Chicago Bound?

Critic Randy Shulman's Oscar picks


As Oscar night nears, our critic offers up his picks for what should win and what will win


75th Annual Academy Awards
Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
ABC

Look, I’m sorry if this is blasphemous to some of you, but I just simply won’t be able to bear it if come this Sunday, March 23, Oscar gets all fired up about Chicago. I’d sooner see the Kodak Theatre burn to the ground, in a great Chicago-like blaze (without any people in it, naturally) than see a Chicago sweep. While I consider the lively hit musical a fun, dazzling shard of entertainment, it simply, in my mind isn’t Oscar-worthy.

But that’s also how I felt about Rocky, to name one of countless other films that shouldn’t have been Best Pic nominees or winners in the annual quest for the Academy Award.

There are several other strong contenders aside from Chicago, and the evening may actually prove to be one of the most exciting competitions in recent history. Still, this being the 75th Annual ceremony, expect a ridiculously long show, with far-too-many special segments honoring legendary actors, directors and the craft of writing a screenplay from scratch.

What follows are my picks, starting with what I feel deserves the statuette, followed by the films and people I predict the Academy voters will choose, either rightly or wrongly.

Best Picture:

The Academy is unlikely to award LOTR: The Two Towers (look to next year’s Return of the King to make a strong standing here). Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York is the kind of epic Oscar voters love, so it has a modest shot. The Holocaust-era The Pianist is the evening’s dark horse. But I think the real race is between The Hours, a prestige film based on openly gay author Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and the entertainment-pumped Chicago. If Chicago wins, it will be the first movie musical to do so since 1968’s Oliver!
What Deserves to Win: The Hours
What Will Win: Chicago

Director:

A no-brainer. Scorsese has been nominated thrice before in this category, but has yet to win, while Chicago director Rob Marshall (a gay man, by the way) is making his filmmaking bow. The Academy will pay homage to the director of Gangs, making up for Raging Bull and Goodfellas in the process.
Who Deserves to Win: Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York
Who Will Win: Scorsese

Actor:

Tough category this year. As a Jewish Polish pianist living in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, The Pianist‘s Brody is getting all the buzz. But Brody’s got some big-time competition, notably Daniel Day-Lewis for his comeback turn in Gangs and veteran Michael Caine for his work in The Quiet American. Still, let’s not forget that the Academy loves Jack, who will most likely skip home with Mr. Oscar for work that was less than his best ever.
Who Deserves to Win: Adrien Brody, The Pianist
Who Will Win: Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt

Actress:

Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours was a transformational moment for the actress. If she loses, it will be the upset of the night.
Who Deserves to Win: Nicole Kidman
Who Will Win: Kidman

Supporting Actor:

An open category that could go to anyone, but the sentimental favorite is Paul Newman, who is likely to attend with a McSalad and a bottle of his dressing in tow.
Who Deserves to Win: Ed Harris, The Hours
Who Will Win: Paul Newman, The Road to Perdition

Supporting Actress:

Though Meryl Streep has been nominated thirteen times (the most of any actress in history), she’s only won twice, the last time over twenty years ago for Sophie’s Choice. The Academy will hand it to her on a silver platter.
Who Deserves to Win: Meryl Streep, Adaptation
Who Will Win: Streep

Animated Feature:

If the Academy has any sense (and we know that, as a collective voting bloc, it doesn’t), they would give the award to the Japanese anime Spirited Away. But they may see this as an opportunity to celebrate Native American history and hand it to a much different, less adventurous Spirit.
What Deserves to Win: Spirited Away
What Will Win: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

And now for all the rest:

Foreign Film
What Deserves to Win: Zus & Zo (it was good enough for Reel Affirmations, after all)
What Will Win: Zus & Zo (because the Netherlands has a history of winning this award)

Original Screenplay
Who Deserves to Win: Todd Haynes, Far From Heaven
Who Will Win: Nia Vardalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Adapted Screenplay
Who Deserves to Win: David Hare, The Hours
Who Will Win: Bill Condon, Chicago

Cinematography
Who Deserves to Win: Edward Lachman, Far From Heaven
Who Will Win: Lachman

Editing
What Deserves to Win: The Hours
What Will Win: Chicago

Documentary Feature
What Deserves to Win: Bowling for Columbine
What Will Win: Bowling

Sound Editing
What Deserves to Win: LOTR: The Two Towers
What Will Win: Towers

Sound
What Deserves to Win: LOTR: Towers
What Will Win: Chicago

Costume Design
Who Deserves to Win: Ann Roth, The Hours
Who Will Win: Colleen Atwood, Chicago

Original Score
Who Deserves to Win: Philip Glass, The Hours
Who Will Win: Glass

Original Song
What Deserves to Win: “Lose Yourself, ” Eminem, 8 Mile
What Will Win: “I Move On, ” Kander & Ebb, Chicago

Art Direction
What Deserves to Win: LOTR: Towers
What Will Win: Chicago

Visual Effects
What Deserves to Win: LOTR: Towers
What Will Win: Towers

Makeup
What Deserves to Win: LOTR: Towers (but it wasn’t, for some idiotic reason, nominated)
What Will Win: Frida (for the monobrow alone).

Feel free to disagree with our critic (vehemently if you’d like) by emailing him at rshulman@metroweekly.com.

Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.

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