71st Academy Awards (1998): Winner Predictions



Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
A Simple Plan
Gods and Monsters
Holiday Romance
Life Is Beautiful
Out of Sight
Primary Colors
Quest for Camelot
Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square
The Canterbury Tales
The Last Days
The Thin Red Line
What Dreams May Come

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

  • Saving Private Ryan – Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn, Steven Spielberg (c-12/17)
  • Shakespeare in Love – Donna Gigliotti, Marc Norman, David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick
  • Life Is Beautiful – Gianluigi Braschi, Elda Ferri
  • The Thin Red Line – Robert Michael Geisler, Grant Hill, John Roberdeau
  • Elizabeth – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Alison Owen

Whys and Wherefors: With the Producers selecting it as best picture of the year, SPR seems to be the inevitable winner. SIL is its closest competition and could end up like Chariots of Fire and Driving Miss Daisy opposite their war competition. LIB could be a spoiler if the other two films split the vote. I don’t expect either TRL or Elizabeth to walk away with the trophy.

Best Director

  • Steven Spielberg – Saving Private Ryan (c-1/3)
  • Terrence Malick – The Thin Red Line
  • John Madden – Shakespeare in Love
  • Roberto Benigni – Life Is Beautiful
  • Peter Weir – The Truman Show

Whys and Wherefors: Come on…Do you really think they’ll deny Spielberg another Oscar? Especially after having long been ignored, most will consider him to have paid his dues and will be willing to fete him with another trophy (he is the most popular director of today). Madden will benefit only from his film’s nomination. This also goes for Benigni. Malick could easily win here as well. He has been gone for 20 years and this is the Academy’s opportunity to welcome him back…but perhaps his nomination did that? More awards for Best Director put him in the forefront, but will it be enough? Who knows for sure at this juncture. The DGA has chosen Spielberg, so his win at the Oscars is almost inevitable…unless another Color Purple debacle rears its ugly head.

Best Actor

  • Ian McKellen – Gods and Monsters (c-12/17)
  • Nick Nolte – Affliction
  • Roberto Benigni – Life Is Beautiful
  • Tom Hanks – Saving Private Ryan
  • Edward Norton – American History X

Whys and Wherefors: With the SAG choosing Benigni, this has become a VERY tight race with only Edward Norton out of competition. McKellen still has the most precursor awards, but Nolte is a long-time Actor’s favorite who some consider should have won for Prince of Tides and may see this as a makeup award. This, alongside the SGA award, gives Benigni the chance to be a major spoiler. If anything, this could cause an even larger vote split resulting in Tom Hanks winning an undeserved third trophy. This is probably one of the tighter races of the year with anything being possible, including a tie.

Best Actress

  • Gwyneth Paltrow – Shakespeare in Love (c-3/8)
  • Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth
  • Fernanda Montenegro – Central Station
  • Meryl Streep – One True Thing
  • Emily Watson – Hilary and Jackie

Whys and Wherefors: Though many would like to see Blanchett walk away with the trophy (considering the numerous amounts of precursor awards she has), but I think Paltrow will win based predominantly on the success of her film, the numbers of people who love the film, an SAG award and the Miramax machine behind her. Since both are playing Elizabethan roles, the possibility of an upset is possible. Streep could get her third award, but it doesn’t seem like this should be the film for it. Montenegro still has her supporters, but I don’t think they will be able to get her the award. Emily Watson, is unfortunately, out of the race. While her performance is nowhere near as capable as hers in Breaking the Waves, she still gives a good performance.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Billy Bob Thornton – A Simple Plan (c-10/5)
  • Ed Harris – The Truman Show
  • Robert Duvall – A Civil Action
  • James Coburn – Affliction
  • Geoffrey Rush – Shakespeare in Love

Whys and Wherefors: Duvall’s win at the SAG makes this category all the more difficult to predict. I still think Thornton may wind up with the wind, but it will be a VERY rough battle. Harris didn’t get an SAG nomination, the others did. Coburn may essentially have a nomination for his body of work, but doubtfully an award. Rush already has an Oscar and it’s too soon for him to have another. Duvall may get the award simply because he lost last year. This could be retribution for that loss (which is why I believe he won the SAG award). When it comes down to it, I don’t know if anyone has an edge over the other.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kathy Bates – Primary Colors (c-3/16)
  • Lynn Redgrave – Gods and Monsters
  • Judi Dench – Shakespeare in Love
  • Rachel Griffiths – Hilary and Jackie
  • Brenda Blethyn – Little Voice

Whys and Wherefors: Redgrave became the favorite after her win at the Golden Globes, but has lost a bit of steam opposite Bates’ win at the SAG. This is another tough race with no clear front-runner, but many possibilities. Redgrave may take the award since she has never won before and Bates has. Bates, however, has a position on the Academy Board of Governors which could give her a larger edge and a little more influence among Acting voters. Dench could ride the SIL wave to a win for her dour and impressive turn. Griffiths has pulled ahead of Blethyn in my estimations. Many say that hers is the most flawed performance of the nominees and will likely be left out.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Shakspeare in Love – Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (c-1/3)
  • The Truman Show – Andrew Niccol
  • Bulworth – Warren Beatty, Jeremy Pikser
  • Life Is Beautiful – Roberto Benigni, Vincenzo Cerami
  • Saving Private Ryan – Robert Rodat

Whys and Wherefors: SIL is the film to beat. It has the Writers Guild award for Best Original Screenplay and Oscar won’t be far behind. Those who adored Truman Show and were upset that it wasn’t nominated for picture may select this category to honor the film. All of the other films have chances, except SPR, which is arguably the worst of the five.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Out of Sight – Scott Frank (Elmore Leonard) (c-2/27)
  • The Thin Red Line – Terrence Malick (James Jones)
  • A Simple Plan – Scott B. Smith (Scott B. Smith)
  • Gods and Monsters – Bill Condon (Christopher William)
  • Primary Colors – Elaine May (Anonymous {Joe Klein})

Whys and Wherefors: This is an extremely difficult category to predict. Yes, TRL is the only Best Picture nominee in the race, but Simple Plan and Out of Sight have both received raves over their screenplays…TRL has not. Out of Sight takes over the lead in the race, having just won the Writers Guild Award for Adapted Screenplay. With such a tight race, an upset is possible, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. If this is to be TRL’s only award, then it may very well win.

Best Original Song

  • “The Prayer” – Quest for Camelot (David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Tony Renis, Alberto Testa) (c-3/8)
  • “When You Believe” – Prince of Egypt (Stephen Schwartz)
  • “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Armageddon (Diane Warren)
  • “That’ll Do” – Babe: Pig in the City (Randy Newman)
  • “A Soft Place to Fall” – The Horse Whisperer (Allison Moorer, Gwil Owen)

Whys and Wherefors: The least heard and most unremarkable collection of songs ever to be nominated for this category. This means that those that have been heard by more people and are more popular will win. This means that Diane Warren could be the victor, chiefly because she is the most recognized name on the list…then there’s Carole Bayer Sager and David Foster, also big names. If When You Believe is to win, it will be because of who sings it. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey have enough star power to fill every stadium on this planet. What could rock the boat is a furor over writing credits. Stephen Schwartz refused to allow Babyface on the ballot for the Oscars because he’d only written some extra instrumentation for the released version. Babyface contends that his additions are extremely important and that since the rendition to be performed on the show is likely the radio version, he should have credit. This could very well spell doom for the song. At this point, The Prayer has a good chance at winning. Mostly thanks to Dion and Bocelli’s performance on the Grammies.

Best Dramatic Score

  • The Thin Red Line – Hans Zimmer (c-10/5)
  • Saving Private Ryan – John Williams
  • Life Is Beautiful – Nicola Piovani
  • Elizabeth – David Hirschfelder
  • Pleasantville – Randy Newman

Whys and Wherefors: Any of these scores could conceivably win. TRL’s is definitely the best, but it could face an uphill battle against Best Picture intendant SPR. Life Is Beautiful could also take home a prize here. David Hirschfelder’s score for Elizabeth could win because Hirschfelder didn’t win two years ago for Shine.

Best Comedy/Musical Score

  • Shakespeare in Love – Stephen Warbeck (c-1/3)
  • The Prince of Egypt – Hans Zimmer, Stephen Schwartz
  • Mulan – Jerry Goldsmith, Matthew Wilder, David Zippel
  • A Bug’s Life – Randy Newman
  • Patch Adams – Marc Shaiman

Whys and Wherefors: SIL, being the only Best Picture nominee in the mix, is likely to take this award home. Some might give it to POE because of its non-Disney success. Others might feel that DreamWorks doesn’t deserve it and actually give the award to Disney for Mulan. Or Disney could surprise with a win by Bug’s Life. Only one thing’s for certain…Patch Adams won’t win.

Best Editing

  • Saving Private Ryan – Michael Kahn (c-12/17)
  • Shakespeare in Love – David Gamble
  • The Thin Red Line – Bill Webber, Leslie Jones
  • Life Is Beautiful – Simona Paggi
  • Out of Sight – Anne V. Coates

Whys and Wherefors: Film Editing usually goes to Best Picture, so scratch another award for SPR. SIL or TRL could easily win. LIB has a slight chance, but Out of Sight really is the odd duck out. The American Cinema Editors should shine a better light on this contest when they announce their winner on the 13th.

Best Cinematography

  • Saving Private Ryan – Janusz Kaminski (c-1/26)
  • The Thin Red Line – John Toll
  • Elizabeth – Remi Adefarasin
  • Shakespeare in Love – Richard Greatrex
  • A Civil Action – Conrad L. Hall

Whys and Wherefors: This is a tough race. John Toll is a huge Academy favorite, but so is Kaminski when he does Spielberg. SPR will probably win Best Picture, so look for Kaminski to be swept in. Don’t be surprised, though if Toll does win. He’s done very few films and already has two Oscars…some might say that’s enough.

Best Art Direction

  • Shakespeare in Love – Martin Childs, Jill Quertier (c-2/5)
  • What Dreams May Come – Eugenio Zanetti, Cindy Carr
  • Elizabeth – John Myhre, Peter Howitt
  • Pleasantville – Jeannine Oppewall, Jay Hart
  • Saving Private Ryan – Tom Sanders; Lisa Dean Kavanaugh

Whys and Wherefors: SIL, with 13 nominations, won’t be left empty-handed and this may very well be one of the awards it gets. Its chief competition come from its fellow Elizabethan and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Art Directors’ selection of What Dreams May Come for best Art Direction. Pleasantville and SPR seem shut out at this point.

Best Costume Design

  • Shakespeare in Love – Sandy Powell (c-3/8)
  • Elizabeth – Alexandra Byrne
  • Pleasantville – Judianna Makovsky
  • Velvet Goldmine – Sandy Powell
  • Beloved – Colleen Atwood

Whys and Wherefors: With neither Elizabeth, nor SIL receiving Costume Guild awards, the actual winner, Pleasantville, doesn’t have as much of a chance as it once did. SIL will likely take anothe of its 13 here. Elizabeth could pull a surprise with its extremely realistic costuming. Then again, watch out for Velvet Goldmine. The last drag film to appear in this cateogry, Priscilla, took the award home without a problem. Could this happen again? Possibly.

Best Makeup

  • Saving Private Ryan – Lois Burwell, Conor O’Sullivan, Daniel C. Striepeke (c-3/8)
  • Shakespeare in Love – Lisa Westcott, Veronica Brebner
  • Elizabeth – Jenny Shircore

Whys and Wherefors: SPR is a juggernaut and this will likely be a sweep-induced category, even if it is the least deserving of the nominees. SIL could also take the award for its cross-dressing feats.

Best Sound Mixing

  • Saving Private Ryan – Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Ronald Judkins (c-12/17)
  • The Thin Red Line – Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Paul Brincat
  • Armageddon – Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, Keith A. Wester
  • Shakespeare in Love – Robin O’Donoghue, Dominic Lester, Peter Glossop
  • The Mask of Zorro – Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, Pud Cusack

Whys and Wherefors: Which is loudest and which is most unique? Sound itself isn’t truly unique anymore, so it seems to be either a matter of volume or a matter of complexity. Armageddon has the loudness factor, but SPR had the complexity. This is one of the few awards SPR deserves over its competition this year. Lately a Best Picture winner has to have a sound Oscar to go along, so either SPR or SIL could possibly win (though SIL’s nod is quite a surprise). TRL is the other war film up for it and unless SPR splits the vote with something else, don’t expect anything else to win. What we await now is the Cinema Audio Society selection for best of the year. That should cast a better light on who will take the Oscar.

Best Sound Editing

  • Saving Private Ryan – Gary Rydstrom, Richard Hymns (c-2/10)
  • Armageddon – George Watters II
  • The Mask of Zorro – David McMoyler

Whys and Wherefors: Armageddon and SPR are the only two films that matter in this race. Zorro is as good as out of it. SPR is the Best Picture favorite and shouldn’t have a problem winning (especially without competition from the wonderful job on TRL).

Best Visual Effects

  • What Dreams May Come – Joel Hynek, Nicholas Brooks, Stuart Robertson, Kevin Mack (c-3/8)
  • Armageddon – Richard R. Hoover, Pat McClung, John Frazier
  • Mighty Joe Young – Rick Baker, Hoyt Yeatman, Alan Hall, Jim Mitchell

Whys and Wherefors: Another worthless category. One good job and two so-so ones. The best of the year (Insurrection, Dark City and Pleasantville) were completely out of competition). Armageddon, the biggest sci-fi blockbuster of the year might follow in ID4’s footsteps. However, What Dreams May Come may win. It has the Satellite award for Best Visual Effects as well as other precursor awards. What is interesting is that if Mighty Joe Young wins, it will be the first remake to receive the only Oscar its nominated for like its original did (The original scored a Special Effects Oscar back in 1949).

Best Foreign Film

  • Life Is Beautiful – Italy (c-2/5)
  • Central Station – Brazil
  • Children of Heaven – Iran
  • Tango – Argentina
  • The Grandfather – Spain

Whys and Wherefors: What makes this category so interesting is that Life Is Beautiful has already been seen by a lot of people in the Academy, which means that those who’ve seen it will not be as likely to go to the screenings to see ALL of the films, unless they are absolutely in love with it and don’t mind seeing it again. This puts Central Station in a better light. Although it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, it also hadn’t been seen by many people. Most of the people I’ve heard say CS is far better than LIB. If those who’ve seen LIB don’t go see it again, a somewhat unbiased group will go to see all the films and might find something more enlightening and award-worthy in Central Station. Of course, there is also the factor of LIB being a picture nominee and this being the only place it will probably be rewarded. Count on LIB to win, but doon’t underestimate Central Station.

Best Documentary Feature

  • The Last Days (c-2/27)
  • The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.
  • Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth
  • Regret to Inform
  • Dancemaker

Whys and Wherefors: Having not seen any of the choices and knowing very little about any of the documentary or short film categories, these predictions are all based on either what I’ve heard (as in the example of this category) or based on the title. Sometimes a title can tell you a lot about a film and what Academy members might choose. This time, I have to pick The Last Days. It’s yet another holocaust documentary and is from none other than Steven Spielberg. If anything can surpass, Days, it’s The Farm. It is the most critically acclaimed of the films (at least from all I’ve heard) and is the only one in the bunch with a precursor award. This category, as with the other three below could go to almost anyone. These are mainly guesses.

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square (c-2/27)
  • A Place in the Land
  • The Personals

Whys and Wherefors: Tiananmen Square sounds like an Oscar winning film, but any of the others could easily win.

Best Animated Short Film

  • The Canterbury Tales (c-2/27)
  • Jolly Roger
  • When Life Departs
  • Bunny
  • More

Whys and Wherefors: Chaucer’s tales may be too big for a short, but it could win an award, being so well known. That could also harm the short and give any of the others a chance to win.

Best Live-Action Short Film

  • Holiday Romance (c-2/27)
  • Election Night (Valgaften)
  • Culture
  • La Carte Postale (The Postcard)
  • Victor

Whys and Wherefors: Ok, two foreign shorts and three others. Holiday Romance seems the most promising (remember Lieberman in Love?). I can’t really say who will win, but these are my predictions.

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