70th Academy Awards (1997): Winner Predictions




As Good As It Gets
Good Will Hunting
4 Little Girls
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild
L.A. Confidential
La Vieille Dame et Les Pigeons
Men in Black
The Full Monty
Visas and Virtue

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 —

Best Picture

  • Titanic
  • L.A. Confidential
  • Good Will Hunting
  • As Good As It Gets
  • The Full Monty

This category at one point would have been a lock for Titanic, but rumors of a backlash, few critics awards and the rise in popularity of Good Will Hunting could hurt the sea-worthy epic. L.A. Confidential will be more than willing to take the picture slot if too many votes are siphoned from Titanic. Titanic should have enough votes to take the prize, look for the culmination of a record. The Producers Guilld, having been wrong only twice in its history, has picked Titanic as Best Picture, a great forecaster of the Oscar.

(Should Win): Titanic – Titanic is by far the superior film in contention this year. It not only has great special effects, lucious scenery and brilliant costumes, it has wonderful music, appropriate to above-par acting and the skillful hand of James Cameron behind the lense. Forget the plot, focus on the lives of those lost, there’s where the true power of the film lies.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact/Boogie Nights – Contact and Boogie Nights were amoong the best films this year that didn’t get nominations. Contact was Science Fiction and Boogie Nights was too controversial. Contact made us think about what our government really does, it makes us wonder if there is life out there and why are we trying to hide it? Boogie Nights contained the best cast of any film this year. Its look at the porn industry was moving and intelligent.

Best Director

  • James Cameron – Titanic
  • Curtis Hanson – L.A. Confidential
  • Gus Van Sant – Good Will Hunting
  • Atom Egoyan – The Sweet Hereafter
  • Peter Cattaneo – The Full Monty

James Cameron refused his salary for the film and will be seen favorably for that. He’s also the only truly experienced director in the category, he’d be the only director that everyone has heard of and would be praised for selecting. Curtis Hanson would bring praise, but not recognition. He hasn’t done enough films to earn an Oscar, which will be his downfall. Van Sant has done many good films, but may be too non-mainstream to win. Cameron appears to have the groundswell. He also has the coveted DGA award for Best Director. Only four times in its history has the DGA not correctly predicted the Oscar winner.

(Should Win): James Cameron – Cameron is by far the most superlative director in this crowd. His attention to detail and refusal of salary are both admirable and applaudable.
(Deserved a Nomination): James L. Brooks, As Good As It Gets – How they could overlook the director of one of the best films released this year is beyond me.

Best Actor

  • Jack Nicholson – As Good As It Gets
  • Peter Fonda – Ulee’s Gold
  • Robert Duvall – The Apostle
  • Dustin Hoffman – Wag the Dog
  • Matt Damon – Good Will Hunting

This is one of the toughest categories this year with Fonda, Duvall and Nicholson in a virtual tie for the award. Fonda has the family name recognition. Duvall is an actors favorite, but so is Nicholson. Nicholson has already won two Oscars. Duvall may be too charismatic in The Apostle to win, plus he’s already won an Oscar. Fonda has never won an Oscar and this could be a tribute to him and especially his family. Jack Nicholson won the Screen Actors Guild Award, which, for four years now, has accurately foreshadowed the Best Actor Oscar. Nicholson looks to rake up his third trophy.

(Should Win): Jack Nicholson – I don’t care that people say Jack just played himself, As Good As It Gets showcased his talents brilliantly and stands barely above the rest. Its hard to feel sympathy for a obsessive-compulsive bigot, but Nicholson does it.
(Deserved a Nomination): Djimon Hounsou, Amistad – Hounsou gave the superior debut performance of the year and in recent memory. A close second would be Linus Roache who was brilliantly restrained in The Wings of the Dove.

Best Actress

  • Helen Hunt – As Good as It Gets
  • Judi Dench – Mrs. Brown
  • Kate Winslet – Titanic
  • Helena Bonham Carter – The Wings of the Dove
  • Julie Christie – Afterglow

The acting categories are the hardest to predict with so many upsets possible. All of the actresses, save Julie Christie, are in heavy contention for this award. Carter has the critics awards to back her up, but didn’t capture the Golden Globe. Hunt is the only American actress on the list. Winslet could jump aboard a Titanic sweep. Judi Dench, however, once a lead contender, could now find a major challenge for the Best Actress honor. She won the Golden Globe and is a british actress, which is always a hit. The others will turn out future performances of equal prowess, save for Christie (who already has an Oscar), so they won’t feel bad about giving it to Dench. Helen Hunt’s momentum is building and looks to be stealing the trophy from Dench.

(Should Win): Dame Judi Dench – Judi Dench was absolutely brilliant in Mrs. Brown. Her portrayal of Queen Victoria was head and shoulders above her fellow nominees.
(Deserved a Nomination): Jodie Foster, Contact/Pam Grier, Jackie Brown – Jodie Foster was mesmerizing as a young astronomer bent on finding life somewhere in space. Pam Grier was brilliantly on-target as the airline stewardess who outwits her compatriots in Jackie Brown.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robin Williams – Good Will Hunting
  • Burt Reynolds – Boogie Nights
  • Greg Kinnear – As Good As It Gets
  • Anthony Hopkins – Amistad
  • Robert Forster – Jackie Brown

This is a two man race between 4-time nominee Williams and ’70s box office king Reynolds. Williams may be seen as a comedic actor and not be honored. Reynolds has been around a long time and is finally back in action. Oscar loves a comeback and this could be one of two on Oscar night. However, Robin Williams carried away a Screen Actors Guild Award for Good Will Hunting which appears to be this year’s Jerry Maguire. Despite being a fair-to-middling performance, Williams, like Gooding last year, will likely carry a popular vote to an award.

(Should Win): Greg Kinnear – Kinnear turns in a great performance as a gay artist who is beaten and then must take verbal assaults from a neighbor. Reynolds comes in a close second to Kinnear as the loving porn patriarch in Boogie Nights.
(Deserved a Nomination): Rupert Everett, My Best Friend’s Wedding – Everett was one of the more deserving nominees, I loved Robert Forster, but would give his slot up in an instant to this scene-stealing actor.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Gloria Stuart – Titanic
  • Kim Basinger – L.A. Confidential
  • Julianne Moore – Boogie Nights
  • Joan Cusack – In & Out
  • Minnie Driver – Good Will Hunting

The battle royale here is between Stuart, Basinger and Moore. Moore is by far the best performance on the list, but because the film was controversial, she will probably lose out. Basinger is the only acting nomination for L.A. Confidential and could take the trophy as an honorarium for the film, but she’s received some bad press in the past, which she may not be able to get by. Gloria Stuart is the other of the possible comeback winners. She’s the oldest person ever to be nominated and could wind up the oldest winner (over Jessica Tandy). What will sTop Stuart from winning is a groundswell of support for Basinger or a backlash for Titanic. Add into the mix a tie between Basinger and Stuart for the SAG award. This says they will either split the votes and give the win to Moore or with half the actors branch going for one or the other, the remainder of the Academy will follow part of a Titanic onslaught.

(Should Win): Julianne Moore – Julianne Moore is hands-down the best supporting performance of the year. Her portrayal of a maternal porn queen is astounding, one of the many believable characters this year, she brought depth and humanity to a role that truly needed it.
(Deserved a Nomination): Kathy Bates, Titanic/Debbi Morgan, Eve’s Bayou – Bates, while in the film seldom, provided a great amount of humility to a otherwise average cast. Debbi Morgan was fantastic as a psychic aunt in Eve’s Bayou.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Good Will Hunting – Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
  • As Good as It Gets – Mark Andrus, James L. Brooks
  • The Full Monty – Simon Beaufoy
  • Boogie Nights – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Deconstructing Harry – Woody Allen

Good Will Hunting is a cinderella story for its writers the only thing standing in the way is As Good As It Gets in a possible reward for Brooks being snubbed as Director. Not to mention As Good As It Gets trumped Good Will Hunting at the Writers Guild awards.

(Should Win): Boogie Nights – Boogie Nights was such an effective piece of writing, its realism was unparalleled.
(Deserved a Nomination): Titanic – It’s absence from this race has given us cause to worry, no the script wasn’t the most original, but it was still a feat to encompass an entire disaster and still allow for a wonderful romance.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • L.A. Confidential – Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson, (James Ellroy)
  • The Sweet Hereafter – Atom Egoyan, (Russell Banks)
  • Wag the Dog – Hilary Henkin, David Mamet
  • Donnie Brasco – Paul Attanasio, (Joseph D. Pistone, Richard Woodley)
  • The Wings of the Dove – Hossein Amini, (Henry James)

L.A. Confidential is the hands-down winner and one of the few this year. It has won almost every screenplay award and is the only Picture nominee in this category.

(Should Win): L.A. Confidential – L.A. Confidential is the superior script amongst these light-weights. Hanson and Helgeland make a terrific film with 80 speaking parts, which is not the easiest thing to write.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact – Contact was a great film and its absence from all but one category is a testament to the oft-times stupidity of the Academy. The best science fiction film in years was ignored because it was released too early.

Best Original Song

  • “My Heart Will Go On” – Titanic
  • “Journey to the Past” – Anastasia
  • “Miss Misery” – Good Will Hunting
  • “Go the Distance” – Hercules
  • “How Do I Live” – Con Air

Celine Dion sang “Heart” and the other songs can’t hold a candle to it. With its recent ranking at No. 1 on Billboard, it will be the first song since A Whole New World from Aladdin to go to No. 1 and win the Oscar.

(Should Win): My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion belts out another fantastic tune and with the rest of these rather pathetic, the selection is easy.
(Deserved a Nomination): “Little Light of Love”, The Fifth Element/”Surrender”, Tomorrow Never Dies – Little Light of Love was wonderfully written and instantly recognizable. Its absence from airwaves surely sealed its doom. When a James Bond film’s best song isn’t the title number, there’s sheer trouble ahead. Sheryl Crow’s boring rendition pales in comparison to the one sung by K.D. Lang called Surrender. It ran over the closing credits and reminded me so much of the glory days of James Bond.

Best Dramatic Score

  • Titanic – James Horner
  • L.A. Confidential – Jerry Goldsmith
  • Kundun – Philip Glass
  • Good Will Hunting – Danny Elfman
  • Amistad – John Williams>

Titanic has one of the most original scores and should handily carry this award. The challenge comes from Kundun and L.A. Confidential, both vying for the non-tech awards that Titanic might lose, but don’t expect it. Titanic has the power of this category and should win easily.

(Should Win): Titanic – Titanic’s celtic harmonies and sweeping orchestrations stand it on a pedestal with the other nominees bowing at its feet.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact/The Fifth Element – Contact was exciting and Fifth Element was ecclectically brilliant. Their absence indicates a dire need for a separate score category for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror film scores.

Best Comedy/Musical Score

  • The Full Monty – Anne Dudley
  • As Good As It Gets – Hans Zimmer
  • Anastasia – Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, David Newman
  • Men in Black – Danny Elfman
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding – James Newton Howard

The Full Monty will most likely beat out As Good As It Gets for its only award. The only real competition comes from As Good As It Gets which had been an early favorite. Anne Dudley, however, like last year’s winner Rachel Portman, could be only the second woman to win a score award. The Academy may want to say welcome to Anastasia as the first rival to Disney’s huge animation domination.

(Should Win): As Good As It Gets – Int a field of so-so choices, As Good As It Gets stands as its king.
(Deserved a Nomination): In & Out/Hercules – In & Out was affectionate and cute. Hercules was another masterwork from the Disney family.

Best Editing

  • Titanic
  • L.A. Confidential
  • Good Will Hunting
  • As Good As It Gets
  • Air Force One

Film Editing and Picture often go hand in hand, so what film wins this award should easily carry Picture. I see Titanic triumphing here, but L.A. Confidential could benefit from a possible Titanic backlash.

(Should Win): Titanic – Titanic was over 3 hours long, but not once did I have to squirm. That says brilliant editing and directing. Since Cameron did both, its no wonder.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact – Contact was quick, interesting and well-done.

Best Cinematography

  • Titanic
  • Kundun
  • L.A. Confidential
  • Amistad
  • The Wings of the Dove

Cinematography is the one category in the techs that could easily fall to a film other than Titanic. Kundun has major support for cinematography, but I predict it will lose out to a Titanic sweep. The Society of Cinematographers, this category’s precursor has selected Titanic, giving it a new-found edge over Kundun.

(Should Win): Titanic – The beauty of a setting-sun on the bow to the chilling effects of a light passing over frozen bodies in the ocean, Titanic was effective on so many levels.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact – Contact had several interesting scenes, including a pull-back shot of a mirror and its opening and the sunset beauty of a canyon ledge made Contact a pleasure to watch.

Best Art Direction

  • Titanic
  • L.A. Confidential
  • Kundun
  • Gattaca
  • Men in Black

Titanic should easily win this category over the other films primarily because of its largeness and James Cameron’s eye for detail not to mention they recreated the ship 90% of its original size. Also, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors already chose Titanic for Best Art Direction.

(Should Win): Titanic – The ship’s detail and rebuild to only 90% of original size, makes Titanic unsinkable.
(Deserved a Nomination): The Fifth Element – The Fifth Element was far more beautiful and original than any film I’ve seen in years, its exclusion is a sad statement of the state of the Academy’s art directors.

Best Costume Design

  • Titanic
  • The Wings of the Dove
  • Kundun
  • Amistad
  • Oscar and Lucinda

With the Fifth Element absent from the final list, Titanic should easily walk away with the prize. The costumes were sumptuous and its only competition is the small film The Wings of the Dove.

(Should Win): Titanic – In a category filled with period costumes, Titanic can easily beat them all with hundreds of extras in their sunday best, their destitute rags and the life-preservers, not to mention the dress of the leads.
(Deserved a Nomination): The Fifth Element – Jean-Paul Gaultier brought the most intriguing costumes of the year and deserved a nomination more than any of the other nominees.

Best Makeup

  • Men in Black
  • Titanic
  • Mrs. Brown

This category used to be a shoo-in for The Fifth Element, but it’s not nominated, therefore Men in Black takes over. Science fiction films are the usual winners here, but some exceptions have occured. There’s even talk that Titanic could capture this category because of a sweep. This will be an interesting category to watch.

(Should Win): Men in Black – It is very sad that I must choose Men in Black as the best makeup when the true winner wasn’t even nominated.
(Deserved a Nomination): The Fifth Element – Fifth Element carried the most unique makeup of any of the films this year and we now know that the makeup artists in the Academy have little to no taste.

Best Sound Mixing

  • Titanic
  • L.A. Confidential
  • Contact
  • Air Force One
  • Con Air

Titanic is the technical feat of the year and should handily trounce the competition here. It received the Cinema Audio Society’s precursor award for Best Sound.

(Should Win): Titanic – With sound fit for a king, Titanic was the most aurally superior film of the year.
(Deserved a Nomination): The Fifth Element – Fifth Element carried itself extremely well for a more comedic science fiction film. Seriousness and Sound too often go hand-in-hand.

Best Sound Editing

  • Titanic
  • The Fifth Element
  • Face/Off

Titanic is a marvel of modern technology, this category should be easily won by the aquatic epic.

(Should Win): Titanic – That boat cracking, the combination of music and panic, the stillness of the night with a shrill whistle blaring are testaments to Titanic’s power.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact – Contact was an exhilerating ride through a worm hole and the pulsations of the machine were superb.

Best Visual Effects

  • Titanic
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Starship Troopers

Titanic is one of the most seemless films in Visual Effects history and should easily capture this most coveted trophy.

(Should Win): Titanic – Titanic contained the best visual effects ever captured on celluloid.
(Deserved a Nomination): Contact/The Fifth Element – Contact’s ride through the worm hole and opening title sequence were fantastic. The Fifth Element had blazing city scapes among other brilliant creations.

Best Foreign Film

  • The Netherlands – Character
  • Brazil – Four Days in September
  • Germany – Beyond Silence
  • Russia – The Thief
  • Spain – Secrets of the Heart

With the exclusion of Ma Vie en Rose, this category becomes extremely hard to pick. The Thief was the only Golden Globe nominee on this list, but any of the other films could surprise us, especially the recently released Four Days in September. The film that I’ve heard could be the film-to-beat is Character from The Netherlands.

Best Documentary Feature

  • 4 Little Girls
  • The Long Way Home
  • Waco: The Rules of Engagement
  • Colors Straight Up
  • Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life

These categories are nearly impossible to guess. 4 Little Girls has the most chance, but Spike Lee’s oft criticisms of the Academy could work against him. If this happens, look for the Holocaust film The Long Way Home to take the award. There’s talk that Long Way could easily win, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • Alaska: Spirit of the Wild
  • Amazon
  • Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies
  • A Story of Healing
  • Daughter of the Bride

Alaska sounds like a winner, but anything is possible. A source of mine says that not many big names attend the screenings, so word-of-mouth for who might win in this and the short film categories may be hard to come by.

Best Animated Short Film

  • La Vieille Dame et Les Pigeons
  • Famous Fred
  • The Mermaid
  • Redux Riding Hood
  • Geri’s Game

French are pioneers in cinema and this being in French, whether it’s from France or not or even spoken in French, the title could be enough to win the award.

Best Live-Action Short Film

  • Visas and Virtue
  • Sweethearts?
  • Wolfgang
  • Dance Lexie Dance
  • It’s Good to Talk

Visas and Virtues is another film about the Holocaust. With its double-documentary win in 1995, the Holocaust could win two more awards this year.

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