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Awards Fever

Oksana Akinshina (left), winner of Best Actress by both Muskewitz and the popular jury vote.
by Greg Muskewitz

I am always rather curious as to the outcome of my proposed annual awards. By that, I don’t mean what my own choices are (despite that outside of my favorite film of the year automatically serving as the Best Picture winner, I don’t know what I will choose in the rest of the categories until I sit down and really think about it), but how the jury votes will add up to award a winner by majority. And since they are voting on five of whatever I consider to be the best, I still can never know if one is truly enthusiastic about one or all of the nominees, or if they are only voting for the best of five lesser choices put in front of them. Does a heavy majority in one category mean that that person really stands out to them as “the best,” or does it just mean that they were better than the other four options? Does a neck-and-neck race reflect a true split in voter selection, or is it whim and indifference behind the division?

*****************************

Awards Fever
Does a neck-and-neck race reflect a true split in voter selection, or is it whim and indifference behind the division?

I am always rather curious as to the outcome of my proposed annual awards. By that, I don’t mean what my own choices are (despite that outside of my favorite film of the year automatically serving as the Best Picture winner, I don’t know what I will choose in the rest of the categories until I sit down and really think about it), but how the jury votes will add up to award a winner by majority. And since they are voting on five of whatever I consider to be the best, I still can never know if one is truly enthusiastic about one or all of the nominees, or if they are only voting for the best of five lesser choices put in front of them. Does a heavy majority in one category mean that that person really stands out to them as “the best,” or does it just mean that they were better than the other four options? Does a neck-and-neck race reflect a true split in voter selection, or is it whim and indifference behind the division? Any guess is only that, pure speculation, and I suppose if my desire to really know was strong enough I could set up an exit poll, but apart from taxing those who have already taken the time out to vote, it’s better left to the unknown. (It would be another story if I were to begin receiving notices of complaint.)

Below, in order, are my results breaking down my “best of the year,” followed by the popular vote and their runner-up. It’s generally a surprise when my selections and the jury’s coincide with the same winner, and in that consideration, this year is more surprising than most.

2003 Muskewitz Awards

Picture
American Splendor
Ararat
Dirty Pretty Things
Kill Bill, Vol. 1
Mystic River

Director
Clint Eastwood (Mystic River)
Atom Egoyan (Ararat)
Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things)
Lukas Moodysson (Lilya 4-ever)
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor)

Actress
Oksana Akinshina (Lilya 4-ever)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider)
Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool)
Uma Thurman (Kill Bill, Vol. 1)
Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)

Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things)
Olivier Gourmet (The Son)
Johnny Hallyday (Man on the Train)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Owning Mahowny)
Sean Penn (Mystic River)

Supporting Actress
Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River)
Holly Hunter (Thirteen)
Nutsa Kukhianidze (The Good Thief)
Catherine O’Hara (A Mighty Wind)
Renée Zellweger (Cold Mountain)

Supporting Actor
Judah Friedlander (American Splendor)
Wentworth Miller (The Human Stain)
Max Perkis (Master and Commander)
Tim Robbins (Mystic River)
Jean Rochefort (Man on the Train)

Original Screenplay
Anything Else (Woody Allen)
Dirty Pretty Things (Steve Knight)
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (Laetitia Colombani and Caroline Thivel)
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
Swimming Pool (François Ozon)

Adapted Screenplay
American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini)
Cold Mountain (Anthony Minghella)
Master and Commander (Peter Weir and John Collee)
Mystic River (Brian Helgeland)
Owning Mahowny (Maurice Chauvet)

Foreign Language Film
L’Auberge Espagnole (Cédric Klapisch)
Jet Lag (Danièle Thompson)
Lilya 4-ever (Lukas Moodysson)
Man on the Train (Patrice Leconte)
The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

Animated Film
Cowboy Bebop (Shinichirô Watanabe and Hiroyuki Okiura)
Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)

Documentary
Cinemania (Angela Gottlieb and Stephen Kijak)
Love and Diane (Jennifer Dworkin)
Rivers and Tides (Thomas Riedelsheimer)

Cinematography
Anything Else (Darius Khondji)
Flower of Evil (Eduardo Serra)
Jet Lag (Patrick Blossier)
Master and Commander (Russell Boyd and Sandi Sissel)
Spider (Peter Suschitzky)

Production Design
Down with Love (Andrew Laws)
Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (Yohei Taneda and David Wasco)
Master and Commander (William Sandell)
Peter Pan (Roger Ford)
Pirates of the Caribbean (Brian Morris)

Editing
American Splendor (Robert Pulcini)
L’Auberge Espagnole (Francine Sandberg)
Capturing the Friedmans (Richard Hankin)
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (Véronique Parnet)
Swimming Pool (Monica Coleman)

Costumes
Cold Mountain (Carlo Poggioli and Ann Roth)
Down with Love (Daniel Orlandi)
The Last Samurai (Ngila Dickson)
Master and Commander (Wendy Stites)
Russian Ark (Maria Grishanova, Lidiya Kryukova, and Tamara Seferyan)

Original Score
Ararat (Mychael Danna)
Cold Mountain (T-Bone Burnett and Gabriel Yared)
Gothika (John Ottman)
Man on the Train (Pascal Estève)
Swimming Pool (Philippe Rombi)

Visual Effects
American Splendor
The Eye
Master and Commander

Popular Jury Vote

Picture
American Splendor

Runner-up: Mystic River

Director
Clint Eastwood (Mystic River)

Runner-up: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor)

Actress
Oksana Akinshina (Lilya 4-ever)

Runner-up: Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)

Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things)

Runner-up: Sean Penn (Mystic River)

Supporting Actress
Holly Hunter (Thirteen)

Runner-up: Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River)

Supporting Actor
Tim Robbins (Mystic River)

Runners-up: Max Perkis (Master and Commander) and Jean Rochefort (Man on the Train)

Original Screenplay
Dirty Pretty Things (Steve Knight)

Runner-up: Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)

Adapted Screenplay
American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini)

Runner-up: Mystic River (Brian Helgeland)

Foreign Language Film
Lilya 4-ever (Lukas Moodysson)

Runner-up: The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

Animated Film
The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)

Runner-up: Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)

Documentary
Cinemania (Angela Gottlieb and Stephen Kijak)

Runners-up: Love and Diane (Jennifer Dworkin) and Rivers and Tides (Thomas Riedelsheimer)

Cinematography
Master and Commander (Russell Boyd and Sandi Sissel)

Runner-up: Spider (Peter Suschitzky)

Production Design
Master and Commander (William Sandell)

Runner-up: Down with Love (Andrew Laws)

Editing
American Splendor (Robert Pulcini)

Runner-up: Swimming Pool (Monica Coleman)

Costumes
Russian Ark (Maria Grishanova, Lidiya Kryukova, and Tamara Seferyan)

Runners-up: Cold Mountain (Carlo Poggioli and Ann Roth) and The Last Samurai (Ngila Dickson)

Original Score
Cold Mountain (T-Bone Burnett and Gabriel Yared)

Runner-up: Swimming Pool (Philippe Rombi)

Visual Effects
Master and Commander

Runner-up: American Splendor

As with every year, I graciously appreciate the participation of the jury members in their willingness and good humor to delude me into thinking that this is exciting for anyone other than myself. Thanks are in order to:

Beth Accomando
Ryan Arthur
Darren Buser
Kyle Counts
Jesse Eisenhower
Karelle Fitoussi
Thom Fowler
Alex Fung
Yazmin Ghonaim
Rick Gutierrez
Jean Lowerison
Scott Marks
Elizabeth Nolan
Chris Parry
Duncan Shepherd
Jonathan Takagi

With awards being the hot topic they always are, and as the proximity to the Oscars being as close as it is, in the spirit of more dauntless and ineffective speculation, I have outlined several of the major categories of the Academy Awards by offering up — in the best of my estimation — what has a shot to win, and what doesn’t.

Picture

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: appears to be the front-runner so far, but still has a number of things going against it. For one, the Academy never takes fantasy films seriously. And while this trilogy has become something that our generation isn’t soon to give up harping over (yawn), and although to me it doesn’t compare with the original Star Wars trilogy, I wouldn’t have given the award to any of those either. Another “curse” this faces is that no film that’s the third in a trilogy has even won a Best Picture either. I’m hoping this will get Annie Hall-ed, but it seems doubtful. On my side, the last few years, the New York Film Critics Circle have been good at having their choice as best film voided at the Oscars, and guess what they awarded it to this year?

Lost in Translation: one of the possible Annie Halls to unexpectedly steal LotR’s thunder. I liked this film much more, and I prefer if this beat LotR, but I don’t want it to win either. Anyway, it’s only Sofia’s second film, and it’s very unlikely that the Academy is ready to honor her that largely yet. (Same for her director nomination.) It’s far more likely that she will be recognized in the original screenplay category.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: really has no momentum in the awards race at all. Nor has it collected much consideration from other awards, which it would need to substantiate a win. But of the five films, it would be my second choice for the win.

Mystic River: LotR’s biggest competition, it’s a very well-respected, classic-styled Hollywood film. It had huge praise when it opened, and was one of the better received films at Cannes, but with the Golden Globes and many critics groups awards, it never got the full momentum that it was perceived to get. But you can never under-estimate the esteem that the Academy holds Eastwood in, and it isn’t as though this is an undeserving film. Not only is it one of Eastwood’s very best, but it was also one of the best of the year. Still, I’d be naïve if I thought the Oscars were based on merit.

Seabiscuit: one-trick pony that’s one trick was getting nominated in the first place. It has no chance, and never belonged here anyway.

Actor

Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: the surprise of recognition for this comedic performance will likely go no further. Depp is liked, but is still something of an outsider in Hollywood. But despite his unlikelihood to win the award, the split between Murray and Penn could actually open up a wide enough separation for Depp to come out victor, such as what happened at the SAG Awards. However, considering that it will not only be actors voting for other actors, the collective industry’s consensus may not be so easily divided allowing Depp to slip in; the politics of their agenda should be clearer.

Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog: simply said, there’s no momentum this year for Kingsley. He had much more backing for his Sexy Beast role with no results, and he’s won an Oscar before, so he’s the first to be passed up this go-round.

Jude Law, Cold Mountain: Hollywood isn’t ready to recognize him either; he’s still too “new.” Law has gone on the record as saying he doesn’t want to win (that it should go to Penn), and it seems more likely that the Academy has the intentions of awarding a veteran this year. And despite Miramax’s pushing, this year they simply don't have the oomph as in years past.

Bill Murray, Lost in Translation: here’s where the competition gets tough. It’s a much loved and well-respected performance, and Murray has probably had the most momentum so far. But the problem is he isn’t well-liked in the Hollywood community. He’s respected for his performances, but he isn’t a very liked or easy-to-work-with actor. And his on-the-record talk about not campaigning for the Oscar is likely a turn-off to those who would want to recognize him, since his appreciation of such would be less than enthusiastic.

Sean Penn, Mystic River: of course, next to Murray, Penn has received the most amount of awards, and perhaps more critical attention. But like Murray, Penn isn’t the most liked guy in Hollywood. Where in the past he’s been overlooked for the Oscar, he hasn’t shown that he cared anyway. But this year he’s made concessions (showing up is a huge step, if it happens), which helps to warm one up to the idea of his winning — something I’m not about to dispute considering the magnitude of the performance. His would be a deserved win. As would Murray’s, but insouciance is his handicap.

Actress

Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider: I loved the fact that she was nominated, but there’s really not any chance for a win. The first thing she has against her is her age. Next is her outsider status in Hollywood. Followed by the fact that she wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe, and no performer who wasn’t nominated at the GGs has gone on to successfully win the Oscar for the same role. But it’s a touching, compassionate performance, and as much of an upset as her win would be, it isn’t completely impossible (like Morton, see below).

Diane Keaton, Something’s Gotta Give: again going with the rule that comedy performances are not generally recognized, Keaton’s is also one of the fluff-stuffer nominations this year. She was rewarded because of her veteran status, and because of her nudity (!), but it will go no further.

Samantha Morton, In America: no way. Never. And what a waste of a nomination! I like Morton, but apart from this really being a supporting role (the older daughter had more screen time and was more effective), there is no explanation needed for why she won’t win. A more deserving performance of Morton’s from last year would have been Morvern Callar, not that she would have won with it either.

Charlize Theron, Monster: the expected win. She has all of the exteriors down and people convinced that she embodied Aileen Wuornos; it would be nothing but a major upset if she lost. However unlikely it is to stop prevent her win, it’s still a purely exterior “physical” performance, one of those “awards-friendly” performances that calls attention to itself for all of the out-of-the-way unflattery and ugliness. No doubt Theron went all out for it (the nudity always helps, too), she doesn’t transcend any more than the re-enacted attributes of the character to mimic, and that’s why I don't want her to win.

Naomi Watts, 21 Grams: the only real competition Theron faces. But the biggest obstacle she has to overcome (impossible, as tradition has it) is that she wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe. (See Castle-Hughes above.) Watts is definitely liked, and she does have a lot of support for this role, but she was already snubbed when she wasn't nominated for Mulholland Drive. If I were a voter, what would pull me away from Theron and towards Watts, is the emotion of the role. Watts isn’t using a famed portrait to draw her performance from, and it’s really a heart-breaking, raw role, and she does so much more in smaller space without calling attention to herself at all times for doing such. Her nudity also helps her chances, as voters love that.

Supporting Actor

Alec Baldwin, The Cooler: he thinks he’s the shoo-in. But he’s the only one. His role gained him some initial word-of-mouth, but it died down and out until his nomination came out, and it never revived afterwards. Plus, Baldwin has gained an outsider status in Hollywood in recent years from his political opinions. His chances are slim.

Benicio Del Toro, 21 Grams: one of the more respected performances of the batch, it still never got the momentum it needed for Del Toro to win; Focus was too busy pumping and campaigning Watts, who was at least receiving awards from various groups. And the fact that he won for Traffic nulls his chance to win again this year.

Djimon Hounsou, In America: like Del Toro, this never got the momentum needed for a win, but unlike Del Toro, the performance didn’t receive much acclaim at all. It’s the token black nomination for the year, and there’s very little chance for a win.

Tim Robbins, Mystic River: again, the expected and deserved win. Like Penn, Robbins has always sort of been in the outs in Hollywood because of his political activism, but unlike Baldwin, he is respected among his peers, and has received clamoring attention since this came out. It has also been the consensus in most awards leading up to the Oscars.

Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai: the reviews were good, but the performance never garnered any energy or endorsement from awards handed out before now. The supporting category is often where nominations go to non-whites, but it is only occasional for a win, and Watanabe is no exception this year.

Supporting Actress

Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog: over-shadowed by Kingsley, it’s a deserved (and sympathetic) nomination that has no carry-through to win. She received a lot of attention for the performance, but nothing to substantiate it in awards.

Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April: playing the cancer card, Clarkson’s role is also one that is worthy of a nomination, but didn’t receive enough backing to carry-through to win. Plus, the sympathy mixed with the oft-resentment of her character is too off-putting for voters to completely identify with.

Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River: again, another worthy nom, but despite the backing from various awards, what will prevent her from winning is the Oscar she won just a few years ago for Pollock. Not that she’s undeserving, it’s just it’s an easy dismissal in order for the Academy to recognize someone else, and this year, they have an agenda.

Holly Hunter, Thirteen: yet still, another worthy choice with some solid backing from other awards, what’s said above applies to her still. She’s won an Oscar already, and the Academy has the prerogative to award Zellweger this year. Hunter, however, would likely be the surprise choice if the Academy chose to snub Zellweger like they did Tom Cruise for Magnolia.

Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain: overdue a win with this being her third nomination in a row, the Academy is finally going to give her the award, which is certainly not a bad choice. Like the Theron role, it’s designed to be one of those attention-hungry, awards-weary vehicles, where she chews the scenery all along the way, but to everyone’s (mostly) entertainment. But it’s also a message to Zellweger that she isn’t as big as she wants to be and isn’t as major a player as is otherwise suggested: they think giving her a supporting award (as opposed to best actress) is enough to appease her, but still to put her in her place. And plus, this is the category that Miramax has directed the brunt of its huffing and puffing; they have to have some kind of payoff.

Director

Fernando Meirelles, City of God: of course, one of the bigger surprises this year, and in general, a well-received one. Still, Meirelles has no chance. Not with a foreign language film, and not against the juggernauts below, and not being a first-time filmmaker.

Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: the consensus is that Jackson is the shoo-in, a final pat on the back for the close of the trilogy. Still, against his favor, there is the Academy’s antipathy for fantasy film. The only things that will deter the Academy from giving Jackson the award are the genre of the film, apparently his non-American status, and if his body of work is called into question. (Not that that should matter, but the campaigns don’t have boundaries; after all, this is the guy who made The Frighteners.)

Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation: a woman has never won for best director, and Coppola will be no exception. Plus, she’s too new a filmmaker for that to happen anyway and has the NYFCC curse. (Not that exceptions haven’t been made to new(er) filmmakers — Sam Mendes jumps to mind.)

Peter Weir, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: he’s always taken the role of an also-ran, and it doesn’t look any different this year. He is respected, but this simply is not his year, nor did he have any momentum going into it.

Clint Eastwood, Mystic River: the only possible candidate to beat out Peter Jackson. And considering Hollywood’s like and respect for him, it’s minimally possible they will choose the experienced previous winner over the director of a genre they don’t like to recognize. The feeling I get this year is that there will be another Pianist/Chicago-type shock. However, I think it is more likely that it would be the Academy’s influence as a body to award Jackson the best director award, but forego LotR’s best picture shot instead for Mystic River.


link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1021
originally posted: 02/27/04 19:51:32
last updated: 02/28/04 16:52:25
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