Who will go home with a bald, naked, gold-plated statuette at the close of Sunday evening's 74th Annual Academy Awards brouhaha?
That's the question we asked readers at the outset of the Roundup/Sawmill Theatres' Brand Spanking New Oscar Contest and by the time the ballot box was sealed at 4 p.m. yesterday, about 40 of you had wagered your best guesses.
The winner will be announced in Tuesday's paper, after the glitter has settled.
Until that time, it's our turn to play Academy Award Psychic giving you the Monday-morning opportunity to reel in awe at my uncanny ability to foretell the future ... or laugh loudly and derisively at my boneheaded selections.
For a while there, Russell Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind") seemed to have a lock on winning his second Oscar in a row after last year's "Gladiator." But then he started screaming at media folk, and over the past month or so, the movie itself based on the real-life travails and triumphs of schizophrenic mathematician John Nash has been the subject of what appears to be a pretty effective smear campaign for its loose treatment of the facts. So what better time to give a career achievement award, and a nod to Black Hollywood, by honoring...
Winner: Denzel Washington, "Training Day."
If Washington wins best actor, and Halle Berry wins in this category for "Monster's Ball" (she's been cleaning up most of the critical awards in this category) it, would be a nod to Black Hollywood no one could have anticipated. But are the Academy's voting members all that forward thinking? That question will be answered when they give this Oscar to ...
Winner: Sissy Spacek, "In the Bedroom." This would be Spacek's second win, after "Coal Miner's Daughter."
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Hollywood loves to honor British actors, and this year three of five nominees could fill that bill. But the token Brit vote will go to ...
Winner: Ian McKellen, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
If this edition of the Academy Awards has a shoo-in winner, it's Jennifer Connelly for "A Beautiful Mind." First, hers was a starring, not a supporting, performance. And since the voters will want to give the film SOMETHING for being such a smash hit, Connelly is the perfect choice because she is not Russell Crowe or John Nash, and because she was terrific.
Winner: Jennifer Connelly, "A Beautiful Mind"
The winner of the annual Director's Guild award almost always goes on to win the Oscar, and this year the winner was the former Opie Taylor himself, Ron Howard, for "A Beautiful Mind." Howard has made a number of moneymakers over his filmmaking career, which makes him a popular choice ... but he also played a role in deciding what went into and what was left out of his movie. So, let's go way out on a limb and predict that the Academy will dish up another life achievement award, this time to veteran director...
Winner: Robert Altman, "Gosford Park."
Again, "A Beautiful Mind" was once poised to clean up in the top categories, including this one. But that aforementioned backlash seems strong, and in Los Angeles where almost all the Academy voters live and work no movie of 2001 was more beloved than this retro-musical-by-way-of-MTV...
Winner: "Moulin Rouge."
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2001 will be presented beginning at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24, 2002, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.
For more information, visit Oscar.com, the official website of the 74th Annual Academy Awards.
(Editor's note: Prior to joining the Roundup staff, reporter Mike Burkett was a film critic and entertainment writer who covered Hollywood for a number of national publications, including Premiere magazine.)