Sunday, February 29, 2004


The Producers Game is the movie equivalent of Fantasy Baseball. The player speculates on the box office hits and the Academy Award nominations for the upcoming year. This is the second year in a row I've played the game. Last year's game, which ends tonight, was a great exercise and a real learning experience. The aptly titled game forces you to put yourself in the shoes of the executives and creatives who play the game for a living. Last February, I correctly predicted that The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World would both be nominated for Best Picture. Conversely, I also predicted Mona Lisa Smile, Cold Mountain, and J.M. Barrie's Neverland would also be nominated. My best pick, which was honored as the Clutch Pick of the Year and one of the clutchest of all time, was Keisha Castle-Hughes for Best Actress. I don't know how, I don't know why, but somehow in my research I had a hunch that it would happen. But, a lot of people picked LOTR: TROTK to win Best Picture, so even if it does, I'm going to lose the game. Doesn't matter. I love the game and yesterday (five days after it was due) I sat down to do my picks for the 2004 season. Again, I loved the process of familiarizing myself with the Sneaks (a list of every movie set to be released), release schedules, prestige, budgets, etc. in order to be properly informed when making my selections. And without further adieu, my selections (and a little treat at the end):

1. TOP TEN HITS OF THE YEAR (2 points each)
For movies released between: 2/23/04 - 1/2/05

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2. Spider-Man 2

3. Shrek 2

4. I, Robot

5. Catwoman

6. The Incredibles

7. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

8. Troy

9. Van Helsing

10. Anchorman

Alternate: The Day After Tomorrow


My pick: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Reason: The surest of the sure things.

Alternate: Spider-Man 2

3. THE NUMBER ONE CHRISTMAS MOVIE (3 points) For movies released between: The first week of November and New Years Weekend.

My pick: The Incredibles

Reason: Positioning. An early November release date gives it a chance to pick up steam before Thanksgiving and run all the way through the holidays.

Alternate: Meet the Fockers

4. TEN ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED FILMS (maximum 2 points each) All nominated categories are acceptable.

1. The Aviator

2. Alexander

3. Closer

4. J.M. Barrie's Neverland

5. Spanglish

6. An Unfinished Life

7. The Terminal

8. The Incredibles

9. Shark Tale

10. Vanity Fair

Alternate: The Brothers Grimm

5. BEST ACTOR/SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINATIONS (Name the actor and the film. Each worth 3 points + bonus point if your pick actually wins)

1. Tom Hanks - The Terminal

2. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Aviator

3. Jude Law - Closer

4. Dustin Hoffman - J.M. Barrie's Neverland

5. Liam Neeson - Kinsey

Alternate: Daniel Day-Lewis - Rose and the Snake

6. BEST ACTRESS/SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINATIONS (Name the actress and the film. Each worth 3 points + bonus point if your pick actually wins)

1. Reese Witherspoon - Vanity Fair

2. Kate Winslet - J.M. Barrie's Neverland

3. Gwyneth Paltrow - Proof

4. Lauren Bacall - Birth

5. Meryl Streep - The Manchurian Candidate

Alternate: Anne Reid - The Mother

7. BEST DIRECTOR NOMINATIONS (Name the director and the film. Each worth 3 points + bonus point if your pick actually wins)

1. Martin Scorsese - The Aviator

2. Oliver Stone - Alexander

3. Mike Nichols - Closer

4. James L. Brooks - Spanglish

5. Terry Gilliam - The Brothers Grimm

Alternate: Lasse Hallstrom - An Unfinished Life

8. WORST PICTURE NOMINATED FILMS As determined by the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. (Each worth 3 points + bonus point if your pick actually wins)

1. Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

2. The Chronicles of Riddick

3. Son of the Mask

4. Alien vs. Predator

5. Catwoman

Alternate: New York Minute

9. BEST PICTURE NOMINATED FILMS (each worth 5 points)

1. The Aviator

2. Alexander

3. Closer

4. J.M. Barrie's Neverland

5. Spanglish

Alternate: An Unfinished Life

10. BEST PICTURE (worth 30 points)

And the winner is: The Aviator

Reason: It's going to come down to Scorsese vs. Stone. Stone has won before, Scorsese hasn't. Scorsese takes home his first Best Picture.

Alternate: Alexander

2004 Films I'm Most Excited About (Aside from some of those mentioned above.)

1. The Life Aquatic - Wes Anderson directs Bill Murray as a Jacques Cousteau-like oceanographer on the trail of a mythical beast.

2. I Heart Huckabee's - Team of detectives helps clients with their existential issues. David O. Russell (Flirting With Disaster, Three Kings,) directs Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Naomi Watts Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Mark Wahlberg, and Isabelle Huppert.

3. Kill Bill: Volume 2 - Revenge-minded Uma Thurman continues her quest but must still dispatch Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah before she gets to Bill (David Carradine). Quentin Tarrantino directs.

4. The Ringer - Johnny Knoxville (Jackass) stars in this this Farrelly Brothers-produced enterprise about a man desperate enough to try to fix the Special Olympics.

5. Soul Plane - You are now free to dance about the cabin, on a new black-owned airline packed with funky amenities. Kevin Hart, Method Man, Tom Arnold, and Snoop Dogg star.

6. Garfield - The comic strip cat sounds a lot like Bill Murray as the lazy feline makes his computer-generated film debut.

7. Untitled Dodgeball Comedy - Habitues of a neighborhood gym suit up for a Dodgeball match to save their haven from a giant fitness center. Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller star.

8. Wimbledon - Journeyman tennis pro Paul Bettany hits a hot streak, profesionally and romantically, winning matches and wooing U.S. Star Kirsten Dunst, at the presitgious All-England championship.

9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Writer Charlie Kaufman and Director Michael Gondry cook up a memory-erasing procedure that leads to desperate mind games for estranged couple Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

10. The Bourne Supremecy - Matt Damon is back as the assassin in the sequel to The Bourne Identity.

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