Now that the parties are over, the hangovers slept off, the million-dollar jewels returned to their owners, it’s time to take final inventory of the winners and losers of Oscars 2000. WINNERS
Steven Spielberg Dreamworks: Sure, the studio took home the most statues (five), but the real story is that the Studio That Spielberg And Friends Built won Round 2 of what’s turning into its annual bout with Miramax for the top Oscar prizes. You’ll remember that the two neo-arch-rivals split the two top honors last year — Spielberg took Best Director and Miramax’s “Shakespeare in Love” got the Best Picture nod — but this year, Dreamworks kicked the Weinstein brothers’ butts in every category where they competed.
Warner Bros.: “The Green Mile” may have come away with zilch, but who cares? “The Matrix” was the second-biggest success story of the night, taking awards in four technical categories. The way it was going, if it had been nominated for Best Picture, it probably would have won that, too.
Michael Caine Michael Caine and all the Supporting Actor nominees: Yes, Caine took the award in this category, but he also came up with the feel-good moment of the evening when he graciously acknowledged his fellow nominees, describing them with words like “astonishing” and “fantastic.”
The Wall Street Journal: This newspaper displayed 12-pica cojones and bucked the status quo, polling Oscar voters and publishing its results the Friday before the Academy Awards. The Academy, royally ticked off, tried to downplay this breach-of-Oscar-decorum by saying the Journal had only talked to 6 percent of the voters, therefore rendering the poll unreliable. Well, anyone familiar with presidential polls knows that surveys far smaller than 6 percent are often quite accurate and — guess what? — the newspaper predicted five-and-a-half of the top six Oscar categories correctly. (We say five-and-a-half because in the Best Actor category, the Journal hedged its bets, saying it was too close to call between Kevin Spacey and Denzel Washington.)
Willie Fulgear Willie Fulgear: Despite his $50,000 reward and new black-tie attire, the Man Who Found Most of the Stolen Oscars refused to sell out to Hollywood. Inside the Shrine, he still had the black fedora he wears while rummaging around Los Angeles for scrap metal.
Fox Searchlight: The indie-minded arm of Rupert Murdoch‘s empire made its mark two years ago with “The Full Monty,” which received several key Oscar nominations. Through savvy marketing, the company this year turned “Boys Don’t Cry,” a dark-themed movie that was once a dark horse for any Oscar consideration, into the heavy favorite and very deserving winner in the Best Actress category for Hilary Swank.
“The Sixth Sense” Disney, M. Night Shyamalan and Michael Mann: The Mouse’s own Buena Vista Pictures distributed two of the Best Picture nominees, “The Sixth Sense” and “The Insider,” both of which were nominated in lots of important categories but came away with donut holes. Perhaps their biggest liabilities were the films’ directors — nobody can pronounce Shyamalan’s name, and Mann’s films (e.g. “Heat,” “Last of the Mohicans”) are overrated.
Denzel Washington: “The Hurricane” was better than “The Bone Collector,” but it didn’t “touch a nerve” with audiences, as everyone keeps saying, the way “American Beauty” did. And that may have been the difference in a somewhat-bland contest for the Best Actor award.
Miramax: Everyone knows it’s been a bad year for these guys. There were reports that they made less money, they didn’t buy anything hot at Sundance and their big entry in the Oscar race was the low-wattage “The Cider House Rules.” Sure, Michael Caine and writer John Irving won Oscars, but maybe the studio should’ve cranked up the hype machine and gotten a nomination for that kid who plays Fuzzy. Miramax’s second-string Oscar contender, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” went home empty-handed despite five nominations.