OSCAR WATCH 2001
What movies will be honored with Academy Awards this year? Excellent writing and superb casting were back in style, meaning this year's race could come down to the wire. It's hard to determine the voting tide, but experts, insiders, and odds makers from Las Vegas are laying odds that Russell Crowe's Gladiator and Stephen Soderbergh's Traffic will lead the pack. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Erin Brockovich are gaining fast. Oscar analysts have called this year's nominees the most eclectic group of films in recent years.
Will a romance film walk away with an Oscar this year? 2000 was a wonderful year for romantics, however it may not prove to be an Academy Award winning year for the genre. Chocolat is considered by many to be the dark horse in the race for Best Picture, and not likely to bring home an Oscar statuette. Juliette Binoche is up against very stiff competition in the Best Actress category, with early favorite Julia Roberts (a perennial star of romance movies) expected to have her name announced when the envelope is finally opened. Juliette Binoche was gorgeous and sexy, and she absolutely sparkled in Chocolat, but she's still a long-shot. The chemistry between she and Johnny Depp showed that total opposite personalities off-screen can spark flames on-screen.
Chocolat has the same magical feel as Like Water for Chocolate. The story is set in 1950's France, when a mysterious woman (Juliette Binoche) moves into a tiny village ruled by a very conservative mayor (Alfred Molina). She opens a chocolate shop - during Lent - and continues to buck the establishment by remaining open on Sundays, as well as by other defiant actions. Chocolat centers on the people who visit the shop, with Johnny Depp wandering into the movie about half-way through, as an Irish river rat.
Romance has a representative in the foreign film category, with the nomination of The Taste of Others, brought to us from France. Described as an oddball romantic comedy, this film has already proved to be a winner by netting the Best Film award at the 2001 Cesar Awards, and the Montreal World Film Festival's Grande Prix des Ameriques award. Written and directed by Agnes Jaoui, The Taste of Others is the story of Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri), a married man who allows his wife, Angelique (Christiane Millet), to drag him to a play. Taken with the performance of the lead actress, Clara (Anne Alvaro), he goes back night after night to watch her perform. The two meet up when he needs to learn English for a business meeting, and Clara turns out to be the teacher. The story revolves around these two, but Agnes Jaoui manages to work in provocative side characters, including a chauffeur, bartender, and bistro owner.
No matter how the voting turns out, chances are that the underlying theme of the 2001 Academy Award winner for Best Picture will be a love story! It's next to impossible to write an interesting screenplay without a touch of romance. Crouching Tiger, Gladiator, and even Traffic all include a love story, along with action and drama.
2001 Academy Award Nominees: