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by Peter Knegt
October 24, 2011 2:53 AM
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For Your Consideration: The Curious Way This Year's Oscars Could Mirror 1998

1998's "Shakespeare in Love" and 2011's "The Artist."

As the lull of awards season development that is October continues, a weekly Oscar-themed column becomes more and more susceptible to redundancy. Sure, there's a few things to discuss: The Gotham Award nominations (though iW did so here already); The New York Film Critics Circle moving up their voting date (discussed here); The fact that one review of "Young Adult" has surfaced from a screening in Minnesota... But in general things are - and should continue to be - quite quiet until the unveilings of the last few question marks get under way in November.

So let's have a little Oscar geek fun in the meantime.

A significant Oscar geek pastime is finding any way to compare and contrast Oscar years. Yes, there's little meaning in such an exercise. But that doesn't mean it can't be a worthwhile to take a look nevertheless. Though this year's race is far from clear, there's a possible scenario that could oddly mirror the Oscar race of 1998, which culminated in one of the most notable best picture upsets in the past few decades: "Shakespeare in Love" beating "Saving Private Ryan".

Check out how that upset and potential winners in all the other major categories could have a similar outcome this year:

1998: Smiley unknown in a European film (Roberto Benigni) wins over much more famous competitors (Tom Hanks, Nick Nolte, Edward Norton) and a deserving veteran Brit who's never won before (Ian McKellan).
2011: Smiley unknown in a European film (Jean Dujardin) wins over much more famous competitors (Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Leonardo diCaprio) and a deserving veteran Brit who's never won before (Gary Oldman)

1998: Beautiful thirtyish blonde American actress (Gwyneth Paltrow) wins for playing historical actress in British film, beating Meryl Streep.
2011: Beautiful thirtyish blonde American actress (Michelle Willliams) wins for playing historical actress in British film, beating Meryl Streep.

1998: Very old dude who's never won (James Coburn) wins for playing the main character's father (who - spoiler alert - dies in the film).
2011: Very old dude who's never won (Christopher Plummer) wins for playing the main character's father (who - spoiler alert - dies in the film).

1998: Old, uber-respected British lady (Judi Dench) wins for playing Queen Elizabeth in a movie about Shakespeare (and beats Lynn Redgrave, sister of Vanessa)
2011: Old, uber-respected British lady (Vanessa Redgrave, sister of Lynn) wins for a role in a Shakespeare adaptation in the same year she played Queen Elizabeth in a movie about Shakespeare (and beats Judi Dench).

1998: Harvey Weinstein's sleeper hit ("Shakespeare in Love") beats a frontrunner directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan)
2011: Harvey Weinstein's sleeper hit ("The Artist") beats a frontrunner directed by Steven Spielberg ("War Horse")

1998: Steven Spielberg wins a consolation prize for best director, beating - among others - Terrence Malick for a film ("The Thin Red Line") featuring Sean Penn.
2011: Steven Spielberg wins a consolation prize for best director, beating - among others - Terrence Malick for a film ("The Tree of Life") featuring Sean Penn.

Granted, I wouldn't exactly call the above scenario assured. I'd wager bets on Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer over Michelle Williams and Vanessa Redgrave at this point. However, this is a genuinely possible scenario. So instead of taking to the comments section to criticize its unlikelihood, find your inner Oscar geek and present your own Oscar-history-meets-2011-predictions scenario.

Check out indieWIRE's latest chart of Oscar predictions here.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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2 Comments

  • Homely Performances | November 28, 2011 2:57 AMReply

    Michelle Williams shouldn't be nominated for anything. Some people had the nerve to consider
    her more talented than Heath Ledger. Her agent manipulated Ang Lee to give Michelle a role in Brokeback Mountain by not mentioning she was on Dawson's Creek.
    Her performance in that was very fake and phony. Every scene she had was very rehearsed. The audacity of the academy to give her a nomination for that role. Marilyn Monroe was not homely and all that Michelle brought to this movie was another rehearsed performance.

  • Ronnie D. | November 25, 2011 12:39 AMReply

    Overall good analysis but firstly, I wouldn't call Michelle Williams beautfiul, but that's just my opinion, secondly, I don't think Warhorse will by any means be considered a frontrunner, and thirdly, I very much doubt Spielberg will win best director for a dopey looking film like Warhorse.