Academy Awards Nominations and Commentary

The 72nd Academy Award Nominations were announced this morning. The nominations and my comments follow…

Best Picture
American Beauty
The Cider House Rules
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Sixth Sense
The biggest surprise here, as with the entire list is the inclusion of The Cider House Rules. A disappointing omission, though understandable, is Being John Malkovich. American Beauty is an easy favorite…but not a strong one. A good long shot possibility is The Sixth Sense, which has the potential for a surprising upset on Oscar night.
Best Actor
Russell Crowe – The Insider
Richard Farnsworth – The Straight Story
Sean Penn – Sweet and Lowdown
Kevin Spacey – American Beauty
Denzel Washington – The Hurricane
Kevin Spacey is favored in this category, though Denzel Washington is the more deserving of the two. However, Denzel has both history and the current Hollywood uproar over the veracity of his film, The Hurricane to struggle against.
Best Actress
Annette Bening – American Beauty
Janet McTeer – Tumbleweeds
Julianne Moore – The End of the Affair
Meryl Streep – Music of the Heart
Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry
Hilary Swank. She has a virtual lock on this nomination, making this the surest bet this year. Running a close second is Janet McTeer…but she doesn’t even have a chance.
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Caine – The Cider House Rules
Tom Cruise – Magnolia
Michael Clarke Duncan – The Green Mile
Jude Law – The Talented Mr. Ripley
Haley Joel Osment – The Sixth Sense
A tight race, but Tom Cruise will likely see his first Oscar out of this contest. Michael Caine is the closest nominee, and an Academy favorite, so this is no sure thing.
Best Supporting Actress
Toni Collette – The Sixth Sense
Angelina Jolie – Girl Interrupted
Catherine Keener – Being John Malkovich
Samantha Morton – Sweet and Lowdown
Chlöe Sevigny – Boys Don’t Cry
A very tough category (as are many this year). I’d personally favor Catherine Keener over Angelina Jolie in a close race…but Toni Collette could win on a wave of support for The Sixth Sense. Chlöe Sevigny will be unfortunately overshadowed by Hilary Swank, and has very little chance here.
Best Director
Lasse Hallstrom – The Cider House Rules
Spike Jonze – Being John Malkovich
Michael Mann – The Insider
Sam Mendes – American Beauty
M. Night Shyamalan – The Sixth Sense
It’s rare that a director nominated for a non-nominated film would win, so Spike Jonze is unfortunately left in the cold. Sam Mendes is the likeliest nominee, but Shyamalan or Hallstrom could quickly come out of the wings.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Cider House Rules
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Cider House Rules has its best shot at an award here, though it has tough competition. Election has the most deserving script out of the bunch, but has the weakest chance of the five.
Best Original Screenplay
American Beauty
Being John Malkovich
The Sixth Sense
Another tight, tight race. American Beauty has to be the front runner here. Being John Malkovich is the most deserving, but has been virtually ignored in the other categories.
Best Cinematography
American Beauty
The End of the Affair
The Insider
Sleepy Hollow
Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars would be my pick here, though Sleepy Hollow’s atmospherics make it a strong contender.
Best Editing
American Beauty
The Cider House Rules
The Insider
The Matrix
The Sixth Sense
The Matrix has the best editing out of these five, but will likely get overlooked. I’d give The Sixth Sense a slight edge over American Beauty here, but it is close.
Best Original Score
American Beauty
Angela’s Ashes
The Cider House Rules
The Red Violin
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Academy has been favoring “small” scores recently, which would give an edge to The Red Violin. My personal pick would go to The Talented Mr. Ripley, followed by American Beauty
Best Original Song
“Blame Canada”, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
“Music of My Heart”, Music of the Heart
“Save Me”, Magnolia
“When She Loved Me”, Toy Story 2
“You’ll Be In My Heart”, Tarzan
The nod for South Park is surprising, but (particularly considering Blame Canada is far from the film’s best song), it doesn’t have a chance. Pick “You’ll Be In My Heart” here…it’s a fairly easy win, though “Save Me” is more deserving.
Best Art Direction
Anna and the King
The Cider House Rules
Sleepy Hollow
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The moody sets of Sleepy Hollow would seem to have a minor edge over the exotic Anna and the King, but this is a tough category.
Best Costumes
Anna and the King
Sleepy Hollow
The Talented Mr. Ripley
It’s easy to pick one film that won’t win here: The Talented Mr. Ripley, whose stylish mid-20th century garb can’t compete with the more exotic fare offered by the other nominees. My pick would go to the unusual costumes of Titus, though the more conventional Academy will likely stick with Anna and the King
Best Makeup
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Bicentennial Man
An unusual category, but Bicentennial Man will slightly edge out Life here.
Best Sound
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Matrix
The Mummy
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Star Wars is a cinch to dominate the sound and effects categories.
Best Sound Effects Editing
Fight Club
The Matrix
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Once again, Star Wars.
Best Visual Effects
The Matrix
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Stuart Little
This is actually the closest of the three Star Wars awards, with The Matrix being more deserving, if only using the effects to enhance the plot. But, since Star Wars was itself one big visual effect, it will grab the nod here.
Best Foreign Film
All About My Mother (Spain)
Caravan (Nepal)

East-West (France)
Solomon and Gaenor (UK)
Under the Sun (Sweden)

In an easy Foreign contest, All About My Mother has the strongest shot here. East-West and Under the Sun are the two other possible contenders.
Best Documentary Feature
Buena Vista Social Club
Genghis Blues
On the Ropes
One Day in September
Speaking in Strings
It’s a tight call between Buena Vista Social Club, and Speaking in Strings…though I’d give the nod to the former. Documentary fans may be wondering, Where’s Errol Morris’ Mr. Death?
Best Live Action Short
Bror, Min Bror
Killing Joe
Major and Minor Miracles
My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York
As always, the shorts are the grab bag of any Oscar pool. Pick your favorite title for these final three awards.
Best Animated Short
My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts
The Old Man and the Sean
3 Misses
When the Day Breaks
Best Documentary Short
King Gimp
The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola
Prison Rodeo
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