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Oscars Preview

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ByVladimir Zelevinsky
Staff reporter

What follows are the Oscar Nominations. After each category, I have presumptuously dared to specify who I think should win given these nominees, along with the ones I realistically expect to win. Also bear with me as I put in print my personal favorite for 1998 in each of the category. My predictions, of course, are bound to be highly inaccurate, but hey, I'm having fun with them. Also, to quote veteran screenwriter William Goldman, "nobody knows anything."

Best Picture of the Year

€ Elizabeth (Gramercy)

€ Life Is Beautiful (Miramax)

€ Saving Private Ryan (DreamWorks)

€ Shakespeare In Love (Miramax)

€ The Thin Red Line (Fox)

All of best picture nominees are period films, three of them set during WWII and two in Elizabethan England. Both Miramax and newcomer Joseph Fiennes can celebrate, having contributed to two nominees each. I'm pleasantly surprised that The Thin Red Line made the list; not because I think it's one of the best films of the year, but because its a sprawling, slowly-paced film that does not rely on a narrative, and as such is a rarity in modern Hollywood. On the other hand, the omission of The Truman Show is shocking, while my preferences for Lolita and A Simple Plan are obviously a cry in the wilderness. This comes as a surprise, having consistently found my tastes and the choices of the Academy to be in sync.

It is now virtually certain that this year the award will go to a highly ambitious, visually striking, viscerally affecting film with a simplistic storyline, artificial characters, and frequent moments of emotional manipulation.

Who will win: Saving Private Ryan.

Who should win: Shakespeare in Love.

My favorite: Lolita.

Best Achievement in Directing

€ 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

Who will win: Steven Spielberg.

Who should win: Roberto Benigni.

My favorite: Robert Redford, The Horse Whisperer.

Actor in a Leading Role

€ Roberto Benigni, Life Is Beautiful

€ Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan

€ Ian McKellen, Gods And Monsters

€ Nick Nolte, Affliction

€ Edward Norton, American History X

Can't say much here; I've seen only two out of five performances. Benigni I liked; Hanks I didn't. Hanks is popular, but he already has two bald golden guys on his mantelpiece. Nolte's film wasn't widely seen, and Norton can be perceived as too young. I would expect the award to go to a well-known, but underappreciated veteran actor.

Who will win: Ian McKellen.

Who should win: Roberto Benigni.

My favorite: Jeremy Irons, Lolita.

Actress in a Leading Role

€ Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth

€ Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station

€ Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare In Love

€ Meryl Streep, One True Thing

€ Emily Watson, Hilary And Jackie

My opinion is absolutely worthless here, having seen only one (Gwineth Paltrow) out of five nominated performances, although I believe it is the one with the most momentum right now.

Who will/should win: Gwyneth Paltrow.

My favorite: Kristin Scott Thomas, The Horse Whisperer.

Actor in a supporting role

€ James Coburn, Affliction

€ Robert Duvall, A Civil Action

€ Ed Harris, The Truman Show

€ Geoffrey Rush, Shakespeare In Love

€ Billy Bob Thornton, A Simple Plan

As always, the most hotly contested category and the hardest one to predict.

Who will win: Ed Harris, overdue for an award.

Who should win/my favorite: Billy Bob Thornton.

Actress in a supporting role

€ Kathy Bates, Primary Colors

€ Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice

€ Judi Dench, Shakespeare In Love

€ Rachel Griffiths, Hilary And Jackie

€ Lynn Redgrave, Gods And Monsters

A very good year for this category. Excellent performances which didn't make the cut include Kimberly Elise in Beloved, Joan Allen in Pleasantville, and Christina Ricci in Buffalo Œ66.

Who will win: Judy Dench, for a showy and commanding performance.

Who should win/my favorite: Kathy Bates.

Best screenplay written directly for the screen

€ Bulworth, screenplay by Warren Beatty & Jeremy Pikser, story by Warren Beatty

€ Life Is Beautiful, screenplay by Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni

€ Saving Private Ryan, written by Robert Rodat

€ Shakespeare In Love, written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard

€ The Truman Show, written by Andrew Niccol

I fail to comprehend what Saving Private Ryan is doing in this category; other than that, nice picks.

Who will/should win: Shakespeare In Love.

My favorite: The Spanish Prisoner, David Mamet.

Best screenplay based on material previously produced or published

€ Gods And Monsters, Bill Condon

€ Out Of Sight, screenplay by Scott Frank

€ Primary Colors, screenplay by Elaine May

€ A Simple Plan, screenplay by Scott B. Smith

€ The Thin Red Line, screenplay by Terrence Malick

Who will win: Out of Sight.

Who should win: A Simple Plan.

My favorite: Lolita, Stephen Schiff.

Art Direction

€ Elizabeth

€ Pleasantville

€ Saving Private Ryan

€ Shakespeare In Love

€ The Thin Red Line

Who will win: Elizabeth; Academy loves lush-looking period pictures.

Who should win/my favorite: Saving Private Ryan for its unforgettable battle scenes.


€ A Civil Action

€ Elizabeth

€ Saving Private Ryan

€ Shakespeare in Love

€ The Thin Red Line

Who will win: The Thin Red Line, for beautiful nature photography.

Who should win: Saving Private Ryan.

My favorite: What Dreams May Come.

Costume design

€ Beloved

€ Elizabeth

€ Pleasantville

€ Shakespeare In Love

€ Velvet Goldmine

Sandy Powell, whose costumes were spectacular in last year's The Wings of the Dove is competing against herself, with nominations for both Shakespeare and Goldmine.

Who will/should win/my favorite: Shakespeare in Love.

Film editing

€ Life Is Beautiful

€ Out Of Sight

€ Saving Private Ryan

€ Shakespeare In Love

€ The Thin Red Line

Who will win: Saving Private Ryan.

Who should win/my favorite: Out of Sight.

Best Foreign Language Film

€ Central Station

€ Children Of Heaven

€ The Grandfather

€ Life Is Beautiful

€ Tango

Who will/should win/my favorite: Life is Beautiful.


€ Elizabeth

€ Saving Private Ryan

€ Shakespeare In Love

Who will/should win/my favorite: Saving Private Ryan.

Music (original musical or comedy score)

€ A Bug's Life, Randy Newman

€ Mulan, music by Matthew Wilder, lyrics by David Zippel, orchestral score by Jerry Goldsmith

€ Patch Adams, Marc Shaiman

€ The Prince Of Egypt, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, orchestral score by Hans Zimmer

€ Shakespeare In Love, Stephen Warbeck

Who will win: Mulan; it's hard to fight with Œtoons.

Who should win: Shakespeare In Love.

My favorite: Life is Beautiful, and don't tell me it was a dramatic score.

Music (original dramatic score)

€ Elizabeth, David Hirschfelder

€ Life Is Beautiful, Nicola Piovani

€ Pleasantville, Randy Newman

€ Saving Private Ryan, John Williams

€ The Thin Red Line, Hans Zimmer

Um, is it just me, or wouldn't Pleasantville and Life is Beautiful be better placed in "comedy score" category?

Who will win: Saving Private Ryan.

Who should win/my favorite: The Thin Red Line.

Music (original song)

€ I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, Armageddon: music and lyrics by Diane Warren

€ The Prayer, Quest For Camelot: music by Carole Bayer Sager and David Foster, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, David Foster, Tony Renis and Alberto Testa

€ A Soft Place To Fall, The Horse Whisperer: music and lyrics by Allison Moorer and Gwil Owen

€ That'll Do, Babe: Pig In The City: music and lyrics by Randy Newman

€ When You Believe, The Prince Of Egypt: music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

A bunch of mediocre choices; since Howard Ashman, Disney's brilliant lyricist, passed away, pretty much nothing exciting has come out. I honestly don't remember a single thing about the songs in Armageddon and The Horse Whisperer, and I found the ones in Babe: Pig in the City and Quest for Camelot (with its six songwriters!) to be intensely annoying.

Who will win: The Prayer, Quest for Camelot.

Who should win: When You Believe, The Prince of Egypt.

My favorite: Reflection, Mulan.


€ Armageddon

€ The Mask Of Zorro

€ Saving Private Ryan

€ Shakespeare In Love

€ The Thin Red Line

Who will/should win: Saving Private Ryan.

My favorite: 54.

Sound effects editing

€ Armageddon

€ The Mask Of Zorro

€ Saving Private Ryan

Who will/should win: Saving Private Ryan.

My favorite: The Prince of Egypt.

Visual effects

€ Armageddon

€ Mighty Joe Young

€ What Dreams May Come

Who will/should win/my favorite: What Dreams May Come.

Concerning the following categories, I have to admit that I haven't seen any of the nominees. It is rather a sad commentary on the modern film distribution practices that virtually none of the short or documentary films have been screened. Thus, no comments or predictions.

Documentary features

€ Dancemaker

€ The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.

€ The Last Days

€ Lenny Bruce: Swear To Tell The Truth

€ Regret To Inform

Documentary short subjects

€ The Personals: Improvisations On Romance In The Golden Years

€ A Place In The Land

€ Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square

Animated short films

€ Bunny

€ The Canterbury Tales

€ Jolly Roger

€ More

€ When Life Departs

Live action short films

€ Culture

€ Election Night (Valgaften)

€ Holiday Romance

€ La Carte Postale (The Postcard)

€ Victor

The 71st Annual Academy Awards will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, on March 21st, 1999, and broadcast live on ABC at 8:30 p.m.