Volume 96, Issue 93
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

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Three kinds of March Madness

Three major events dominated the tube last Sunday, all of which were both vastly different and yet eerily similar.

  • The war with Iraq has dominated news for the past week, to the point where it has become a programming staple. You can be channel-surfing and say "Flip over to the war," much like you'll say "Flip over to Friends."

    In presenting the war, CNN has basically turned into Headline Sports: a running ticker at the bottom of the screen, showing the same footage (at least they don't call them "highlights") over and over again, and Wolf Blitzer, who really should've been a linebacker with a name like that. Or at least an eccentric German filmmaker.

    An American victory in this war is as much a foregone conclusion as Chicago's Best Picture victory, and yet we watch CNN with rapt attention anyway. If this war has a movie analogy, it is with a Shakespearean adaptation. We know how it will turn out, and yet the exact twists of the narrative have yet to be revealed.

  • Nothing quite matches that singular moment when you realize that your entire NCAA tournament bracket has just been blown to hell. For me it happened last Sunday, when Wake Forest (my pick for the final game) got eliminated by Auburn. Serves me right for picking a school that sounds like the setting for a fairy tale.

    After the first two rounds, the NCAAs become just another series of basketball games, but those first four days are just an orgiastic feast of basketball. You'll see more exciting finishes, miracle shots and players leaving their hearts on the court in one day of March Madness than you will in an entire NBA season. It's like a 126-hour director's cut of Hoosiers.

  • And then, to top it all off, there was the Oscars. You've got to love a ceremony where Michael Moore gets booed and Roman Polanski, hiding out in Europe since 1978 after being charged with statutory rape in California, gets a standing ovation after winning the Best Director award.

    Moore's speech at least broke the tension over who would say what, though several winners made comments wishing for peace in a slightly more low-key fashion. Adrien Brody, surprise Best Actor winner for The Pianist, gave such a moving speech that Dustin Hoffman, the next presenter, was wiping away tears.

    That capped off Brody's entry into the Best Five Minutes Ever contest. He wins an Oscar, lays the mother of all kisses on Halle Berry, makes a great speech and pretty much endears himself to everyone watching the telecast.

    The other big upset of the night was Eminem winning the Best Song Oscar for "Lose Yourself," beating the likes of U2 and Paul Simon. Marshall was too cool to actually show up at the ceremony, thus robbing us of the all-time Oscar moment of Eminem getting an award and a handshake from Barbara Streisand. Accepting the Oscar instead was one of the song's co-writers, a nattily-dressed chap in a Detroit Pistons jersey.

March Madness indeed.


BEST PICTURE
Chicago

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Adrien Brody in The Pianist

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Chris Cooper in Adaptation

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Nicole Kidman in The Hours

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Spirited Away Dir. Hayao Miyazaki

ART DIRECTION
John Myhre (Art Direction); Gordon Sim (Set Decoration) for Chicago

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Conrad L. Hall for Road to Perdition

COSTUME DESIGN
Colleen Atwood for Chicago

DIRECTING
Roman Polanski for The Pianist

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Michael Moore and Michael Donovan for Bowling for Columbine

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Bill Guttentag and Robert David Port for Twin Towers

FILM EDITING
Martin Walsh for Chicago

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Nowhere in Africa (Germany) Dir. Caroline Link

MAKEUP
John Jackson and Beatrice De Alba for Frida

MUSIC (SCORE)
Elliot Goldenthal for Frida

MUSIC (SONG)
"Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile
Music by Eminem, Jeff Bass and Luis Resto; Lyrics by Eminem

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
The Chubb Chubbs! Dir. Eric Armstrong

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION
Martin Strange-Hansen and Mie Andreasen for This Charming Man (Der Er En Yndig Mand)

SOUND
Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella and David Lee for Chicago

SOUND EDITING
Ethan Van der Ryn and Michael Hopkins for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

VISUAL EFFECTS
Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Ronald Harwood for The Pianist

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
Pedro Almod—var for Talk to Her

HONORARY AWARD
Peter O' Toole


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