Predicting the Oscar winners (11 February 2003)
Good year for movies makes tough year for picks


Tara Reid in 'The Giant Ant With an Eating Disorder'

Critics and filmmakers alike are abuzz with the burning question: Who will win at the Academy Awards this year?

2002 was a great year for movies, but the wide range of films and performances make it tough to even predict the nominations. It's anyone's game this year! We'll now take a look at the major categories and some of the likely winners for each.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Geena Davis, nominated for the DVD re-release of Beetlejuice, is an Academy favorite year after year. However, look for Jennie Garth to come home with the gold this year for her turn as Mahalia Jackson in the biopic Cross That River Jordan. Her makeup- and special effects-enhanced appearance left her virtually unrecognizable, and that should help her chances with Academy members still stung by her appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in which she melted her Beverly Hills, 90210: The Movie Oscar on-screen to protest the Academy's use of Thai child labor to make the event's statuettes and hors d'oeuvres.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael Caine is a front-runner this year for Sir, Have You Happened to Have Seen My Runabout?, the British remake of Dude, Where's My Car? But the smart money is on Computer-Generated Jim Varney, whose short but hilarious cameo as Ernest in Joe Dirt II managed to inspire laughs as well as emotion. The Academy has missed Varney since his death, so his CGI proxy is a good bet to win.

BEST ACTRESS
While Meryl Streep is sure to get a nomination for her searing performance in The Hours, Hollywood insiders believe that Tara Reid will emerge with a dark-horse victory for her performance as a giant ant in The Giant Ant With an Eating Disorder. Reid brought a sensitivity to this difficult role that hasn't been seen since mid-period Nancy McKeon, who won in the Supporting Actress category for the 1986 film The Facts of Life Abroad. Ironically, McKeon is nominated again this year in the Best Actress category for the Lifetime original movie My Husband Hurt My Arm, in which she gives a tempestuous portrayal of a woman whose husband blows his temper during an argument and hurts her arm. Despite rave reviews, this little-seen film might not have gained enough of an audience to sway Oscar voters.

BEST ACTOR
The sentimental favorite is Nathan Lane, in his final screen appearance before his death in a car bombing last month. His role as one of the World Trade Center towers in The Two Towers, NOT 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' was a combination of bravery and finesse. However, it will be hard to beat Seth Green this year, whose portrayal of Burt Reynolds in Bloopers & Egos: Behind the Scenes of 'Cannonball Run II': A Dramatic Re-creation was one of the most acclaimed performances of the year.

BEST DIRECTOR
Renee Zellweger's directorial debut Jerry Maguire Jr. didn't take the box office by storm, but the Jonathan Lipnicki vehicle wowed critics with a surprisingly anarchistic style. Its now-infamous rape scene, though, might scare off Academy members. Look for former skating star Tara Lipinski to snag the award for her shot-by-shot remake of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which was actually released before the official version. Lipinski's version, shot entirely in her bedroom with her collection of teddy bears and antique dolls, is nothing short of a cinematic wonder.

BEST PICTURE
The musical Chicago has deservedly attracted a lot of Oscar attention, but it may be just too gay for the Academy. A possible alternate winner is Francis Ford Coppola's Post-Apocalypse: A Look at the Making of 'Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse', Which Was a Look at the Making of 'Apocalypse Now', which shed even more insight into the creation of one of the most memorable films of all time. Just in time for the Oscar broadcast, it will be released in a deluxe DVD edition entitled Post-Apocalypse Redux: A Look at the Making of 'Hearts of Darkness Redux: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse Redux', Which Was a Look at the Making of 'Apocalypse Now Redux' (Platinum Expanded Redux Edition).