January 15, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 58  

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Who will take the top three?

It’s a race between Sean Penn (Mystic River) and Bill Murray (Lost in Translation). Murray got kudos for breaking from his usual comic persona, but the feeling seems to be that it’s time for the highly respected Penn to win his first Oscar. Sir Ben Kingsley (House of Sand and Fog) is a perennial nominee and will likely be recognized again. The last two spots are up in the air between such big names/women’s dreamboats as Russell Crowe (Master and Commander), Tom Cruise (Last Samurai) and Jude Law (Cold Mountain). There’s also Gazette darling Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), but his role might not be considered serious enough for consideration.

predicted nominees: Crowe, Kingsley, Law, Murray, Penn

The Oscar is Charlize Theron’s to lose. Her against-type role as a serial killer in Monster was called “one of the great performances in cinema history” by no less than Roger Ebert. Her only obstacle is that not enough people will see the movie, but the Academy loves actresses who ugly themselves up for a role (i.e. Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman). Speaking of Kidman, she’s a likely contender again for Cold Mountain, though it’s unlikely she’ll win back-to-back Oscars. Other nominees will include Diane Keaton (Something’s Gotta Give), Scarlett Johansson for Lost in Translation and the wide-open fifth spot will hopefully go to Naomi Watts in the acting showcase 21 Grams.

predicted nominees: Johansson, Keaton, Kidman, Theron, Watts

Return of the King is prepared to bring the Lord of the Rings trilogy its first Best Picture Oscar. It stands as the popular and critical favourite, though it’s fighting against almost 80 years of Academy history in never awarding fantasy films. If LOTR doesn’t win, which would cause an army of Gandalf fans to rush the stage in nerd Armageddon, expect the title to go to the more conventional Civil War epic Cold Mountain or the critically acclaimed crime drama Mystic River. The indie film darling Lost in Translation and the underdog Seabiscuit will come from behind to take the last two slots.

predicted nominees: Cold Mountain, LOTR: Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Mystic River, Seabiscuit



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