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Oscars 2000 Friday, 17 March, 2000, 10:12 GMT
Cooking up an Oscar
By BBC News Online's Barry Neild

When Forrest Gump seized six Oscars in 1994 it sucked the juice out of scores of other Academy Award winning films and created its own cocktail for movie success.

This epic exercise in sugar-coated celluloid proved that movie moguls need no longer rely on a piece of classic film-making to sweep the board at Hollywood's annual backslap.

Instead, by following a recipe so simple even students could cook it up, studios can churn out guaranteed gong-getters faster than their men in suits can spark up celebratory cigars.

So, for directors unable to emulate genuinely great works, such as American Beauty, here is one formula for success.

Tom Hanks
Since graduating from playing blubbering, oversized schoolboys in Big and Splash!, Tom Hanks has now cornered the market with his portrayals of blubbering, oversized adults.

Oscar successes for harrowing Aids drama Philadelphia, harrowing war drama Saving Private Ryan and harrowing comedy Forrest Gump have repeatedly proven Mr Hanks' ability to tug heart strings and trash the opposition.


Vanessa Redgrave
Sticking waterworks queen Gwyneth Paltrow in an Elizabethan dress may seem the simple solution to securing the best actress award. But for surefire success, better to script in a more seasoned performer.

Previous awards for Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy, Jessica Lange in Blue Sky and Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking, hint that the judges are never happier than when trying to disprove the notion that only the young and beautiful are box office winners.

After landing the supporting actress award in 1977's Julia, a heavyweight role playing Tom Hanks' cantankerous yet loveable aunt should secure Ms Redgrave her first lead statue. Bung her in a Tudor frock and it's a dead cert.


Michael Caine
The best supporting actor slot is usually reserved for doddering actors in bad films who really earn their Oscars by managing to stand. Witness Jack Palance's award for City Slickers, Don Ameche in Cocoon and John Gielgud in Arthur.

Caine has gained veteran status since winning the award in 1986's Hannah and Her Sisters and should now be rewarded annually for stepping in front of the camera.


Mind-bending special effects
The acting is wooden, the plot is paper thin and the script stinks, but, if the special effects leave audiences saucer-eyed in surprise, who cares about the content.

This year's nominations for the Matrix and the latest Star Wars debacle The Phantom Menace prove that computers can where directors, writers and stars cannot.


Method
Stir the ingredients together, add a few big bags of cash, and hey presto ...

.. a costume drama in which Tom Hanks plays a blubbering, battle weary poet struck with a fatal disease that brings him closer to his miserable aunt Vanessa.

Michael Caine plays his mentor, a retired Morris dancer who shows him how to manipulate time and space by waving a sheep's bladder on a stick.

See also:

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