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69th Annual Academy Awards

Popcorn TM

Movie Review by Michael Goldberger

The world's most famous winners and losers will be identified at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles this Monday night, March 24, as the 69th annual Academy Awards are presented. Certain predictions can be ventured with certainty. Some, not so certain.

In the certain category, Hollywood's biggest evening of the year will be witnessed by a greater worldwide television audience than ever before (it had better for the $830,000 per 30 second-spot the network will be charging advertisers). Host Billy Crystal will do his funnyman best given the unwieldy nature of this Herculean assignment. Production numbers will be overlong. As will be the show itself. And they won't screen hardly enough vintage film clips to please the true cinema buffs in our midst.

Also for sure, at least one presenter (most likely a woman) will wear a dress that's just too, too, too. Sporting a foreign accent, some bearded winner (most likely a man) of an obscure category will bring all his friends up for the acceptance speech and drone on forever. And for all the complaining about what a lousy show it is, and how it's all such a bunch of vainglorious decadence, there's hardly one film fan among us wouldn't give his eyeteeth to imbibe some of that glittering nonsense. That's for certain.

Less certain is who will win what. Which brings us to the task at hand. The annual humbling of the film critic. Practically as old a tradition as the Academy Awards itself is the curious custom that asks the movie reviewer to metamorphose from would-be pundit to handicapper.

"If you think you know so much, then tell us who's going to win," is the implied taunt.

If your unassuming auditor does well in his picks, it's Hooray For Hollywood. All is well in Filmdom. The 'system' rewards fairly. But should the opposite hold true, then it's as bad as when Casey struck out. For there is no glitteratti in Mudville. All the world loves a winner--- but not someone who can't predict the Oscars. And to the loser go no spoils. But, alas, the show must go on.

Thus, with those cheery thoughts in mind, and without further ado, here are my picks and why:

Best Picture: The English Patient. Suddenly the common man has turned highbrow. All sorts of folks liked this obscure but artistically detailed work. Go figure. I'd of preferred Shine for top honors.

Best Actor: Geoffrey Rush (for Shine). Tom Cruise is too young to get his second Oscar; Fiennes's effort in The English Patient can be dismissed as a costume role; Woody Harrelson is at dead center of an unpopular success; and if Billy Bob Thornton wins it'll be like reelecting Jimmy Carter.

Best Actress: Francis McDormand (for Fargo). Simply because she was the absolute best.

Best Supporting Actor: Cuba Gooding, Jr. (for Jerry Maguire). Talk about horse races. Gooding ("Show me the money!") balanced Cruise to really make Jerry Maguire work. But either Macy or Woods would be just as deserving, and Armin-Mueller-Stahl was no slouch either.

Best Supporting Actress: Lauren Bacall (for The Mirror Has Two Faces). If they drag Betty all the way out to Hollywood and then don't pick her, they'll have Bogie to answer to. Besides, just who is Marianne Jean-Baptiste?

Best Director: Anthony Minghella (for The English Patient). If he can achieve overnight success with such an unlikely product, then why not pick him for a mini sweep of the evening?

Best Foreign Film: Kolya (from the Czech Republic). Czechoslovakia winning this category is as common an occurrence as Miss Mississippi taking the Miss America crown.

Best Original Screenplay: Ethan and Joel Coen for Fargo. Because this film deserves more than just a best actress award.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Anthony Minghella (for The English Patient). It's going to be that kind of a night.

Best Art Direction: Evita. It ought to win something.

Cinematography: The English Patient. Stunning good looks.....

Costume: The English Patient. .......with clothes to match. Banana Republic stock should rise.

Sound: Independence Day. Everything blowed up real good.

Sound Effects Editing: The Ghost And The Darkness. It just sounds good.

Original Musical or Comedy Score: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Wasn't this category specifically devised so that someone else could win it along with Disney every year?

Original Dramatic Score: Gabriel Yared (for The English Patient). Appropriately haunting.

Original Song: "You Must Love Me" (from Evita). Say what you will. Madonna did it justice.

Documentary Feature: When We Were Kings. This poor guy Gast has been working on it since l974. Have a heart.

Documentary Short Subject: An Essay On Matisse. Because my childhood friend, Kenneth Mandel, is one of the producers. Really.

Film Editing: Fargo. Best flow of all.

Makeup: The Nutty Professor. Did you get a load of this guy?

Animated Short Film: La Salla. It just feels right.

Live Action Short Film: Esposados. Predicting a Latin sweep of the smaller categories.

Visual Effects: Independence Day. Best fireworks since Bill told Hillary she ought to take a lower profile.

Enjoy the awards. And remember, as the evening wears on, as you grow sleepy and doze off .... I got them all right, I got them all right!

Copyright 1997
TheWestfield Leader.
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