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March 14, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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March 14, 2001
 

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Bag Where They Went Right And (Oh So) Wrong By Justin Levine Best Director nominee - Steven Soderbergh For this year's Academy Award nomi- nations, there is some good and some bad. In other words, it is a typi- cal year. Every film critic feels entitled to write at least three articles on the Academy Awards every year. First there is the "Predictions on who will be and/or ought to be nominated" article. Some weeks later, there is the second "Analysis of who was nominated and who ought to win" article. This is then followed by the third climactic ' nalysis of who actually won and what a travesty it was about (insert award winner or loser here)" article. This space is currently dedicat- ed to the second installment of that annual trilogy. Your humble film critic shall begin with the good news concerning what went right with the nominations this year. The category that came closest to getting it thoroughly right was that for Best Supporting Actor. Benicio Del Toro CTraffic") and Albert Finney ("Erin Brokovich") were among the two most worthy performances this year and they both ended up on the list. Willem Dafoe ("Shadow of the Vampire") is also a respectable choice if you happen to go for showy performances. Naturally, we are only talking about nominations here, so up to five people have to fill the slots. As far as the question of actu- ally winning goes, anyone other than Del Toro would be a complete farce. Other areas where the Academy got it pleasantly right include (in random order): Julie Waiters as Best Supporting Actress for "Billy Elliot"; Steven Soderbergh's double Best Directing nominations tor "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic" (though most critics have it wrong that "Traffic" should win over "Brockovich"); "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as Best Foreign Film, though not as Best Film. "CrouchTng Tiger" is perhaps an obvious choice for a Best Foreign Film nomination. However, it would take an entire column to explain why the Best Foreign Film category ceases to have any purpose when the same film can be nominated in the Best Film category. Now on to the outrages. First and foremost is the fact that "High Fidelity," the true best picture of the year, did not get a single nomination. It should have picked up nom- inations for Best Picture, Best Director (Stephen Frears), Best Actor (John Cusack), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. Instead, the Academy fell asleep and it got bup- kis. Although they are "minor" categories in the eyes of some readers, two of the most egregious examples of Academy errors concern the Best Editing and Best Song cate- gories. The fact that "Gladiator" was nominated for Best Editing demonstrates the coat- tail effect of nominations that can happen when a popular film gathers Oscar steam. Perhaps it was due to a lack of coverage or actor Oliver Reed's pi'emature death, but the fact remains that the editing in "Gladiator" was a jumbled mess in some areas, particu- larly the crucial fight sequences. It frankly was not worthy of the nomination. er astln nomln " " " Another flabb g " g " ation is the one for "Crouching T ger, H dden Dragon in the Best Song category. The nominated song "A Love Before Time" sounds like a standard American pop love ballad and is wholly inappropriate to the feel of a foreign language period film. But if the truth he told, the Best Song category is an entirely ille- gitimate one to beginwith. Songs are rarely integrated into the fabric of a film the way that a (ilm score is. They are more often than not simple cross-promotional items tacked on to the end credits in order to hype a soundtrack or to allow for film clips to be cut into a music video. If a song that happens to be in a film is really that good, the Grammy awards are the appropriate venue to recognize it. But don't tell Academy members that fact. In Hollywood, there is no recognizing good work without a cross-promotional media campaign behind it. IB 4 Bevedy Hills Weekly BANKRUPTCY CALL AN EXPERIENCED BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY E LIMINATE ~:-~EORGAN|ZE DEB-f * IN~ CY ADVICE *Lawsuits *Garnishments PROTECT *Your Home *Your Car *Your Wages *Your Business *Your Mental Well-Being (310) 305-0100 13323 Washington Los Angeles He was in WWII. He loved his family. He made us laugh. Jack Simmons In I"Simm0ns has found a way to | deliver a st()ry of profound | spirituality in the guise of a | lighthearted evening chat." | Orange County Register I "This is a ghost story told I with such sober urgency, it is impossible not to be drawn in." LA Weekly ;'This is a 0nee-in-a-lifetime I theater experience and a won- derful performance from the star and writer, Jack Simmons." 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