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PCR #156. (Vol. 4, No. 12) This edition is for the week of March 17--23, 2003.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! A little news and my picks for the Oscars! Shall we begin?

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As I write this, it's been about 4 hours since "the disarming of Iraq" began. And let me say at the top that I have mixed feelings. Sure, Saddam has jerked the United Nations and the world around for too long. He's a murdering bastard who needs to be sent to hell. And I'm sure everyone agrees with that. However, by turning our full attention towards him, we are once again neglecting our main target, the one man singled out by our President: Osama bin Laden. Now bin Laden has almost a free pass to do whatever he wants on the terror side. Blow up the Liberty Bell? Blame it on Saddam. Take out the Hoover Dam? Blame it on Saddam. Bring down the Eiffel Tower? Don't even get me started on the French! It only took them 55 days to give their country to Hitler! Hell, you can buy French Army weapons at a discount. They've never been fired and have only been dropped once! But I digress. Is President Bush just looking for some good old fashioned pay back for daddy? I'm sure it's in the back of his mind. But now that he's started this he needs to finish it! Anything less then the removal of Saddam's regime will surely be looked on as a failure! And as an American I want my president to know that I will expect nothing less! I didn't vote for the man. And I can remember many a conversation with friends before the election that I feared Bush would get this country in some God awful war. But now that the decision has been made, I will respect the man for his decision and support it. I was very fortunate in my six years of service to our country. The only time I was ever afraid was the day Anwar Sadaat was assassinated. My unit in Germany was put on alert and as we packed our gear I remember my S1 saying, "this is it, Smitty!" I wrote a short note to my wife, telling her that if I didn't come back to always remember that I loved her. Thankfully the alert was canceled after a few hours and I returned home safely to tears and a big hug! My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are now on the front line of this event. May God look after you and bring you all home safe.

As if television couldn't get any worse, Fox has announced that Monica Lewinski will host their new reality T.V. show entitled, "Mr. Personality." On the show, women will get to know different men but will not get to see their face. Of course, since she spent most of her time staring not at President Clinton's face but at his belly button, Lewinski does seem like the perfect host. My only question: if she's doing this show, who is going to host "Making a Buck Off Sucking the President's Dick," which I'm sure is coming soon to the PAX network!?

For those of you who have been reading the PCR since the beginning, you know that it began with Matt, Nolan and I giving our thoughts on the then upcoming Academy Awards. So it's always special when Oscar time rolls around again. That being said, here are my choices for this years winners. Please note that I only voted in the categories in which I saw all or most of the nominees. And with that stated, here are my choices for the 75th Annual Academy Awards:

Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist
Rob Marshall - Chicago
Martin Scorsese - Gangs of New York
Stephen Daldry - The Hours
Roman Polanski - The Pianist
Pedro Almodovar - Talk to Her
Yes, I chose Gangs as the best film of last year. Thankfully, I prefaced that choice by noting that I had not yet seen Chicago. If they are going to award the "Rings" films it will be next year after Return of the King. Both The Hours and The Pianist are worthy choices. And Gangs of New York is more of an achievement for director Martin Scorsese in the eyes of the Academy. So that leaves only the winner. In 1968, Oliver! was the last musical to win the Best Picture award. Look for that drought to end when Chicago takes home the big prize!Basically a two-man race. Martin Scorsese has been nominated three times before in this category. Twice he lost to actors making their directing debuts - Robert Redford for Ordinary People and Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves. The third time he lost to Barry Levinson, a former actor, who directed Rainman. Once again he finds himself up against a performer making his film debut. Marshall recently won the Director's Guild award, which usually means the Oscar is in the bag. Only five times in the past has the DGA winner not won the golden boy! Yet many feel that this is a good time to recognize the previous achievements of Scorsese's career. Polanski won this award at both the British and French equivalents of the Oscars, but the fact that he is still a criminal from justice in this country certainly doesn't help his chances. Daldry did a competent job in what is looked upon more as an "acting" movie. And Almodovar is here because............well, I really don't know why. Peter Jackson seemed a lock for his work on Two Towers. But, hey, I don't vote. So while I wouldn't be surprised if Rob Marshall wins, I must go with my heart and hope that when the envelope is opened the Oscar will go to Martin Scorsese!
Adrien Brody - The Pianist
Nicolas Cage - Adaptation
Michael Caine - The Quiet American
Daniel Day-Lewis - Gangs of New York
Jack Nicholson - About Schmidt
Salma Hayek - Frida
Nicole Kidman - The Hours
Diane Lane - Unfaithful
Julianne Moore - Far From Heaven
Renee Zellweger - Chicago.
What a category. With the exception of Brody, each of these nominees already has at least one Oscar on their mantles (Caine has two, Nicholson an amazing three!) It was nice to see Cage get away from all of those action films and actually have to act again. Both Brody and Caine did excellent work. However, their films didn't actually do great box office business so they have to depend on voters watching the free DVD's they are sent each year. Which leaves Nicholson and Day-Lewis. Warren Schmidt versus Bill "the Butcher" Cutting. Both men are deserving. Just when you think you have him figured out, Jack Nicholson turns another page in the acting dictionary and adds another definition of greatness. As for Day-Lewis, he hadn't done a movie in five years, having retired to Florence, Italy to study shoemaking before returning to his native Ireland to raise a family. Then director Scorsese came calling and persuaded him to return to Hollywood. And return again he will this Sunday night to accept his second Best Actor award!It was certainly a good year for women in film. In fact, it was so good that Meryl Streep didn't even get nominated in this category! First, let me tell you who won't win. While Hayek was great in Frida, it was more her supporting cast, especially the shockingly non-nominated Alfred Molina, that made that film enjoyable. Moore, who is also nominated this year in the supporting category, is the rare actress who can do small, intimate films as well as big blockbusters. And Lane is being recognized for taking on a role that turned her image in Hollywood 180 degrees! The battle is between Kidman and Zellweger. Wearing a prosthetic nose that totally strips her of her outer beauty, Kidman has grown from being Tom Cruise's ex-wife into one of our finest actresses. And Zellweger, who hid her Texas twang as the British Bridget Jones last year pulled another rabbit out of her hat with her musical talent this year. While I wouldn't be upset if either Kidman or Zellweger won, I'm giving my vote to Zellweger.
Chris Cooper - Adaptation
Ed Harris - The Hours
Paul Newman - Road to Perdition
John C. Reilly - Chicago
Christopher Walken - Catch Me If You Can
Kathy Bates - About Schmidt
Julianne Moore - The Hours
Queen Latifah - Chicago
Meryl Streep - Adaptation
Catherine Zeta-Jones - Chicago.
Another outstanding bunch of nominees. Newman, one of the last great movie stars, slowly eases himself into a supporting career with his portrayal of an Irish mob boss who must order the death of someone he loves as a son. Reilly turned in excellent work not only in Chicago but in two other Best Picture nominees: Gangs and The Hours. Those three different performances can only help his chances. This is Harris' fourth nomination, and third in this category. But I don't think this is his year. Walken, who won this award 25 years ago for The Deer Hunter seems to be the sentimental favorite, having recently won the Screen Actor's Guild award from his peers. However, in my mind, no one took over the screen as well as Kansas City native Chris Cooper. And Cooper is my choice for this award.Sadly, Moore will go 0 - 2 on Oscar night. Bates, who nearly steals the film from Nicholson, is hilarious as the Earth mother who doesn't think it's strange that she breast fed her son until he was nine! Streep adds another fine performance to her resumé as she makes Oscar history by becoming the most-nominated performer with this, her 13th nomination. Queen Latifah literally bursts on the scene as the sly jailhouse matron in Chicago. But to me, it is Zeta-Jones that wins this prize hands down. As Velma Kelly, she goes from headliner to name-under-the-title to headliner again in a series of musical numbers that display a talent I never thought she possessed. On Oscar night, Mrs. Michael Douglas will have an Academy Award of her own to put next to hubby's on the mantle.
For whatever reason, many of the categories that were won last year by Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, did not even register a nomination for the equally outstanding work on The Two Towers. I'm guessing that the academy just considers this film a continuation of the first and feels they have already recognized it. A sad thought considering all the work that went into this fine epic.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:  My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Nia Vardalos
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:  Road to Perdition - Conrad L. Hall. Hall's last film before his death. A fitting tribute to a true master.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:  Zus & Zo - The Netherlands. I would have picked "Talk to Her" or "Y Tu Mama Tambien," but surprisingly neither of them were nominated in this category.
BEST MAKEUP:  Frida Salma Hayek's uni-brow versus the furry monsters from The Time Machine.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:  "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile. Emminem's anthem shows the heart and soul of this film.
BEST SOUND EDITING:  Lord of the Rings: The Two Hours
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:  Bowling for Columbine. Anything else is a farce!
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:  Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
BEST SOUND:  Chicago

And now for those who may have missed it last week due to an extremely late update, Mike's take on the TV Land Awards---I'm "re-running" it below, just for this week.... ---Nolan

I did catch some of the "Batcave" special Sunday night (See frontpage's "Return to the Batcave", this issue.--N) and was indeed quite surprised to see Burt Ward had put on a few pounds. A chapter in his book is titled, "Holy Impotence! My Testicles Grew to the Size of Grapefruits!" Nice to see his body has caught up.

Wednesday night I caught the first annual "TV LAND AWARDS." What I expected to be another piece of promotional fluff turned out to be quite entertaining. Seeing some old favorites together again (Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, Don Grady and Stanley & Barry Livingston) was great. And the various awards were funny. Glad to see David Cassidy embrace his Keith Partridge persona and I thought the fact he expounded so lovingly about his late father, Jack, was great. Jack Cassidy was very jealous of his son's fame, decrying the fact that it happened overnight, so the fact that David thanked him showed that a lot of water has gone under the bridge. Am I the only one who was worrying whether or not James Doohan was going to drop dead at the podium when "Star Trek" was honored? It's always sad when you see someone you remember as young and vibrant because they are always captured that way on film. Nice of Leonard Nimoy to mention the late De Kelly since Shatner certainly didn't. A great time to sit back and celebrate with the "friends" of your youth. Apparently Carl Reiner is working on a script that would have the Dick Van Dyke show cast reunited as they are today. Can't wait to see it.

Well, that's it for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.