Academy Award Nominations and Commentary

The 1998 Academy Award Nominations were announced this morning. I have included them here, along with my predictions and comments.

Best Picture
Life is Beautiful
Shakespeare in Love
Saving Private Ryan
The Thin Red Line
The top category comes down to a race between Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love, with Saving Private Ryan easily taking the top prize (and deservedly so). Overall, a worthy collection of nominees, excepting the misfire: The Thin Red Line
Best Actor
Roberto Benigni – Life is Beautiful
Tom Hanks – Saving Private Ryan
Ian McKellen – Gods and Monsters
Nick Nolte – Affliction
Edward Norton – American History X
Kudos to the Academy for recognizing 1998’s best performance from Edward Norton. Too bad, he doesn’t have much of a chance. Instead, this award is Ian McKellen’s to lose…
Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth
Fernanda Montenegro – Central Station
Gwyneth Paltrow – Shakespeare in Love
Meryl Streep – One True Thing
Emily Watson – Hilary and Jackie
This one’ll come down to a fistfight between Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow. Both delivered scintilating perfomances, and though Blanchett came out a hair on top, my gut feeling says Paltrow will walk away with the Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
James Coburn – Affliction
Robert Duvall – A Civil Action
Ed Harris – The Truman Show
Geoffrey Rush – Shakespeare in Love
Billy Bob Thornton – A Simple Plan
Geoffrey Rush should nab his second statue in this category. His closest competition, Ed Harris, will likely be as overlooked as The Truman Show was in nearly every other category.
Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates – Primary Colors
Brenda Blethyn – Little Voice
Judi Dench – Shakespeare in Love
Rachel Griffiths – Hilary and Jackie
Lynn Redgrave – Gods and Monsters
Though Kathy Bates deserves this award, Primary Colors has been mostly forgotten by the academy voters. Instead, look for Judi Dench grabbing the award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth.
Best Director
Roberto Benigni – Life is Beautiful
John Madden – Shakespeare in Love
Terrence Malick – The Thin Red Line
Steven Spielberg – Saving Private Ryan
Peter Weir – The Truman Show
Spielberg has an easy win here. His closest competition, John Madden, just doesn’t stand quite as tall. What the heck is Malick doing here?
Best Original Screenplay
Bulworth – Warren Beatty and Jeremy Pikser
Life is Beautiful – Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni
Saving Private Ryan – Robert Rodat
Shakespeare in Love – Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
The Truman Show – Andrew Niccol
Shakespeare in Love will get a win over Saving Private Ryan in this category, and deservedly so.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Gods and Monsters – Bill Condon
Out of Sight – Scott Frank
Primary Colors – Elaine May
A Simple Plan – Scott B. Smith
The Thin Red Line – Terrence Malick
A tough category to call…Primary Colors is most deserving, but Out of Sight may squeak by with a win. Once again, Terrence Malick makes an appearance based on his reputation alone.
Best Cinematography
A Civil Action
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
The Thin Red Line
Finally, a The Thin Red Line nomination which is actually deserved. But the superior Saving Private Ryan will come out on top once again.
Best Editing
Life is Beautiful
Out of Sight
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
The Thin Red Line
Saving Private Ryan should come out once again on top here…primarily on the strength of its opening scene.
Best Original Score for Musical or Comedy
A Bug’s Life – Randy Newman
Mulan – Matthew Wilder, David Zippel and Jerry Goldsmith
Patch Adams – Marc Shaiman
Prince of Egypt – Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer
Shakespeare in Love – Stephen Warbeck
The animated musical has been on the wane in this category for the last few years. Look for Prince of Egypt to be outpaced by Shakespeare in Love.
Best Original Score for Drama
Elizabeth – David Hirschfelder
Life is Beautiful – Nicola Piovani
Pleasantville – Randy Newman
Saving Private Ryan – John Williams
The Thin Red Line – Hans Zimmer
Pleasantville had the best score out of the nominees, but the academy has a soft spot for Life is Beautiful, and it will likely nab this award.
Best Original Song
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Armageddon
The Prayer – Quest for Camelot
A Soft Place to Fall – The Horse Whisperer
That’ll Do – Babe: Pig in the City
When You Believe – Prince of Egypt
Hmmmm…Aerosmith or Mariah Carrey and Whitney Houston? Aerosmith or Mariah Carrey and Whitney Houston? Who would the Academy pick? The Prince of Egypt team should get ready to nab their statuette here. (Though, where are Jonathan Richman’s inspired dittys from There’s Something About Mary?)
Best Art Direction
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
What Dreams May Come
Another tough category. My personal pick would be the glooming halls of Elizabeth. However, Shakespeare in Love is likely to grab the win here.
Best Costumes
Shakespeare in Love
Velvet Goldmine
Which Elizabethan costumes will win? Once again, my pick would go to Elizabeth, but Shakespeare in Love has the momentum.
Best Makeup
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
Though Saving Private Ryan had a few good wounds…look for subtler makeup effects to win the day here. My pick: Shakespeare in Love (if only for Geoffrey Rush’s teeth!)
Best Sound
The Mask of Zorro
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
The Thin Red Line
Saving Private Ryan will dominate the sound categories, as well it should. The film was as much an aural experience as a visual one.
Best Sound Effects Editing
The Mask of Zorro
Saving Private Ryan
As I mentioned above, Saving Private Ryan has a lock on this one.
Best Visual Effects
Mighty Joe Young
What Dreams May Come
Though Mighty Joe Young‘s title character was thoroughly impressive (and the only impressive thing about the film), look for What Dreams May Come to grab the win here, for its complete immersion into a world of special effects.
Best Foreign Film
Central Station – Brazil
Children of Heaven – Iran
The Grandfather – Spain
Life is Beautiful – Italy
Tango – Argentina
Life is Beautiful will get its due here. Just look at the Best Picture category, if there’s any doubt.
Best Documentary
The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.
The Last Days
Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth
Regret to Inform
The Academy is easy to predict here. Look for The Last Days to take the Documentary award, if only due to its subject matter.
Best Live Action Short
Election Night (Valgaften)
Holiday Romance
La Carte Postale (The Postcard)
Best Animated Short
The Canterbury Tales
Jolly Roger
When Life Departs
Ahhhh…the shorts. The wild cards in any Oscar pool. Take your best guess.
Best Documentary Short
The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years
A Place in the Land
Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square
Take a good, long look. This is the last year that you’ll be seeing the Documentary Short category…not that many outside the industry ever gets to see any of these tiny gems.
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