The Playoffs
Awards that are not, in fact, the Oscars: A weekly column

Updated 1/06/02: AFI winners, revamp of section
"Everything you ever wanted to know about LOTR, but didn't know enough Elvish to ask."
Special feature:
The cast of Harry Potter
Special feature:
"Rings Things" and "One Cast to Rule Them All"
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1/06/02: We surrender! After spending a whole day playing catch-up after Christmas vacation and trying to hunt down all the critics group/top ten lists, I find them all--laid out much better than I could manage myself--at Considering that the Oscars and the awards preceding are only one section on the Daily Digest, your local awards maven cries uncle. Hereafter, links are posted at the top of the page to the most useful pages on that site.

But did you catch the
AFI Awards last night? Bless their hearts, most of the winners didn't even attend. Which was a shame, because the brand-new awards ceremony is "throwing down the gauntlet," in member Roger Ebert's words, and I myself admit that even if I'd been rooting for someone else to win, I was impressed with their choices overall. (Example: while many critics lauded Denzel Washington's turn in Training Day this fall, I was totally prepared for Washington to be forgotten come awards time, given that both the film and the performance, unlike the Academy, were neither genteel nor WASPy, to put it delicately. And yet he won Best Actor last night. Good call.)

But the major effect of last night's ceremony, televised on CBS, will be the legitimization of Lord of the Rings' Oscar hopes, I think. While it's topped more than a few critics' lists so far, there's something about seeing the producers actually get up and thank people with trophy in hand that works wonders psychologically. To a lot of people, it won't be just a silly little fantasy movie anymore.

This is a bit relatable to the shocking number of critics' lists that David Lynch's Mulholland Drive has turned up on--if you'd told me three months ago this former TV pilot would have been a serious Best Picture contender, I'd have laughed in your face. (And I
like David Lynch--see my Elephant Man review.) I just didn't think that many critics would cotton to a return to midgets 'n' madness after the gentle success of his The Straight Story (and the general cold shoulder of the last ten years or so to everything else), but apparently he's pulled off a comeback, and in fine form. (And wasn't it funny to see him [above right] introduce the Mulholland Drive segment on the show in person?)

Gosford Park, too, has seen an upswing in laurels culminating in last night's Best Director win for Robert Altman, though Moulin Rouge started off strong on many awards lists. The real gains last night, though, were Sissy Spacek (at right) for In the Bedroom and Christopher Nolan's script for Memento, which I personally feel are the front runners for their respective Oscar categories now, as well as Roger Deakins for The Man Who Wasn't There's cinematography. (Keep in mind--and I'll say this frequently: I am not speaking of my personal preferences here, but of who leads in the critical consensus.) But only time will tell--and soon, too, with the People's Choice Awards (well, maybe they won't tell) and the Golden Globes almost upon us.

Useful Links:

The Daily Digest Yahoo Group (join for links, newsletter, and Oscar Pool participation)

Oscar Logic: We didn't say it made sense

Critics' top tens at Oscar Watch

Every critics' group in the world plus a few more (also Oscar Watch)

Official Oscar rules & regs
Good ol' Eraserhead himself.