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Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Full 2001 Oscar Nominations List

Bruce Kirkland Chat Transcript

Toronto Sun film critic Bruce Kirkland chatted with movie fans on Tuesday February 13th about the 2001 Oscar nominations. Here is the transcript:

What are you betting on to win for best picture?

Bruce Kirkland : The obvious choice is Gladiator: It's a great film, it's a hit, it's glorious from a technical point of view and it's traditional, mainstream Hollywood. If they were to take a huge risk, they would go for the real best film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Elizabeth: It's no secret that Julia Roberts really, really wants this Oscar. Do you think she'll leave the ceremony happy?

Bruce Kirkland : Julia Roberts makes my skin crawl. I can't stand the sight of her on screen. BUT she is absolutely perfect in this role, delivering exactly the physical and emotional balance this part needed. This shows what can happen when a lousy actress/movie star is in the hands of a masterful director. So, as much as it pains me to say it, she deserves this Oscar and will win it.

Keira: Do you think Steven Soderbergh will cancel himself out in the best picture category because of being nominated for two different films?

Bruce Kirkland : Yes, although I'll offer a counter opinion in a second in the director category. The cancelling out theory holds in the best picture category, where Gladiator will probably prevail, because Academy voters are conservative and are probably leary of giving Traffic too much emphasis. At the same time, this is Steven Soderbergh's career year. The two films are so strangely and wonderfully different that each has a groundswell of support. But I think that even the Erin Brockovich people might vote for Soderbergh as best director for Traffic because it's the more arty film and this would be a good way to acknowledge all his work in 2000.

oscarfanatic: Was there an actor, director or picture you think was snubbed by the Academy? Who should have been nominated but wasn't and who was nominated but shouldn't have been?

Bruce Kirkland : Snubs:These are obviously personal choices but I think both michael douglas and Obey maguire, as well as the film Wonder Boys itself, got robbed. Another problem area was overlooking the stellar work of Bruce Greenwood in Thirteen Days, although most pundits didn't expect him to get in. And michelle Ye oh absolutely should have been in for Crouching Tiger, as well as Hang ziyi (in the best supporting actress category) deserved attention as well in the same film. Mistakes: What's with the outpouring of noms for Chocolate? It's a nice little diversion, not a film of substance. So let's kick out Juliette Binoche and substitute Yeoh. Let's kick out the film and put in Wonder Boys or even Pollock or Thirteen Days or ...

clooneyin2001: I was hoping that George Clooney would get a nomination for his role in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"? Do you think the Academy is hesitant to nominate actors for comedic roles?

Bruce Kirkland : I could support George Clooney for a nom, although I did not pick him in my own predictions list. Nevertheless, you are right in thinking the Academy is leary or nominating actors in comedic roles. They LOVE the movies, love when they do box office, but rarely take them seriously, as if it meant demeaning the Oscars somehow. Which is absurd considering it is more difficult to do comedy well than drama (or so most actors will tell you). The stigma lives on. Incidentally, Clooney was very Cary Grant-ish in O Brother. Grant was nominated twice and never won, except for an honorary one in 1969.

George: Was there a Canadian film you think should have been nominated this year?

Bruce Kirkland : Canada did not do well. Quebec director Denis Villeneuve's Maelstrom, which swept Canada's Oscars (the Genie Awards), was Canada's official entry in the best foreign language category. It did not make it in among the five nominees. Maybe it should have been. But a special jury does these selections and basically ignores Quebec cinema, with the exception of a couple of Denys Arcand's classics, Jesus Of Montreal and The Decline Of The American Empire. As for mainstream Canadian movies, none could possibly get in although New Waterford Girl is actually a lot better movie than Chocolat. Few Americans have seen it, however, due to the usual distribution nightmares for indie Canuck flicks.

Jim: Just wondering if you or anyone out there agrees with me when I say....GLADIATOR was not that great of a film. Yay - a recycled Braveheart (which wasn't that great either). Why is the Academy so keen on epic battle scenes?

Bruce Kirkland : Okay, I do maintain that Gladiator is a great movie (not a classic but thrilling nonetheless) because it is more than a spectacle full of battles and action sequences. It actually has a plot, strong characters, a moral point of view, terrific acting and an emotional arc which does not disappear in the wash of special effects. That said, of course it is similar to Braveheart in that it appeals the Academy members' appreciation of spectacle. Most of them could never have made a movie on this scale, so they are impressed and line up their votes. Once again, however, Crouching Tiger is a best film. So is Traffic. Erin Brockovich is not.

Randy Myers: I must say this is a really poor crop of noms. Most of the roles nominated could be played just as good by someone else. No classic portrayals or anything. If the Oscars reflect the state of American films...where is it at in your opinion?

:

Bruce Kirkland : I disagree that this is a poor crop - and it's the same thing I hear every year. I would fight the tigers in Gladiator to defend Crouching Tiger and Traffic as stunning cinematic achievements. The Academy took a tremendous leap of faith in giving Crouching Tiger 10 noms, the most ever for a non-English film (the seven Life Is Beautiful got in 1997 was the previous record). Nominating the likes of Javier Bardem for Before Night Falls took guts. At the same time, there are the usual conservative choices that speak to the problem of American cinema. Chocolat is conventional. Cast Away is a knee-jerk reaction to Tom Hanks' popularity. I would argue that all these films, even the ones not made in America, reflect the state of American cinema. Crouching Tiger may be a Taiwan production set in ancient China but Ang Lee, its creator and director, is thoroughly American (he has been in the States since 1978). His collaborator is James Schamus, a New Yorker. And so on. The point is that American cinema is not one attitude or genre or style of films. Historically, even Hollywood has sucked up the energy of world cinema to transform their studio work. That process continues here. So, "a poor crop of films?" , no, just not consistently outstanding.

Bigwig: Why do you think "Almost Famous" failed to win a best picture nomination?

Bruce Kirkland : I disagree that this is a poor crop - and it's the same thing I hear every year. I would fight the tigers in Gladiator to defend Crouching Tiger and Traffic as stunning cinematic achievements. The Academy took a tremendous leap of faith in giving Crouching Tiger 10 noms, the most ever for a non-English film (the seven Life Is Beautiful got in 1997 was the previous record). Nominating the likes of Javier Bardem for Before Night Falls took guts. At the same time, there are the usual conservative choices that speak to the problem of American cinema. Chocolat is conventional. Cast Away is a knee-jerk reaction to Tom Hanks' popularity. I would argue that all these films, even the ones not made in America, reflect the state of American cinema. Crouching Tiger may be a Taiwan production set in ancient China but Ang Lee, its creator and director, is thoroughly American (he has been in the States since 1978). His collaborator is James Schamus, a New Yorker. And so on. The point is that American cinema is not one attitude or genre or style of films. Historically, even Hollywood has sucked up the energy of world cinema to transform their studio work. That process continues here. So, "a poor crop of films?" , no, just not consistently outstanding.

Bruce Kirkland : The disappointment over Almost Famous is understandable. Everyone who has seen it loves it. The Academy members, the more than 5,000 who vote, obviously didn't bother (I know actors who give tapes of the films they get to their maids and other staff members because they don't actually like watching movies). Almost Famous is based on the 1970s music scene, not a subject matter than interests them, I think. The age of most of the members is skewed to the old (and white and dull). At the same time, the film's fans must be happy with the craft noms and the two acting noms, although these two will probably cancel each other out in the best supporting actress category.

A.: Do you predict any surprise winners this year or do you think there will be a sweep a la "Titanic"?

Bruce Kirkland : A sweep? Almost all Gladiator all day long on Oscar night. With exceptions. I'm thinking Steven Soderbergh might sneak in as best director, confounding Ridley Scott for Gladiator (and Scott is already grieving, his mother just died a week ago). Julia Roberts will win as best actress, but that doesn't concern the Gladiator crowd. Russell Crowe, I think, is the insider this year for Gladiator. His time has come. In the best supporting actor category, I would bet on Benicio Del Toro for Traffic (the most deserving winner among the front-runners in any category). In the best supporting actress category, it's wide open but Kate Hudson is hot and she might win for Almost Famous. Add it all up and it's obviously not a sweep. But Gladiator will probably clean up in technical categories, win as best picture and come away as the top dog on the night.

Bruce Kirkland : Thanks for all the questions. I wish I had more time to answer but my editors downstairs in the Toronto Sun are waiting for me to write the story for tomorrow's paper. So thanks for the keen interest. Oscars are not that serious but it's entertaining to beat them up for all their excess. BSK

Full 2001 Oscar Nominations List







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'Gladiator' nabbed 12 Oscar nominations.

RELATED LINKS
- More: JAM!'s 2001 Oscar coverage
- More: Traffic
- More: Erin Brockovich




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