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For Your Consideration: The Curious Way This Year's Oscars Could Mirror 1998

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 24, 2011 at 2:53AM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Features, Academy Awards, The Artist






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