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Westley and Abagail's Oscar Picks

by david
Mar 18, 2001

Since we were kids, we've heard tales of animals warning humans of impending disaster: the jittery cat whose crying and hiding prepared her owners for an earthquake, the brave brave dog whose barking and yelping warned his midwestern master of a coming tornado, the insightful hedgehog whose hedging and hogging warned his master of the stock market slide in 1998, etc. Based on these and more well known stories, we've just come to accept that animals tend to be more in tune with the world around them than we ourselves are, and that their ability to predict the future often eclipses our own, despite our well-publicised abilities of "reason."

In light of this , it seems amazing to me that animals' seeming precognitive abilities are not better utilized in our society, especially when it comes to predicting the outcomes of the most crucial and influential events in our sophisticated world -- namely, nationally televised award shows. Oh, sure, you can look to your Eberts and Ropers, your "industry insiders" and "Vegas odds-makers." You can look to those folks if you want "educated guesses" and "informed opinions." Me, I want hard facts. I want no-holds barred, balls out, in your face "this-is-the-winner-don't-even-bother-watching" prediction. So, when I wanted to know who would prevail in heated battle of talent that is the 73rd Annual Academy Awards race, I turned to my cats, Westley and Abagail.

A little background: Westley is a 6-year-old orange tabby cat. He is neutered, and a bit small for a tomcat -- it is suspected he may have been the runt of his litter. Though he is timid around strangers, he will bravely eat anything placed near his head, regardless of size or composition. He likes to nap in the laundry basket. Abagail is also 6 years old -- she is Westley's litter mate. She's a short-haired, pastel calico, spayed and slightly larger than her runty brother. Abby's keen intellect and outgoing personality make her a great people cat, but can cause trouble when she takes it upon herself to open packages, cupboards and sometimes doors in search of knowledge and/or foodstuff. She likes to be scratched in her armpits, and will drool on you if you pet her for very long. Both cats shed like mother-effers, and their wide range of fur color means that no clothing is safe.

Westley waffled a bit in this category. While he certainly admired Russell Crowe's performance in Gladiator, the combination of tiger abuse and loud, startling noise featured in the movie made it difficult or him to fully enjoy the film. Tom Hanks on the other hand(paw), really impressed him. Westley, the silent type by nature, found that the long stretches of near silence in Tom Hank's performance afforded him the opportunity to really concentrate on the character without having to run and hide under the chair more than a few times (the plane crash scene, for instance). Westley's Oscar nod went to Hanks.

Abagail, on the other hand, prefers a brainier actor, and her nod went to Geoffrey Rush for his performance in Quills, despite the actor's choice not to have his character properly bury his poop in the sand like any self respecting cat would.

Both Westley and Abagail agreed that Benicio DelToro should take this category without trouble. His soft-spoken manner and sleepy eyes put both cats at ease, and both found his quiet intesity a good deal less upsetting than the acting styles of broader, often louder actors like DaFoe and Pheonix. Both also agreed, however, that DelToro would have to shower before they'd give his eyelids a friendly lick.

Again, both cats were in agreement here. While Juliette Binoche was a definite contender in both of their minds, neither is allowed to eat chocolate for health reasons. Both agreed that they'd love to play with and chew on Julia Roberts' luxurious mane of hair, with Abagail adding that Julia's friendly smile would make her feel like it was okay that she'd puked on the kitchen rug. The Oscar goes to Roberts.

Judi Dench's association with the deadly chocolate immediately removed her from the running, and both cats were scared out of their minds by the loud noses and racous cinematography of Requiem for a Dream. And, since both fell asleep during Pollock and Billy Elliot, the choice came down to Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand in Almost Famous. Westley chose Hudson, presumably for her soft, shiny hair and penchant for wearing clothes with fringes. Abagail, on the other hand, went with McDormand because of her sheer strength of presence as an actress and her simple, un-selfconcious performance -- McDormand, according to Abby, is someone who would lick her butt right in the middle of the living room when company was over without even batting an eyelid.

With Chocolat out of the running for reasons stated above and the noise and tiger abuse in Gladiator, the category was really narrowed down to three films. While both cats enjoyed Traffic's bold messages, the lack of swirling colors or small, furry animals in the film was dissappointing to both. And, while Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had the obvious advantages of both a great title ("Tiger") and lots of quick motion and swirling colors, neither cat can read, so they lost a lot of the story. In the end, Erin Brockovich won by default. Both cats thought that Almost Famous really should have been nominated in this category, despite that film's feature song sporting the title "Fever Dogs."

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