Worms and Viruses

January 27, 2004
A thought by James Berardinelli

Just a quick note for anyone who may be sending me an e-mail in the near future (or has recently sent one). As a result of the latest virus, my mailbox is being flooded with hundreds of infected e-mails. Although my anti-virus software keeps my computer clean, it's still a pain in the neck to have to cull through all the garbage looking for legitimate messages. I'm trying, but I know I'm missing some. If you don't get a response, it's probably because I inadvertantly jettisoned your e-mail. Try again once the virus period has passed (I believe it is scheduled to die out on February 12). In the meantime, if you haven't, please update your anti-virus software. If everyone was up-to-date (and smart about not opening e-mail attachments), viruses like this wouldn't be able to reproduce so quickly.

Oscar Nomination Predictions: Eighty Percent

Let me start this brief Oscar-related commentary by saying that I'm not going to go through each category and dryly give my thoughts about the worthiness of each selection. Been there, done that, and it's probably as dull to read as it is to write. Instead, I'm just going to throw out a few thoughts and observations. If you want a detailed "analysis" of the nominations, there should be no shortage in tomorrow morning's papers (either on your front porch or on-line).

My success rate in predicting Oscar nominations was higher than I anticipated. I missed one in each category, except Best Actress (where I missed two) and Best Actor (where I got them all). However, this can be viewed as an anomaly, and future performance will not necesarily match past success. (Or, to put it another way, I don't have a great track record winning Oscar pools.) As is my usual procedure, I will post predictions for the winner of each category on the day of the awards ceremony.

Cold Shoulder for Cold Mountain

Six nominations isn't exactly a "failure," but, based on what was expected of Cold Mountain, it represents a blow to Miramax. Four so-called "locks" (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress - Nicole Kidman, and Best Adapted Screenplay) were withheld, leaving The Return of the King in an even stronger position than before. Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein will have to retreat to a cave to lick his wounds. He can spend all of his dollars promoting Jude Law and Renee Zellweger, but he has been shut out in the Best Picture category. I predicted success for Cold Mountain, and couldn't be more happy at its fall from grace. I have despised Miramax's free-spending Oscar policies since they pilfered the Best Picture Oscar away from Saving Private Ryan. (Last year, they bought Chicago a nice, shiny mantlepiece statue.)

No Scarlett Fever

Scarlett Johansson is young, and, if she's as good as she has appeared to be early in her career, she'll have plenty of future opportunities to capture nominations. Some will argue that she was robbed this year, but I think this was more of a case of the vote getting split too many ways. An actor cannot be nominated twice in the same category, so voters were undoubtedly uncertain whether to vote Johansson as Best Supporting Actress (Lost in Translation), Best Actress (Lost in Translation), or Best Actress (Girl with a Pearl Earring). The result was a miss in the top five of both categories. Sometimes, it doesn't pay to be very good in two films. (Although Sean Penn managed to overcome the problem.) Scarlett's fans can take some solace from her appearance in a new movie this weekend. Unfortunately, because of weather problems (snow keeping me penned up in my house), I won't be able to review The Perfect Score until the weekend. (I did get The Big Bounce in, though.)

A Hughes Surprise

Yes, Djimon Hounsou was unexpected. And not many people predicted Samantha Morton. But the biggest surprise of all was 13-year old Keisha Castle-Hughes getting a nomination for Whale Rider. Castle-Hughes' presence will add a "cuteness factor" to the proceedings (hopefully, she won't cry when she loses), but it's worth noting that if the Academy wanted to nominate a teenager, they could have looked closer to home. Not to disparage Castle-Hughes' performance (she was good), but Evan Rachel Ward (Thirteen) merited more consideration.

Front Runners

Often, front-runners on the day when nominations are announced don't remain front-runners until the day the awards are handed out. But, for what's it's worth, this is how I currently see the field. As I noted above, these are not my "official" predictions, but it will be interesting to note how much (or little) things change during the next five weeks. As with yesterday's nomination predictions, I will only look at the six biggest categories: The Return of the King (Picture), Peter Jackson (Director), Sean Penn (Actor), Charlize Theron (Actress), Renee Zellweger (Supporting Actress), and Tim Robbins (Supporting Actor). The supporting categories often offer surprises, and Sean Penn's "outsider" status makes him an uncertain choice. Bill Murray could end up being the favorite by the time the dust settles.