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The 6th annual Willy Awards

For all intents and purposes, I am an amateur film critic. Perhaps one day I will be a professional, but then again, there’s a good chance that pipe dream will never come to fruition.

Six years ago, I e-mailed about 30 friends with what I called, “The First Annual Willy Awards.” I think two of them replied. One said something to effect of, “This is stupid, get a life.” The other offered words of encouragement: “Good job, Will. I enjoyed reading it. p.s. Get a life.”

When I became movies editor at The Oracle two years ago, I thought actually publishing my silly opinions on the previous year’s films would be a good idea. Some of you may remember a silly graphic published last year with my head on top of an Oscar (look left), while others may have tried hard to forget it.

Although the idea of The Willys is to be an alternative to the Academy Awards, this year marks the third time in six years when Oscar and I agree on the best picture of the year. Well, at least it looks that way with Chicago poised to nab the top prize Sunday. The previous two unanimous winners were 1997’s Titanic and 1999’s American Beauty. (Other winners of the Willy Award for Best Picture were 1998’s The Red Violin, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2001’s Shrek.)

Without further adieu, the 2002 Willys go to:

Best Picture: Chicago — Thanks to last year’s Moulin Rouge, audiences were reminded that musicals are a great form of celluloid entertainment. Chicago is the start of the comeback of one of the most celebrated movie genres, the Hollywood musical. Easily the best film of the year and a good beginning to promising things to come.

Best Drama: Road to Perdition — Snubbed by Oscar, this beautifully told story about a flawed father’s hopes for his son’s future didn’t get the recognition it deserved. As far as fine filmmaking is concerned, there are no flaws found here.

Best Comedy: Death to Smoochy — I’m the only critic (I know, I’m not a real critic) who saw the genius behind this satire about the nasty underbelly of network children’s television.

Best American Film: Bowling for Columbine — Michael Moore’s in-depth documentary about gun control is as far left as you can get, but it’s magnificent.

Best Thriller: Signs — Take away all the religious mumbo-jumbo with which M. Night Shyamalan seems to be obsessed these days, and you still have quite a gripping film.

Best Popcorn Flick: Spider-Man — Not bad. Actually, it was a thoroughly enjoyable summer movie. No complaints.

Best Action Flick: The Bourne Identity — Say what you will about the following statement, but Matt Damon doing kung-fu is my idea of a fun night out.

Nicest Surprise: Super Troopers — I almost soiled my pants laughing so hard.

Biggest Disappointment: My Big Fat Greek Wedding — I love romantic comedies as much as the next big softie (I cried at Sleepless in Seattle), but not even I could see why the American public went gaga for this.

Most Shocking Sequence: The Sum of All Fears — A mere eight months after Sept. 11, 2001, a film depicts an atomic bomb ripping through an American city.

Worst Misuse of the Cutting-Room Floor: About Schmidt — I know it was for comic effect, but seeing Kathy Bates naked in a hot tub was just, well, unnecessary.

Worst Movie of the Year: Scooby-Doo — Sorry, Britney, I know you wanted this one bad, but not even your Crossroads was as unbearable to watch as this tripe. Dishonorable Mention: (tie) Ice Age — For the record, this got nominated for an Oscar. I’m going to puke now.; Stealing Harvard — Tom Green’s humor has worn thin.

Best Director: Steven Spielberg, Minority Report/Catch Me if You Can — Two completely different movies in one year show he’s still got it. OK, Stevie, I forgive you for A.I. (Please, if you’re going to do that again, send it straight to video.)

Best Actor: Robin Williams, One Hour Photo — The creepiest character on screen in years.

Best Actress: Renee Zellweger, Chicago — Who knew she could do that?

Best Supporting Actor: Richard Gere, Unfaithful/Chicago — Two diverse roles helped nab a combined four Oscar nominations for his supporting ladies.

Best Supporting Actress: Cameron Diaz, Gangs of New York — I don’t know what it is about her. She won last year for Vanilla Sky, and the year before for Being John Malkovich. She’s a real actress who takes on different roles and can even make the upcoming Charlie’s Angels sequel watchable.

Best Cameo: (tie) Kevin Spacey/John Travolta, Goldmember — I can’t get the image of a gold-shmelted Travolta out of my head, and the choice of Spacey as Dr. Evil was classic.

Honorary Willy for Achievement in Film: Peter Jackson, first two installments of the Lord of the Rings trilogy — You didn’t get a Willy last year, but your work on these films is a stroke of brilliance.

Contact Will Albritton at oraclewill@yahoo.com

Editor’s Note: The following is not The Oracle’s Oscar coverage. Rather, it is a self-indulgent hobby practiced solely by Entertainment Editor Will Albritton. The views and opinions expressed below do not reflect those of The Oracle. And when he graduates in May, they will never be expressed on pages of this fine publication again. For the real Oscar coverage, please turn to Page 14. Thank you.