Academy Award Nominations and Commentary

The 1997 Academy Award Nominations were announced this morning. I have included them here, along with my predictions and comments.

Best Picture
As Good As It Gets
The Full Monty
Good Will Hunting
L.A. Confidential
Titanic
Can there be any doubt as to what will win the Best Picture this year? Titanic has as strong a lock on the award as any movie in recent history. It also helps that it’s the best pic in the bunch. The Full Monty is the only surprise here, and the only film of the five not worthy of the honor.
Best Actor
Matt Damon – Good Will Hunting
Robert Duvall – The Apostle
Peter Fonda – Ulee’s Gold
Dustin Hoffman – Wag the Dog
Jack Nicholson – As Good As It Gets
Nicholson would be my pick here, and is the strongest contender for the award. However, he does face strong competition from both Fonda and Duvall.
Best Actress
Helena Bonham Carter – The Wings of the Dove
Julie Christie – Afterglow
Judi Dench – Mrs. Brown
Helen Hunt – As Good As It Gets
Kate Winslet – Titanic
My pick here would be Dench, and she’s also the front runner, though Helena Bonham Carter and Helen Hunt are nipping at her heels.
Best Supporting Actor
Robert Forster – Jackie Brown
Anthony Hopkins – Amistad
Greg Kinnear – As Good As It Gets
Burt Reynolds – Boogie Nights
Robin Williams – Good Will Hunting
Although Burt Reynolds is probably the sentimental favorite going into this one, my choice rests upon Robin Williams. Reynolds did an OK job, but if you wanted to pick the best supporting actor from Boogie Nights, you’d have to choose William H. Macy. Oh well, no one ever said the Academy was just.
Best Supporting Actress
Kim Basinger – L.A. Confidential
Joan Cusack – In and Out
Minnie Driver – Good Will Hunting
Julianne Moore – Boogie Nights
Gloria Stewart – Titanic
A pretty lackluster lot this year. My vote would go for Joan Cusack here, but Basinger will probably win it. (Unless Stewart gets swept in on a Titanic tide.)
Best Director
James Cameron – Titanic
Peter Cattaneo – The Full Monty
Atom Egoyan – The Sweet Hereafter
Curtis Hanson – L.A. Confidential
Gus Van Sant – Good Will Hunting
Perhaps the category with the most surprises, the Best Director is nominated only by the directors’ branch of the Academy (and thus the differences between here and Best Picture). My vote (and the likely winner) falls on James Cameron, of course.
Best Original Screenplay
As Good As It Gets – Mark Andrus, James L. Brooks
Boogie Nights – Paul Thomas Anderson
Deconstructing Harry – Woody Allen
The Full Monty – Simon Beaufoy
Good Will Hunting – Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Good Will Hunting is not only the best script of the year, it has a wonderful triumph of the underdogs story to go behind it. It’s got a tight lock on this one. Whither Titanic? While it’s somewhat of a surprise not to be nominated, this is a category it most likely would have lost anyhow.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Donnie Brasco – Paul Attanasio
L.A. Confidential – Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson
The Sweet Hereafter – Atom Egoyan
Wag the Dog – Hilary Henkin, David Mamet
The Wings of the Dove – Hossein Amini
A tough pick, but L.A. Confidential should deservedly squeak by the rest.
Best Cinematography
Amistad
Kundun
L.A. Confidential
Titanic
The Wings of the Dove
This is a category that I thought Boogie Nights would take (and, no…not for those scenes). It was one of the best shot films of last year. The epic, Titanic, will likely win this one, but the moody L.A. Confidential is actually the best here.
Best Editing
Air Force One
As Good As It Gets
Good Will Hunting
L.A. Confidential
Titanic
Another win for Titanic. Though, what’s Air Force One doing here?
Best Original Score for Musical or Comedy
Anastasia – Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens, David Newman
As Good As It Gets – Hans Zimmer
The Full Monty – Anne Dudley
Men In Black – Danny Elfman
My Best Friend’s Wedding – James Newton Howard
The musical Anastasia should make quick work of the competition here. Danny Elfman gets his first nomination for one of his lesser scores (though this year’s whole Comedy/Musical field was pretty poor). And My Best Friend’s Wedding is more memorable for its Baccarach than its James Newton Howard. Anastasia’s only real competition is As Good As It Gets, which it should surpass easily.
Best Original Score for Drama
Amistad – John Williams
Good Will Hunting – Danny Elfman
Kundun – Philip Glass
L.A. Confidential – Jerry Goldsmith
Titanic – James Horner
Titanic is a shoo-in for this one, though it is actually the weakest score of the five. My personal favorite would be Good Will Hunting, one of Elfman’s best in recent years.
Best Original Song
Go The Distance – Hercules
How Do I Live – Con Air
Journey to the Past – Anastasia
Miss Misery – Good Will Hunting
My Heart Will Go On – Titanic
Again, Titanic will win, with a victory for My Heart Will Go On. Unfortunately, the best song here, Miss Misery, will probably get overlooked.
Best Art Direction
Gattaca
Kundun
L.A. Confidential
Men In Black
Titanic
Another tough category. Titanic will likely win this one, but my favorite here is L.A. Confidential.
Best Costumes
Amistad
Kundun
Oscar and Lucinda
Titanic
The Wings of the Dove
The Academy is crazy for missing the best costume job of the year: The Fifth Element. I guess the costume designer branch likes period films better than sci-fi. Titanic‘s fashions will most likely claim this one.
Best Makeup
Men in Black
Mrs. Brown
Titanic
As much as I hate to admit it, Spawn probably had the best makeup from last year. With pathetic competition (Mrs. Brown???), Men in Black will probably land this one with the great work on Vincent D’Onofrio’s “Edgar suit”.
Best Sound
Air Force One
Con Air
Contact
L.A. Confidential
Titanic
My pick: Contact (in its only nomination). It’s the only movie here in which sound played a crucial part, from the breathtaking opening, to the alien signal, to the journey itself. Unfortunately, it will probably get overshadowed by Titanic.
Best Sound Effects Editing
Face/Off
The Fifth Element
Titanic
In its only nod, The Fifth Element seems somewhat out of place here. Costumes, definitely. Visual Effects, sure. Art Direction, maybe. But the sound effects weren’t much to talk about. Face/Off is notable only for the sucking sound made during the operation. That leaves Titanic, with its cracks, crashes, groans and water effects, it should sink the competition.
Best Visual Effects
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Starship Troopers
Titanic
It’s a close race here between Starship Troopers and Titanic. (The dinos got their recognition in the original Jurassic Park). It’s a tough pick, but I think Titanic deserves the nod here. Both films delivered on spectacle, but Titanic also had many subtle, seamless effects (much like the year’s true best visual effects film Contact.)
Best Foreign Film
Beyond Silence – Germany
Character – The Netherlands
Four Days in September – Brazil
Secrets of the Heart – Spain
The Thief – Russia
Best Documentary
Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life
Colors Straight Up
4 Little Girls
The Long Way Home
Waco: The Rules of Engagement
Since the year’s best documentary Fast, Cheap and Out of Control was shut out, Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls is the likely winner here.
Best Live Action Short
Dance Lexie Dance
It’s Good To Talk
Sweethearts?
Visas and Virtue
Wolfgang
Ahhhh…the shorts. The wild cards in any Oscar pool.
Best Animated Short
Famous Fred
Geri’s Game
La Vieille Dame et les Pigeons (The Old Lady and the Pigeons)
The Mermaid
Redux Riding Hood
The only thing I’ve heard about any of these is Geri’s Game, a Pixar animated short that apparently breaks some new barriers in the computer animation of human characters.
Best Documentary Short
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild
Amazon
Daughter of the Bride
Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies
A Story of Healing
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