Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By VERNON SCOTT, United Press International   |   March 21, 2002 at 5:17 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, March 21 (UPI) -- No single movie this year will sweep the Academy Awards as has happened in years past.

From "Gone With The Wind" to "Titanic" it is not uncommon for hit pictures to capture an armload of trophies, but that isn't likely to happen Sunday night.

It isn't because there is a plethora of unforgettable films in contention, but for other factors, not the least of which is Hollywood's growing paranoia that its standing as the world film capital has become a bit shaky.

There is growing apprehension among studio employees, big-shots in the ivory towers of films and TV that burgeoning production in Canada, Australia, England and even in Europe is threatening Hollywood's economy.

This anxiety might well influence the 6,500-member Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences who voted for its Oscar nominees.

Runaway production has made serious inroads on the local economy, affecting all of Southern California. The natives don't want to see the entertainment industry, a goose that lays golden eggs, fly off to foreign shores. Ergo: Keep the Oscars at home where they have been disbursed for 73 years.

This year many films were produced abroad starring an uncommon number of foreign performers, diminishing Hollywood labor, income and residual businesses that rely on movie and TV revenue.

Self-preservation, therefore may have made serious inroads on academy balloting.

None of the five nominees for best picture this year was filmed in Hollywood. Three of them were made overseas: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" in New Zealand, "Gosford Park" in England and "Moulin Rouge" in Australia -- all of them big, expensive epics. Loss of revenue from this trio was disastrous to local entrepreneurs and creative talent.

The other two nominated films had small budgets but still avoided Hollywood. "A Beautiful Mind" was filmed in New Jersey and "In the Bedroom" was made on locations in Maine.

Over all, the economic consequences were immense and an uncomfortable sign of the times.

Australia, New Zealand and England, with talent to spare, are providing tax advantages to producers along with state-of-the-art equipment and new studios while Hollywood plugs along with old, decaying real estate and aging equipment.

Runaway production in the new millennium is a serious threat to Hollywood's economy and peripheral business enterprises that have been seriously hurt by the production defections.

That being said, it is assumed local dissatisfaction with falling revenues may be reflected in the Oscar balloting.

So maybe the top Oscars will be spread around more than might otherwise have been the case.

The only sure thing for an Academy Award this year is the Oscar for best performance by an actor: Russell Crowe for his role in "A Beautiful Mind." Sean Penn, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Tom Wilkinson are only remote possibilities.

Best actress is a toss-up between Halle Berry for "Monster's Ball" and Nicole Kidman for 'Moulin Rouge."

The other nominated actresses, Judi Dench, Sissy Spacek and Renee Zellweger, were very good but not good enough.

Ron Howard is odds-on to win the Oscar for best director for "A Beautiful Mind," but many credit the picture's success to Crowe's brilliance rather than Howard's direction.

That being the case, it is likely to be a close race between "Gosford Park's" Robert Altman and Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

It's a Hobson's choice. Do voters go for New Zealander Jackson or maverick Altman who wasn't even nominated for an award by his own Guild?

It's just as bad if they vote for England's Ridley Scott for "Black Hawk Down" or totally unorthodox David Lynch for the quirky "Mulholland Drive."

Two Brits will battle it out for best supporting actor: Jim Broadbent of "Iris" but who gave an even better performance in "Moulin Rouge" and Ian McKellen for "The Lord of the Rings."

Winner of the best supporting actress race will have to beat Maggie Smith or Helen Mirren, both of "Gosford Park," or Kate Winslet in "Iris."

America's Jennifer Connelly of "A Beautiful Mind" may win in that category if Marisa Tomei doesn't for her "In the Bedroom" performance.

Should any film win a slew of minor Oscars in sound, wardrobe, makeup, music, visual effects, editing, art direction and cinematography it won't constitute a "sweep" by any means.

Nobody rushes out to see a movie simply because it won Oscars for best sound. But a film that captures best picture, actress, actor, director and supporting players goes down in movie history as a classic.

For better or worse, no 2001 movie will make that claim.

But paste these predictions in your hat:

Best picture: "A Beautiful Mind"

Best actor: Russell Crowe

Best actress: Halle Berry

Best director: Ron Howard

Best supporting actor: Jim Broadbent

Best supporting actress: Maggie Smith

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