Outlines, The Voice of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Community, March 22, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Lambda Publications Inc. All rights reserved.
There's good and bad news for the queer contenders for this year's Academy Awards. The best news is that so many of the year's best films and performances involved queer subject matter, whether the artists who created them were queer or not.
And while simply saying "gay or lesbian" may cover the Jims next door, the most normal characters in American Beauty, and the netherworldly partners of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, only "queer" can describe the transgendered hero of Boys Don't Cry and the dykes-once-removed in Being John Malkovich.
The actors playing gay weren't nominated for American Beauty, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia or Electionor Flawless, which earned Philip Seymour Hoffman a SAG nomination for his drag role. Nor were gay actors Rupert Everett ( An Ideal Husband ), Michael Jeter ( The Green Mile ) and Anne Heche ( The Third Miracle ) cited for their nongay roles. Hell, Jar Jar Binks wasn't nominated either.
Gay director Pedro Almodovar was limited to a Best Foreign Language Film nomination for what many consider his personal best, All About My Mother ( with Antonia San Juan brilliant as the transgendered Agrado ); and lesbian filmmaker Kimberly Peirce was left out for her debut, Boys Don't Cry, which at least scored acting nominations ( unlike a comparable indie last year, High Art, with Ally Sheedy and Patricia Clarkson terrific as lesbian lovers ).
Can you remember a year when there were so many viable candidates? That's the good news.
The bad news, in addition to those who weren't nominated, is that they won't all win. Neither, of course, will all the heterosexual actors and makers of heterosexual films.
If there's one sure thingand this being the Oscars, there never is ( ask Lauren Bacall )it's that gay writer Alan Ball will win the Best Original Screenplay award for American Beauty.
That's also the logical Best Picture winner, but when you're trying to guess how the Academy will vote a dartboard is a better tool than logic. Last year's defeat of Saving Private Ryan by Shakespeare in Love was spooky enough to trigger an X-Files investigation, but since there was an X-Files movie that year it might have looked like sour grapes.
Because The Cider House Rules scored a surprising seven nominations, this year is being hyped as a rematch between DreamWorks ( Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty ) and Miramax ( Shakespeare in Love, The Cider House Rules ). I'm afraid to say Miramax' dark horse won't pass the frontrunner again, so I'm going even farther out on a limb to predict Academy voters are as tired of the supposed rivalry as I am and will instead crown the popular choice, The Sixth Sense, which has grossed nearly as much as the other four nominees ombined.
To keep Oscar-dissers from asking, "How could The Sixth Sense have been the Best Picture when it didn't win any other awards?" the Academy may give it a prize earlier in the eveningalthough I'm not predicting it. If it does pick up an award in one of the other five categories it's nominated in, that will be a strong indicator it's headed for The Big One.
Although Hilary Swank managed a virtual sweep of the critics' awards for her portrayal of Brandon Teena, she'll have to be content with her nomination for an Oscarand the fact that more and better scripts are coming her way. With Warren Beatty taking home the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award it's going to be a family affair. By naming Annette Bening Best Actress the Academy will crown the Beattys King and Queen of Hollywood. If Roberto Benigni delivers their fourth child onstage, do you think they'll name it "Oscar"?
Best Actor looks like a two-man race between Denzel Washington and Kevin Spacey. Each already has a supporting trophy and both gave excellent performances, but Spacey's was in a popular film while The Hurricane was tainted by controversy. Look for Oscar to play safe and go home with Kevin ( not that anyone named Oscar would ever go home with Kevin ).
So far we're echoing the Screen Actors Guild, and that continues with the supporting awards, which means bisexual Angelina Jolie will defeat ChloÃƒï¿½ Sevigny in Boys and bring Oscar glory to another generation of the Voight dynasty, and Michael Caine will win the only award for Cider House ( unless the Academy goes against the Writers Guild and honors John Irving, but I'll say they won't and Election will cop another prize ). And I'll repeat the prediction I made when I saw The Green Mile, that they won't be able to resist the visual contrast of pairing Michael Clarke Duncan and Haley Joel Osment as co-presenters.
The Directors Guild award, usually a sure predictor of Oscar, came out before my deadline for a change; but it only confirmed the choice I would have made anyway: Sam Mendes for American Beauty. Making its Best Picture loss all the more unexpected when it comes, Beauty will also win awards for Best Cinematography ( and someday Brian De Palma will copy that plastic bag shot ), Best Editing and Best Original Score, for a total of seven out of eight.
Speaking of music I'd love to see "Blame Canada" take the Best Song award ( and the big suspense of the evening will be in seeing how and by whom it's performed on the show ); but of this year's weak crop of nominees ( please, God, not Phil Collins! ) I'll guess the Academy will take the opportunity to honor long overdue Randy Newman on his 13th nomination, for "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 ( sung in the film, pronouns intact, by Sarah McLachlan ).
Best Makeup is a tough category this year. They did an incredible job making Robin Williams look like a robot who looked like Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man, but there's a general backlash against Williams. So unless the voters think it was makeup that made Verne Troyer look short in Austin Powers the award will go to Rick Baker for aging the stars of Life.
Star Wars has to win something, so let's give it Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing, with the Visual Effects statuette goingwhoa!to The Matrix.
It wasn't the Art Direction that made Italy look so good in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Sleepy Hollow will be duking it out with Anna and the King in that category and Best Costume Design, with Sleepy winning the former and Anna the latter.
That leaves us with the categories where we haven't seen most of the nominees and the results are determined by the small number of people who have. I'll take the usually foolhardy position that the popular choice, All About My Mother will win for Best Foreign Language Film. The Best Documentary Feature will be the nominee about which I know the least, One Day in September. That just leaves the short subjects, about which I'll guess wildly: Documentary: Eyewitness; Animated: The Old Man and the Sea; Live Action: Major and Minor Miracles.
The 72nd Academy Awards will be given out March 26. I won't be answering my phone March 27.
[See the calendar for details on two local big-screen Oscar parties, one at Fizz Bar for Lesbian Community Cancer Project and AIDS Alternative Health Project, and one at Circuit for the NAMES Project.]
This article is from Outlines newspaper, which purchased and merged with Windy City Times in Sept. 2000.
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