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The 74th Annual Academy Awards · Sunday March 24th 8:30pm to 12:50am
· The new Kodak Theatre
- 4 hours and 23 minutes... (last year was an hour
The information on this page is based on Dr. Phil's own
observations, and shouldn't be judged on facts or spellings, 'cause there
weren't any fact checkers employed in this endeavor. So there.
The Big Oscars
- Achievement in Film · A
- When we went to see this movie, I was quite blown away by
it. First of all, scientists and mathematicians don't get shown in movies very
often, and certainly not by the likes of Russell Crowe and Jennifer
- I also found Robert Altman's Gosford Park quite
extraordinary, but then I am a huge Anglophile and have been researching some
of the ways of British aristocracy and servants for my own writing.
- There was some groundswell for a while that suggested that
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring might make good on
some of its large number of nominations and take some of the big prizes, just
as there were stories knocking the rush for A Beautiful Mind. I can't
say that petty politics should stay out of the Oscars, it has always been
there. But everyone will remember this as the year of A Beautiful Mind
and its four Oscars, even though by my count, LOTR got the same
- I have recently acquired the book and have started reading
it -- there's a great deal more there than is in the movie, so it'll probably
show up in my booklist and amaze some future Dr. Phil students...
- Achievement in Directing · Ron Howard, A Beautiful
- One wag, intent more on a malicious quote than substance,
described this as "Ron Howard's Magnus Opie". If he thought he
was showing off his intellect by mixing Latin with Mayberry, he could have
saved us the trouble. The fact is, the Academy has loved Ron Howard's films,
but they have such trouble giving an Oscar to an ex-child TV star as a serious
director. You could have given him awards for Apollo 13 or
Backdraft or other hit movies in previous years, but I think this touched
some people. So a win for "little Ronnie Howard".
- Baz Luhrman, the director of Moulin Rouge, prompted
a joke from Whoopi Goldberg that MR was such a complicated movie it didn't need
a director (since he didn't get nominated).
- One does wonder about how the Best Picture and Best
Director nominations tend to cover the same movies, and what does it say when
the same movie doesn't get both awards? (Or conversely, since so often they do,
why should the director take home two Oscars for essentially the same
- Dr. Phil's sentimental favorite was of course
Peter Jackson for LOTR. Not only did he do a great
job, but then it was Peter Jackson who cast the incomparable Kate Winslet in
her first film, Heavenly Creatures. (For which Kate Winslet should have
received an Academy Award nomination for her amazing portrayal of one-half of a
murderous pair of New Zealand teenagers, all based on a true story... but I
- Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role · Denzel
Washington, Training Day
- Play good guys and everyone respects you. Play a real
bastard and then... make everyone believe that you are a real actor. I think
that's the secret here. Denzel's so nice that when he plays smart, cool,
competant people with an occassional flash of fire, it was what the Academy
- Even forgetting Russell Crowe's reputation for bad
behavior, he was a long shot for Best Actor since he won last year for
Gladiator. The Academy is loathe to give people back-to-back Oscars,
except for exceptional cases, and Russell Crowe is no Mister Nice Guy Tom
- Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role · Halle
Berry, Monster's Ball
- This has only played briefly at a couple of theatres in our
area and we haven't been to any movies lately. But everything I have heard
about Halle Berry's performance indicates that she torched the screen with her
- Ms. Berry was shocked to have won -- it is an awesome
burden to realize that for the first time in 74 years, the Academy finally has
given an acting Oscar to a African-American woman -- and she broke down for a
minute before finally being able to speak. This on top of just having won an
Academy Award voted in by your peers in the industry.
- Of the other contenders, a sentimental favorite was Judi
Dench in Iris, where she played the older Iris Murdoch suffering from
Alztheimer's to Kate Winslet's young Iris.
- Haven't seen Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom, but I'm
not quite sure that it is an important film to her career as Monster's
Ball is to Ms. Berry.
- And while Texan Renee Zellweger did a good job in the
British comedy Bridget Jones's Diary, you must understand that the Brits
were really sour on this bit of casting, since "everyone" assumed
that the role would go to Kate Winslet -- but the author wasn't sure and they
dragged on and on the negotiations and finally Kate said good-bye - if you had
really wanted me you would have signed me. So it's probably just as well that
Kate didn't do the movie because she would have been swell and then still would
have lost to Halle Berry.
- Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role · Jim
- I know, I know, you're saying Who? The problem is, you're
just seeing the wrong movies. Jim Broadbent has been central as the older
husband in Iris, half of Gilbert & Sullivan in Topsy-Turvy
and he was the almost demonic master of ceremonies in the near cult musical
- Iris, of course, is the movie of the life, loves and
descent into Alzheimer's of the British writer Iris Murdoch. I figured that
with three Acting nominations for Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and (the
incomparable) Kate Winslet, and the fact that many of the voting members of the
Academy are actually older, retired actors and actresses and filmmakers whom
you've probably never heard of, that this might be a sentimental favorite for
something. After all, getting old, infirm and dealing with Alzheimer's is
something that a number of these Academy members know about (as opposed to
fighting ogres, space aliens or foreign drug dealers).
- Iris just opened in the Grand Rapids area at Studio
28 on Friday March 22nd, which is our favorite movie 'plex (28th Street, about
a mile or less west of US-131). Who knows how long it will last?
- Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role ·
Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind
- It does make you wonder what's the difference between Best
Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Jennifer Connelly supposedly has more
screen time in ABM than in like the other nominations taken together.
Turns out your a Lead Actress or a Supporting Actress depending on what the
studio says you are.
- Now, we didn't think that Kate Winslet was really going to
win for Iris, but Ms. Winslet is the youngest three-time nominee and the
Academy sometimes votes to reward for past injustices. I mean, I like Helen
Hunt, but Kate Winslet literally threw herself from one end of the R.M.S.
Titanic to the other in Titanic, and with all the other awards it won,
it didn't get any acting awards. Frankly, the 1998 Best Actress should have
been Kate Winslet and Best Supporting Actress should have been Gloria Stuart,
for playing the young and old Rose, respectively.
- Amongst the others, there is kind of an opinion that Marisa
Tomei was really lucky to get her first Oscar and the Academy wasn't going to
trivially award her another. And then the magnificent Helen Mirren and Maggie
Smith essentially canceled each other out from Gosford Park.
- And given what happened with the steamrollers for the
eventually Lead and Supporting Actress categories, it does no good for me to
point out that as far as Gosford Park goes, the Academy failed to
nominate Mary Macdonald for her terrific role as our "tour guide"
into the dealings of Gosford Park.
- Oh, and Jennifer probably wins most reviewer's award for
worst performance during an acceptance speech. She never looked up at the
audience, never made eye contact and didn't seem particularly thrilled to have
been honored by her peers. Ho-hum, just another Oscar... (Kate Winslet would
have been better.)
The Second Tier Oscars
- Achievement in Cinematography · Andrew Lesley, The
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- This was the second Oscar of the night for LOTR and one
wondered if it meant that LOTR was going to run the table... or only win Tech
and Art awards, and lose out to "real films" for the Big Awards, like
every other big, successful science-fiction or fantasy film.
- Still, one of the big losers this night would be "the
other wizard movie", Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
- Achievement in Art Direction · Moulin
- The wild Aussie vision of a musical set in the early 1900s
Moulin Rouge... in hyperdrive. It had to win something, because it had such
strong support from some quarters (and frankly having Nicole Kidman and Ewan
McGregor as the singing leads in a musical is a wild ride in itself), and so
one of the areas where it astounded was in its look. In DVD format on a small
screen it is almost too much color and motion and data to take in. Pity that
like most films it will so rarely be shown on a big screen from a large format
negative again. (Sort of like seeing Star Wars or Titanic on a TV
screen can never quite compare to the big screen... It was interesting seeing
the reaction of some of Dr. Phil's students when the original Star Wars
Trilogy Special Edition hit the screen a few years ago, and those who
weren't even born in 1977 or old enough to see the originals in the theatre
just thought they knew the movies. And they were astounded. But I
- Achievement in Costume · Moulin Rouge
- Achievement in Visual Effects · The Lord of the
Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Achievement in Sound · Blackhawk Down
- The other year we had the battle of the war movies --
Saving Private Ryan vs. The Thin Red Line. This year PH was
almost a no-show in the nominations, as was Behind Enemy Lines, and the
terrific Blackhawk Down did not apparently compete head-to-head in the
same year as the equally compelling We Were Soldiers.
- BHD opened to great critical acclaim, but apparently the
Oscar Nominating Committee wasn't into war movies. No one was up for any of the
Acting awards, and it was nominated for Best Director, but not Best
- Best Adapted Screenplay · Julian Fellowes, A
- By this time in the evening, LOTR had four Oscars and ABM
had just gotten its second. But the latter had already earned one Acting award
and would gain two more of the biggies to "win" against LOTR.
- Achievement in Sound Editing · Pearl
- This has to be a bone thrown to the overblown, overspent
Block-dudster of Summer 2001.
- Best Original Screenplay · Akiva Goldsman, Gosford
- I love this movie, and certainly the rush through upstairs
and downstairs, of the masters and priviledged versus the servants and staff,
and the witty and cutting repartee and fast dialogue on both ends, clearly goes
to a great script.
- Of the competitors, one wonders about Memento. Was
it the film editing that made that film? Or the original concept as was plotted
out painfully in the screenplay. You needed the script first, but then you have
to execute it. I could have given it to Memento.
- Best Original Score · Howard Shore, The Lord of the
Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Dr. Phil was collecting movie soundtracks before soundtrack
CD's became such a big business and became #1's on the Album of the Year
charts, so this is one category which I had a real interest in.
- Technically we are talking about the "score" here
-- the "soundtrack" will contain other things, including any
additional songs which may or may not have anything to do with the composer's
- The LOTR score and soundtrack is both predictable, in that
it is always exactly right, and wonderful because it is exactly right, and
doesn't have any annoyances that don't belong. (Dr. Phil still has the heebie
jeebies about going to Opening Night of The Return of the Jedi at a
2:20am showing and having to suffer/cringe through the Ewok song near the end
in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, George Lucas pulled the song from
the Special Edition... but then he went off the deep end again and
decided to throw a new bone to the kiddies and gave us all Jar Jar Binks...
shudder...). Plus I am a big fan of Enya, who adds her vocals to the
- John Williams, the master of movie soundtracks, whose
brilliance lies in his ability to plagarize everyone, including himself, and
make distinctive scores for his personal buddy Steven Spielberg. He not only
was conducting the orchestra at the Oscars themselves, but had two scores in
this category: A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) and Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone. Both were pretty good scores and I'll add them to my
collection (A.I., though flawed, is still a brilliant movie as
Spielberg's homage to the genius of Stanley Kubrick). But it is an old Academy
Award rule -- never compete against yourself, you'll both lose.
- James Horner, the other master of movie soundtracks, and
one of Dr. Phil's personal favorites (Titanic, Braveheart, Glory, The Mask
- Best Original Song · Randy Newman, "If I Didn't
Have You", Monsters, Inc.
- For an older generation, I suppose, Randy Newman is best
known for having written the hit song "Short People", which was
wildly misunderstood in the way that an irate American public only can
- I liked the way that they did all the nominated songs in
one segment (they did this before, and I think it works better to showcase the
artists and their songs one after another). Sting has gotten good in his
accoustic phase and Enya was super. But John Goodman and Randy Newman's
performance was swell (not that this performance was what the ballotting was
about -- this ain't figure skating), which only touched Randy more when he
realized backstage that he had won.
- I may joke about the Academy hating Kate Winslet, by
denying her an Oscar after three nominations, but Randy Newman has had like
fifteen nominations and fifteen losses before this night. Practically the Susan
Lucci of the Oscars...
The New Oscar
- Best Animated Film · Shrek
- This is one very funny movie
- We haven't yet seen Monsters, Inc. and I don't
particularly plan to see Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (even if it does
feature the voice of Patrick Stewart), so this Oscar went to the class film of
- But... and I am in a weird minority on this... how could
you NOT possibly give, in the first year of offering an Animated Film Oscar, a
nomination to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within ? FF may have been my
favorite movie of 2001, and with LOTR and Gosford Park and A Beautiful Mind,
that is saying a great deal.
The Honorary Oscars
- Sidney Poitier ·
- What a lovely warm reception they gave this great actor. He
starred in many great movies of the 1960's when I was a little kid. I grew up
in a very small, very white little town in rural, upstate, Western New York. So
I would have been nine when I saw Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and it
astounded me. I don't think I had ever thought of the concept of an interracial
couple. But Sidney Poitier was such a nice young man, as they used to
say in those days.
- It was Sidney Poitier who was the first African-American
actor to win a Best Actor Oscar -- this was in 1963 for Lillies of the
Field. (You might wonder why they didn't wait until next year for the
Honorary Oscar, which would be the 40th anniversary, but 2003 will be the 75th
Academy Awards, and if you thought the show was long THIS year, just
- I was looking him up in Microsoft Bookshelf '95, and it is
a real surprise to find out that it was Rod Steiger who won the Best Acting
Oscar in 1967 for In the Heat of the Night, which also won Best Picture.
And 1967 was also the year that Katharine Hepburn won for Best Actress for
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Both of these movies are "Sidney
Poitier" movies, but there are too many nominees and too few Oscars and
sometimes (maybe a lot of the time) good people get robbed.
- Come to think of it, 1967 was also the year that To Sir
With Love was released. I would have been considered "too young"
by my parents to see In the Heat of the Night, but we did see To Sir
With Love and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner sometime in the same
year. (Unlike today, we got movies in the little one-screen movie theatre in
town, The Diana, whenever a print finally made it there. So we sometimes drove
off to Buffalo to see big movies. They still had ushers with flashlights who
showed you to your seat, and Daddy would take me and my sister to the movies
while Mommy shopped. We would go in whenever we got there, with the feature
usually in progress, try to figure out what was going on, then stay through the
next showing up until we found "where we had come in". Weird
- Which brings up a really interesting point that Denzel
Washington made during his introduction of Mr. Poitier -- that he was the first
black actor to be the lead and get their name ABOVE the title in the
advertising. Before Sidney Poitier, black actors and actresses were given
supporting roles that could be cut from the reels in certain parts of the
country. While 2002 America is far from perfect, it seems almost unbelievable
that such things could have been contemplated, let alone endured. But it took a
Sidney Poitier to star in a movie where you couldn't cut the black man --
because there'd be no movie.
- Robert Redford ·
- We did a double-take during this 4 hour and 20 minute show.
After honoring Sidney Poitier, did the Academy feel like they had to find a
white guy to honor to make the whole thing official? Sorry for being so
paranoid, but one does wonder about these things. But... in one of the slides
they showed, it mentioned that the Sundance Film Festival is 20 years old this
year, and we think that's what was going on.
- The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award · Arthur
- He was introduced by Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw, who
co-starred in his movie Love Story a long time ago.
The Odd Oscars
- Best Animated Short Film · For the Birds
- The clip was very cute, with fat little computed generated
birds sitting on a power line, whose world gets upset when a really big bird
plops down next to them.
- Wouldn't you know, though, this wasn't some fun little
animation project done by someone on the cheap. This is a Pixar production with
Skywalker Sound, and the filmmakers were thanking Steve Jobs for his generous
support. (Still, it's cute.)
- Best Live Action Short Film · Ray McKinnon & Lisa
Blount, The Accountant
- Probably the best gol-darned speech of the night, I also
just heard about this on National Public Radio's Marketplace business
program, that here's a movie about... an accountant. Takes place in rural
country and involves trying to save farms, I think.
- Best Documentary Short Subject · Thoth
- About a strange San Francisco street musician names Thoth,
who showed up to play his violin (etc.) on the Red Carpet outside the Kodak
Theatre and was briefly on the stage when the award was given.
- HBO is apparently giving wide screening to these little
films. But then you have to get HBO. Which we don't.
- Best Foreign Film · No Man's Land (Bosnia and
- What? After all the hype, Amelie didn't win? That
was the first sub-titled French film to actually make money in the U.S. in like
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