Oscars 2004: Predictions & Commentary
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[Commentary made after the 2004 Oscars]
I meant to write this up last year, but didn't. So, for "historical reasons," I thought I'd write
it up anyway, even though my predictions were quite close!
For the first time in 35 years, I was away from home for every minute of the Academy Awards. That's
because I was in
Hollywood itself for the Oscars, which was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
2003 was a strong year for movies, but the conclusion of The Lord of the Rings was a definite
highlight for me. I also really loved Seabiscuit, Master and Comander, Lost in Translation and most of Mystic River.
I've seen most of the major movies, will note what I haven't seen and
will go ahead with my predictions anyway. For the last few years, I've
been hedging my bets with a "will win" (WW) & "should win" (SW).
[[Prediction percentage for 2004: 92%. I've been doing Oscar predictions since 1970, and
this is my highest percentage ever. And, if I had truly believed that ROTK would have
swept, I would have scored 96%!]]
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
- Johnny Depp -- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Ben Kingsley -- House of Sand and Fog
- Jude Law -- Cold Mountain
- Bill Murray -- Lost in Translation
- WON (SW, WW) Sean Penn -- Mystic River
Johnny Depp was a real surprise (as was the whole movie - I didn't expect to really like
Pirates, but I quite enjoyed it). Jude Law was the best thing about Cold Mountain.
His performance was astonishing, but the movie itself didn't work. Bill Murray was quite
good in Lost in Translation. But Sean Penn really pulled out all the stops, got the
accent right and was mesmerizing in Mystic River.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
- Alec Baldwin -- The Cooler
- Benicio Del Toro -- 21 Grams
- Djimon Hounsou -- In America
- WON (SW, WW) Tim Robbins -- Mystic River
- Ken Watanabe -- The Last Samurai
I didn't see any of these nominated actors except for Tim Robbins who was great.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
- Keisha Castle-Hughes -- Whale Rider
- Diane Keaton -- Something's Gotta Give
- Samantha Morton -- In America
- WON (SW, WW) Charlize Theron -- Monster
- Naomi Watts -- 21 Grams
Whale Rider was even more of a fine sleeper than Lost in Translation, but it got
very little notice beyond Keisha Castle-Hughes' fine performance. Diane Keaton was good in
Something's Gotta Give. But even though I didn't see Monster, the little clips from
the movie made it clear that Charlize Theron was a lock.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
- Shohreh Aghdashloo -- House of Sand and Fog
- Patricia Clarkson -- Pieces of April
- Marcia Gay Harden -- Mystic River
- Holly Hunter -- Thirteen
- WON (SW, WW) Renée Zellweger -- Cold Mountain
Renée Zellweger was so owed after loosing for Chicago, and she was also quite
good in Cold Mountain.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
- Brother Bear -- Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker
- WON (WW) Finding Nemo -- Andrew Stanton
- (SW) The Triplets of Belleville -- Sylvain Chomet
While I didn't see The Triplets of Belleville, it looked more interesting than
Achievement in Art Direction
- Girl with a Pearl Earring -- Art Direction: Ben Van Os; Set Decoration: Cecile Heideman
- The Last Samurai -- Art Direction: Lilly Kilvert; Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Art Direction: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Dan Hennah & Alan Lee
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Art Direction: William Sandell; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
- Seabiscuit -- Art Direction: Jeannine Oppewall; Set Decoration: Leslie Pope
These movies all had exceptional Art Direction, but all of the LOTR movies were so magnificently
designed that it deserves the Oscar.
Achievement in Cinematography
- City of God -- Cesar Charlone
- Cold Mountain -- John Seale
- Girl with a Pearl Earring -- Eduardo Serra
- WON (SW, WW) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Russell Boyd
- Seabiscuit -- John Schwartzman
I found the ommission of ROTK kind of puzzling in this category. That said, the other
movies in this category were very good, but I'd go with Master and Commander since
shooting at sea is very tricky and the photography was excellent.
Achievement in Costume Design
- Girl with a Pearl Earring -- Dien van Straalen
- The Last Samurai -- Ngila Dickson
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Ngila Dickson & Richard Taylor
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Wendy Stites
- Seabiscuit -- Judianna Makovsky
Another strong category, but I'd again go with ROTK.
Achievement in Directing
- City of God -- Fernando Meirelles
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Peter Jackson
- Lost in Translation -- Sofia Coppola
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Peter Weir
- Mystic River -- Clint Eastwood
I was somewhat concerned about ROTK backlash, particularly in this category.
Jackson would be one of the youngest Best Directors winners ever, and, let's face it,
his track record before the trilogy is quite mixed. However, ROTK is quite an achievement.
Best Documentary Feature
- Balseros -- Carlos Bosch & Josep Maria Domenech
- Capturing the Friedmans -- Andrew Jarecki & Marc Smerling
- WON (SW, WW) The Fog of War -- Errol Morris & Michael Williams
- My Architect -- Nathaniel Kahn & Susan R. Behr
- The Weather Underground -- Sam Green & Bill Siegel
I didn't see any of these, but The Fog of War certainly has the buzz in this category.
Best Documentary Short Subject
- Asylum -- Sandy McLeod & Gini Reticker
- WON (SW, WW) Chernobyl Heart -- Maryann DeLeo
- Ferry Tales -- Katja Esson
I didn't see any of these, but Chernobyl Heart certainly has the buzz in this category.
Achievement in Film Editing
- City of God -- Daniel Rezende
- Cold Mountain -- Walter Murch
- WON (SW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Jamie Selkirk
- (WW) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Lee Smith
- Seabiscuit -- William Goldenberg
I don't believe ROTK can sweep [[boy, was I wrong about that!]] and many people have
complained about the "multiple endings" (heck, the book is much worse!), so this is a place
where Master and Commander may win.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
- WON (SW, WW) The Barbarian Invasions -- Canada
- Evil -- Sweden
- The Twilight Samurai -- Japan
- Twin Sisters -- The Netherlands
- Zelary -- Czech Republic
I didn't see any of these, but The Barbarian Invasions certainly has the buzz in this category.
Achievement in Makeup
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Richard Taylor & Peter King
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Edouard Henriques III & Yolanda Toussieng
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl -- Ve Neill & Martin Samuel
This should be a lock for ROTK, but, again, all the categorie nominees are quite strong.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
- Big Fish -- Danny Elfman
- Cold Mountain -- Gabriel Yared
- Finding Nemo -- Thomas Newman
- House of Sand and Fog -- James Horner
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Howard Shore
Howard Shore was robbed last year and wasn't even allowed to be nominated for his fine The Two Towers score. He should win, though Danny Elfman's score was good.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
- "Belleville Rendez-vous" from The Triplets of Belleville -- Music by Benoît Charest; Lyric by Sylvain Chomet
- WON (SW, WW) "Into the West" from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Music and Lyric by Fran Walsh & Howard Shore & Annie Lennox
- "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" from A Mighty Wind -- Music and Lyric by Michael McKean & Annette O'Toole
- "Scarlet Tide" from Cold Mountain -- Music and Lyric by T Bone Burnett & Elvis Costello
- "You Will Be My Ain True Love" from Cold Mountain -- Music and Lyric by Sting
"A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" is a charming song, as is "You Will Be My Ain True Love." That said, "Into the West," is a very moving song.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh, Producers
- Lost in Translation -- Ross Katz & Sofia Coppola, Producers
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., Peter Weir & Duncan Henderson, Producers
- Mystic River -- Robert Lorenz, Judie G. Hoyt & Clint Eastwood, Producers
- Seabiscuit -- Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall & Gary Ross, Producers
In a strong year like this one, it's always possible to have a Director/Picture split. While I believe
ROTK should take both awards, it's possible there might be a Director/Picture split between
Mystic River and ROTK. Oscar voters have traditionally been unwilling to give non-technical awards to fantasy or SF movies. [[Boy, was this award a long time coming. I was at The Return of the One Party with 1,000 other LOTR fans, and the auditorium erupted in long and very
sustained cheers and applause for the Director and Picture winners.]]
Best Animated Short Film
- "Boundin'" -- Bud Luckey
- "Destino" -- Dominique Monfery & Roy Edward Disney
- (SW, WW) "Gone Nutty" -- Carlos Saldanha & John C. Donkin
- WON "Harvie Krumpet" -- Adam Elliot
- "Nibbles" -- Chris Hinton
Wild-ass guess here.
Best Live Action Short Film
- "Die Rote Jacke" (The Red Jacket) -- Florian Baxmeyer
- "Most (The Bridge)" -- Bobby Garabedian & William Zabka
- "Squash" -- Lionel Bailliu
- "(A) Torzija [(A) Torsion]" -- Stefan Arsenijevic'
- WON (SW, WW) Two Soldiers -- Aaron Schneider & Andrew J. Sacks
I saw most of "Two Soldiers" somewhere and it was quite impressive.
Achievement in Sound Editing
- Finding Nemo -- Gary Rydstrom & Michael Silvers
- WON (SW, WW) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Richard King
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl -- Christopher Boyes & George Watters II
There's a moment in Master and Commander where Paul Bettany has to operate on himself and
move his rib. You can here both the rib creak and the boat creak. I knew Master and Commander would take one of the sound awards at that point!
Achievement in Sound Mixing
- The Last Samurai -- Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer & Jeff Wexler
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges & Hammond Peek
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Paul Massey, D.M. Hemphill & Arthur Rochester
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl -- Christopher Boyes, David Parker, David Campbell & Lee Orloff
- Seabiscuit -- Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer & Tod A. Maitland
Achievement in Visual Effects
- WON (SW, WW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook & Alex Funke
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World -- Dan Sudick, Stefen Fangmeier, Nathan McGuinness & Robert Stromberg
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl -- John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson & Terry Frazee
This is a definite and without a doubt lock. The special effects crew for LOTR did ground-breaking work in all three movies and deserve every Oscar they've won and more!
- American Splendor -- Written by Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman
- City of God -- Screenplay by Braulio Mantovani
- WON (SW) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
- Mystic River -- Screenplay by Brian Helgeland
- (WW) Seabiscuit -- Written for the Screen by Gary Ross
People really liked Seabiscuit, and it seems peculiar for so fine a movie to not get any
Oscars at all. While I do admire the adaptation of ROTK, it probably won't get this Oscar.
[[Wrong again! I think when Jackson and crew won this Oscar, we started yelling "Sweep! Sweep!"
at The Return of the One Party.]]
- The Barbarian Invasions -- Written by Denys Arcand
- Dirty Pretty Things -- Written by Steven Knight
- Finding Nemo -- Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson & David Reynolds; Original Story by Andrew Stanton
- In America -- Written by Jim Sheridan & Naomi Sheridan & Kirsten Sheridan
- WON (SW, WW) Lost in Translation -- Written by Sofia Coppola
Lost in Translation was such a perfectly-realized little film and I hope Sofia Coppola
adds to her family's tradition of Oscar-winning.
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