The Stars Come Out on Oscar Night

By Emily Ansolabehere-Hine

On March 23rd, the 70th Annual Academy Awards will be held. This year's nominations were predictable with only a few exceptions. The movies and actors represent a broad spectrum of the films produced in the past year. The purpose of this article is to clarify who has been nominated, who will most likely win, and who I think should win.

There is no doubt in my mind that Robert Forster deserves the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance in Jackie Brown. Forster's depiction of Max Cherry, a middle aged bail bondsman, is an exceptional performance. Forster could easily have been forgotten in the midst of the jazz-riff dialogue Quentin Tarentino (Jackie Brown writer/director) is so justly famous for. The ensemble cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Pam Grier and Robert DeNiro dominate in terms of dialogue, but pale when compared to Forster's internalized performance. Unfortunately, Robert Forster will probably be passed over for either Robin Williams or Burt Reynolds.

Williams' performance in Good Will Hunting, while more serious than most of his roles, seemed similar to his character in Dead Poets Society. However, Williams has never won an Oscar and is a Hollywood favorite which makes him a possible winner.

Then there is Burt Reynolds. It's a shame Hollywood feels the need to award people who have merely hung around long enough. After winning a Golden Globe it became clear that Reynolds may join a select few of undeserving underdogs and win an Oscar for his performance in Boogie Nights.

The Best Supporting Actress Oscar will most likely go to Kim Basinger for her understated, yet powerful, performance in L.A Confidential. The only threat to a Basinger win is Gloria Stewart in Titanic.

The Best Actor category is dominated by Hollywood veterans, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Matt Damon is the only newcomer to this group of Hollywood legends. I think Robert Duvall will win the Oscar for The Apostle, a film he also wrote and directed. In a completely opposite role from Duvall's, Peter Fonda turns in a moving and highly intelligent performance in Ulee's Gold, in which he plays the grandfather in a less- than- typical family.

This years nominees for Best Actress are all British, with the exception of Helen Hunt. Helena Bonham Carter turns in another amazing performance in The Wings of the Dove, a film based on the Henry James novel. However, the industry buzz surrounding the Best Actress category favors Julie Christy for her role in Afterglow. Christy is a wonderful actress, but this is not her best work and, as many critics have agreed, it would have been more appropriate for her to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Therefore, I pick Helena Bonham Carter as my choice for best actress.

The award for Best Director is the most difficult to predict. The Scottish comedy The Full Monty was a surprise hit this year; still, Peter Catteneo is a long shot for the award for Best Director. Gus Van Sant's contribution, Good Will Hunting, is by far his most mainstream work to date. Van Sant is held in high regard for films such as Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho and To Die For. However, Good Will Hunting doesn't seem to have the support needed for a Best, Director nod.

Atom Egoyans film, The Sweet Hereafter, was extremely well-received at this year's Cannes Film Festival, but remains little-known. Based on the novel by Russel Banks, The Sweet Hereafter is a tragic story of a fatal schoolbus accident in a small town.

L.A. Confidential, directed by Curtis Hanson, is an amazingly complex film which ranks with Chinatown as one of the greatest noir films of our time. Hanson is a truly gifted storyteller and should win the Academy Award for this film.

Dissecting all of Titanic's faults, or listing all the reasons L.A. Confidential is the superior film would do nothing to change the minds of the movie-going masses who believe Titanic deserves the awards it will likely receive. If (when) James Cameron wins Best Director and Titanic wins Best Picture it will only reinforce the belief that the more expensive, bigger, blockbuster films deserve to receive more recognition than smaller, more personal films. My hope is that the Academy recogonizes Curtis Hanson's acheivement as director, even if Titanic wins all thirteen of the other Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture.

Now that I've taken a stance on the Titanic issue I would like to address how a few films seemed to have been overlooked for nominations. Films such as, The Ice Storm, In the Company of Men, The Heiress, and Eves Bayou were all thought to be Oscar contenders, or at least worthy of nominations. Australian actors Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearse of L.A. Confidential gave two of what I believe to be the best performances of the year, yet were snubbed by the Academy. Of course there isn't room for all of the wonderful films made in the past year to receive nominations. Still I can't help thinking if it wasn't for a certain overrated picture there would be more room for the smaller, more intelligent, films at this years Academy Awards.

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