The votes are in and the suspense will soon be over when the coveted Academy Awards are announced on March 24.
Besides the usual Hollywood hoopla, such as Barbara Walter’s pre-Oscar special and the stroll down the red carpet, this year’s awards for the most prestigious cinema honors may be just as entertaining. Well, in a few categories at least.
The competition is fierce in the best actor category. Russell Crowe, Will Smith and Denzel Washington, three very talented and established actors, are among the nominees.
Russell Crowe, who won last year for Gladiator and was previously nominated for The Insider, has now received a nomination for his performance of Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash Jr. in A Beautiful Mind.
Will Smith floats like a butterfly in Ali. Although the film received a lukewarm reception at the box office, Smith’s physical and mental transformation into a mirror-like image of Muhammad Ali merits recognition.
Last but not least is everyone’s favorite, Denzel Washington who plays a corrupt L.A. cop in Training Day. Washington presents another dynamic performance, which of course isn’t surprising.
Not since Sidney Poitier in 1963’s Lilies of the Field has an African-American won the Best Actor Oscar. Within the 74-year history of the Academy Awards, African-American actors have only received 34 Oscar Nominations. With so many talented actors, credit is perhaps overdue.
The category of best actress combines living legends and newcomers, all of which are well deserving of an Oscar nod.
The most notable performance is Judi Dench’s portrayal of novelist Iris Murdoch who battles vehemently with Alzheimer’s in Iris.
Halle Berry is receiving her first Oscar nomination for her emotional and very passionate role in Monster’s Ball. Berry recently won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress, probably an excellent indication of her fate on March 24.
The Academy is finally recognizing the triumphs and evolution of the animation genre. This is the first year for the animated feature category. All three films, Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, Shrek, and Monster’s Inc. are major technological achievements challenging the unspoken conventions of the genre.
Jimmy Neutron and Shrek (Nickelodeon and Dreamworks respectively) are also challenging an animation giant, Disney. Michael Eisner and the gang may have met their match with Dreamworks. After all, Shrek has such an adult appeal that unless the Academy voters are 8-year-olds, it will take the statuette home.
Carmen Dukes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org