Don't let the Academy 'Shine'
Reviewer's picks lean to the dark side
February 18, 1997
Web posted at: 2:30 p.m. EST
From Movie Reviewer Paul Tatara
(CNN) -- The Academy Award nominations have been announced,
and aside from the snubbing of Courtney Love and the honoring
of Billy Bob Thornton (who flat out refuses to play the
Hollywood game), there are few real surprises this time
I'm sure Madonna is very upset, having spent the past year
and a half tirelessly portraying a grown-up, but the fact of
the matter is that she can't act. Blame who you want, but it
ain't the material, girl.
What follows are my projected winners as well as my personal
favorites. As always, I may be right or I may be wrong -- my
crystal ball for these things fogged over when Marisa Tomei
won for "My Cousin Vinny."
Judging from the flared-nostril response I received from some
of our readers when I dared to criticize Geoffrey Rush's
performance in "Shine" (one man thoughtfully called me "an
idiot"), I would have to say that this one is a no brainer.
But people seem to think that if you have negative comments
about Rush, you are somehow inherently belittling the
accomplishments of the actual David Helfgott. This couldn't
be any further from the truth -- Rush, it seems ridiculous to
have to point out, is just pretending. Helfgott, on the
other hand, is a brilliant and very courageous man.
I do think that any one of a number of actors could have
given this performance, though. Accurate or not, it is so
wild and in-your-face it precludes anything resembling
nuance. Rush will win, and people around the world will leap
off their sofas. I, however, will remain seated.
My pick: Billy Bob Thornton's nomination for "Sling Blade,"
a film with a total budget that is probably half of what was
spent on getting the sweat stains out of those linen shirts
in "The English Patient," is a minor miracle in-and-of
itself. He, not Geoffrey Rush, is the great new talent of
For the first time in years, this is probably the single
strongest category. The weak link here is the radiant
Kristin Scott Thomas, but even she is quite the Movie Star,
and I mean that in the best possible way. Keaton made a nice
comeback, and Emily Watson could pull off a first-time-out
upset, but the contest comes down to sentimental favorite
McDormand and Golden Globe winner Blethyn. Blethyn should
My pick: Brenda Blethyn, easily.
A pretty meaty category, with James Woods' nomination being
the only real travesty. Over-the-top histrionics aside, the
old-age makeup makes him look like an installation at Madame
Tassaud's Museum of Racism. The Academy likes to pull
surprises in the supporting categories, but Cuba Gooding Jr.
seems to be the front-runner, with Edward Norton (a future
big-time star) a close second.
My pick: William H. Macy's desperate portrayal of a
first-class schmuck is almost too authentic to bear. He
makes you extremely uncomfortable, which is what he's
supposed to do, and, for this reason, I doubt that anyone
will vote for him. I would, but only because I can relate.
1996 was definitely a great year for both actors and
actresses. This is another nice selection of talent, but
Lauren Bacall will win simply because she's Lauren Bacall and
is still standing. Jean-Baptiste and Joan Allen both gave
better performances, though. Possible upset by
My pick: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who, win or not, will be
heard from again.
Whoever directed the Best Picture winner will almost
certainly walk away with this one, so that excludes Forman,
whose film wasn't even nominated. Never have understood how
that works. Evidently the Academy feels that making a
picture about a sleazy pornographer is more honorable than
actually being a picture about a sleazy pornographer.
Smart-alec film buffs, myself included, would be pleased to
see the Coen Brothers (Joel is just the figurehead) get the
recognition they have so long, if sporadically, deserved.
Considering, though, that one sequence in "Fargo" consists of
a man feeding Steve Buscemi head-first into a wood chipper,
that would seem, um, unlikely.
My pick: Mike Leigh.
This is a real toughie. Again, it all depends on how many
people are going to vote a straight "Shine" ticket. "The
English Patient" is the kind of thing that voters usually
lean towards -- aerial photography, an honorable war, a
literary background, and (though nobody will admit it)
Kristin Scott Thomas taking her clothes off. "Shine," of
course, is "Shine," and I'm an idiot.
"Secrets and Lies" will either win or get fewer votes than
the "Jethro gets his head stuck in a vase" episode of "The
Beverly Hillbillies" (that would be a write-in). "Jerry
Maguire's" oft-quoted line is "show me the money," which,
let's face it, is what the Oscars are all about, but I really
don't think it stands a chance.
And let me reiterate, in only two words, why "Fargo" won't do
it -- "wood" and "chipper." Again, I really hope I'm wrong,
but look for "Shine."
My pick: I like "Secrets and Lies," a film with a subtly
complex emotional depth that is the gentle snowfall to
"Shine's" bowling ball dropped from an airplane.
| BEST PICTURE | BEST DIRECTOR |
BEST ACTOR |
BEST ACTRESS |
| BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR |
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS |
| COMPLETE LIST OF NOMINEES |
RELATED SITES AND STORIES |
| CNN MAIN PAGE | OSCARS MAIN PAGE |
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.