Will 'Beauty' be the beast of Oscars?

With the 72nd annual Academy Awards just two weeks away (Sunday, March 26), it's time to ask:

Who'll be this year's Gwyneth Paltrow or Roberto Benigni?

"American Beauty" is emitting the sweet smell of success, but might Oscar go to a sleeper, like last year's "Shakespeare in Love"?

(Then again, will the Oscar ballots ever get to the voters? They were mislabeled as junk mail at the Beverly Hills, Calif., post office and had to be resent this week.)

Will the ABC Oscar broadcast actually air the lyrics to the potty-mouthed "Blame Canada" from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," a nominee for best song?

Will anyone remember that "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace," shut out for any major awards, won last year's box-office derby by light years?

"American Beauty" can boast eight Oscar nominations in all. And it won the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe award for best drama, along with best picture nods from online and London film critics.

Sleepers? Little-seen "Topsy-Turvy" was named best film by New York critics and was the co-choice (with "Being John Malkovich") of the National Society of Film Critics. L.A. movie scribes picked "The Insider," while "The Sixth Sense" won the People's Choice Award.

But do the Oscars, or any film awards for that matter, do anything more than feed our interest in celebrities and our insistence that we declare "Who's No. 1"? Do they help better movies get made?

Critic David Sterritt will explore those questions in a March 24 cover story. See you then.

* Send your comments on Arts & Leisure to entertainment@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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