GRIDLINE Picks the Oscars

content below posted 23:00SAT30MAR02 cst

The GRIDLINE staff is proud to announce that we have won the coveted club prize (pictured) this year for selecting the most winners in the local speakeasy's "Pick the Oscars" competition. Our goal was 15 correct but we ended up with 13 out of 24, but it was enough to WIN in a competition against a hundred or so entries. For the sake of prosperity we have annotated our original editorial to indicate the winners in every catergory.

content below posted 04:00SAT23MAR02 cst

There's no business like show business, and there's no awards show like the Academy Awards. The 74th Annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards, that is.

Everybody watches at least a part of the show. Here at GRIDLINE, we watch every second, from start to finish, and we keep score. We have to because we are currently the reigning "Pick the Oscar" champs at the local club, and there are dozens of patrons there that would love to knock us off our perch. There's also the matter of a small bank envelope that contains this year's cash prize.

With this in mind we offer our visitors the benefit of our extensive research into the Oscar competition. There's no formula, no computer, just the skeleton GRIDLINE staff poking their nose into the business of the academy, and making our picks based on the predjudices, whims and foibles of the voters therein. Ladies and gentleman, GRIDLINE Picks the Oscars!

OSCAR PICKS for Sunday, March 24th
Documentary Short Subject: ARTISTS AND ORPHANS: A TRUE DRAMA
Has anybody seen all three of these short films? We don't think so. We didn't see them, you didn't see them and the academy didn't see them. So how does the academy decide which one to vote for? They look at the titles to determine which one will cast the academy in the most charitable light. This year its no contest as "Thoth" and "Sing" can't possibly compete with "Artists and Orphans".
MISS: Thoth
Again, you can't go wrong with children. "Children Underground" deals with an entire population of Romanian children exposed to toxic paint. "Promises" also deals with kids, but they are middle-eastern and its just too touchy a subject with the state of affairs in the Arab world.
MISS: Murder on a Sunday Morning
What is Gregor's greatest invention? Its a big balloon thats helps his aging mom get around. Last year in the animated short category "Mama" won so we feel pretty good about selecting a Mama themed live action short. May get some competition from "A Man Thing", which deals with child beating.
MISS: The Accountant
Animated Short Film: FOR THE BIRDS
Hollywood has a big investment in computer generated animations but only two of the five nominees feature this technology: "For the Birds" is about several birds and their precarious perch on a wire, and "Fifty Percent Gray" features a man shut off from the world. What can we say, birds are funnier than people.
Animated Feature: SHREK
No contest really as "Shrek" combines state of the art computer animations with a fleshy, hollywood-style love story. "Monsters, Inc" and "Jimmy Neutron" end up lost in kiddie land.
Visual Effects: LORD OF THE RINGS
"Lord of the Rings" opened late in the year to position itself for the Oscars and it should start to pay off here. Its not going to get Best Picture but it should pick up a few of the "look and feel" awards.
Maybe they should call this the MOST makeup award. Its a lot harder to build a hobbit than it is to make Nikki Kidman look pretty. RINGs beats Moulin Rouge handily.
Best Costume: MOULIN ROUGE
This time Moulin Rouge edges out Rings. Ironically, when it comes to costuming Nikki Kidman, less is always better.
Art/Set Direction: MOULIN ROUGE
Who can forget the ominous windmills and huge curtains, stage settings and rooftops of Moulin Rouge? We can't, no matter how hard we try.
Cinematography: LORD OF THE RINGS
Didn't see the movie but we saw the trailers and those awesome landscapes were impressive, to say the least. Rings eeks out the award over Moulin Rouge in the last of the artsy- fartsy categories.
Moulin Rouge had those gently swaying, whispering windmills. No match for the pulsating choppity-chop of American helicopters. Go USA!
Sound Editing: MONSTERS, INC.
Only two nominees in this category (Pearl Harbor) with sound crews who have been nominated or won on several occasions. We'll go with Monster's Gary Rydstrom who already has claimed 9 Oscars.
MISS: Pearl Harbor
Film Editing: MEMENTO
Memento is one of those great independent movies that never gets the recognition it deserves. Still, it has a following among the critics and because of that its possible that a certain portion of the academy may have actually viewed it. If thats the case then those who have seen it know that the editing is an integral part of the film's narrative and they shouldn't have any qualms about voting for it.
MISS: Black Hawk Down
Original Score: LORD OF THE RINGS
We don't think Rings is a great movie by any stretch, but it does have a certain look and feel as we mentioned earlier, and a big part of that feel is the score.
Best Song: THERE YOU'LL BE (Pearl Harbor)
This category features songs by Paul Mcartney, Sting and Randy Newman but we're going to go with the lesser known Diane Warren, who has been nominated several times but hasn't broken through. Could be a sentimental vote for a sentimental song.
MISS: If I didn't have you - Randy Newman (Monsters, Inc.)
Foreign Language Film: AMELIE
We've never understood how an american audience could gauge the excellence of a foreign language film. How do we know that the actors are not blowing every single line? And don't we spend more time reading the subtitles that we do appreciating the subtle nuances of the actors' facial expressions? Here at GRIDLINE we can appreciate a dubbed Italian sex romp but we haven't bothered to check any of these movies out. We have eavesdropped on our haute monde connections and we keep hearing "Amelie", so thats who'll we go for.
MISS: No Man's Land
Adapted Screenplay: IN THE BEDROOM
Bedroom is a longshot in this category but it is deserving of this award and lately the screenplay awards have transcended the politics of Hollywood. The big favorite in the big awards is "A Beautiful Mind", but in this particular category we're looking for a gay-friendly academy to retaliate against the adaptation because of its refusal to deal with the main character's homosexuality. This leaves the door open for the exquisitely scripted "In the Bedroom" and the best-selling "Lord of the Rings". There's some concern that academy members will simply default to the "Lord of the Rings" novels but if they check the screenplays Bedroom should get the nod.
MISS: A Beautiful Mind
Original Screenplay: MEMENTO
Another longshot here but as we mentioned the screenplay awards have been fair for a few years now. The category reads Original screenplay, and Memento has to have the most original script since "Sixth Sense". There is a danger here from "Gosford Park", which was concieved during a drunken weekend by Julian Fellowes and Robert Altman. The academy has failed to honor Altman for years now, particularly with their snubbing of his directorship in "Short Cuts". We think the voters would swarm to give him the Oscar here, but only Fellowes appears on the ballots even though the credits to "Gosford Park" clearly lists both Fellowes and Altman.
MISS: Gosford Park
Best Supporting Actress: JENNIFER CONNELLY
Its possible that all of the other nominees presented better supporting perfomances than Ms. Connelly, but she'll get the award because she was actually the lead actress in "A Beautiful Mind", and she and the studio have bumped her down to assure a victory. This was a tactic originally employed by Marisa Tomei in "My Cousin Vinnie", so she'll have no one to blame but herself if she loses. Unfortunately, a fine performance by the still radiant Dame Helen Mirren gets lost in the shuffle.
Best Supporting Actor: JIM BROADBENT
Its easy to narrow this field down to two because Kingsley and Voight already have their Oscars, and the academy won't dare give an award to Hawkes while they once again pass over his co-star, Denzel Washington. This leaves the two old timers, sentimental favorites Broadbent and McKellan. Ordinarilly this would be a jump ball, but McKellen got saddled with the hobbit thing, while Broadbent plays a faithfully aging husband whose wife is stricken with Altzheimers. Slam Dunk!
Best Actress: SISSY SPACEK
With all due respect to the talented and delicious Halle Berry, nobody can even approach the intensity of Spacek's performance in "In the Bedroom". That, combined with a genuine admiration of Ms. Spacek by the academy makes this one a lock. Halle will get her due next year.
MISS: Halle Berry, Monsters Ball (no such thing as a lock)
Both Denzel Washington and Tom Wilkinson gave better performances, and so maybe did Will Smith, but these actors must know that you need a malady if you want to win the Oscar. Penn had the right idea, but Hollywood has already given statuettes to several actors for playing mentally challenged characters, most notably Cliff Robertson for "Charlie". In fact, if an award was to be given for this years mentally challenged role, it should go to Edward Norton, an actor who played a thief pretending to be retarded in "The Score". In any event, that leaves us with Crowe, who as a schitzophrenic lumbered awkwardly through the entire movie but who, in spite of his pompously rebellious attitude, is the consumate Hollywood insider. Make no doubt about it, the great majority of the producers, directors and actors in the academy want to be connected to his next movie.
MISS: Denzel Washington, Training Day
Unfortunately, the more glamorous the award gets, the less likely it will go to a deserving entity. Such is the case with Mind, a relatively lightweight movie that we rate as "wait for cable". "In the Bedroom", "Gosford Park", "Memento", "The Deep End", "The Score", and several others were much better pictures. Mind gets it because of Crowe, and you're either with him or against him in Hollywood. It doesn't hurt that Mind has the gate receipts, but even that is due to a marketing technique since the movie has been playing continuously for over 6 months now.
Best Director: RON HOWARD
We know their hands were shaking as each of the academy members passed over the Robert Altman box and shamefully checked the one labeled "Opie". Sigh. We'll all feel a little bit better about it when we see Richie Cunningham up on that stage, smilin' and thankin', thankin' and smilin' just like Aunt Bee taught him. We just hope Altman doesn't call it a career after this one.

Thats it for GRIDLINE's first Pick the Oscars editorial. We'll need to hit about 15 out of 24 to win the statuette out at the local club, but we have a pretty good chance considering that we're only competing with about a hundred other players. We'll keep you posted on the discussion board. Until then, as always ...