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Oscars 2003: Dancing as Fast as We Can

Are we doing this again already? I’m still licking wounds from two straight years of dismal picks. Luckily the movies are better this year. Except for Chicago, that is.

As always, we’ll update this page in real time during the show: Our picks are in bold under our respective names. As an added bonus, we enlisted an honest-to-God Hollywood insider to provide his anonymous picks this year. We’ve added a * next to his choices (again, these are predictions, not personal favorites). As always, the actual winners will be noted in bold in the category listings on Oscar night (and updated in real time). Christopher Null and Jeremiah Kipp

Current Tally (Total Awards: 24)
Null: 6 – Kipp: 12 – Oscar Insider: 13

Well, the good news is that I probably can’t do any worse next year. I suck. Seriously. Listen to that Oscar insider, baby! -CN

Best Animated Film
Ice Age
Lilo & Stitch*
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirited Away
Treasure Planet

Christopher Null: Ice Age is hands down the worst film on the list, and yet it will win in a runaway, I guess because there’s a talking elephant in it. And a baby. After two years, it’s already time to retire this awful, awful category.
Jeremiah Kipp: Hmmmm… yeah, I guess it has to be Ice Age. That’s my best guess from a list of movies no one seemed to care about, or in the case of Hiyao Miyazaki’s dazzling Spirited Away a movie no one saw.
Wow… Spirited Away‘s win will probably be the biggest surprise of the night. Unless The Two Towers wins Best Picture somehow…

Best Art Direction
Gangs of New York
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Road To Perdition

JK: Chicago might not have had the vast castle keeps of The Two Towers or the gritty Five Points of Gangs of New York, but the art direction had moxie, and that’s all that counts in this town!
CN: Chicago just goes to show you can recycle the sets from Caged Heat and still win an Oscar. Groan.

Best Cinematography
Far From Heaven
Gangs of New York
The Pianist
Road To Perdition*

JK: Conrad L. Hall was a genius, and he is dead. It’s too bad he’ll be winning for Road To Perdition, a movie with beautiful images and all the life sucked from its bones.
CN: This is a really tough category, because four of these movies had excellent camerawork and one was atrocious. Sadly, that one will win as part of the cattle drive for Chicago. I guess Oscar voters have gotten so old they can’t even tell when the movie’s out of focus.
So happy to be wrong… wish that was the case for the other categories, though, where I was just dumb.

Best Costume Design
Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Pianist

CN: How did The Pianist get on this list over Far From Heaven? Army surplus = Oscar? Huh. Anyway I’m picking Gangs of New York. Those top hats deserve a category to themselves.
JK: Frida wins, inexplicably. And we’ll all scratch our heads and wonder why.

Best Documentary Feature
Bowling For Columbine *
Daughter From Danang
Prisoner of Paradise
Winged Migration

JK: To give him a microphone where he can speak out for the anti-war effort, Michael Moore politicizes the evening with Bowling For Columbine.
CN: By then we’ll probably be rolling through Baghdad in tanks. I’ve only heard of two of these movies anyway… and remember, an award for Columbine is like a Best Supporting Actor award for Charlton Heston.

Best Documentary Short Subject
The Collector of Bedford Street*
Mighty James: The Legacy of Rosa Parks
Twin Towers
Why Can’t We Be a Family Again?

JK: The Twin Towers are gone, and the Oscars remember. More politicizing ensues.
CN: I’m counting on WTC fatigue to roll the award over to The Collector of Bedford Street, which is about a mentally retarded guy. And he’s Jewish, too — two perennial Oscar-doc faves.

Best Editing
Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist

CN: The Hours easily had the most sophisticated editing of the year. But then again, so did Memento in 2000, and it lost to a freakin’ war movie. Since The Pianist isn’t really a war movie, I’m gonna stick with The Hours.
JK: Chicago takes the stage as Tinseltown embraces the modern musical. Hey, shouldn’t Harvey Scissorhands be mentioned for Gangs too?

Best Foreign Language Film
El Crimen Del Padre Amaro
The Man Without a Past
Nowhere In Africa
Zus & Zo

JK: Nowhere In Africa pulls all the right heartstrings. It’s an epic narrative that might remind Hollywood of Hollywood.
CN: Didn’t see it. Actually, I didn’t see any of these. I’m picking El Crimen Del Padre Amaro just for kicks since it had the widest distribution. Incidentally, Hero is a freakin’ Jet Li movie! Now that’d be a first…

Best Makeup
The Time Machine

JK: Wow… consider all the thought they put into Salma Hayek’s eyebrow in Frida.
CN: One brow to rule them all! Then again, that was Jeremy Irons in The Time Machine. Frida is the less embarrassing choice in this pathetic category.

Best Score
Catch Me If You Can, John Williams
Far From Heaven, Elmer Bernstein
Frida, Elliot Goldenthal
The Hours, Philip Glass*
Road To Perdition, Thomas Newman

CN: Philip Glass always gets people nostalgic, for what I dunno, but I’ll take The Hours here.
JK: Elmer Bernstein’s emotionally awake score for Far From Heaven appeals to the hearts and minds of Academy voters.

Best Original Song
‘Burn It Blue’ from Frida, Music by Elliot Goldenthal, Lyric by Julie Taymor
‘Father and Daughter’ from The Wild Thornberrys, Music and Lyric by Paul Simon*
‘The Hands That Built America’ from Gangs of New York, Music and Lyric by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen
‘I Move On’ from Chicago, Music by John Kander, Lyric by Fred Ebb
‘Lose Yourself’ from 8 Mile, Music by Eminem, Jeff Bass, and Luis Resto, Lyric by Eminem

JK: It’s a great song, but I declare a sanctimony alert for Bono when he gets on the stage for ‘The Hands That Built America.’
CN: Yo yo yo, you ain’t gonna give Em his props!? In all seriousness, I agree. I can’t see anything but ‘Hands’ winning this round. I will add that I never get this category right.
Again, I got it wrong! Amazing…

Best Animated Short Film
The Cathedral
The Chubbchubbs!*
Das Rad
Mike’s New Car
Mt. Head

JK: Vroom! Vroom! Mike’s New Car outraces the other nominees.
CN: Does Pixar just make these movies so it can win Oscars? Why does this category exist? Mike, love your Car.

Best Live Action Short Film
Fait D’Hiver
I’ll Wait for the Next One (J’Attendrai Le Suivant…)
Inja (Dog)
Johnny Flynton
This Charming Man (Der er en Yndig Mand)*

JK: If the title is long, it must be important: I’ll Wait for the Next One.
CN: If the title is short, it must be deep: Inja.

Best Sound
Gangs of New York
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*
Road to Perdition

JK: If an Ent fell over in the forest and no one were around to hear it, would it still make a sound? OK, that’s lame. But The Two Towers will win Best Sound.
CN: I dunno, something weird always seems to win this category, no? Road to Perdition, just on a lark.

Best Sound Editing
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*
Minority Report
Road To Perdition

JK: If an Ent… ah, skip it. The Two Towers is still ringing in our ears.
CN: I’m gonna pick Minority Report. Spielberg tends to win these things and the hobbits had their due last year.

Best Visual Effects
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

JK: The impressive Gollum gives The Two Towers a lock on this award, and that doesn’t even account for all its other revolutionary visual effects. But aside from excellence in technique, the expressive creatures and evocative locations of The Two Towers must surely rank alongside the best work of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad adventures and Willis H. O’Brien’s still heartbreaking King Kong (1933). The technology is only as good as the people who use it, and within The Two Towers are monsters and miracles that expand the imagination. Here’s looking forward to The Return of the King winning next year.
CN: Good lord, you’ve gone all soft, you big baby. But yeah, Gollum outdid the lame-ass Ents, so sure, Two Towers.

Best Adapted Screenplay
About a Boy
The Hours
The Pianist

JK: Charlie Kaufman’s risk-taking script for Adaptation made some bold experiments even when it didn’t entirely work. A friend reminded me of an interesting point: Kaufman is more faithful to Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief than Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor were to the novel About Schmidt. And guess what? Kaufman was able to do that and expand the possibilities of the screenplay-essay. I didn’t love the film, but it’s worthy of admiration. Oscar will make it their ‘weird pick’ of the year.
CN: I think Adaptation‘s two supporting actor Oscars will be enough in the way of weird picks — plus the Academy’s gonna be pissed about that whole phony-brother-gets-nomination thing. I’m going out on a limb for The Hours, which was a phenomenal adaptation of a time-twisting work. Then again, it may just as easily go to Chicago. But I’ll stick with Hours. Tough category to predict.

Best Original Screenplay
Far From Heaven
Gangs of New York*
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Talk To Her
Y Tu Mama Tambien

JK: My Big Fat Greek Wedding is vastly overrated, but it’s also The Little Movie That Could.
CN: Oh simmer down, you big grumpus. I think Heaven had the better script but Wedding will win the day.

Best Supporting Actor
Chris Cooper in Adaptation*
Ed Harris in The Hours
Paul Newman in Road To Perdition
John C. Reilly in Chicago
Christopher Walken in Catch Me If You Can

JK: Which of the two Chrises was more emotionally affecting? Walken, his eyes welling up with tears, talking of his delightful first encounter with his estranged wife? Or Cooper, stoically recalling the car accident that killed his wife and left him damaged? Give the award to either of them. But the tidal wave of support is behind Chris Cooper, a character actor in a vivid role. He’ll fina
lly be given his due.
CN: Now if only he would appear onstage in character…. Cooper will win by an overwhelming margin, and John ‘I was in every movie released this year’ Reilly will take a distant second.

Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates in About Schmidt
Julianne Moore in The Hours
Queen Latifah in Chicago
Meryl Streep in Adaptation*
Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago

CN: Meryl Streep all the way, who gets all sentimental since her last win was 20 years ago. Queen Latifah, are you kidding me? Of course, watch her pull a bizarre Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny).
JK: Viva La Streep. She’s the only one who gave a performance worth giving a damn about anyway.

Best Actor
Adrien Brody in The Pianist
Nicolas Cage in Adaptation
Michael Caine in The Quiet American
Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York
Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt*

JK: They should just hand the trophy over to Daniel Day-Lewis for his mercurial, complex, larger-than-life yet subtle and controlled interpretation of Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York. It’s the performance of a lifetime, and so one of a kind it’s to be treasured even if you found the movie uneven. But the guy’s so far removed from the Hollywood club it’s unlikely the Academy will extend any gratitude. Instead, they’ll award their favorite playboy Jack Nicholson, who will undoubtedly smirk his way through an acceptance speech with a showman’s politesse.
CN: It’s going to be a close race for sure, but I think it will come down to a game of numbers. Day-Lewis won in 1990. Nicholson won in 1998. You gotta figure Jack’s only a few years away from getting one of those Lifetime Achievement Awards anyway… so I’m going with a small upset for Daniel Day-Lewis.

Best Actress
Salma Hayek in Frida
Nicole Kidman in The Hours*
Diane Lane in Unfaithful
Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven
Renée Zellweger in Chicago

JK: Only a fool would deny Julianne Moore recognition for her performance in Far From Heaven, but fools will be fools. Nicole Kidman will win for The Hours, because if you put a strange nose on her she looks like an entirely new person. Too bad she still can’t act without Jane Campion sensitizing her, Gus Van Sant cutting her loose, or Stanley Kubrick giving her 20 takes. Where was Oscar then?
CN: Don’t count out Zellweger as part of a Chicago runaway, but the frosted side of me is really siding with Julianne Moore. I just think she’s going to win this time out, not just because of her work in Far From Heaven, but because she was the best part of The Hours too. Kidman simply hasn’t paid her dues. [Update: Ah, the perils of doing these pics in mid-February. Who knew Zellweger would become a frontrunner? My revised pick is now Kidman, but I’ll stick with Julianne for tabulating our scores. Like it matters.]

Best Director
Chicago, Rob Marshall*
Gangs of New York, Martin Scorsese
The Hours, Stephen Daldry
The Pianist, Roman Polanski
Talk To Her, Pedro Almodóvar

CN: I’d pick Daldry but he’s got dues to pay. Ditto Rob Marshall, who despite the Chicago love parade is still a) a bad director and b) a first-time director. Polanski’s in exile, and Almodóvar… please. That leaves Martin Scorsese rising to the top in another split Best Picture/Best Director year.
JK: Marty Scorsese gets his due and proper.

Best Picture
Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist

CN: Well, there’s freakin’ Chicago. I soooo don’t want it to win, and of course, that’s going to make it win. Hands down, The Hours is the best film on this list, and Gangs of New York is damn good, too. But only Chicago has a chubby, sweaty, out-of-tune Richard Gere, and I guess that’s worth a little gold statue. God, I hate myself. I hate Hollywood. I hate it all, Jer.
JK: Get that bottle of Jim Beam ready, Chris, ‘cause it’s gonna be a long night! I’d like to see Gangs win, too, but Chicago closes the deal for the American musical. The Academy is just dying to have a finger snappin’, bodice poppin’ movie they can groove to. Chicago came along at the right time. Goodnight, folks. That sound you hear is the coffin lid closing on Bob Fosse’s vision, distorted into insubstantial pop and fizz by Miramax.

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