Weekly Wire
Metro Pulse Oscar Face-Off

The Second Nominal Weisfeld vs. Turczyn Oscar Debate.

By Zak Weisfeld and Coury Turczyn

MARCH 23, 1998:  Oh, man—these guys are different. So different, they're opposites. Yessir, I can't think of two people who are so...different from each other. Coury likes cream in his coffee; Zak likes his black. Coury watches Deep Space Nine, while Zak follows Babylon 5. Then, uh, there's the hair—Coury's is brown, while Zak's is blond. Can you possibly imagine two people who are so completely at opposite ends of the human spectrum? I sure can't.

And...there's always, you know, the way they...um...

Oh hell, I give up. Let's face it: These losers couldn't be more alike. If they didn't alternate each week, you couldn't tell their reviews apart. They're both know-it-all jerks who couldn't hack it in Hollywood—so here they are, sitting on their little thrones, sending out their pathetic tirades about how bad Mike Myers is. Well let me tell you something: At least Mike Myers is making it, okay? That's more than you two jealous boobs can manage. The most you can muster are those rambling, self-gratifying ego boosts you call "movie reviews" every other week.

Well you guys can just go to hell if you think you're going to get some kind of puffy, worshipful introduction from me. I've taken your crap for too long to demean myself any more. Where are my awards, huh? Why don't I get invited to talk on the radio? What makes you two glib bastards so special? That's what I want to know! All I get to do is write that damn music scene column, week after week—and people hate my guts! What's my pay-off for being the punching bag of Knoxville hipsters and fogies alike? A free lunch with Bonnie Appetit! Big damn deal! So why don't you take your happy-wappy little intro and stuff it up your damn—

Zak: This is the most pathetic idea I've ever heard.
Coury: Every newspaper does it.
Zak: Hell, nobody actually watches the Oscars—so who's going to want to read a debate over who'll win?
Coury: But people love to read Oscar debates—they live for it.
Zak: But does anyone really care that much about who wins the Oscars? It's like the Grammys, but less relevant.
Coury: Come now—it can't be less relevant than the MTV Movie Awards.
Zak: I disagree. I think the MTV Movie Awards are more relevant, because at least they indicate the audience's tastes—they may be tragic, but at least it tells something about ourselves, whereas the Academy Awards only tell us the opinions of this "Academy."
Coury: You're telling me the award for "Best Kiss" tells us something about our society?
Zak: At least it has some sociological relevance, whereas what obscure demographic does the Academy lurk in? I mean, who are these people? Why do we place so much weight in the Academy's opinions? We don't know who they are or what they do, or what their opinions are on anything else except these few categories—why would their nod make you want to go see it? See, I think the Academy Awards should really be a battle royale—everyone nominated in a category should be put in a ring. Five or six candidates enter, one candidate leaves. And then a big dance number.
Coury: So if we pretend each category is actually a fight to the death—who would win?
Zak: Now that's interesting.


Best Actor
Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting
Robert Duvall, The Apostle
Peter Fonda, Ulee's Gold
Dustin Hoffman, Wag The Dog
Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets

Zak: It's obvious to me—Matt Damon. He's the youngest.
Coury: Let's not count Jack out. If anyone would have a shiv in their boot, it'd be Jack.
Zak: It does come to that question of age and treachery vs. youth and stamina. But what if the old guys gang up? They're smart, they're savvy—Hoffman, Fonda, and Nicholson could join together and take on Damon, and then fight it out among themselves. Who's Damon gonna get to go with him? Duvall? I don't think so. I think Duvall would take on all comers, and maybe he could—he has the look of a tough old bastard.
Coury: He's definitely a leathery old guy. He could suffer a lot of blood loss and just keep going.
Zak: But who's been in more military style movies? Duvall has been in more fight scenes than any of those other guys, but Peter Fonda did kick some ass in Ulee's Gold.
Coury: However, in Easy Rider—the last movie Fonda was in before Ulee's Gold—he got his ass kicked. Plus, he's an old hippie.
Zak: Right. Has Duvall ever had his ass kicked in a movie? I don't think so. The Great Santini? No. Ass kicker. Apocalypse Now? Ass kicker. The Apostle? A huge ass kicker! You'd think it was a Jackie Chan movie. So, based on the historical record, I think it's going to come down to Duvall and Damon.
Coury: Damon's got youth, definitely, but he's got no reach.
Zak: He's got those weird little arms, which I find deeply disturbing.
Coury: I give it to Duvall, based on sheer number of asses kicked. Plus, he has no hair to grab.
Zak: And Matt Damon did go to Harvard, which automatically pegs him as a bit of a sissy.
Coury: He's a wuss.
Zak: It's true—I was just giving him credit for being young and strong-looking, but he doesn't know anything about a street fight. I think Duvall would tear his ears off.
Coury: He's ivy league. Duvall's a back-alley guy.
Zak: There you have it—Metro Pulse picks Robert Duvall for best actor.


Best Actress
Helena Bonham Carter, The Wings of the Dove
Julie Christie, Afterglow
Judi Dench, Mrs. Brown
Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets
Kate Winslet, Titanic

Coury: Judi Dench—no way. Not only is she old, but she's English.
Zak: They're all English!
Coury: Except for Helen Hunt.
Zak: Geez—I didn't see any of these movies. I'm tempted to go with Hunt because she was in Twister—didn't she punch somebody out in Twister?
Coury: Well, she is very feisty, I give her that. She takes very little guff from that runt, Paul Reiser.
Zak: Helena Bonham Carter—what do you think she weighs in at?
Coury: 95?
Zak: No way—I think she's bigger than that. Her size is deceptive. Just think about all those corsets she's had to wear, and the sheer mass of muscle she's had to develop. But what about Julie Christie? She's the dark horse of the category.
Coury: Well, she's certainly very lithe for her age, but I don't think I've ever seen her in an action picture, so who knows?
Zak: Kate Winslet...
Coury: Now she's got some mass! She's probably the meatiest English girl we've got on the list. Very strong shoulders.
Zak: And didn't she kill her friend's mother in Heavenly Creatures?
Coury: That takes guts!
Zak: That's what I'm saying—she's a scrapper.
Coury: I think she did it with bricks, too.
Zak: And what about that ax scene in Titanic? She knew how to throw that thing around with pinpoint accuracy—she didn't lop off any of DiCaprio's fingers. And that wasn't a special effect, either—do you think Cameron would allow a stunt woman to swing an ax? Hell, no—it was probably a real ax!
Coury: So who's your pick?
Zak: Helen Hunt's got that midwestern toughness about her. She could take a beating, that's the thing. Winslet looks like she could dish it out, but can she take it? I think Helen would come back for more. And that's how you can tell a champion, Coury—it's not who you knock down, it's how you get back up.
Coury: Winslet looks like she bruises easily—she's got that puffy softness. I'm gravitating towards Hunt.
Zak: She's got the shoulders, though I'm not sure about the reach. I predict the early rounds will go to Winslet, but like Ali in Zaire...
Coury: The rope-a-dope!
Zak: Exactly.
Coury: I think we're in agreement here: Helen Hunt for Best Actress.


Best Supporting Actor
Robert Forster, Jackie Brown
Anthony Hopkins, Amistad
Greg Kinnear, As Good As It Gets
Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights
Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

Coury: We've got some real ass-kickers here—Robert Forster first on the list.
Zak: I gotta tell ya, Forster's looking good to me. He's looking very, very impressive. He's may not be the youngest man on the list, but he's trim and intense. He knows what it's like to have been down, so he's going to fight to keep it.
Coury: Plus, he's done the most B-movies out of all these guys.
Zak: So who else is on the list? Anthony Hopkins?
Coury: He did wrestle a live bear in The Edge.
Zak: Did he?
Coury: At least in the commercials I saw—they made it appear like he did, anyway.
Zak: He is burly; if Forster's gonna take him, he's got to keep moving.
Coury: Let's not forget the intimidation factor, the psychological edge that Hopkins clearly has because of his role as Hannibal Lector. His reputation precedes him in spades.
Zak: He does have the intensity. However, we also know that Forester, as we've seen in Jackie Brown, is virtually unflappable. It may come down to a contest of wills more than just physical strength—which man will break first?
Coury: I'll tell you right now—Robin Williams is going to crack like an egg. Even though he did show lots of resistance to Matt Damon's jerky behavior in Good Will Hunting, I think he'll collapse early.
Zak: He shoved Damon against the wall pretty good.
Coury: But he's too sensitive—there's no thirst for blood there.
Zak: You're right. He may prefer to lose rather than hurt someone else—I mean, he's never been in a fight in a movie. His most physical role was with Damon—and the day you can't shove some Harvard sissy up against the wall is the day you hang it up, my friend.
Coury: Okay—what of Burt? That's the big question in everybody's mind.
Zak: I don't need to tell you this, but: Deliverance, Semi-Tough, Smoky and the Bandit, Gator, The Longest Yard...
Coury: Ass-kick, ass-kick, ass-kick, ass-kick...!
Zak: The young Burt, hands down, could best any of today's nominees—maybe all of them combined, even. But he's getting on—he's got the toupee, he's got the tire...
Coury: And let's not forget Evening Shade. That must have really broken his spirit in a big, big way.
Zak: I am reminded of George Foreman. In his early days, he was clearly an ass-kicking motherf—-er. Huge, a titan, a giant, a murderer—and then as he aged, cute, cuddly...still winning matches, but against chumps.
Coury: Burt is deserving of some props, no question about it. He has earned our respect as a fighter. However, he's past his prime. He just doesn't have it any more.
Zak: So we're back to Forster and Hopkins.
Coury: Definitely. That's the matchup we should be watching. I'm going with Hopkins because he's wily, he's tricky—who knows what underhanded tricks he's going to pull out in the ring?
Zak: I've got Forster, and I'll tell you why: Hopkins' earlier victories were against has-beens, punching bags, washed-up losers. This is the first time he's up against a guy who's been down and come back again, somebody who knows what it's like on the bottom. He wants it more—he's got the eye of the tiger.
Coury: Well, don't underestimate psychopathic deviance, my friend. It could be the deciding factor in this battle. Forster—he's a tough guy, I'll grant you that. But he's also a nice guy. In Jackie Brown, he had a heart of gold. That's his Achilles' heel, whereas Hopkins is an animal, a killer. He's a master criminal!


Supporting Actress
Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential
Joan Cusack, In & Out
Minnie Driver, Good Will Hunting
Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights
Gloria Stuart, Titanic

Coury: Kim Basinger—very muscley under the pancake makeup, I think.
Zak: I've got to rule you out there. Kim, she's got nothin'. She's got a glass jaw. I hate to say this, but she's a real sissy. Things don't go her way, and it's "I don't want to do it." I'm sure she'll feign some kind of injury, claim she can't compete.
Coury: You're forgetting who her trainer is, the best in the business: Alec Freakin' Baldwin.
Zak: Overrated. Forster could kick his ass, too. Basinger's going down. And I'll tell you right now: Gloria Stuart doesn't stand a chance.
Coury: Yes, we will see the death of Gloria Stuart on Oscar night.
Zak: Now here's the thing: We've got Minnie Driver, Julianne Moore, Joan Cusack. Allright? Cusack—she's not focused enough. The Cusacks are just too damn nice. Her brother has the same problem, though he did kick some ass in Grosse Pointe Blank.
Coury: That was a fine ass kicking in Grosse Pointe Blank. That guy was a tank! And he still kicked his ass!
Zak: I still don't think the Cusacks can handle any of the heavy hitters in hand-to-hand combat.
Coury: It's really between Minnie and Julianne.
Zak: Here's how it breaks down to me—Minnie, she's British.
Coury: But she plays American better than most Americans!
Zak: You don't know where she's comin' from—left or right. And I'll tell you another thing about her—mass. We know that she can bulk up, as seen in Circle of Friends. So we know she can take it, and we know she can dish it out.
Coury: Have you seen the jaw on that girl? It's the biggest female mandible I've ever seen!
Zak: But here's the thing about Moore—no actress in this industry is more tenacious than Julianne Moore. No one. She'll fight you naked, she'll fight you in period costume, she'll fight dinosaurs—it does not matter to her. Nothing's beneath her, nothing's above her. She'll fight, fight, fight.
Coury: I'm sorry—Minnie's got orangutan arms, for Christ's sake. Plus the jaw, okay?
Zak: She's a fine physical specimen, but you can't rule Moore out.
Coury: I'm going with Minnie all the way.


Best Director
Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty
Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting
Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential
Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter
James Cameron, Titanic

Coury: Peter Cattaneo—he's the wild card.
Zak: I've seen Cattaneo, and I'll tell you, he's got the upper-country Englishman, bar-brawler, soccer-hooligan look. He's a young guy, very fit, beefy. The only problem is, he seems very damn pleasant, which could be a disadvantage going up against guys like Cameron.
Coury: Then there's Atom Egoyan. One word:
Zak & Coury: Canadian.
Coury: Not a chance in hell. The guy's meat.
Zak: I think Gloria Stuart could kick his ass.
Coury: Let's face it—Canadian blood will be spilled in the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion.
Zak: Let's not even talk about it.
Coury: Gus Van Sant—a close second to Egoyan, I think, in pure wussiness.
Zak: I don't know—he's got a smooth style, he's smart, he learns from his mistakes.
Coury: The point is moot because James Cameron is going to kick everybody's ass.
Zak: What about Curtis Hanson?
Coury: Well, he is old and wily. He's in his 50s, been in the biz for quite a while, laying low.
Zak: L.A. Confidential did have the most ass-kicking in it.
Coury: True, lots of beatings in that movie.
Zak: Too bad he couldn't get Russell Crowe to proxy for him, because if it was Russell Crowe in any category, any time, we're givin' it to him.
Coury: Anyway, Hanson doesn't stand a chance with Cameron—he's the 800-pound gorilla. He's got reach, he's got tenacity, he's got a God complex.
Zak: But this is where I think you've made your critical error—Cameron doesn't know what it's like to lose. He's never taken a hit.
Coury: The Abyss? C'mon!
Zak: Hey—he had the balls to release it as a director's cut. The guy is deluded! I think a lot of people are going to make a lot of money betting against Cameron on this one. He's going to come in strong, beat a few people with pure intimidation. But the directors with art house credentials—Cattaneo and Van Sant—are going to be unintimidated, because they fought in other leagues. Cameron's making Hollywood blockbusters—anyone can do that. Those aren't good movies, whereas Cattaneo and Van Sant have to scrap it out down there with your indie guys, like Quentin Tarantino. It's a whole different world. So I think Cameron's going to come in, he's going to be looking good, but if those guys can keep their wits about them, stay focused, I don't think you can rule them out.
Coury: You've got to pick one—who's it going to be?
Zak: I'm going with your sissy-boy, Van Sant.
Coury: Over a soccer hooligan like Peter Cattaneo?
Zak: He's wily, but he's an unknown. Van Sant, he's learned from his mistakes and he's smart. I think if he could keep moving, and make Cameron doubt for just a second—boom. He makes his move.
Coury: So many critics before you have doubted Cameron. Titanic? $200 mil? He's going down. But look what happened—he came out swingin'. Nothing phases him. Wham—biggest movie ever made.
Zak: Exactly my point—Titanic came out in December. It's still number one at the box office. You think Cameron is out there training every day? Hittin' the bag, skipping rope, doing the footwork? No. But Van Sant? He's out there hustling, working the room, looking for the angles.


Best Picture
As Good As It Gets
The Full Monty
Good Will Hunting
L.A. Confidential
Titanic

Coury: The problem here is, the producers get Best Picture.
Zak: We don't even know who the producers are, so it's a crap shoot. In that case, I'd have to give it to Titanic since it had the most producers.
Coury: It'd be like one of those tag-team matches, where guys come out of the audience and wreck chairs.
Zak: Even if their producers are the wimpiest, just by virtue of having sheer numbers, Titanic sweeps.


No celebrities were hurt in the writing of this Oscar debate. Metro Pulse does not condone the senseless slaughter of film actors, not even for our own entertainment.


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