Oscar 2003
Ah, Oscar season again. Did the year go by so quickly? Well, it's the beginning of the year, which means that theaters are dumping their horrible movies and expanding their really good ones. And it's time for HARO Online's 3rd Annual Oscar Pick list. Haro and Mongoose again give you their choices for who should win, as well as who should have been nominated. This is not a predictor of who they think will win, since that sometimes bends the rules of logic. The one thing we've noticed this year is that movies and/or actors are popping up in what we think is the wrong categories. This is also For the full list of nominees, please visit the official Oscar website. For last year's picks, please click here.
Winners in BOLD
Best Picture
Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist
Okay, the only film that doesn't belong on this list is Gangs of New York, which is probably the Academy giving Martin Scorcese his due. The rest of the group is surprisingly diverse, and each film has good reasons to get the award. Chicago is a great return for the musical, and an overall enjoyable film. The Hours works wonders in adapting a difficult book with three concurrent stories in three time periods. The Pianist is a moving true story, and The Two Towers is just a great epic. The one glaring omission is the film that we think should win for Best Film - Spirited Away. Other films that should have made the list over Gangs of New York include Adaptation, About a Boy (especially good given it's a comedy), Far From Heaven, Bloody Sunday, or Nicholas Nickleby.
Haro: Chicago
Mongoose: The Hours
Best Actor
Adrien Brody - The Pianist
Nicholas Cage - Adaptation
Michael Caine - The Quiet American
Daniel Day-Lewis - Gangs of New York
Jack Nicholson - About Schmidt
Just because Gangs of New York wasn't that great a film doesn't mean that Day-Lewis shouldn't win. He stole the spotlight from Leonardo DiCaprio with his spellbinding performance. Caine boasts that The Quiet American was his best role ever, and is more right than wrong. With his resume, that says a lot. This is Brody's best role to date, yet it was more the story that is moving than his performance. Cage is also doing better than usual, but there were better performances this year. The same goes for Nicholson, who did good, has done better, and probably shouldn't be here. Otherwise, it wasn't that great a year for leading men. Some people we think should be on this list include Hugh Grant (About a Boy), possibly Campbell Scott (Rodger Dodger), Greg Kinnear (Auto Focus), James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday), or Raymond J. Barry (Interview with the Assassin)
Haro and Mongoose: Daniel Day-Lewis
Best Actress
Salma Hayek - Frida
Nicole Kidman - The Hours
Diane Lane - Unfaithful
Julianne Moore - Far From Heaven
Renee Zellweger - Chicago
This category is probably the hardest to decide, since it has some of the strongest candidates. Kidman, Lane, and Moore all did amazing jobs, and equally deserve the award. Zellweger still doesn't belong, but does more than she did last year. Hayek did a good job, much better than she usually does, but it wasn't top-notch. The notable omission is Moore for The Hours. To lessen the chances of her going against herself, they lobbied (successfully) for a Supporting Actress nomination for what should be a lead actress. Other possible candidates could have included Meryl Streep (The Hours) Jennifer Aniston (The Good Girl) or Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary).
Haro: Nicole Kidman
Mongoose: Diane Lane
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Chris Cooper - Adaptation
Ed Harris - The Hours
Paul Newman - The Road to Perdition
John C. Reilly - Chicago
Christopher Walken - Catch Me If You Can
Cooper is so far ahead of the competition here that it isn't funny (well, it isn't funny anyway). Harris and Newman are the only other viable candidates. Reilly? He didn't even really make an impression (he did a much better job in The Good Girl) , and Walken was no different than he usually is (still good though). Other people who should have been nominated were Dennis Haysbert and Dennise Quaid (both for Far From Heaven), Brian Cox (Adaptation), Mick Jagger or James Coburn (both for The Man From Elysian Fields) or Christopher Plummer (Nicholas Nickleby).
Haro and Mongoose: Chris Cooper
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates - About Schmidt
Julianne Moore - The Hours
Queen Latifah - Chicago
Meryl Streep - Adaptation
Catherine Zeta-Jones- Chicago
Moore is a wonderful actress and doesn't belong in this category. Her performance was more a leading role than a supporting one. Otherwise, Streep would be the frontrunner. Bates and Zeta-Jones (another person who may belong more in Best Actress) were good but not great, as was Latifah, who gave probably her best role to date. Other good candidates include Zooey Deschanel (The Good Girl), Emily Mortimer and Catherine Keener (Lovely & Amazing)
Haro and Mongoose: Julianne Moore
Best Director
Chicago - Rob Marshall
Gangs of New York - Martin Scorcese
The Hours - Stephen Daldry
The Pianist - Roman Polanski
Talk to Her - Pedro Almodovar
Daldry and Marshall are the most deserving of the bunch. Each took an extremely difficult screenplay with huge expectations and preconceived notions and successfully adapted it into a movie. Marshall was able to successfully integrate songs into a movie, and rechoreograph some very memorable numbers. Daldry took an extremely complex story and turned it into a cohesive whole. Polanski comes next. As for Scorcese and Almodovar, they are great and important directors, but this is not their best work. Their nominations seem more a catch up from prior years. Other potential candidates missed were Spike Jonze (Adaptation), Julie Taymor (Frida), Gore Verbinski (The Ring), Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), or Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away)
Haro: The Hours
Mongoose: Chicago
Best Original Screenplay
Far From Heaven - Todd Haynes
Gangs of New York - Jay Cocks, Steve Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan
My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Nia Vardalos
Talk to Her - Pedro Almodovar
Y Tu Mama Tambien - Carlos Cuaron and Alfonso Cuaron
Didn't Vardalos base her movie on her stage play? So wouldn't that make it ineligible for Best Original screenplay? Gangs of New York and Talk to Her are good examples of good writers with off-peak material. Far From Heaven is both an homage to films of an earlier time and a look at the ugly underside of an earlier America, and Y Tu Mama Tambien weaves together a ribald coming-of-age story with some keen observations on Mexico today. Other missed opportunities include Lovely & Amazing, The Man From Elysian Fields, Panic Room, Secretary, or Punch-Drunk Love.
Haro: Y Tu Mama Tambien
Mongoose: Far From Heaven
Best Adapted Screenplay
About a Boy - Peter Hedges, Christ Weitz, and Paul Weitz
Adaptation - Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman
Chicago - Bill Condon
The Hours - David Hare
The Pianist - Ronald Harwood
This is another strong category, with each of the films worthy of winning. It's especially nice to see About a Boy here, knowing how hard it is for comedies to get recognition. And although Adaptation is kind of adapted, isn't it more of an original work than anything else, meaning it should be in the other writing category? It would also have been nice to see The Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Minority Report, Nicholas Nickleby, The Quiet American, or Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Haro: Adaptation
Mongoose: The Hours
Best Foreign Language Film
El Crimen del Padre Amaro - Mexico
Hero - China
The Man Without A Past - Finland
Nowhere in Africa - Germany
Zus & Zo - The Netherlands
As of this writing, only one film has made its way into general release. Three more are coming shortly, most likely on or around the Academy Awards telecast. To get nominated, the country selects one film and submits it, and then the Academy chooses it. For Mexico, El Crimen del Padre Amaro is an overhyped film that benefitted from a very topical subject. Y Tu Mama Tambien was a much better film. HARO Online has seen very few of the submissions, and of them, Brazil's City of God is a glaring omission. Other foreign films released during the year that deserve some recognition (but because they are foreign, who knows if they even qualified) are Sex & Lucia, Atanarjuat, Bloody Sunday, and The Last Kiss.
Best Animated Feature Film
Ice Age
Lilo & Stitch
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirited Away
Treasure Planet
Hey, the Academy did a pretty good job here. Spirited Away is so far ahead of the group that it will be a travesty if it doesn't win. The only other serious contender is Lilo & Stitch. Ice Age was a nice surprise, and the best thing one can say about Treasure Planet was that it wasn't as bad as everybody though. Spirit probably doesn't belong here, and could be replaced by The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
Haro and Mongoose: Spirited Away.
Best Music (Song)
8 Mile - Lose Yourself - Eminem
Frida - Burn It Blue - Elliot Goldenthal
Gangs of New York - U2 - The Hands That Built America
The Wild Thornberrys Movie - Paul Simon - Father and Daughter
Chicago - John Kander and Fred Ebb - I Move On
Like in the Best Animated Feature category, one song looms over every other, "Lose Yourself" by Eminem. It seethes with raw passion, anger, and frustration, unlike the other songs, which are just plain dull. Simon is the only contender that comes close. Most film songs these days are just blah (U2 in particular was pretty disappoiting). Some good songs that the Academy missed were Steve Earle's from The Rookie, Badly Drawn Boy's (aka Damon Gough) "Something to Talk About" from About A Boy, or anything Belle and Sebastian did for Storytelling.
Haro and Mongoose: 8 Mile - Lose Yourself
Best Music (Score)
Catch Me If You Can - John Williams
Far From Heaven - Elmer Bernstein
Frida - Elliot Goldenthal
The Hours - Philip Glass
Road to Perdition - Thomas Newman
Glass' score is not only good, it is an integral part of The Hours. It serves to bind the three stories together, providing a common anchor for the audience. Otherwise, Williams and Bernstein do a great job with more old-fashioned scores for their respective movies. The Academy tends to play it safe in this category, and it would have been nice to see Jon Brion's ultra-percussive score for Punch-Drunk Love, anything from Clint Mansell (especially World Traveler or even Murder By Numbers), Rachel Portman (The Emperor's New Clothes or Nicholas Nickleby), Howard Shore (The Two Towers), Jason Osborn (The Triumph of Love) or Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek (One Hour Photo).
Haro and Mongoose: Philip Glass, The Hours

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