Soderbergh speechless, Bardem sips Buds
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* * *Steven Soderbergh, on location with “Ocean’s Eleven,” reacted to his two helming nominations for “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic” via a statement: “I can’t even put into words what I’m feeling right now. I think that if I didn’t have the distraction of shooting a film I would have to be sedated. I’m so happy for everyone associated with both films and so honored to be recognized with this wonderful group of nominees. I wish I weren’t being so statesman-like about this, but I’m really having trouble wrapping my mind around it.”
* * *“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” helmer Ang Lee, still awake from a night of lensing for an upcoming BMW-backed Internet short, told Daily Variety that he checked into his hotel just as the announcements were being made and found his assistant waiting for him at the front desk. “It is thrilling to see how well a movie with subtitles can be embraced,” Lee said. “I do not feel like the sole creator of this film, I feel like a participant who is along for the ride as my crew gets their deserved recognition today.”
* * *“Chocolat” producer David Brown, reached in London, laughed and said, “I’m on my way to the airport, flying to New York — and I doubt if I’ll need a plane.” After hearing the good news, Brown deadpanned, “The first thing I thought of when I heard the news is that now my wife, Helen Gurley Brown, can wear the dress she bought for ‘Angela’s Ashes.’ ” The 84-year-old producer, who chalked up his fourth nomination with no wins, remained optimistic: “Longevity is my ally.”
* * *Best actor nominee Javier Bardem, who phoned in from Madrid, said he was celebrating his nomination “American-style” — drinking Budweisers. “I am having an out-of-body experience, I feel like this is happening to someone else. The only Oscars I am accustomed to are Oscar Meyer sausages.”
* * *Stephen Daldry was asked how he planned to celebrate his director nomination for “Billy Elliott.” “Sleep,” he deadpanned. After lensing “The Hours” in Miami with Meryl Streep, he flew to Pinewood Studios outside London to resume filming. An assistant whispered the news of his nom to him. And did he share it with the cast? “Tell Meryl? She’s got 12 of them, she wouldn’t be impressed,” he laughed. Daldry was happy about the nom for pic’s Julie Walters: “You want all your actors to be nominated because you love them so much.”
* * *Ridley Scott, who was unavailable for comment due to the recent death of his mother, issued a statement commenting on his directing nomination: “Sadly I lost my mum this week, but she is obviously looking after me. Needless to say I am absolutely thrilled. I had the ride of my life and created an epic world that I believe the audiences have enjoyed. I was inspired by a wonderful and epic story and supported by a fantastic team, many of whom I am delighted to see nominated with me, and I share this wonderful moment with every one of them.”
* * *“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” co-executive producer and co-writer James Schamus said the pic’s 10 nominations wouldn’t interfere with his normal day of taking the kids to school and running errands. “The world may look at the best picture category as the ‘plum’ of the Oscars, but I am thrilled by all of our nominations and for all of our collaborators around the globe from Beijing, Taiwan and Hong Kong to New York,” he said.
* * *“Gladiator” producer Douglas Wick said that he is “over the moon” about the pic’s 12 noms. “It is nice to know that in a business where, in most cases, you are old news after a few weeks, and geriatric after a few months, that a summer pic was remembered, let alone feted.”
* * *Supporting actor nominee Benicio Del Toro (“Traffic”) issued a statement which read: “It feels great! How else can I say it? It’s like going to the Super Bowl!”
* * *Juliette Binoche, en route from London to Paris, where’s she’s promoting “Chocolat,” said, “I’m very happy” because best-pic noms are rare for comedies. “You can talk about strong subjects, but in a light way … . Everything is possible! That’s the lesson of my nomination: having faith.”
* * *Ellen Burstyn commented on the important messages behind “Requiem for a Dream,” which portrays different kinds of drug addiction. “Everybody should have seen this film, teenagers included, and the unfortunate initial NC-17 (rating) made that difficult. … I am hoping that my nomination will encourage parents to see this film and in turn take their kids.”
* * *New York resident Joan Allen, who had already put her 7-year-old on the school bus before she heard the nominations, reminisced about her 24-year career: “It has been a trip down memory lane for me. Visions of how it all got started keep running through my head,” she mused. “I thought of my very first play, all of the people I have worked with, not to mention those who have supported me through it all.”
* * *Best supporting actress nominee Marcia Gay Harden, tapped for her portrayal of Lee Krasner in “Pollock,” heard the news while she was staying in a Denver hotel, and she admitted that she felt such a need to share her joy that she “hugged the room service waiter and housekeeping (staff).”
* * *David Franzoni, part of the “Gladiator” writing and producing teams, said he was up all night writing and was still typing away when Douglas Wick called with the news about the pic’s 12 nomination. After a nap, Franzoni insisted he will celebrate with two bottles of champagne, one for each of his nominations.
* * *Few nominees could have been as enthused as Ennio Morricone, even though he has been disappointed four times before. After scoring hundreds of films, he’s been nommed for an Oscar yet again, this time for “Malena” — and has yet to earn a statuette. “This is my fifth, and let’s hope this is the good one,” the ebullient Morricone said, taking a break from scoring a pic for Sylvano Agosti. “One never expects nominations. When you work you don’t think about that, but when it does come, it brings enormous happiness.”
* * *As the nominees were announced during another rainy day in L.A., “Chocolat” scribe Robert Nelson Jacobs, said that “it may be raining buckets, but feels like sunshine to me.” He hinted that he is thinking about trading in his high-school-era tuxedo for a newer model to wear to the March 25 kudocast.
* * *“Tiger’s” nominated cinematographer Peter Pau told Daily Variety that this is “the year of the dragon for Oscar.”
* * *Nominated “Traffic” scripter Steve Gaghan said he awoke an hour before the nominations were unveiled from a dream in which “Traffic” had garnered 14 nominations. “I thought it had already happened, so I was confused. Actually, I am still confused. This is so new to me”
* * *While “Pollock” thesp-director Ed Harris said he was not counting on a nom, he insisted he knew by the sound of the telephone ring that things had gone in his favor. “When my publicist called me with the news (of the best actor nomination), before I answered I felt that the phone was exerting positive energy … and I was right!”
* * *Dominique Deruddere, director of Belgium’s foreign-lingo contender “Everybody Famous,” phoned from Brussels to say he could not believe his eyes and ears. “Coming from a small country, it is nice to know an impact can be made.”
* * *Ruth Vitale, co-prexy of Paramount Classics, described the company and “You Can Count On Me” as “The Little Engine That Could.” “We are a small company, and this was a small film, so needless to say these two nominations are a great gift.” (Timothy M. Gray contributed to this report.)