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CNN Today

Rozen: Bid for Oscars 'More Wide Open Than It Has Been in Years'

Aired February 15, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as we've been talking about much of the day because it's so fun and easy to talk about movies...

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, really, it is.

ALLEN: The Oscar nominations are out today. One Hollywood insider calls the leading contenders a bunch of oddballs, and here's why.

WATERS: Well, there's a bit of suburbia, there are ghosts, whistle blowers, death row, and an orphanage all in the running for best picture. And the handicapping already has begun.

ALLEN: So let's ask "People" magazine film critic Leah Rozen to check her crystal ball.

Leah, hello. How are you?

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Good afternoon. Hi.

ALLEN: What do you think about this race? There's not just a standout blockbuster movie, is there, this year?

ROZEN: No, there's no juggernaut, you know, there's no big ship cutting through the water like Titanic did two years ago. This year is wide -- more wide open than it has been in years. You're seeing a lot of good films that were nominated, and there's no obvious, obvious favorite other than maybe "American Beauty," simply because it got more nominations than anything else.

WATERS: Is there any correlation, Leah, with "Sixth Sense" making the most money and getting the most nominations?

ROZEN: I didn't -- I think -- didn't "American Beauty" get the most nominations?

WATERS: Oh, I'm sorry, yes.

ROZEN: I believe "Sixth Sense" got one -- yes.

WATERS: I'm wrong again. OK.

ROZEN: I think "American Beauty" is eight and "Sixth Sense" is seven.

WATERS: It was a darn good question, though.

ROZEN: Good question, almost.

WATERS: Almost.

ROZEN: You get the points for trying.

"Sixth Sense" the fact that it made money, but I think what -- one, it made money; two, audiences really like the movie. I think it did better in the nominations than people thought -- by one or two than people thought it would, and it's got a good shot, although I'm going to be surprised if it ends up being best picture.

ALLEN: Any surprises for you in the best picture category?

ROZEN: Yes, I think -- well, I think one of the surprises was that the director -- you saw Spike Jonze get nominated for "Being John Malkovich," which is great, but here here's, what, 27, 29, a former skateboarding champion who makes his first movie and it's this truly bizarre, just wildly original film, which "Being John Malkovich" is, and it's great. He got nominated, got a nomination for best supporting actress for Catherine Keener. So I'm happy about that. The other surprises were, as they always are, who didn't get nominated.

ALLEN: Like Jim Carrey.

ROZEN: Jim Carrey. The guy's got to be going, what does Oscar have against me? What do I have to do? Although the reality is, the film wasn't that good. Most critics weren't that taken with it. I certainly wasn't. It didn't do that well at the box office. And so if you have the one-two of critics not loving it and the public not embracing it, it's an uphill battle to get an Oscar.

WATERS: That aside, does Hollywood have a problem with Jim Carrey?

ROZEN: I think they may think for a while he makes a whole lot of money for being Ace Ventura, although my guess would be three would be the charm. When he does a third serious movie, and if it does well at the box office, I'll bet you'll see him nominated.

ALLEN: Who do you like for best actress? Hilary Swank, who we kind of talked with the last hour, won the Golden Globe for "Boys Don't Cry."

ROZEN: She has to be the odds-on favorite, if I was a betting woman, given that she's won the Golden Globe, she swept the New York film critics. I also like Julianne Moore in "End of the Affair," which is partly a cumulative award. She was in five movies this year and gave five great performances. This was the largest one and is just a terrific piece of work.

WATERS: And actor? ROZEN: Actors tough category this year.

WATERS: Yes, it is.

ROZEN: There are a lot of good guys out there, and I guess I'm just going to wait and see right now.

WATERS: Oh, you're going to pass on that.

ROZEN: I'm going to pass, yes. I'm looking at my list. I think Russell Crowe -- I guess I'm going with the sentimental favorite, Richard Farnsworth. I just think that was a beautiful performance in "The Straight Story" and of the little movie.

WATERS: He's the 79-year-old fellow.

ROZEN: Seventy-nine I believe. It was just a -- it was a truly beautiful performance and not enough people saw the film. I hope now that he's nominated, more people will.

WATERS: Well, that's one of my handicaps. I haven't seen all of the films. But I'd be interested in what you would say about those already saying that perhaps this 11-year-old kid, Haley Joel Osment, could take the best supporting actor Oscar away from such notables as Michael Caine...

ALLEN: Or Tom Cruise.

WATERS: ... Cruise.

ROZEN: He could. Kids have done it before. Anna Paquin did it, Tatum O'Neal did it. So I wouldn't want to be an adult up against a kid and a movie that has made more than $250 million and who was really very good. So, yes, I think he's got a good shot. He should be writing his Oscar speech now, although Michael Caine was extraordinarily good in "Cider House Rules," and Jude Law was just terrific in "Talented Mr. Ripley," who were also nominated. The big omission in that category was Christopher Plummer from "The Insider" for playing Mike Wallace.

ALLEN: Leah, what about some movies that didn't get put up for best picture: "Angela's Ashes," "The Green Mile." And what about Stanley Kubrick's much ballyhooed "Eyes Wide Shut"?

ROZEN: "Green Mile" is indeed nominated for best picture...

ALLEN: Oh, I'm sorry.

ROZEN: ... which is sort of a surprise, actually. Three hours and 10 minutes with no intermission? I don't think so.

(LAUGHTER)

Yes, "Eyes Wide Shut." I mean, this was the, you know, the final last film from, you know, the world's greatest filmmaker. But, basically, it wasn't a great movie. There are a few critics who think it was, but I think, by and large, most of the critics, and certainly the public, was not enchanted by this film, and, boy, it is not being remembered at awards time.

ALLEN: Overall, do you think we have some good movies out there for folks to be going to see?

ROZEN: I think there are a lot of good movies out there right now, and I think this is a good group of candidates for the Oscars. You know, none of these are -- it's not like one of these is so much better than the other. It's a lot of pretty good films and I think the public is going to be pretty happy with these choices. But I always say, the key to happiness is, pay off your mortgage and don't care about the Oscars because it'll break your heart.

WATERS: Yes. Is there anything on the awards ceremonies this year? Is there going to be dancers and long acceptance speeches and...?

ROZEN: Well, you know, the best news I have is they're getting rid of the big dance numbers. You won't see anyone...

WATERS: Yes.

ROZEN: ... doing a tap dance to the theme from "Saving Private Ryan."

The other thing that's most amusing is one of the songs from "South Park" was nominated -- the song about Canada. It was nominated for best song, you know, and I look forward to that number.

WATERS: Will Billy Crystal be doing it again?

ROZEN: Yes, Billy Crystal is back, and that's always good news.

WATERS: Yes it is.

ROZEN: So I think we can really look forward to his opening production number.

ALLEN: Leah Rozen, "People" magazine.

Thanks for joining us, Leah.

ROZEN: You're welcome.

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