'Kings,' 'Moon,' others shut out while some are downplayed

Either 1999 saw a flood of good work, or else a lot of deserving candidates were simply unable to generate Oscar heat.

Either way, the 72nd annual Academy Awards are almost as notable for the no-shows as for films that were nominated.

A long list of films like “Three Kings” and “Man on the Moon” were shut out; pics such as “All About My Mother” and “Election” had much lower profiles than expected, with only one nom each.

Most years, there are two or three sure bets for a best-picture nomination. This year, the only one that seemed certain for a nom was “American Beauty,” and even its most ardent supporters were reluctant to label it a shoo-in for the top prize.

Before Tuesday morning, predictions of best picture nominees were all over the map, including “Being John Malkovich,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Magnolia,” “The Hurricane,” “Toy Story 2,” “The Straight Story,” “Topsy-Turvy” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

Unlike last year, when “Life is Beautiful” and “Central Station” got key noms, Academy members this year avoided foreign-language films in other categories.

They also stayed away from low-budget indies and edgier fare, such as “The Blair Witch Project,” “Dogma,” “Election,” “The Red Violin,” “Tea With Mussolini,” “Cookie’s Fortune,” “The Muse,” “Mansfield Park,” “The Limey,” “Three Kings” and “All About My Mother.”

Academy voters also were stingy with noms to some high-profile studio releases that were touted as heavy Oscar favorites even before principal photography began, such as “Angela’s Ashes,” “Man on the Moon” “Anna and the King,” “Anywhere But Here” and “Eyes Wide Shut.”

And some other year-end “prestige” releases were absent in the voting: “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc,” “Cradle Will Rock,” “Ride With the Devil,” “Onegin,” while “Snow Falling on Cedars” and “Titus” took home just one nomination each.

And comedies, never a favorite with awards-givers, were pretty much no-shows: “Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Toy Story 2,” “Bowfinger,” “Notting Hill,” “Election,” “An Ideal Husband” and “Runaway Bride” were hits with audiences and/or critics, but not with Oscar voters. “Shagged” snagged a makeup nomination.

Also absent were pics that opened in December with one-week qualifying engagements: “A Map of the World,” “Agnes Brown,” “Simpatico” and “Holy Smoke.”

Three of the animated films last year grabbed one nom apiece: “Toy Story 2,” “Tarzan” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.”

Absent were “Princess Mononoke,” “The Iron Giant” and “Pokemon: the First Movie.”

Except for “The Sixth Sense,” the most-nominated movies were slotted into late-year openings or, in the case of “American Beauty,” held in platform engagements for much of the fall before going wide. Voters mostly ignored critical favorites that had been released before November, including “October Sky,” “Election,” “Tea With Mussolini,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Bowfinger,” “Cookie’s Fortune,” “The Red Violin” and “Three Kings.”

In terms of individual omissions, the long list includes Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey of “Man on the Moon,” director Norman Jewison of “The Hurricane,” DGA nominee Frank Darabont, and SAG nominees Philip Seymour Hoffman of “Flawless,” Cameron Diaz of “Malkovich” and Chris Cooper of “Beauty” were absent.

In the song category, the list of omissions is like a who’s who of pop and rock. Though eligible, none of the following managed a song nom: Kenneth Babyface Edmonds (“Anna and the King”), REM (“Man on the Moon”), Madonna (“Austin Powers”), Alanis Morissette (“Dogma”), Elton John (“The Muse”), and Bruce Springsteen (“Limbo”).

In addition, pics like “American Pie,” “Notting Hill” and “Big Daddy” were filled with rock songs, but lost out to the toon world.

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