Feature Blogs

Matt's 2003 Oscars Gambling & Awards Summary

Created on Tuesday, 25 March 2003 21:00
Written by Matthew Toomey


The race has been run and won and like every Oscar ceremony, many favourites got home but the real buzz was generated from the unexpected upsets.


Chicago took the top prize but only barely. Wins for The Pianist in the best director, best adapted screenplay, and best actor categories all but blew it off the rails. Chicago’s six wins were mostly in technical categories although Catherine Zeta-Jones brought the film early honours with a supporting actress win. The only other films to win more than one award were The Two Towers and Frida. But you could say The Pianist was the real winner tonight.


In my Oscar betting, it was a turbulent affair also. Brody’s shock win lifted the bank account only to see it severely dented by Chicago’s director, Rob Marshall, going under. Marshall lost to Roman Polanski, who wasn’t able to accept his award since he is wanted in America on a statutory rape charge in 1977. Polanski’s win was out of left field. His film won the Palm D’or at Cannes ten months ago but he lost the director prize there to Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch Drunk Love). Congratulations to Polanski though and I credit the Academy for overlooking his past history to judge him solely on his merits.


$200 was lost on Marshall and another $50 was wasted on Ed Harris. Zeta-Jones turned in a net result of $150 but Brody’s win was the key with a $275 profit. I finished the night ahead $175 which is a relief but slightly disappointing considering the shocking Marshall loss. My total Oscar profit from the last seven years now stands at $1,715 and I’ve finished ahead in 5 of the 7 years I’ve been gambling on them. I know a few people who took me up on my suggested bet re: Adrien Brody so I hope you all spend your winnings wisely.


So where did the other upsets lie (aside from all three of the stunning Pianist wins)? Pedro Almodovar won best original screenplay for Talk To Her. In a remarkable achievement, Spirited Away won best animated film – it’s a masterpiece really and despite only making $5m in the States, it had the votes to outduel the blockbusters it was up against. Eminem’s win was also a surprise for his song Lose Yourself in 8 Mile. I always thought he deserved to win but never thought the Academy would look favourably upon him. Like Polanski, I was wrong.


The late Conrad L. Hall won the cinematography Oscar for Road To Perdition. His son accepted the award on his father’s behalf and it’s a final tribute to a man who deserved to win and will be sorely missed. The night’s biggest controversy came from Bowling For Columbine’s director Michael Moore when he won the prize for best documentary. He let rip into George Bush – “We like non-fiction, and we live in fictitious times, with fictitious election results, a fictitious president, sending us to war for fictitious reasons… Shame on you, Mr Bush!“ There were both cheers and boos (mostly boos from what I could gather). But I credit Moore for having the guts to say something that means something rather than thanking a meaningless people who no one could give a damn about.


Acting-wise, Brody at the age of 29 became the youngest actor ever to win – an outstanding honour. Nicole Kidman became Australia’s first actress to win and presenter Denzel Washington put it best when he said she had won “by a nose”. In the wide open category of best supporting actor, favourite Chris Cooper won Adaptation’s only award for the night and its heartbreaking to see writer Charlie Kaufman go unrewarded again (after losing three years ago for Being John Malkovich). A pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones rounded out the actors with her deserved supporting actress for Chicago. Tough luck for poor Renee. Hahahahaha.


Now to my Oscar contest and I set a very, very stiff examination paper this year. I deliberately pick tough categories but this year I certainly sorted out all the entrants. Not one person correctly picked the best original screenplay (Talk To Her) or best original score (Frida). Only 2 people managed to pick 2 of the 5 correctly and in fact they’re brothers – Sam Dagan (who picked Adrien Brody and Spirited Away) and Josh Dagan (who picked Chris Cooper and Spirited Away). In the tie-breaker decider, Sam was declared the winner as he was spot on in predicting Chicago would win 6 Oscars (whereas Josh only picked 4). Thanks to everyone who entered this year and rest assured I’ll be back again next time.


Overall, my strike rate was 12/24 – 50% exactly. But I was 0/4 in the documentary and short film categories (which I know zero about) so 12/20 (60%) was my score in the film-only categories. This was an improvement on the last two years where I scored 10/19 (2001) and 9/20 (2002) in the film-only categories. Bring on next year’s Oscars is all I have to say!!!!