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Caesar Brings You: The 2001 Oscars

Roll out the red carpet and hide the silver. It’s that time of year, friends. That’s right, Oscar season!

It seems like every year we go through that time-honored ritual: ‘I’m not watching this crap again! It’s all commercial! It has nothing to do with genuine talent, guys. It’s a popularity contest! It’s a joke! And how ‘bout them lame-ass musical numbers? This year, I’m boycotting the Oscars.

Regardless, we tune in. For a laugh. And to see if the Oscar pool is going to pay off this year.

This time out, we figured we’d do the heavy lifting for you and handicap the entire race. We’re sure we’re going to win our own Oscar pools, and if our stellar advice helps you with yours, we’re expecting a cut. [OK, never mind.]

UPDATE: Well, once again, it’s Oscar night, and I’m drunk. I can’t believe it — Soderbergh! Harden! Big Mama! I have to admit that this year’s Oscars threw me for a total loop. I didn’t even get half right. My colleage Jeremiah Kipp picked 13 of the 23 nominees right. I only got 11. I’ve never had a record even remotely that bad. Gladiator only won five awards; Crouching Tiger and Traffic both got four. Not bad. I guess it just goes to show how far we underestimate Hollywood sometimes, so I suppose we’ll start giving those clowns more credit from now on, eh? Nahhhhhh. Anyway, I’m still shocked. And I’m still drunk. Congrats from filmcritic.com to the Oscar class of ’01.

Actual winners appear in boldface below.

Best Actor

Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls
Russell Crowe, Gladiator
Tom Hanks, Cast Away
Ed Harris, Pollock
Geoffrey Rush, Quills

Jeremiah Kipp: Everyone said that Bardem and Harris were really, really good in those obscure art house films, not that anyone actually saw ’em. Rush was having fun in Quills, but he’s not nearly as loveable as that piano man from Shine. Besides, he’s won before. So has Hanks. That leaves star quarterback Russell Crowe, riding the wave of Gladiator‘s glory.
Christopher Null: True enough. Hanks deserves it again this year, but I expect the red-hot-in-Hollywood Crowe and Gladiator to be one of many inexplicable awards for the movie.

Best Actress

Joan Allen, The Contender
Juliette Binoche, Chocolat
Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream
Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me
Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich

JK: Allen and Binoche get nominated every year, right? Burstyn was the best thing in Requiem, but Academy members were scared off. It’s down to Laura Linney in The Little Movie That Could and Julia Roberts in her most critically acclaimed role. Julia wins by a hair, securing not only a gold trophy but also much needed credibility.
CN: I agree. I desperately want Linney to win, but Roberts has bigger boobs. This is actually one of the few races where the majority of the candidates actually deserve their nominations. Also rather odd: No pair of best actor and best actress candidates starred in the same film. [Julia, we love ya, but can you drop that Benjamin Bratt character???]

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges, The Contender
Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire
Benicio Del Toro, Traffic
Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich
Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator

CN: Supporting roles are always tough to call (remember Marisa Tomei and Anna Paquin?) and this year Del Toro has been touted high and low, but I’m going to go with Joaquin Phoenix’s Gladiator turn as part of the rout (though it’s the least interesting performance of the bunch).
JK: Dafoe should win for his superb performance-art turn in Shadow of the Vampire, but the world only has eyes for Del Toro’s world weary cop in Traffic. He’s earned it.

Best Supporting Actress

Judi Dench, Chocolat
Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock
Kate Hudson, Almost Famous
Frances McDormand, Almost Famous
Julie Walters, Billy Elliot

JK: It goes to the Hollywood Dynasty. Hudson gives a shaky speech, wiping tears from her eyes. Cut to a shot of Goldie Hawn, bawling.
CN: Hey, it worked for Mira Sorvino. Harden is a close second, but Hudson’s going to win (again, not because she deserves it). [Damn, I was close!]

Best Cinematography

Peter Pau, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
John Mathieson, Gladiator
Lajos Koltai, Malena
Roger Deakins, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Caleb Deschanel, The Patriot

JK: Pau should win for the elegance of Crouching Tiger, but the muscular spectacle of Mathieson’s Gladiator will march it’s way to glory. Don’t ask me why — I couldn’t make heads or tails of those herky-jerky action scenes. It was all computer generated, anyway.
CN: I’m going to break here and pick Crouching Tiger to win. Gladiator gave me a damn headache.

Best Visual Effects

Gladiator
Hollow Man
The Perfect Storm

JK: Yes, when I said computer-generated images, I was talking to you, Gladiator.
CN: What, Kevin Bacon’s animated willy didn’t do it for you? Gladiator gave me a headache, but The Perfect Storm made me physically ill (and not just because of the script). Storm in an upset.

Best Editing

Almost Famous
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Gladiator
Traffic
Wonder Boys

JK: On to the subtle art of editing. The ability to clearly tell four major subplots and have them all make sense will win the day for Traffic, a commendable effort for Stephen
Mirrone.
CN: Agreed, Traffic wins.

Best Sound Editing

Space Cowboys
U-571

JK: This category always reminds me of an in-depth conversation I had with a friend about how each synchronized bullet in Michael Mann’s Heat sounded ‘distinctive.’ I’m not sure the same can be said for U-571 or Space Cowboys, since I can’t remember anything distinctive about either of ‘em. I vote for U-571‘s underwater action over outer-Space, where no one can hear you scream.
CN: U-571 had subs, Space Cowboys had… um, what was that movie about? U-571 wins easy (but think of what more they could have done with the sound of Matthew McConaughey’s bongos!)

Best Sound

Cast Away
Gladiator
The Patriot
The Perfect Storm
U-571

CN: I’m torn between the two watery movies, Storm and Cast Away. I’m going out on a limb with Cast Away.
JK: Cast Away had more imaginative sound design during the plane crash scene alone, but the roar of the crowd favors Gladiator.

Best Costume Design

Tom Yip, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Rita Ryack, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Janty Yates, Gladiator
Anthony Powell, 102 Dalmations
Jacqueline West, Quills

JK: Quills will take home one award for Costume Design. Why? Period films are a no-brainer. I’ll tell you in one word: Frills.
CN: Don’t forget that The Adventures ofwon an Oscar for costuming. In the absence of drag queens this year (Jim Carrey excluded), I’ll take Quills as well.

Best Art Direction

Tim Yip, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Michael Corenblith (art direction) Meredith Boswell (set direction), Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Arthur Max (art direction), Crispian Sallis (set direction), Gladiator
Martin Childs (art direction), Jill Quertier (set direction), Quills
Jean Rabasse (art direction), Françoise Benoit-Fresco (set decoration), Vatel

JK: Gladiator‘s Coliseum: Toga! Toga! Toga!
CN: Vatel for sure… NOT! I’m actually going with the ninja suits of Crouching Tiger on this one.

Best Makeup

The Cell
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Shadow of the Vampire

JK: If The Grinch wins, I’ll never stop throwing up. The award really belongs to Willem Dafoe’s ‘moldy cheese’ creature in Shadow of the Vampire.
CN: Get your barf bag, Jer. The Grinch wins. [I can hear the retching from Lincoln’s nose!]

Best Documentary Feature

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
Legacy
Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
Sound and Fury

CN: If Oscar loves one thing more than gladiator movies, it’s Nazi-era movies. This year only Into the Arms of Strangers qualifies, and it has a really long title.
JK: Who the hell cares? The Academy rarely chooses any meaningful documentaries. This year is no exception. I’d probably go with Strangers. It sure sounds important.

Best Documentary Short Subject

Big Mama
Curtain Call
Dolphins
The Man on Lincoln’s Nose
On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom

CN: None of these movies are about Nazis, but Dolphins is about dolphins, which I think the Academy will like because they’re pretty.
JK: Dude! I can see my house from Lincoln’s Nose!

Best Live-Action Short Film

By Courier
One Day Crossing
Quiero Ser (I Want To Be…)
Seraglio
A Soccer Story (Una Historia de Futebol)

CN: One Day Crossing is a fictional film about Nazis in Hungary. A winner!
JK: And the winner is… Gladiator! Oops, wrong category. One Day Crossing sounds like the odds-on favorite. [Yeah, we’re killing ourselves over this one.]

Best Animated Short Film

Father and Daughter
The Periwig-Maker
Rejected

CN: If Oscar loves anything more than gladiators and Nazis, it’s claymation. Despite its dumb name and morbid subject matter (the plague), The Periwig-Maker is going to win.
JK: Father and Daughter sounds like sentimental crap. It’ll probably win.
CN: Don’t forget that last year some movie with Satan’s Disciples in the title won the live-action award…

Best Foreign Language Film

Amores Perros, Mexico
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Taiwan
Divided We Fall, Czech Republic
Everybody’s Famous!, Belgium
The Taste of Others, France

JK: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will take it’s token Best Foreign Film Award as a consolation prize. Has anyone even actually heard of Amores Perros? You catch my drift.
CN: Doesn’t Amores Perros mean I Love Dogs or something? Crouching Tiger‘s win here is something I would bet my life savings on. Who’ll give me odds? [We are GENIUSES!!!]

Best Music (Song)

‘A Fool in Love,’ music and lyrics by Randy Newman, Meet the Parents
‘I’ve Seen It All,’ music by Björk, lyrics by Lars von Trier and Sjón Sigurdsson, Dancer in the Dark
‘A Love Before Time,’ music by Jorge Calandrelli and Tan Dun, lyrics by James Schamus, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
‘My Funny Friend and Me,’ music by Sting and David Hartley, lyrics by Sting, The Emperor’s New Groove
‘Things Have Changed,’ music and lyrics by Bob Dylan, Wonder Boys

CN: When in doubt, choose the song with ‘Love’ or ‘Heart’ in the title to win the Oscar. Damn, two choices! For some reason, I’m drawn to Randy Newman’s theme from Meet the Parents, which I actually liked. Pl
us, Newman has 14 Oscar nominations from the past 20 years… and no awards at all. Pity him.
JK: I hope Björk brings us home with ‘I’ve Seen It All’ from Dancer in the Dark. Can’t you just picture her Oscar speech? ‘Thank you, Lars von Trier, for casting me in this film –AND FUCK YOU FOR RUINING MY LIFE!’ [Bjork didn’t win, and neither did her swan — the honor goes to Bob Dylan. Was it just me, or did he look exactly like Max Shreck in Shadow of the Vampire? Freaky!]

Best Music (Original Score)

Rachel Portman, Chocolat
Tan Dun, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Hans Zimmer, Gladiator
Ennio Morricone, Malena
John Williams, The Patriot

JK: I can’t remember the score from Gladiator, but I’ll bet it was big. Really big.
CN: John Williams is a perennial winner, but not this time. Congrats, Hans. [Yum yum, Tan Dun.]

Best Screenplay (Adapted)

Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat
Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus, and Tsai Kuo Jung, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Joel and Ethan Coen, O Brother Where Art Thou?
Stephen Gaghan, Traffic
Steve Kloves, Wonder Boys

JK: Traffic: The War on Drugs is Important Subject Matter.
CN: Traffic: We’re Sorry Steven Soderbergh Won’t Win Anything this Year So Here’s Something but Not Really Since You Didn’t Write It. [Or not.]

Best Screenplay (Original)

Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous
Lee Hall, Billy Elliot
Susannah Grant, Erin Brockovich
David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, Gladiator
Kenneth Lonergan, You Can Count on Me

JK: Hollywood likes Crowe, and the few people who saw it genuinely adored Almost Famous. Can anyone say that for Gladiator? What is that clunk of junk doing in Best Screenplay anyway? The pen will prove mightier than the sword, and Almost Famous will get it’s due. (Too bad Patrick Fugit didn’t receive a supporting actor nomination, but we look to the future with an optimistic eye.)
CN: Au contraire, Mr. Kipp. You Can Count on Me takes home its sole prize this time around while Famous settles for Hudson’s supporting actress award. [There’s a lot of crap going around this evening… this is probably the biggest robbery of the evening, IMHO.]

Best Director

Stephan Daldry, Billy Elliot
Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich
Steven Soderbergh, Traffic
Ridley Scott, Gladiator

CN: Sorry Steve, you should have released Brockovich in 1999. Mr. Scott, I’ll give you props for Blade Runner so you can feel better about being King of the World over this tripe.
JK: Soderbergh splits his vote, paving the way for a triumphant Scott. [I am SHOCKED! Soderbergh, you are a man’s man. You are a frickin’ dinosaur, and you make Ridley Scott and his asshole smirk look as petty as they are. You rule!]

Best Picture

Chocolat
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Erin Brockovich
Gladiator
Traffic

CN: Good God, the horror. I can hear the French laughing at us at the moment when the three monkeys who produced Gladiator storm the stage to pick up their trophies… and then defecate on them.
JK: Once again, Soderbergh is left in the dust. Gladiator rides its chariot into the annals of screen history. Years from now, we will all look back in shame, wondering what the hell we were thinking. 2000 really was a lousy year for movies. No one ever lost money underestimating the American public. You can bet your bottom dollar that the crowd-pleasing Gladiator will sweep the Oscars as surely as General Maximus ravaged the Gauls. That’s right. I’m predicting Gladiator for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for hunka hunka Russell Crowe.

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