Now that the handicappers have had their say, EW critic Owen Gleiberman weighs in with who deserves to win:
Best Actor: Denzel Washington
As Malcolm X, he does more than dramatize the epochal black leader’s rage and luminous intelligence. He shows you how the one was an inevitable product of the other.
Best Actress: Emma Thompson
Only an actress of audacity and fire could take a character like Margaret Schlegel, the kindhearted middle-class spinster of Howards End, and invest her with a radiance that recalls the young Vanessa Redgrave.
Best Supporting Actor: Jaye Davidson
The hullabaloo over who — and, let’s be honest, what — Jaye Davidson is has obscured what’s most memorable about his performance: the soulful sting with which he portrays romantic yearning. It’s one thing to look like a woman. It’s quite another to turn oneself into the essence of lovelorn femininity.
Best Supporting Actress: Miranda Richardson
She gives the dazzlingly overheated Damage its tragic, human center. As the wife who discovers that husband Jeremy Irons has betrayed her in the cruelest fashion, Richardson uncorks a rage so primal it has been likened — with justification — to a Shakespearean catharsis.
Best Director: Neil Jordan
The no-frills poetic simplicity of Jordan’s storytelling virtually speaks for itself. What he really deserves the award for is having the daring and imagination to turn a Psycho-style sleight-of-hand into art — and to remind us that movies, at their best, are like dreams: mind-bending illusions that turn out to be true.
Best Picture: The Crying Game
When is a gimmick more than a gimmick? In the case of Neil Jordan’s extraordinary thriller, the answer is: when its shock value hinges not merely on surprise but on revelation; and when the substance of that gimmick — the ever-shifting chemistry of romantic attraction — speaks to an era in which men and women are no longer certain of the roles they’re playing. Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven is a sturdy classical Western (and a canny — if overstudied — recasting of Clint’s image), but The Crying Game cuts deeper than any movie on this list.