"One thing’s clear: When the headlines are written on the night of the Oscars, the word Chicago will be in them."


HITS’ Odd Couple Are as Clueless as Ever,
but They Do See a Lot of Movies

When we last left our fearless if befuddled forecasters, Lenny Beer and Roy Trakin, they were attempting to give each other high fives after improbably picking most of the winners in last month's Grammy Awards—an impressive feat considering that their brain cells are popping with the frequency of balloons at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. In this Weakend Special, our poster boys for the Peter Pan complex have emerged from cowering under their respective desks to give their picks for Sunday night’s Academy Awards. This dialogue was transcribed in real time by the fleet-fingered Trakin. All right, pinheads, are you ready for your close-ups?

Trakin: OK, Beer, let’s start at the top.  I take it Chicago is a lock for Best Picture.


Beer: Chicago is a lock for Best Picture. I don’t even want to have this conversation.  It doesn’t matter which movie is too what or which one’s too little. After that, it’s interesting, but that, Trakin, is a lock.


Trakin: Let’s go to one of the more troublesome categories, Best Actor. Jack Nicholson was the early favorite, but it sure looks like Daniel Day-Lewis has all the momentum going in after his Screen Actors Guild award.


Beer: The only people who have voted for Nicholson are the handful that stayed awake through About Schmidt. The only true contender from that picture is Kathy Bates. Daniel Day Lewis is money.


Trakin: No, I agree with you on that one. You've raved in the past about Michael Caine in The Quiet American.


Beer: He was great, but no one saw that movie.


Trakin: Now, on to Best Actress.


Beer: Which is a very sexy category in more ways than one. Here are my comments: Diane Lane is a very sexy lady and will make for great stop-action shots on your DVD version of Unfaithful. Salma Hayek also wins for best performance by two naked breasts. However, the competition is a three-way battle between Ms. Kidman, Ms. Zellweger and Ms. Moore.


Trakin: I’m leaning right now towards Zellweger, even though she didn’t wear a prosthetic  nor have an accent.


Beer: Nor did she have any breasts to expose. Nicole, who has exposed her breasts in previous movies, this year has covered them, but put on a fake nose.


Trakin: Zellweger or Kidman, Beer. Or do you think Moore still has an outside shot?


Beer: I think Moore definitely has a shot. Any of those three could win. The other two cannot win.


Trakin: Do you think what looks like a Chicago sweep will have any impact on the acting awards?


Beer: The acting awards are where it’s going to have the least effect. If there’s anyplace it will help, it will be fpr Zeta-Jones because her husband and his family have such clout inside the Academy.


Trakin: OK, Beer, so you’re not going to make a conclusive pick in the actress category?


Beer: Not today. Before the awards, I may lie down, but as of today, I see it as a three-way battle, and I’m dealing with my inside sources to get a final winner.


Trakin: Zellweger... All right, supporting categories.  First, actor. People say Chris Cooper has the best shot here for Adaptation, with Newman and Walken splitting the geezer/career achievement vote.


Beer:  I thought Ed Harris was very moving in The Hours.

Trakin: Didn’t he just win for Truman Show a couple of years ago?


Beer:  This category is always a surprise. While Cooper is the early favorite, Walken’s been making a lot of moves lately, and Harris is always dangerous.


Trakin:  What about John C. Reilly? He was in three of the nominated movies this year. They should make up for ignoring John Cazale all those years. Is Steve-O nominated in this category for Jackass?


Beer: I liked Reilly best in The Hours.  Or was that Far From Heaven?  To me, they’re the same movie.


Trakin: Any shot for Newman?


Beer: Loved him in Perdition, but he won’t win. Who are you picking?  Pick one, you weasel.


Trakin: You twisted my arm.  I’m taking the chalk and going with Cooper… You?


Beer: I’ll take Harris and the points.


Trakin: Supporting actress… You’re going with Zeta-Jones for the reasons above.


Beer: Even though I felt Kathy Bates gave the best performance in this category, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ politics are better. I’m going for the Douglas family factor.


Trakin: No chance she and Queen Latifah split that vote and clear the way for, say, Meryl Streep?


Beer:  I’m going for Catherine Zeta-Jones.


Trakin: I’m in agreeance, as Fred Durst, or the Oxford English Dictionary, might put it. Now for director. Early line said Scorsese, but this looks like a no-brainer for Chicago’s Rob Marshall at this point.


Beer: As a fellow Carnegie-Mellon alum, I gotta go with the Marshall plan.


Trakin: You wanna do Best Foreign Picture?


Beer:  Of course. I have a strong feeling in this category. Nowhere in Africa—this year’s Holocaust winner. Although, if Talk to Her were nominated, that should have won.


Trakin: Yeah, they really blew it on Y Tu Mama Tambien, which was the best foreign picture by far, though, admittedly, I didn’t see Talk to Her. Let’s talk about the adapted screenplay category. Will the Chicago sweep, you should pardon the expression, envelope this category? I really loved About a Boy, and Adaptation was all about the screenplay.


Beer: The Hours is going to win this one.


Trakin: Let’s go to the original screenplay category, where both Y Tu Mama Tambien and Talk to Her are nominated.  Which way are you going?


Beer: I’m going with Talk to Her, slightly edging out Far From Heaven.


Trakin: Is this the category with My Big Fat Greek Wedding? That has a shot, I think. Let’s go to the original song category...  Is that the one Eminem is nominated in? I don’t think he stands a chance, especially now that he’s not going to be there. Chicago has to win this category, no?


Beer: If I had to bet, I’d bet on U2 for Gangs of New York. Since Bono is now a saint, you have to vote for him.


Trakin: So you see Chicago winning, say, seven or eight awards.


Beer:  Here’s where I think it wins: picture, art direction, cinematography, costumes, directing, film editing, sound and one or two of the acting categories, for a total of eight or nine.  Which is pretty good.


Trakin: Will Lord of the Rings get shut out?


Beer:  It’ll win visual effects and sound editing.


Trakin: How about animated feature?


Beer: That’s a great category. Do the popular Lilo & Stitch and Ice Age beat out the brilliant Spirited Away?


Trakin: Who do you like?


Beer: I liked them all, but Spirited Away is a major achievement. Lilo & Stitch is great, and Ice Age is so much fun, but Spirited Away has won so many awards; you have to consider that. How about Bowling for Columbine in the documentary category? Is there a negative about Michael Moore’s blatant liberalism, even though this documentary has clearly been the story of the year?


Trakin: I don’t think it’s his domestic or international politics, but his internal Academy politics, arguing over the documentary eligibility makes him seem a little on the churlish side… And there’s a tradition for this branch of the Academy to be elitist about popular documentaries.


Beer:  But it’s a year when there’s no holocaust documentary, so you have to pick Bowling for Columbine.


Trakin: That may well turn out to be one of the more intriguing races of the evening.


Beer: One thing’s clear: When the headlines are written on the night of the Oscars, the word Chicago will be in them.


Trakin: Are you looking forward to Steve Martin?


Beer: Yes, I think he’ll be a good host. He’s practicing his “Uma-Oprah” routine right now.


Trakin: At any rate, he could well end up "bringing down the house," especially if Queen Latifah wins.


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