Oscars: And the winner should be...

Another Oscar ceremony, another night of safe choices. But what does the Academy know? David Benedict lets us in on the real highs and lows of the year in film, while Warren Penfield pens a blank verse homage to one of the leading contenders
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The Independent Culture
Tomorrow night, the world and its significant other will either be crammed into Hollywood's Dorothy M Chandler Pavilion or gathered around TV sets to watch the dressy thrash that is the 71st Oscar ceremony. There are literally thousands of voting members of the Academy - many of whom are the wrong side of elderly and watch the competing movies only on video - the combination of which means that the results are likely to be predictably safe and anodyne. Yet the only thing that's certain is that there'll be tears before bedtime and 27 ways of rephrasing Sally Field's now famous thank-you for her second Oscar: "This means you really, really love me".

But will the awards reflect what really happened on our screens in the last year? The Independent's arts team presents a definitive guide to the Oscars Which Won't Be Won, But Should Be.

On the Buses Award for the Worst British Film of the Year

n Don't Go Breaking My Heart

Even members of the cast have advised friends not to see it.

n Martha, Meet Daniel, Frank and Laurence

n The Acid House

Just because Irvine Trainspotting Welsh wrote it, doesn't mean it's going to be good.

Winner: Martha, Meet Daniel, Frank and Laurence

In which penniless Monica Potter - albeit sporting a chic Voyage cardigan - meets the Brit brat-pack, ie Joseph Fiennes, Tom Hollander and Rufus Sewell. WARNING: Should you find yourself outside a cinema in the US showing The Very Thought of You, do not go in. The producers of Martha, Meet... finally realised they were responsible for the worst title in the history of world cinema and changed it. (The film, alas, is unimproved by this.)

Stick-with-the-day-job Award for taking ill-advised leave of absence from `Friends'

n Jennifer Aniston for Picture Perfect

n Courtney Cox for Scream 2

n Lisa Kudrow for The Opposite of Sex

n Matt LeBlanc for Lost in Space

n David Schwimmer for Six Days and Seven Nights

Winner: Matt LeBlanc in `Lost in Space' (No contest)

The Comet Award for Best Asteroid Heading for Planet Earth Movie

n Deep Impact

For the sole reason that at least it wasn't Armageddon.

The Athena Prize for Worst Poster

n Stepmom

Runs the gamut, colourwise, from beige to tan. And who ever had the bizarre idea that Julia Roberts looked good in a knitted beret? Did they seriously believe that this sort of thing would encourage people to pay the money?

The Winnebago Award for Best Trailer

n Patch Adams

This brief cinematic masterpiece leaves you in no doubt whatsoever as to the entire movie's tone, style and content. Think of all that time and money saved. What more can you ask?

The Jeffrey Archer Award for Shamelessness

n Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come

n Robin Williams in Patch Adams

Winner: Robin Williams (either)

The Josiah Wedgwood Cameo Award

n Richard Attenborough for Elizabeth

n Kathy Burke for Elizabeth

n Eric Cantona for Elizabeth

Winner: Richard Attenborough

The Mrs Al Jolson (aka Ruby Keeler) Award for Worst Leading Performance

n Rebecca Pidgeon in The Spanish Prisoner

Being married to the writer/director (David Mamet) is, we're sorry to say, just not enough.

The Jack Nicholson Award for keeping your head down, tilting it sideways and acting up through your eyebrows

n Joseph Fiennes for Martha, Meet...

n Joseph Fiennes for Elizabeth

n Joseph Fiennes for Shakespeare in Love

Winner: Joseph Fiennes

The Wallace and Gromit Best Animated Short Feature

n The Snake in Beware... Thieves are Silent. Sssssss...

The Viv Nicholson Most Criminal Waste of a Good Cast Award

n Robert De Niro, Natascha McElhone and Jonathan Pryce in Ronin

n Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Eddie Izzard in The Avengers

Winner: The Avengers (Ralph Fiennes said he wished he'd played Emma Peel)

The Dick Van Dyke Worst Accent Award

n Robert Lindsay in Divorcing Jack (Northern Irish - we imagine)

n Benicio Del Toro in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (His own)

Winner: Robert Lindsay

The Monica Lewinsky Worst Hair Award

n Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black

Sorry Brad, but tempus fugit. Dyeing your barnet cornfield yellow and parting it on the side in the hope that you look as young as you did eight years ago in Thelma and Louise won't wash.

The Andrew Neil Award for Being Smug

n The Truman Show. It's good, but it's not that good.

The Ferrero Rocher Most Pointless Remake Prize

n A Perfect Murder (aka Dial M for Murder)

n You've Got Mail (aka The Shop Around the Corner)

n Psycho

n The Parent Trap

Winner: Psycho. Puh-lease... or, rather, no thanks.

The Black and White Minstrels Award for Stereotyping

n Every German character in Saving Private Ryan

And finally...

1999/2000's Most Eagerly Unanticipated Movie

n Thunderbirds

Working Title is to blame, plus the director, Peter Hewitt.

n Sylvia and Ted

The Plath/Hughes story, with Gwyneth Paltrow. Oh well, we can always look on the bright side: at least it's not cutesy Meg Ryan.

n The Dogme remake of The Return of the Jedi (Just kidding)

Winner: All of the above

A Coffee House. The DUKE OF LATTE, seated.

Enter SCRIBIO, a gentleman

DUKE

Scribio, com'st thou from the Globe,

Where Rylance doth cross-dress and crown himself

The only queen of that old civil state

Which to hermaphroditic monarchs hath

Long tolerance afforded?

SCRIBIO

Nay, Peckham,

And the Premier thereof, some footfalls

East and southwards of that playing-place,

good Duke,

Hath my - faith, jaundic'd - orbits taken in.

DUKE

E'en so? Hast thou then truly circumscrib'd

The ambit of that kine-citadel,

And ascertain'd how "Stella", if I wist aright,

Hath her long-dispossessed "Groove" reclaim'd?

Or yet if Mail Thou Hast, be little but

Ephron's mere rewrite of the formula

That gladden'd hearts, both his 'n' hers,

Not four years back, now Sleepless hath, i-wis,

e-mail to scan with vague and drippy glance?

SCRIBIO

Sire, no, 'tis yet another flick; the banner

By my troth, Shakespeare in Love doth run.

DUKE

So, went'st thou in, stout tribune for the people's

part?

SCRIBIO

Aye, as Adonis to the chase, the foyer cross'd

And claim'd my subterranean velvet place.

DUKE

How was't?

SCRIBIO

Awful and wondrous, Lord, in equal part

For sooth, 'tis English, but with Englishness

Most concentrate and fruity, export strength;

So oft times thought I that some brochure slick

For Merrie Heritage, to 'tice the hordes

Of culture vultures from beyond these isles,

Was passing o'er the screen, with pastiche verse

Most 'Lizabethan; funky, too, I'll own.

DUKE

How do the players? Scribio, be kind.

SCRIBIO

Thou know'st, good Duke, the mixture as before

Will e'er prevail within this mighty genre;

Loves from TV deliver'd, thesps unchain'd

From laughless sitcoms, give the gig their all.

There's pash, there's brio, and the flavour choice

Of cake both had and eaten - Cred and Glam

Most flatteringly do both accrue to those

Half-dozen semi-household loved names

Who gamely bolster up what plot there is.

DUKE

To the leads, with a Will, and Fiennes is he?

SCRIBIO

Indeed, good Sire, and curious, younger to

The Rafe, of previous Oscar tangency.

DUKE

Why, brother to The Rafe?

SCRIBIO

The Rafe, indeed, this sibling hath, and yet

Whereas himself doth Rossiter evoke,

Great Leonard of that ilk, of Rising Damp

splendour -

Recites with jabb'ring lip, all nose and teeth,

This Joe, his junior, wears a sandbagg'd look;

Mascara and lipgloss are his meat and drink,

Severe and pouting, squinty, moist at rest

In flight his leather doublet whirls about

Flamenco speed, and quills he scatters hence

With inky brio, inspiration-struck.

DUKE

Ho hum. And Paltrow?

SCRIBIO

Lord, most fab,

Surprisingly; she synthesises (just),

An elfin Englishness with US West Coast lust.

DUKE

Shine's Geoffrey Rush? I hear he's jolly good.

SCRIBIO

Two muses, both alike in gravitas,

Steptoe and Son, do his performance grace;

He's droll, he's whisker'd, and his teeth are vile.

DUKE

What wilt thou now, good Scribio?

SCRIBIO

Sire, fain would I a Mocha quaff or two,

And yet my potion must another shape devise;

Withal, like lime to lager, Scotch and Sprite,

My bile shall sweeten'd be with gastronomic flair -

Sugar and Snidetude, most English parts,

Shall joust within my syllabub, critique;

I'll so review to give Stoppard a thrill,

But bodkin saccharin'd he'll know is bodkin still.

DUKE

Yet Oscars, we hear, are swiftly winging now

From Olympus occidental's highest suite,

For Highbrow is immortals' choicest love,

Ambrosial some setback to peruse

In its forbearance - low IQ's alway

A goodie, likewise handicaps most dire

And physical; of all conceptuals these they see

As Highbrow, and the gold doth fall, full speed

Autism, wheelchairs, post-traumatic S and D

Are grist to this mill of intellect they feel,

But say this year they love not soldiers' deaths,

Authentics leave them cold, shall men in tights,

With little beards and ruffs, Elizabethan'd Brits

That can in second nature trot the galliard, and

swash

Their buckles ad infinitum, yet prevail

O'er Hanks and Malick, mystic figures cult

And claim this Oscar's benediction?

SCRIBIO

Duke, they might;

Auteur - king Malick is, Zeitgeist's Hanks' shield,

But we have Judi Dench, and so can never yield!

EXEUNT

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