By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
The only overlap between Oscar and Spirit Award winners was Moore's documentary Bowling for Columbine, which I — despite the reservations of so many of my critic friends, and though I'd rather have seen the award go to Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco's searing Daughter From Danang— thought a deft deconstruction of the battle over gun control, and not in the least unfair to Charlton Heston. Far From Heaven won no Academy Awards, which, as had been widely predicted, were swept (in a small way) by Chicago. To those of us made nervous by scantily clad people bursting into song and dance every five minutes, Chicago's Best Picture nod was disappointing (though the three teenagers in the house where I was watching the show could barely contain their joy, outstripped only by Eminem's surprise win, for Best Song). True, the competition for the Big One wasn't all that stiff. The Pianistwould have been an honorable choice, though I'm convinced that the movie will more likely endure as a significant moment in the autobiography of Roman Polanski than as a landmark of world cinema. But why the gasp of surprise when Polanski scored Best Director, when he'd already been granted very public absolution by his victim in the statutory-rape scandal, and when Holocaust movies have a history of success with the Academy? Case in point: No matter how good Aki Kaurismaki's Man Without a Past is, the Finnish director didn't stand a chance for Best Foreign Film against Germany's Nowhere in Africa, a perfectly presentable — though hardly distinguished — drama about Jewish refugees in Kenya.
For my money, though, the scandal of the evening was Ronald Harwood's Best Adapted Screenplay win with his script — a declamatory piece of wood — for The Pianist. If the Academy wanted to reward a Brit, they'd have done better to honor David Hare's nimble rendition of Michael Cunningham's nigh-on pathologically interior novel The Hours. I'd also have been perfectly satisfied with the Kaufman brothers for Adaptation, or the Weitz brothers and Peter Hedges for the neglected About a Boy. Almodóvar's win for Best Original Screenplay, on the other hand, was spot on, though what Spain thought it was doing by not entering the sublime Talk to Her for Best Foreign Film is anybody's guess.
While it would have been nice to see Julianne Moore get her due for at least one of her fragile '50s housewives (Far From Heaven, not The Hours), my first choice for Best Actress was Diane Lane, for her incandescently wayward wife in Adrian Lyne's otherwise dopey Unfaithful. Kidman was an okay choice, though her acceptance speech seemed bent on proving the adage that actors should be seen and not heard offscreen. Kathy Bates had Best Supporting Actress stolen out from under her by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and though Chris Cooper was great in Adaptation, I'd have gone with Christopher Walken by a hair. I wouldn't have chosen Adrien Brody over Jack Nicholson for Best Actor, but it has to be said that the evening's only real treat (other than my perennial sentimental favorite, the clip sequence of those who died over the past year) was seeing Brody, a charmingly coltish presence in an otherwise elderly evening, plant one down the throat of an astonished Halle Berry. There's a man who knows how to make love, not war.
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