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"I pick Russell Crowe, but clearly Javier Bardem gave the best performance in "Before Night Falls." And, of course, I have a thing for gay Cuban poets."
——Lenny Beer,
on Best Actor

HITS' OSCAR PROGNOSTICATORS
ARE ALL THUMBS

Just Like Siskel & Ebert, Except BOTH
Of These Dimwits Are Legally Dead
"The Gladiator" may be the leading contender to score big at the Academy Awards, but HITS' own in-house experts, Lenny "Mr. Hollywood" Beer and sidekick Roy "Buttered Popcorn" Trakin, are looking for a much more eclectic showing at Sunday's ceremony.

Best Movie
Trakin:
It has to be "Gladiator," because the Academy likes to see young male, bare-chested warriors in sheet metal short-shorts. Also, it has the most nominations and the 'Ben Hur' factor going for it.

Beer: Not so fast, Jujubee-breath. I see "Traffic" gaining the momentum in the backstretch. Plus, Michael Douglas has all the Tinseltown clout. By the way, do you know where I can score some blow?

Best Actor
Trakin:
Even though I'm rooting for Tom Hanks so that I can once again update my book on him, I feel this is the year for Russell Crowe.

Beer: I pick Crowe, too, but clearly Javier Bardem gave the best performance in "Before Night Falls." And, of course, I have a thing for gay Cuban poets.

Best Actress
Trakin:
No question this is Julia Roberts' for the taking. I think she finally got the right role in "Erin Brockovich." All that's left is the coronation and getting past Joan Rivers on the red carpet.

Beer: Roberts is the lock of the night.

Supporting Actor
Trakin: Albert Finney
was so good in "Erin Brockovich," but the momentum seems to be all Benicio Del Toro after his SAG award.

Beer: All his peers think Benicio Del Toro's performance was just awesome.

Supporting Actress
Trakin: Kate Hudson
feels like the winner. I mean, the business loves Goldie Hawn, and she won this award, like, 30 years ago, so it makes a lotta sense.

Beer: Hudson. She gave a completely charming performance, has the right Hollywood pedigree, and this is the category in which young actresses get anointed.

Best Director:
Trakin: Gotta be Ang Lee, though it's a shame Steven Soderbergh can't get one for both movies.

Beer: Ang Lee all the way. Never mind the Soderbergh factor, Lee deserves it.

Best Song
Trakin:
Looks like Bob Dylan. Can't wait for his acceptance speech.

Beer: Dylan. This is like when he won the Grammy for "Time Out Of Mind." His time is now.

Best Score
Trakin: Hans Zimmer
's music for "Gladiator" is in the classic Hollywood-epic mode.

Beer: I think Zimmer will win, too, but "Crouching Tiger" had the better use of music with Yo-Yo Ma.

Cinematography
Trakin:
I think "Gladiator" will win a majority of the technical awards, including this one.

Beer: I agree with that. The spectacular look of "Gladiator" was its chief selling point. That and all the half-naked guys running around.

Documentary Feature
Trakin: Is anything by Errol Morris nominated?

Beer: Always bet on the holocaust in this category. And that's "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories Of The Kinder Transport."

Original Screenplay
Trakin: Cameron Crowe
's dialogue in "Almost Famous" managed to create some memorable characters, even in the smaller roles.

Beer: Crowe for "Almost Famous." In a close race, he gets the honor for being overlooked in the other main categories.

Adapted Screenplay
Trakin:
The interweaving of the narratives in "Traffic" was pretty darn good.

Beer: A compelling story, told in a compelling manner. Now, will you please pass that Slushie over here, Trakin? Because the balcony is closed.

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