European Stars And Stripes
February 9, 1992
If you listen carefully, you can hear it building,Â bit by bit, day by day. Yes, things are relativelyÂ quiet now, but soon the fuss will be considerable.
Because Feb.. 19, at some ungodly hourÂ of the morning stateside (the better to accommodateÂ the eager minions of the world’s press), theÂ nominees for the 1991 Academy Awards will be somberlyÂ announced.
Leading to that day, a massive publicity apparatusÂ has been at work, trying to persuade the members ofÂ the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences toÂ cast their ballot this way or that among the 238 eligibleÂ films.
Civilians may talk about what ought to win anÂ Oscar, but those closer to the inside, like high-stakesÂ gamblers everywhere, are concerned chiefly with figuringÂ out who will end up with the brass ring, notÂ who deserves it.
It is in that spirit, and after an informal poll ofÂ faithful Oscar watchers, that the following predictions are modestly offered.
Best picture Sure to be nominated are threeÂ pictures: The Prince of Tides, Bugsy and The SilenceÂ of the Lambs. With its glossy mainstream romanticism,Â Tides is the most academy-friendly pictureÂ around, and most observers consider it the early favoriteÂ to win the Oscar.
Bugsy, albeit somewhat colderÂ in tone, has many of the same qualities. Lambs,Â though its violence would ordinarily make it suspect,Â has enough adherents to at least make the final five.
With strengths across the board, these three filmsÂ should also be the leaders in total nominations.
The last two slots are more problematical. ThereÂ is a great deal of sentiment for Beauty and theÂ Beast, but it facets several hurdles, including the factÂ that the academy has never ever nominated an animatedÂ feature. Also, no one knows how much resistanceÂ actors, who form a major voting block, willÂ have toward a film that does very well without them,
and there is also chafing at the perception that DisneyÂ is trying to stuff the film down the academy’sÂ throat. Still, Beauty delivers so handsomely on soÂ many traditional Hollywood virtues that, in a weakÂ year, it is a good bet to make the grade.
The Fisher King is a possibility for the fifth slot, asÂ are Grand Canyon and both Thclma & Louise andÂ JFK, though the tinge of controversy that surroundedÂ both will hurt more than help. More likely,Â though in some senses a long shot, is Boyz N theÂ Hood. This is a picture very much in the traditionalÂ academy mold (in the way that Spike Lee‘s movies,Â for instance, never are), but it is hampered by havingÂ been released so early in the year.
Best director Following the best picture pattern,Â Barbra Streisand, Barry Levinson and Jonathan DemmcÂ should be nominatedÂ for Tides,Â Bugsy and Lambs,Â though the academy’s
past indifference to StreisandÂ makes her more of aÂ question mark than she deservesÂ to be.
The final two slots could go anyÂ number of ways. Oliver Stone (JFK)Â and Terry Gilliam (The Fisher King) areÂ seen to have stronger shots as directors thanÂ their films do, and though Cape Fear is definitelyÂ not the academy’s cup of tea, a director ofÂ Martin Scorsese’s ability can never be counted outÂ within his own branch. If Boyz N the Hood gets aÂ nomination, and possibly even if it doesn’t, John Singleton’sÂ name will come up.
Best actor Once again, the same three namesÂ occur: Nick Nolle for Tides, Warren Bcatty forÂ Bugsy and Anthony Hopkins for his lip-smackingÂ chores in The Silence of the Lambs.
Because RobinÂ Williams is an actor the academy seems fond of (twoÂ nominations over the past four years), he should getÂ picked for Fisher King but not Hook (whose nominationsÂ will be almost exclusively in the visual categories).
The last slot, once again, is wide open. DannyÂ Glover is possible for Grand Canyon, as is WilliamÂ Hurt for The Doctor, though that film may haveÂ faded from voters’ memories.
River Phoenix wasÂ very strong in My Own Private Idaho, but it’s notÂ clear whether enough voters saw the film. And RobertÂ De Niro, though his work in Cape Fear had theÂ quality of reprise, can’t be dismissed either.
Best actress Once you get past Jodie FosterÂ for Silence of the Lambs and both Gccna Davis andÂ Susan Sarandon for Thclma & Louise, this categoryÂ appears to be the most amorphous of the lot, withÂ voters likely to go with familiar names and faces inÂ the absence of any other guidelines.
In this spirit, and because the film probably appealedÂ to academy types more than the general public,Â Bctte Midler (who was in fact fine once the latexÂ was removed) should get nominated for For theÂ Boys, and even Michelle Pfeiffer has a chance forÂ Frankie & Johnny.
Laura Dern in Rambling RoseÂ and Mary Stuart Masterson’s excellent work in FriedÂ Green Tomatoes depend for their chances on howÂ many members saw their films.
Best supporting actress Mercedes Ruchl asÂ Jeff Bridges’ long-suffering partner in Fisher King,Â Juliette Lewis as the abused innocent in Cape FearÂ and Kate Nelligan as the mother from hell in PrinceÂ of Tides head everyone’s list of nominees. BecauseÂ the studio has placed Fried Green Tomatoes’ JessicaÂ Tandy in the supporting category, a nomination forÂ her seems likely. Rounding out the group could veryÂ well be Maggie Smith, well-liked (five nominationsÂ so far) and truly luminous in Hook.
Best supportlng actor The richest selectionÂ in any of the categories, with so many potentialÂ names that picking them blindfolded out of a hatÂ seems as good a way as any of determining the nominees.
Surest selection looks like canny veteran JackÂ Palance, twice nominated but never a winner, whoÂ stole City Slickers right out from under his no doubtÂ better-paid co-stars. Right behind him should be theÂ not-quite-as-amusing Alan Rickman, whose SheriffÂ of Nottingham was easily the best thing about RobinÂ Hood. Also promising are Robert Duvall’s muchput-uponÂ father in Rambling Rose and Ned Bcatty’sÂ cameo in Hear My Song.
Best original screenplay The writers’Â branch of the academy is traditionally the most adventurous,Â opting for choices that would give the restÂ of the membership a coronary. This year, the surestÂ nominees include James Toback for Bugsy and GallicÂ Khouri for Thclma & Louise.
Best adapted screenplay After you get pastÂ Silence of the Lambs, it’s anybody’s guess.