Oscar 2003: Picks and Predictions

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Just when I thought I had most of the major categories figured out, all the other awards get announced and completely throw me off (SAG, Iím talking about you).  Well, not completely, but Iíve had to make some major changes in my preliminary thinking.  A few of those sure-things a month ago seem less and less so as the days progress.  And Iím sure Iíll be second-guessing myself until a few of the envelopes are opened.  That makes it fun, though, right?  It doesnít mean I donít have a decent idea of what will happen Oscar night; I just know Iíll probably be kicking myself after the ceremony.  Will it be as split as Iím predicting?  Probably not.  Will there be a huge sweep by a certain film with thirteen nominations?  Donít be surprised if there is.

BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

My Choice: Well, after last yearís lineup of nominees, I guess I set myself up for disappointment this year.  Iím only entirely pleased with two of the nominees.  One Iím pretty content with.  One I understand but am surprised by its success.  The other one, I knew was coming but secretly hoped would just be left on the curb.  So, of the first two, Chicago definitely has my support if and when it takes home the gold statue, but my true hopes lie with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  With its fantastic special effects, a cast that has perfectly settled in to their respective roles, a determination to keep a larger sense of narrative, and a detailed examination of a world at war, The Two Towers deserves what its predecessor was denied.

My Prediction: Gangs of New York and, unfortunately, The Two Towers donít stand a chance.  The Pianist has been gaining momentum, but I expect controversy surrounding Roman Polanskiís legal status to keep his film from winning.  For a long while, I was sure The Hours would walk away with this one, but a DGA, PGA, and SAG award can change your perspective pretty quickly.  Iím still dreading my original notion coming true, but Iím pretty sure Chicago will be the first musical in thirty-four years to win the big prize.

The Winner: Chicago

BEST ACTOR

The Nominees: Adrien Brody, The Pianist; Nicolas Cage, Adaptation; Michael Caine, The Quiet American; Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York; Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt

My Choice: Iíve got it narrowed down to two here.  Adrien Brodyís physical and psychological deterioration helped to give the illusion of depth to a rather thin character.  Nicolas Cageís double role as twin screenwriters is deceptively simple but incredibly funny.  I have yet to see The Quiet American, so Michael Caine will remain absent from my consideration.  That leaves the two Iím seriously pondering.  Jack Nicholsonís work as Warren Schmidt is funny, sad, and, most importantly, entirely human.  Itís some of the actorís best work.  But Iím going with Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, one of the best screen villains to come around in a while.  He gobbles up the role, chews the scenery, and makes it so believable within the context of the filmís social commentary that it resonates like no other performance this year.

My Prediction: Iím fairly convinced that the voting majority will have a difficult time choosing between my final two choices as well.  For the longest time, I figured Day-Lewis had it.  Then I started to think, well, the Academy loves Nicholson, and he won the Golden Globe (albeit in the wrong category).  So I was pretty sold on that possibility.  Then the SAG awards come along and put me back on my original track.  Or so I thought.  So thatís what Iím sticking with: Day-Lewis over Nicholson.  It could go either way, but thatís the way Iím predicting.

The Winner: Adrien Brody, The Pianist

BEST ACTRESS

The Nominees: Salma Hayek, Frida; Nicole Kidman, The Hours; Diane Lane, Unfaithful; Julianne Moore, Far from Heaven; Renťe Zellweger, Chicago

My Choice: No real contest for me in this category.  I missed Frida, which is too bad considering how well it did nomination-wise.  Renťe Zellweger is fine in Chicago, but the other performances in the category are simply stronger.  Nicole Kidman should have won last year, and her Virginia Woolf is one of the few worthwhile elements in The Hours.  Diane Lane has the difficulty of making underdeveloped motivations believable, which she does not succeed at, but that is not her fault.  Considering what she has to work with, she gives an incredible performance.  However, of all the nominees, Julianne Mooreís work is the most subtle, most developed, and most affecting.

My Prediction: Another one I thought I had figured out, but Zellwegerís SAG win sure threw me for a loop.  I still donít know where it came from, except heavy marketing on the part of Miramax.  I hate to go against the SAG award again (although it will be a pattern for the rest of the acting categories too), because they are usually pretty dependable.  Mooreís work is probably too subtle for a lot of voters.  Salma Hayekís nomination is prize enough.  Lane wonít be remembered as well as more recent performances.  That leaves Kidman, who I believe will benefit from the ďshould have won last yearĒ sentiment.  That and everyone loves her now.  It will be nice that she could get the recognition, although sheís deserved it since To Die For.

The Winner: Nicole Kidman, The Hours

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Nominees: Chris Cooper, Adaptation; Ed Harris, The Hours; Paul Newman, Road to Perdition; John C. Reilly, Chicago; Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can

My Choice: A fairly weak category from where I stand.  Donít get me wrong; all the performances in it are good.  Ed Harris is probably the weakest of the nominees, if only because he and Meryl Streep try to out-act each other in their first scene together.  Paul Newman is very effective, but his nomination is probably more for his career than this specific performance.  John C. Reilly has been doing great character work for a while now, and itís nice to see him get some recognition.  He nails Amos and the show stopping "Mr. Cellophane."  Chris Cooper has also been a reliable character actor, and he disappears into this role.  However, itís Christopher Walken who takes this one in my mind.  As Frank Abagnale Sr., Walken explores a more desperate, lonely, melancholy side that we donít typically associate with the actor.

My Prediction: This is the category I can usually depend on missing out on, but this year, I think Iíve figured it out.  Walken won the SAG award, a victory that Iím very happy about but that I doubt will translate into an Oscar.  Newman may have the advantage of his career, but that does not always guarantee a win.  In fact, in recent years, predictions based on that theory have proved fruitless.  Iím going with the Golden Globe winner, an award that Iíve noticed is pretty reliable in predicting this category.  Cooper has had this award coming since award season started, so I figure it will play out that way.

The Winner: Chris Cooper, Adaptation

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Kathy Bates, About Schmidt; Julianne Moore, The Hours; Queen Latifah, Chicago; Meryl Streep, Adaptation; Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

My Choice: Well, Queen Latifah sure did do an outstanding job on her one song and dance number, but is it worthy of a nomination?  No.  The success of Meryl Streepís performance is mostly due to some brilliant casting.  She Acts in a part thatís supposed to play out like a movie, so it works.  Kathy Bates was very funny and does a lot with small screentime.  Julianne Moore seems the odd one out, considering the fact that she was in the film longer than her Best Actress nominee costar Nicole Kidman.  Iíd pick Catherine Zeta-Jones, who really shows off some great singing and dancing and really shines in a pretty impressive cast.

My Prediction: Donít expect the Chicago actresses to split the vote in any way.  Latifah is out of the race.  Bates has been ignored for better roles before, and I expect that will happen again.  Moore may walk away with a sympathy award for people who didnít vote for her in the lead actress category, but itís somewhat doubtful.  Sheíll get her Oscar one day; sheíd better.  Even though Zeta-Jones grabbed the SAG, her biggest competition wasnít even nominated thanks to a marketing mistake that reminds us how utterly, ridiculously political awards like this are.  The competition, of course, is Streep, who, by simply being Meryl Streep, should take this one.

The Winner: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

BEST DIRECTOR

The Nominees: Rob Marshall, Chicago; Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York; Stephen Daldry, The Hours; Roman Polanski, The Pianist; Pedro Almodůvar, Talk to Her

My Choice: I canít believe Stephen Daldry is in this mix.  Seriously, I just donít believe it.  I havenít seen Talk to Her, so no comment on Pedro Almodůvar.  Roman Polanskiís distant, removed work on The Pianist impacted a lot of people, but it left me emotionally unattached.  Iím willing to admit that it is great work, but itís not my choice.  Rob Marshall directed the best film of the nominees, but heís not the best of the nominees.  That honor, in my mind, goes to Martin Scorsese, whose Gangs of New York is not his best work, but it is most definitely the most ambitious out-taking in the group.

My Prediction: Almodůvar is a maybe but unlikely.  Polanskiís criminal problems cannot be ignored.  Daldry is going to suffer from The Hours loss of momentum (and well he should).  Marshall won the DGA award, which is a pretty reliable source for future Oscar winners, so Iím not leaving him out.  Scorsese has Miramax behind him.  Marshall does too, of course, but Scorsese is the one theyíll be pushing.

The Winner: Roman Polanski, The Pianist

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Nominees: El Crimen del Padre Amaro, Mexico; Hero, People's Republic of China; The Man Without a Past, Finland; Nowhere in Africa, Germany; Zus & Zo, The Netherlands

My Choice: n/a

My Prediction: El Crimen del Padre Amaro

The Winner: Nowhere in Africa

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Nominees: Ice Age, Lilo & Stitch, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Spirited Away, Treasure Planet

My Choice: More kiddy flicks and I havenít seen Spirited Away yet (I know, I know).  So Iíve got to go with Lilo & Stitch.

My Prediction: Spirited Away will probably take this one, but Lilo & Stitch could pull an upset.

The Winner: Spirited Away

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: Peter Hedges and Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz, About a Boy; Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation; Bill Condon, Chicago; David Hare, The Hours; Ronald Harwood, The Pianist

My Choice: One of the nominees doesnít exist and Susan Orlean must have a really good sense of humor, but Adaptation is one of those rare screenplays thatís more impressive then the resulting film.

My Prediction: Heaven help me, The Hours is going to win.

The Winner: Ronald Harwood, The Pianist

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: Todd Haynes, Far from Heaven; Jay Cocks and Steve Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan, Gangs of New York; Nia Vardalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding; Pedro Almodůvar, Talk to Her; Carlos Cuarůn and Alfonso Cuarůn, Y Tu MamŠ Tambiťn

My Choice: From my perspective, this is a pretty weak category, but Y Tu MamŠ Tambiťnís script stands out thanks to strong character, social, and thematic development.

My Prediction: As much as I hate to think it, My Big Fat Greek Wedding will probably win, despite being based on a one-woman show, lacking properly developed characters and jokes, and other major problems.

The Winner: Pedro Almodůvar, Talk to Her

BEST ART DIRECTION

The Nominees: Chicago, Frida, Gangs of New York, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Road to Perdition

My Choice: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

My Prediction: Frida

The Winner: Chicago

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Nominees: Chicago, Far from Heaven, Gangs of New York, The Pianist, Road to Perdition

My Choice: Road to Perdition

My Prediction: Road to Perdition

The Winner: Road to Perdition

BEST SOUND

The Nominees: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Road to Perdition, Spider-Man

My Choice: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

My Prediction: Chicago

The Winner: Chicago

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Nominees: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Minority Report, Road to Perdition

My Choice: Minority Report

My Prediction: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Winner: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Nominees: Catch Me If You Can, John Williams; Far from Heaven, Elmer Bernstein; Frida, Elliot Goldenthal; The Hours, Philip Glass; Road to Perdition, Thomas Newman

My Choice: Far from Heaven

My Prediction: Frida

The Winner: Frida

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The Nominees: "Burn It Blue" from Frida, Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymore; "Father and Daughter" from The Wild Thornberrys Movie, Paul Simon; "The Hands That Built America" from Gangs of New York, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; "I Move On" from Chicago, John Kander and Fred Ebb; "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile, Eminem, Jeff Bass and Luis Resto

My Choice: "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile

My Prediction: "The Hands That Built America" from Gangs of New York

The Winner: "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Nominees: Chicago, Frida, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Pianist

My Choice: Gangs of New York

My Prediction: Frida

The Winner: Chicago

BEST EDITING

The Nominees: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

My Choice: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

My Prediction: Chicago

The Winner: Chicago

BEST MAKEUP

The Nominees: Frida, The Time Machine

My Choice: n/a

My Prediction: Frida

The Winner: Frida

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Nominees: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Spider-Man, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

My Choice: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

My Prediction: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Winner: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Nominees: Bowling for Columbine, Daughter from Danang, Prisoner of Paradise, Spellbound, Winged Migration

My Choice: Bowling for Columbine

My Prediction: Bowling for Columbine

The Winner: Bowling for Columbine

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Nominees: "The Collector of Bedford Street," "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," "Twin Towers," "Why Can't We Be a Family Again"

My Choice: No idea

My Prediction: "Twin Towers"

The Winner: "Twin Towers"

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

The Nominees: "The Cathedral," "The Chubbchubbs!," "Das Rad," "Mike's New Car," "Mt. Head"

My Choice: "Mikeís New Car"

My Prediction: "Mikeís New Car"

The Winner: "The Chubbchubbs!"

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The Nominees: "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 Man)"

My Choice: No idea

My Prediction: "Johnny Flynton"

The Winner: "This Charming Man (Der er en Yndig Man)"

Predicted film with the most awards: Frida

Predicted number of awards: 4

Film with the most awards: Chicago

Number of awards: 6

Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.