Dr. Phil's Home
The 74th Annual Academy Awards · Sunday March 24th 8:30pm to
12:50am · The new Kodak Theatre
- 4 hours and 23 minutes... (last year was an hour
The information on this page is based on Dr. Phil's own
observations, and shouldn't be judged on facts or spellings, 'cause there
weren't any fact checkers employed in this endeavor. So there.
The Big Oscars
- Achievement in Film · A
- When we went to see this movie, I was quite
blown away by it. First of all, scientists and mathematicians don't
get shown in movies very often, and certainly not by the likes of
Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connolly.
- I also found Robert Altman's Gosford Park
quite extraordinary, but then I am a huge Anglophile and have been
researching some of the ways of British aristocracy and servants for
my own writing.
- There was some groundswell for a while that
suggested that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
might make good on some of its large number of nominations and take
some of the big prizes, just as there were stories knocking the rush
for A Beautiful Mind. I can't say that petty politics should
stay out of the Oscars, it has always been there. But everyone will
remember this as the year of A Beautiful Mind and its four
Oscars, even though by my count, LOTR got the same number.
- I have recently acquired the book and have
started reading it -- there's a great deal more there than is in the
movie, so it'll probably show up in my booklist and amaze some
future Dr. Phil students...
- Achievement in Directing · Ron Howard, A
- One wag, intent more on a malicious quote than
substance, described this as "Ron Howard's Magnus Opie".
If he thought he was showing off his intellect by mixing Latin with
Mayberry, he could have saved us the trouble. The fact is, the
Academy has loved Ron Howard's films, but they have such trouble
giving an Oscar to an ex-child TV star as a serious director. You
could have given him awards for Apollo 13 or Backdraft
or other hit movies in previous years, but I think this touched some
people. So a win for "little Ronnie Howard".
- Baz Luhrman, the director of Moulin Rouge,
prompted a joke from Whoopi Goldberg that MR was such a complicated
movie it didn't need a director (since he didn't get nominated).
- One does wonder about how the Best Picture and
Best Director nominations tend to cover the same movies, and what
does it say when the same movie doesn't get both awards? (Or
conversely, since so often they do, why should the director take
home two Oscars for essentially the same job?)
- Dr. Phil's sentimental favorite was of course
Peter Jackson for LOTR. Not only did he
do a great job, but then it was Peter Jackson who cast the
incomparable Kate Winslet in her first film, Heavenly Creatures.
(For which Kate Winslet should have received an Academy Award
nomination for her amazing portrayal of one-half of a murderous pair
of New Zealand teenagers, all based on a true story... but I
- Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role ·
Denzel Washington, Training Day
- Play good guys and everyone respects you. Play a
real bastard and then... make everyone believe that you are a real
actor. I think that's the secret here. Denzel's so nice that when he
plays smart, cool, competant people with an occassional flash of
fire, it was what the Academy expected.
- Even forgetting Russell Crowe's reputation for
bad behavior, he was a long shot for Best Actor since he won last
year for Gladiator. The Academy is loathe to give people
back-to-back Oscars, except for exceptional cases, and Russell Crowe
is no Mister Nice Guy Tom Hanks.
- Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role ·
Halle Berry, Monster's Ball
- This has only played briefly at a couple of
theatres in our area and we haven't been to any movies lately. But
everything I have heard about Halle Berry's performance indicates
that she torched the screen with her work.
- Ms. Berry was shocked to have won -- it is an
awesome burden to realize that for the first time in 74 years, the
Academy finally has given an acting Oscar to a African-American
woman -- and she broke down for a minute before finally being able
to speak. This on top of just having won an Academy Award voted in
by your peers in the industry.
- Of the other contenders, a sentimental favorite
was Judi Dench in Iris, where she played the older Iris
Murdoch suffering from Alztheimer's to Kate Winslet's young Iris.
- Haven't seen Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom,
but I'm not quite sure that it is an important film to her career as
Monster's Ball is to Ms. Berry.
- And while Texan Renee Zellweger did a good job
in the British comedy Bridget Jones's Diary, you must
understand that the Brits were really sour on this bit of casting,
since "everyone" assumed that the role would go to Kate
Winslet -- but the author wasn't sure and they dragged on and on the
negotiations and finally Kate said good-bye - if you had really
wanted me you would have signed me. So it's probably just as well
that Kate didn't do the movie because she would have been swell and
then still would have lost to Halle Berry.
- Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role ·
Jim Broadbent, Iris
- I know, I know, you're saying Who? The problem
is, you're just seeing the wrong movies. Jim Broadbent has been
central as the older husband in Iris, half of Gilbert &
Sullivan in Topsy-Turvy and he was the almost demonic master
of ceremonies in the near cult musical Moulin Rouge.
- Iris, of course, is the movie of the
life, loves and descent into Alzheimer's of the British writer Iris
Murdoch. I figured that with three Acting nominations for Judi
Dench, Jim Broadbent and (the incomparable) Kate Winslet, and the
fact that many of the voting members of the Academy are actually
older, retired actors and actresses and filmmakers whom you've
probably never heard of, that this might be a sentimental favorite
for something. After all, getting old, infirm and dealing with
Alzheimer's is something that a number of these Academy members know
about (as opposed to fighting ogres, space aliens or foreign drug
- Iris just opened in the Grand Rapids
area at Studio 28 on Friday March 22nd, which is our favorite movie
'plex (28th Street, about a mile or less west of US-131). Who knows
how long it will last?
- Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role ·
Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind
- It does make you wonder what's the difference
between Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Jennifer Connelly
supposedly has more screen time in ABM than in like the
other nominations taken together. Turns out your a Lead Actress or a
Supporting Actress depending on what the studio says you are.
- Now, we didn't think that Kate Winslet was
really going to win for Iris, but Ms. Winslet is the
youngest three-time nominee and the Academy sometimes votes to
reward for past injustices. I mean, I like Helen Hunt, but Kate
Winslet literally threw herself from one end of the R.M.S. Titanic
to the other in Titanic, and with all the other awards it
won, it didn't get any acting awards. Frankly, the 1998 Best Actress
should have been Kate Winslet and Best Supporting Actress should
have been Gloria Stuart, for playing the young and old Rose,
- Amongst the others, there is kind of an opinion
that Marisa Tomei was really lucky to get her first Oscar and the
Academy wasn't going to trivially award her another. And then the
magnificent Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith essentially canceled each
other out from Gosford Park.
- And given what happened with the steamrollers
for the eventually Lead and Supporting Actress categories, it does
no good for me to point out that as far as Gosford Park
goes, the Academy failed to nominate Mary Macdonald for her terrific
role as our "tour guide" into the dealings of Gosford
- Oh, and Jennifer probably wins most reviewer's
award for worst performance during an acceptance speech. She never
looked up at the audience, never made eye contact and didn't seem
particularly thrilled to have been honored by her peers. Ho-hum,
just another Oscar... (Kate Winslet would have been better.)
The Second Tier Oscars
- Achievement in Cinematography · Andrew Lesley,
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- This was the second Oscar of the night for LOTR
and one wondered if it meant that LOTR was going to run the table...
or only win Tech and Art awards, and lose out to "real films"
for the Big Awards, like every other big, successful science-fiction
or fantasy film.
- Still, one of the big losers this night would be
"the other wizard movie", Harry Potter and the
- Achievement in Art Direction · Moulin Rouge
- The wild Aussie vision of a musical set in the
early 1900s Moulin Rouge... in hyperdrive. It had to win something,
because it had such strong support from some quarters (and frankly
having Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor as the singing leads in a
musical is a wild ride in itself), and so one of the areas where it
astounded was in its look. In DVD format on a small screen it is
almost too much color and motion and data to take in. Pity that like
most films it will so rarely be shown on a big screen from a large
format negative again. (Sort of like seeing Star Wars or
Titanic on a TV screen can never quite compare to the big
screen... It was interesting seeing the reaction of some of Dr.
Phil's students when the original Star Wars Trilogy Special
Edition hit the screen a few years ago, and those who weren't
even born in 1977 or old enough to see the originals in the theatre
just thought they knew the movies. And they were astounded. But I
- Achievement in Costume · Moulin Rouge
- Achievement in Visual Effects · The Lord of
the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Achievement in Sound · Blackhawk Down
- The other year we had the battle of the war
movies -- Saving Private Ryan vs. The Thin Red Line.
This year PH was almost a no-show in the nominations, as was Behind
Enemy Lines, and the terrific Blackhawk Down did not
apparently compete head-to-head in the same year as the equally
compelling We Were Soldiers.
- BHD opened to great critical acclaim, but
apparently the Oscar Nominating Committee wasn't into war movies. No
one was up for any of the Acting awards, and it was nominated for
Best Director, but not Best Film.
- Best Adapted Screenplay · Julian Fellowes, A
- By this time in the evening, LOTR had four
Oscars and ABM had just gotten its second. But the latter had
already earned one Acting award and would gain two more of the
biggies to "win" against LOTR.
- Achievement in Sound Editing · Pearl Harbor
- This has to be a bone thrown to the overblown,
overspent Block-dudster of Summer 2001.
- Best Original Screenplay · Akiva Goldsman, Gosford
- I love this movie, and certainly the rush
through upstairs and downstairs, of the masters and priviledged
versus the servants and staff, and the witty and cutting repartee
and fast dialogue on both ends, clearly goes to a great script.
- Of the competitors, one wonders about Memento.
Was it the film editing that made that film? Or the original concept
as was plotted out painfully in the screenplay. You needed the
script first, but then you have to execute it. I could have given it
- Best Original Score · Howard Shore, The
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Dr. Phil was collecting movie soundtracks before
soundtrack CD's became such a big business and became #1's on the
Album of the Year charts, so this is one category which I had a real
- Technically we are talking about the "score"
here -- the "soundtrack" will contain other things,
including any additional songs which may or may not have anything to
do with the composer's efforts.
- The LOTR score and soundtrack is both
predictable, in that it is always exactly right, and wonderful
because it is exactly right, and doesn't have any annoyances that
don't belong. (Dr. Phil still has the heebie jeebies about going to
Opening Night of The Return of the Jedi at a 2:20am showing
and having to suffer/cringe through the Ewok song near the end in
the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, George Lucas pulled the
song from the Special Edition... but then he went off the
deep end again and decided to throw a new bone to the kiddies and
gave us all Jar Jar Binks... shudder...). Plus I am a big
fan of Enya, who adds her vocals to the soundtrack.
- John Williams, the master of movie soundtracks,
whose brilliance lies in his ability to plagarize everyone,
including himself, and make distinctive scores for his personal
buddy Steven Spielberg. He not only was conducting the orchestra at
the Oscars themselves, but had two scores in this category: A.I.
(Artificial Intelligence) and Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer's Stone. Both were pretty good scores and I'll add them
to my collection (A.I., though flawed, is still a brilliant
movie as Spielberg's homage to the genius of Stanley Kubrick). But
it is an old Academy Award rule -- never compete against yourself,
you'll both lose.
- James Horner, the other master of movie
soundtracks, and one of Dr. Phil's personal favorites (Titanic,
Braveheart, Glory, The Mask of Zorro,
- Best Original Song · Randy Newman, "If I
Didn't Have You", Monsters, Inc.
- For an older generation, I suppose, Randy Newman
is best known for having written the hit song "Short People",
which was wildly misunderstood in the way that an irate American
public only can get.
- I liked the way that they did all the nominated
songs in one segment (they did this before, and I think it works
better to showcase the artists and their songs one after another).
Sting has gotten good in his accoustic phase and Enya was super. But
John Goodman and Randy Newman's performance was swell (not that this
performance was what the ballotting was about -- this ain't figure
skating), which only touched Randy more when he realized backstage
that he had won.
- I may joke about the Academy hating Kate
Winslet, by denying her an Oscar after three nominations, but Randy
Newman has had like fifteen nominations and fifteen losses before
this night. Practically the Susan Lucci of the Oscars...
The New Oscar
- Best Animated Film · Shrek
- This is one very funny movie
- We haven't yet seen Monsters, Inc. and I
don't particularly plan to see Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
(even if it does feature the voice of Patrick Stewart), so this
Oscar went to the class film of the act.
- But... and I am in a weird minority on this...
how could you NOT possibly give, in the first year of offering an
Animated Film Oscar, a nomination to Final Fantasy: The Spirits
Within ? FF may have been my favorite movie of 2001, and with
LOTR and Gosford Park and A Beautiful Mind, that is saying a great
The Honorary Oscars
- Sidney Poitier ·
- What a lovely warm reception they gave this
great actor. He starred in many great movies of the 1960's when I
was a little kid. I grew up in a very small, very white little town
in rural, upstate, Western New York. So I would have been nine when
I saw Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and it astounded me. I
don't think I had ever thought of the concept of an interracial
couple. But Sidney Poitier was such a nice young man, as
they used to say in those days.
- It was Sidney Poitier who was the first
African-American actor to win a Best Actor Oscar -- this was in 1963
for Lillies of the Field. (You might wonder why they didn't
wait until next year for the Honorary Oscar, which would be the 40th
anniversary, but 2003 will be the 75th Academy Awards, and if you
thought the show was long THIS year, just wait...)
- I was looking him up in Microsoft Bookshelf '95,
and it is a real surprise to find out that it was Rod Steiger who
won the Best Acting Oscar in 1967 for In the Heat of the Night,
which also won Best Picture. And 1967 was also the year that
Katharine Hepburn won for Best Actress for Guess Who's Coming to
Dinner? Both of these movies are "Sidney Poitier"
movies, but there are too many nominees and too few Oscars and
sometimes (maybe a lot of the time) good people get robbed.
- Come to think of it, 1967 was also the year that
To Sir With Love was released. I would have been considered "too
young" by my parents to see In the Heat of the Night,
but we did see To Sir With Love and Guess Who's Coming
to Dinner sometime in the same year. (Unlike today, we got
movies in the little one-screen movie theatre in town, The Diana,
whenever a print finally made it there. So we sometimes drove off to
Buffalo to see big movies. They still had ushers with flashlights
who showed you to your seat, and Daddy would take me and my sister
to the movies while Mommy shopped. We would go in whenever we got
there, with the feature usually in progress, try to figure out what
was going on, then stay through the next showing up until we found "where
we had come in". Weird memories.)
- Which brings up a really interesting point that
Denzel Washington made during his introduction of Mr. Poitier --
that he was the first black actor to be the lead and get their name
ABOVE the title in the advertising. Before Sidney Poitier, black
actors and actresses were given supporting roles that could be cut
from the reels in certain parts of the country. While 2002 America
is far from perfect, it seems almost unbelievable that such things
could have been contemplated, let alone endured. But it took a
Sidney Poitier to star in a movie where you couldn't cut the black
man -- because there'd be no movie.
- Robert Redford ·
- We did a double-take during this 4 hour and 20
minute show. After honoring Sidney Poitier, did the Academy feel
like they had to find a white guy to honor to make the whole thing
official? Sorry for being so paranoid, but one does wonder about
these things. But... in one of the slides they showed, it mentioned
that the Sundance Film Festival is 20 years old this year, and we
think that's what was going on.
- The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award · Arthur
- He was introduced by Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw,
who co-starred in his movie Love Story a long time ago.
The Odd Oscars
- Best Animated Short Film · For the Birds
- The clip was very cute, with fat little computed
generated birds sitting on a power line, whose world gets upset when
a really big bird plops down next to them.
- Wouldn't you know, though, this wasn't some fun
little animation project done by someone on the cheap. This is a
Pixar production with Skywalker Sound, and the filmmakers were
thanking Steve Jobs for his generous support. (Still, it's cute.)
- Best Live Action Short Film · Ray McKinnon &
Lisa Blount, The Accountant
- Probably the best gol-darned speech of the
night, I also just heard about this on National Public Radio's Marketplace
business program, that here's a movie about... an accountant. Takes
place in rural country and involves trying to save farms, I think.
- Best Documentary Short Subject · Thoth
- About a strange San Francisco street musician
names Thoth, who showed up to play his violin (etc.) on the Red
Carpet outside the Kodak Theatre and was briefly on the stage when
the award was given.
- HBO is apparently giving wide screening to these
little films. But then you have to get HBO. Which we don't.
- Best Foreign Film · No Man's Land (Bosnia
- What? After all the hype, Amelie didn't
win? That was the first sub-titled French film to actually make
money in the U.S. in like forever.