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It's Oscar time, and the winner is #x2026;?

By Andrew Howard

teenbeat@postbulletin.com

Since the Academy of Arts and Science refused my application to be one of the select group of 3,000-plus voters for the Oscars (those snobs!), I'll be making my picks more or less on a wing and a prayer, as some of the films/actors nominated have not shown in Rochester. So here we go.

BEST DIRECTOR: The nominees are Robert Altman ("Gosford Park"), Ron Howard ("A Beautiful Mind"), Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings"), Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down"), and David Lynch ("Mulholland Drive"). And the winner is Jackson. He wins because of the spectacle that is "Lord of the Rings." It takes some talent to hold together something as immense as this film. You could make a similar argument for Altman's multilayered work, but it pales in comparison to the scale of "Lord of the Rings."

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: The nominees are Jennifer Connelly ("A Beautiful Mind"), Helen Mirren ("Gosford Park"), Maggie Smith ("Gosford Park"), Marisa Tomei ("In the Bedroom") and Kate Winslet ("Iris"). And the winner is Connelly. She wins because she turns in a stunning and inspiring performance as the wife of troubled mathematician John Nash. She conveys the best attributes of grace and patience in her vital role. Smith and Mirren have no chance because they come from the same movie, thus splitting the vote. As for Tomei and Winslett, I haven't seen the films, so I can't tell you anything about them.

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Best Supporting Actor: The nominees are Jim Broadbent ("Iris"), Ethan Hawke ("Training Day"), Ben Kingsley ("Sexy Beast"), Ian McKellan ("Lord of the Rings") and Jon Voight ("Ali"). And the winner is probably not McKellan, but since his is only film I've seen out of the bunch, I'll say he wins. McKellan wasn't bad in "Lord of the Rings," but as I was watching it, nothing about him gave me the "wow factor" that great performances usually do.

Best Actress: The nominees are Nicole Kidman ("Moulin Rouge"), Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), Judi Dench ("Iris"), Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") and Renee Zellweger ("Bridget Jones's Diary"). And the winner is Kidman, although I must admit the only film I've seen of the batch is "Moulin Rouge." Despite this shortcoming, I'd still say Kidman was stunning as the doomed Santine. And whaddaya know! She sings pretty well, too.

Best Actor: The nominees are Russell Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind"), Sean Penn ("I am Sam"), Will Smith ("Ali"), Denzel Washington ("Training Day") and Tom Wilkinson ("In the Bedroom"). And the winner is Crowe. This Oscar is almost a gimme. Crowe holds "A Beautiful Mind" together where almost any other actor would have ended up dropping it. Crowe's performance is jaw-droppingly great, so I have few (if any) qualms, about predicting his victory here.

Best Picture: The nominees are "A Beautiful Mind," "Lord of the Rings," "Gosford Park," "Moulin Rouge" and "In the Bedroom." And the winner is "A Beautiful Mind," although, if it were up to me, I'd give it to "Moulin Rouge."

"A Beautiful Mind" was an excellent film, inspiring and thought-provoking, but for a sheer sense of wonder, which movies are supposed to provide, "Moulin Rouge" beats out "A Beautiful Mind" by quite a bit. For whirling colors and the full gamut of emotions, "Moulin Rouge" should be the top movie, but as demonstrated on the International Movie Database's (imdb.com) message boards, people either love or hate it, thus precluding it from winning "the big one."

Andrew Howard is a junior at Rochester Lourdes High School.

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