Who will the winners be in 2003?

Dec. 31, 1969, 7 p.m. | By Abigail Graber | 51 years ago

Get the lowdown on the most dazzling and deserving Oscar nominees

When Meryl Streep makes the nightly news and the Mighty Miramax Publicity Machine is once again a-churnin', the Academy Awards must be just around the corner. So sit back, relax and read on to find out which bright stars should win Oscars and which thieving upstarts will take them away.

Best Actress

The real competition this year is between Renée Zellweger, for her role as the foxy Roxie in Chicago, and Nicole Kidman, for portraying troubled author Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Sadly for Zellweger, the Academy hates awarding scantily clad women; they didn't give Kidman the Oscar last year for her turn as a scantily clad prostitute in Moulin Rouge, and they're not going to give it to Zellweger this year for playing a scantily clad jailbait. Unfortunately for Salma Hayek, her exquisite, captivating performance as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in Frida will go overlooked for lack of publicity.

And the Oscar goes to . . . Nicole Kidman for The Hours, which, though an inspired performance, falls short of the emotional intensity and range displayed by Salma Hayek in Frida.

Best Actor

This award belongs to Adrien Brody. Period. He starved himself to fit the role of Wladyslaw Szpilman, the Polish pianist who survived the Warsaw ghetto of World War II in The Pianist. His very human mannerisms and quiet desperation complement the gruesome subject matter of the movie and its dismal tone.

Challenger Nicholas Cage could win the award for a duel stint in Adaptation if he hadn't done such critical flops as Windtalkers and Gone in 60 Seconds. Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in Gangs of New York covers the entire emotional spectrum of smug to really smug. Jack Nicholson's tribute to Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, a blah performance, won the Golden Globe only because he was being honored at the ceremony, so logically he couldn't lose. Fortunately, the Academy won't feel the same obligation.

And the Oscar goes to . . . a deserving Adrien Brody for bringing Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist to life.

Best Picture

Two of the movies nominated don't deserve the honor, but they have the hype to pull through. As the second film in a trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers really just fills time from the beginning of the story to the exciting climax. And Gangs of New York, a poorly written, haphazardly constructed film, contains acting that any kindergarten Christmas pageant would shame. The Hours and Chicago, the heavy favorites, are better than many movies that have won in past years, but neither packed the emotional and psychological punch of The Pianist. Unfortunately, nobody saw The Pianist, so it can't win. The Hours, an expertly woven drama with superb acting, is the most likely candidate, although Chicago could pull an upset if the Academy decides to prove that they aren't a bunch of old fuddy-duddies and gives a jazzy musical a major award.

And the Oscar goes to . . . The Hours, the publicity of which will overshadow The Pianist, the more powerful and commendable film.

Best Director

The Best Director award this year really should be called the Lifetime Achievement award, because the best director is not going to win it. Peter Jackson forged into uncharted territory and delivered outstanding technical material with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Mystifyingly, he was not nominated, which could put him at a disadvantage. Martin Scorsese will step in to fill the breach. Don't be fooled; he isn't being rewarded for Gangs of New York, a sloppy film that doesn't deserve any nominations outside of the technical categories. No, Scorsese is going to walk home with the Oscar he should have won years ago for his decades of work in the film industry. It's just a pity that Gangs of New York has to be the film he'll win for.

And the Oscar goes to . . . Martin Scorsese for anything but Gangs of New York, while Peter Jackson looks forward to one more chance next year.

Think you can out-predict Silver Chips? Enter our Academy Awards contest. Submit your picks for the four categories above to room 158 by Mar 21, or enter online. The winner will receive a $15 gift certificate to AMC theatres.

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Abigail Graber. Abigail Graber, according to various and sundry ill-conceived Internet surveys: She is: <ul><li>As smart as Miss America and smarter than Miss Washington, D.C., Miss Tennessee, Miss Massachusetts, and Miss New York</I> <li>A goddess of the wind</li> <li>An extremely low threat to the Bush administration</li> <li>Made … More »

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