Best Picture: This was one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history, but looking back on it, it's easy to see how it happened. Shakespeare's massive Miramax campaign and 13 nominations made it an incredibly strong contender that was able to gain enough steam to beat out Saving Private Ryan. I think that voters felt that they had honored Speilberg with Picture and Director too recently and it's early summer release date may have hurt it too. Shakespeare was a wonderful, enjoyable movie and I think the Academy enjoyed it more then they enjoyed a World War II film. Life Is Beautiful may have gotten third place, but voters probably felt it's other wins would be enough to honor it. Thin Red Line was overshadowed by S.P.R and Elizabeth was really just happy to be nominated.
Best Director: Like Ang Lee 7 years later, there was no beating Speilberg here even if Shakespeare won Best Picture (Which, of course it did). Speilberg was and still is a highly respected film-maker and people still felt he was overdue. Madden was probably the runner-up, but this was Speilberg's for sure.
Best Actor: A wide open race at first with McKellen and Nolte taking most of the precursors, but then Life Is Beautiful came out of nowhere and people started loving it which gave Benigni the momentum. His SAG win (As well as a BAFTA win) was also an excellent forecaster, especially since every Best Actor winner there had also won at the Oscars. I'm surprised that it wasn't clearer at the time, but i guess it was because it was a foreign language performance and that Benigni was also going to win Best Foreign Language Film.
Best Actress: Before the SAG's, it was a two horse race between Paltrow and Blanchett. But when Paltrow triumphed over her at the SAG's, it was clear she had the support, much like Lawrence over Chastain last year. I think Miramax's campaign as well as the fact that Paltrow was so young and likeable made her the winner. Blanchett, despite her BAFTA win, was too unknown at that time to take the prize. And Elizabeth had no real momemtum. Fernanda Montengro could have won in a split between them (Like Riva last year, wow!), but Paltrow was too far out in front (Like Lawrence!). Streep and Watson weren't contenders.
Best Supporting Actor: A big upset here. All the precursors were split: Critics Choice went with Billy Bob Thorton, Golden Globes went Ed Harris, SAG went with Duvall, and BAFTA went with Rush, not for Shakespeare, but for his work in Elizabeth. In such an open field, Coburn was able to sneak in, probably because of his career and his very dramatic role. As for the other nominees, Rush had just won, Thorton had also won a writing Oscar and some thought his role was too similiar to Sling Blade. Duvall was a possible winner, but the film was hardly loved and neither was Duvall. Harris was also thhe other possible winner, but I don't know if the Academy was passionate enough about the Truman Show or about him in general to give him the Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress: A race that was difficult to predict at the time, but Dench won, I think , because of the Shakespeare juggernaut and her Oscar loss for Mrs. Brown the year before and also because there were a lot of things going against her competition. Brenda Blethyn's work was considered too over the top and the film had no real Oscar support. Lynn Redgrave won the Golden Globe, but probably didn't have the buzz to take it and some said it her performance bordered on parody. Rachel Griffiths was in another film with no real momentum and was also too much of an unknown. Bates took the Critics Choice and SAG, but the film was a dud and her Oscar win for Misery was recent enough for voters to pass over her.
Best Original Screenplay: This race was a lock for Shakespeare, due to it being what makes the film a success. I'm guessing The Truman Show and Life Is beautiful were the runner ups, but neither could stop Shakespeare's momentum.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Bill Condon pulled off a surprising win this year over WGA winner Out Of Sight and The Thin Red Line. I guess voters weren't going to honor a film like Out of Sight which didn't do to well at the box office anyway and support for The Thin Red Line was not strong enough to pull off a win. The Academy must have liked Gods And Monsters enough to give it three nominations in major and felt that it deserved it here.
Well, I really need to watch more films from this year! It's usually easy for me to analyze the races, (Although some of my reasonings are more subjective then others) but this one I think was a trickier year in general to forecast given all the surprise winners. I really need to see Saving Private Ryan, Life Is Beautiful, The Thin Red Line, The Truman Show, Affliction, and Gods And Monsters. Anyway though, what are your thoughts? Did you predict/think Shakespeare would win? Were you shocked that it did and do you think Saving Private Ryan was robbed? Are you on Team Cate for Best Actress?