very few will deny the film an accolade, unless perennial favorite Roger Deakins can eake out a win. If Gladiator pulls out a victory here, it’s all over for CTHD for Best Picture.
Best Art Direction
- Gladiator – Arthur Max; Crispian Sallis (c-5/27) — Even —
- Quills – Martin Childs; Jill Quertier — 3:2 —
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Tim Yip — 4:1 —
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Michael Corenblith; Merideth Boswell — 9:2 —
- Vatel – Cecilia Montiel, Jean Rabasse — 10:1 —
Commentary: Gee, what to pic…everything is period except The Grinch. Gladiator is the most visible, Quills is the most venerable, Crouching Tiger is the most visceral, Grinch is the most valuable and Vatel is the most vulnerable. Together, the race becomes nearly impossible to predict. Give it to the likely best picture winner Gladiator, but if anything besides Grinch wins, look for weakness in a best picture victory, especially if CTHD wins here.
Best Costume Design
- Quills – Jacqueline West (c-11/23) — Even —
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Rita Ryack — 3:2 —
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Tim Yip — 7:2 —
- 102 Dalmatians – Anthony Powell — 5:1 —
- Gladiator – Janty Yates — 7:1 —
Commentary: It’s the battle of period against fantasy. Not a single realist picture can be found in these nominees. Quills, CTHD and Gladiator all come from worlds centuries earlier. The Grinch and 102 Dalmatians all come from seemingly modern worlds, but with unique and interesting designs. Quills has the edge being the most detailed. The Grinch’s costumes are original and all over the place, a bonus for any costume design nomination. Crouching Tiger could win just on the best picture nomination basis, but the costumes aren’t all that flashy or interesting. 102 Dalmatians was nominated where its predecessor should have been. As Evita proved, origianlity in dress for only one major character does not a victory make. Gladiator’s just out of league. While there are some great costume pieces in the film, the look like they were stolen from Ben-Hur itself.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (c-6/24) — Even —
- Shadow of the Vampire — 2:1 —
- The Cell — 5:1 —
Commentary: How could anyone not honor the perennial Rick Baker and his everyone-has-makeup effect piece. Shadow of the Vampire has the next best shot, but with only the makeup for one character involved, it would have to be Robin Williams as the actor to pull out a victory. Then there’s the surprise nominee The Cell. Without nominations in Art Direction and Costume Design, a nomination here is just academic.
Best Sound Mixing
- Gladiator (c-5/27) — Even —
- Cast Away — 3:2 —
- The Perfect Storm — 3:1 —
- U-571 — 5:2 —
- The Patriot — 7:1 —
Commentary: Best picture also tends to win this category, CTHD isn’t nominated, so Gladiator has the best shot. However, some may feel this the best place to honor the hugely-popular Cast Away. Then again, The Perfect Storm has its fans, but not enough. U-571 will take the Sound Effects prize, so why honor it here and The Patriot bombed with critics and reminds too many people of Braveheart set in colonial America.
Best Sound Editing
- U-571 (c-3/5) — Even —
- Space Cowboys — 10:1 —
Commentary: Two nominees…such a hard choice. U-571 was most visible, but Space Cowboys has the geriatric cast. Actors may vote for an actors film here, but U-571 had far more to it than Space Cowboys.
Best Visual Effects
- Hollow Man (c-3/5) — Even —
- Gladiator — 2:1 —
- The Perfect Storm — 5:2 —
Commentary: Hollow Man relies on visual effects. Gladiator has virtually none and The Perfect Storm balances them. It doesn’t matter how bad the film is, after all, Death Becomes Her and Independence Day both one for having a lot of Visual Effects, so why not Hollow Man?
Best Foreign Film
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Taiwan (c-11/23) — Even —
- The Taste of Others – France — 5:1 —
- Amores Perros – Mexico — 6:1 —
- Divided We Fall – Czech Republic — 7:1 —
- Everybody Famous – Belgium — 8:1 —
Commentary: Coming Soon…This is SUCH a tough category. Any of the others could win…not likely. Crouching Tiger is obviously the best choice to win here. After all, it’s a great place to honor the film without having to give it best picture. The rest is just academic.
Best Documentary Feature
- Long Night’s Journey Into Day (c-3/5) — Even —
- Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport — 3:2 —
- Sound and Fury — 3:2 —
- Legacy — 4:1 —
- Scottsboro: An American Tragedy — 5:1 —
Commentary: Once you get to the Documentary and Short Film categories, predicting gets hairy and unusual. Generally, the Holocaust is the best bet, but not always. Another good indicator is how the film’s scored with audiences and in some case the title itself can foreshadow a win. So my predictions here are all rather vague for a reason, without access to see the nominees, I can’t weigh in a personal opinion. For this category, Long Night’s Journey has the best IMDb rating by .1 over Sound and Fury and Into the Arms of Strangers. Look for the battle to be there. Legacy falls far behind in rating and Scottsboro’s only saving grace is its stellar voice-overs.
Best Documentary Short Subject
- The Man on Lincoln’s Nose (c-3/5) — Even —
- Dolphins — 3:2 —
- Curtain Call — 2:1 —
- Big Mama — 3:1 —
- On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom — 4:1 —
Commentary: Again, anyone’s guess. Only two of these are listed in the IMDb, Man on Lincoln’s Nose and Dolphins. The latter trails the former by 2.7 points. Man on Lincoln’s Nose has a 9.8 rating which bodes well for the film, but Curtain Call’s geriatric actors theme may be enough to sway the older voters who have more time to go and watch the short film and documentary contenders.
Best Animated Short Film
- The Periwig-Maker (c-3/15) — Even —
- Father and Daughter — 3:2 —
- Rejected — 5:1 —
Commentary: Interestingly, Rejected is .8 ahead of Periwig-Maker, however the unusual tale of a plague-drenched Europe makes Periwig-Maker’s unusual title my choice here, regardless of rating. Father and Daughter’s won some awarrds, so its chances are elevated. (NOTE: This is the one category where I’ve had my best successes picking unusual titles like Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase, The Wrong Trousers and Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life.)
Best Live-Action Short Film
- Quiero Ser (I Want to Be…) (c-3/5) — Even —
- One Day Crossing — 3:2 —
- By Courier — 2:1 —
- A Soccer Story (Una Historia de Futebol) — 3:1 —
- Seraglio — 5:1 —
Commentary: It’s hard for foreign films to win anywhere but in these categories. Soccer Story has .9 points on Quiero Ser and One Day Crossing who have .1 over Seraglio. By Courier has big names, but I’m going with Quiero Ser for its inspirational title.