73rd Academy Awards

Feature article by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
March 26, 2001

On March 25, 2001, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the winners of the 73rd Annual Academy Awards. Below are the nominees in each category, who I wanted to win, who I thought would win, who actually won, and what I thought about the whole affair. Without further ado, the big one:

Best Picture
Chocolat
Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Erin Brockovich
Gladiator
Traffic
My pick: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
My prediction: Gladiator
...and the Oscar goes to: Gladiator
Comment: It was a pretty easy prediction, but my hopes were up that quality would win out after the surprising Best Director nod. I was terribly wrong.

Best Director
Stephen Daldry - Billy Elliot
Ang Lee - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Steven Soderbergh - Erin Brockovich
Ridley Scott - Gladiator
Steven Soderbergh - Traffic
My pick: Ang Lee
My prediction: Ang Lee
...and the Oscar goes to: Steven Soderbergh for Traffic
Comment: A big surprise, but a welcome one. This was definitely my second choice, and his speech (like his film) was an inspiration to all artists.

Best Actor In A Leading Role
Javier Bardem - Before Night Falls
Russell Crowe - Gladiator
Tom Hanks - Cast Away
Ed Harris - Pollock
Geoffrey Rush - Quills
My pick: Ed Harris
My prediction: Tom Hanks
...and the Oscar goes to: Russell Crowe
Comment: I guess they felt sorry after all those kidnapping threats. I'll consider this a consolation for not winning last year, when he was far more deserving.

Best Actress In A Leading Role
Joan Allen - The Contender
Juliette Binoche - Chocolat
Ellen Burstyn - Requiem for a Dream
Laura Linney - You Can Count on Me
Julia Roberts - Erin Brockovich
My pick: Ellen Burstyn
My prediction: Julia Roberts
...and the Oscar goes to: Julia Roberts
Comment: As I said after the Golden Globes, "Duh."

Best Actor In A Supporting Role
Jeff Bridges - The Contender
Willem Dafoe - Shadow of the Vampire
Benicio Del Toro - Traffic
Albert Finney - Erin Brockovich
Joaquin Phoenix - Gladiator
My pick: Willem Dafoe
My prediction: Benicio Del Toro
...and the Oscar goes to: Benicio Del Toro
Comment: Glad to see him win, as I predicted, but Dafoe would have been so much sweeter.

Best Actress In A Supporting Role
Judi Dench - Chocolat
Marcia Gay Harden - Pollock
Kate Hudson - Almost Famous
Frances McDormand - Almost Famous
Julie Walters - Billy Elliot
My pick: Frances McDormand
My prediction: Judi Dench
...and the Oscar goes to: Marcia Gay Harden
Comment: Probably the biggest shocker of the night, but another welcome one. She was my second choice, and it was a nice consolation for Ed Harris losing.

Best Original Screenplay
Cameron Crowe - Almost Famous
Lee Hall - Billy Elliot
Susannah Grant - Erin Brockovich
David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson - Gladiator
Kenneth Lonergan - You Can Count on Me
My pick: Almost Famous
My prediction: Gladiator
...and the Oscar goes to: Almost Famous
Comment: Since Russell Crowe won the big one, the Academy fulfilled its requirement for major awards besides Best Picture. Good for Cameron Crowe, who certainly was able to appreciate it more.

Best Screenplay Adapted From Another Source
Robert Nelson Jacobs - Chocolat
James Schamus, Wang Hui-Ling, Tsai Kuo-Jung - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen - O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Stephen Gaghan - Traffic
Steven Kloves - Wonder Boys
My pick: Traffic
My prediction: Traffic
...and the Oscar goes to: Traffic
Comment: Nice 'n tidy. I knew they had to get something right.

Best Cinematography
Peter Pau - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
John Mathieson - Gladiator
Lajos Koltai - Malèna
Roger Deakins - O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Caleb Deschanel - The Patriot
My pick: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
My prediction: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
...and the Oscar goes to: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Comment: It was an easy prediction, and my second choice. I'm glad it won, especially after Lee lost out on the mainstream directing award.

Best Original Score
Rachel Portman - Chocolat
Tan Dun - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Hans Zimmer - Gladiator
Ennio Morricone - Malèna
John Williams - The Patriot
My pick: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
My prediction: Gladiator
...and the Oscar goes to: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Comment: They have taste. Who knew? It was a MUCH better idea to have Perlman and Ma up there to perform the scores. Nobody needed to see another collage of interpretive dance.

Best Original Song
"A Love Before Time" - Jorge Calandrelli, Tan Dun, and James Schamus - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
"I've Seen It All" - Björk, Lars von Trier, and Sjón Sigurdsson - Dancer in the Dark
"My Funny Friend and Me" - Sting and David Hartley - The Emperor's New Groove
"A Fool in Love" - Randy Newman - Meet the Parents
"Things Have Changed" - Bob Dylan - Wonder Boys
My pick: "Things Have Changed"
My prediction: "Things Have Changed"
...and the Oscar goes to: "Things Have Changed"
Comment: One of the real highlights of the show. So what if it had the air of being a mere formality?

Best Art Direction
Tim Yip - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Michael Corenblith, Merideth Boswell - Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Arthur Max, Crispian Sallis - Gladiator
Martin Childs, Jill Quertier - Quills
Jean Rabasse, Françoise Benoît-Fresco - Vatel
...and the Oscar goes to: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Comment: Just before the show, I made some impromptu predictions for the technical categories which were never published. Amazingly, I guessed five out of seven correctly. This was one of them.

Best Costume Design
Tim Yip - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Rita Ryack - Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Janty Yates - Gladiator
Jacqueline West - Quills
Anthony Powell - 102 Dalmatians
...and the Oscar goes to: Gladiator
Comment: As I predicted. The oldest era almost always wins.

Best Sound
Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis Sands, William B. Kaplan - Cast Away
Scott Millan, Bob Beemer, Ken Weston - Gladiator
Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Lee Orloff - The Patriot
John Reitz, Greg Rudloff, David Campbell, Keith A. Wester - The Perfect Storm
Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, Rick Kline, Ivan Sharrock - U-571
...and the Oscar goes to: Gladiator
Comment: I predicted The Perfect Storm would win because it was the best. I underestimated the momentum of Gladiator.

Best Film Editing
Joe Hutshing, Saar Klein - Almost Famous
Tim Squyres - Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Pietro Scalia - Gladiator
Stephen Mirrione - Traffic
Dede Allen - Wonder Boys
...and the Oscar goes to: Traffic
Comment: As I predicted. The fact that the film made sense at all was a triumph, and everybody realized that. Also, any film with this many locations and parallel storylines usually wins.

Best Sound Effects Editing
Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman - Space Cowboys
Jon Johnson - U-571
...and the Oscar goes to: U-571
Comment: As I predicted. I remember it having great sound, while I remember little of Space Cowboys' effects. More of a personal choice, really.

Best Visual Effects
John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke, Rob Harvey - Gladiator
Scott E. Anderson, Craig Hayes, Scott Stokdyk, Stan Parks - Hollow Man
Stefen Fangmeier, Habib Zargarpour, John Frazier, Walt Conti - The Perfect Storm
...and the Oscar goes to: Gladiator
Comment: Again, I went with The Perfect Storm, and was disproved in the same manner.

Best Makeup
Michèle Burke, Edouard F. Henriques - The Cell
Rick Baker, Gail Rowell-Ryan - Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Ann Buchanan, Amber Sibley - Shadow of the Vampire
...and the Oscar goes to: Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Comment: As I predicted. It won based on pure volume; everybody was made up in the film.

Best Short Film - Animated
Father and Daughter
The Periwig-Maker
Rejected
...and the Oscar goes to: Father and Daughter

Best Short Film - Live Action
By Courier
One Day Crossing
Quiero ser (I want to be ...)
Seraglio
Uma Historia de Futebol
...and the Oscar goes to: Quiero ser (I want to be ...)

Best Documentary Short Subject
Big Mama
Curtain Call
Dolphins
The Man on Lincoln's Nose
On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom
...and the Oscar goes to: Big Mama

Best Documentary Feature
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
Legacy
Long Night's Journey Into Day
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
Sound and Fury
...and the Oscar goes to: Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
Comment: I could have predicted this one, since it was the only nominee with significant buzz, but I didn't see any of them.

Best Foreign Language Film
Amores perros - Mexico
Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) - Taiwan
Musíme si pomáhat (Divided We Fall) - Czech Republic
Iedereen beroemd! (Everybody Famous!) - Belgium
Le goût des autres (The Taste of Others) - France
My pick: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
My prediction: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
...and the Oscar goes to: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Comment: This was the consolation, allowing Soderbergh and Gladiator to reign in the mainstream categories.

Honorary Awards

Honorary Oscar
Recipient: Jack Cardiff

Honorary Oscar in "appreciation of a body of varied and enduring work."
Recipient: Ernest Lehman

Medal of Commendation
"For his pioneering efforts and innovations in the design of equipment for shooting feature films using optical relays."
Recipient: Paul Kenworthy Jr.

Award of Commendation Plaque
"For the concept, design and implementation of the TASA Trailer Loudness Standard."
Recipients: Ioan Allen, Mark Harrah, Robin Bransbury

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
For "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production."
Recipient: Dino De Laurentiis

Academy Award of Merit
"For their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's Renderman."
Recipients: Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter, Ed Catmull

Gordon E. Sawyer Award
"Presented to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry."
Recipient: Irwin Young

In conclusion...

It was a good show. Steve Martin was funny, and the whole production was tight and over in time. Here are some statistics of the evening:

Gladiator won 5 Oscars, leading all other films.
Both Traffic and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won 4.
The other six feature categories were won by six different films.

Of my predictions in these 19 categories, 12 came true.
Two of the other Oscars went to my personal picks, and the other five were generally favorable alternatives.

The show producers are supposed to award a big, fancy TV set to the winner with the shortest speech. As I recall, it seemed that Tim Yip was briefest in his acceptance of the Best Art Direction award. This was probably because of his uncomfortable relationship with the English language. He thanked Ang Lee right away, paused a little too long for the obligatory applause, and was cut right off by the orchestra. I hope the set works in Taiwan.

Congratulations too all the winners (OK, not to the Gladiator people, whom I now resent) and the nominees. It was a fun time, and I hope that 2001 starts improving so that we'll have something positive to celebrate next year.

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© 2001 Matt Heffernan