Killer hoofers dance to 13 nominations

This article was corrected on Feb. 12, 2003.

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Final studio tally a matter of opinion

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Mouse house full of noms

Overjoyed overseas: Reactions from abroad

Nominees react:

  • Elmer Bernstein
  • Stephen Daldry
  • Ed Harris
  • Meryl Streep
  • Agustin Almodovar
  • Charlie Kaufman
  • Nia Vardalos
  • Rob Marshall
  • Chris and Paul Weitz
  • Queen Latifah
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • Alfonso Cuaron

    Predict the winners in Variety.com’s Academy Tracker

  • The Roxie moxie worked its magic as “Chicago” — the musical tale of murderess Roxie Hart — mowed down 13 Oscar nominations, including best pic.

    Miramax scored big in Tuesday’s announcement of noms from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, as the distrib’s best-pic contender “Gangs of New York” was runner-up with 10 noms.

    Rounding out the best pic category were Paramount/Miramax’s “The Hours,” with nine noms in all; Focus Features’ “The Pianist,” with seven; and New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” with six.

    Those five pics scored the most noms, though Miramax’s “Frida” and DreamWorks/20th Century Fox’s “Road to Perdition” also earned six.

    In a year of question marks, it’s surprising how few surprises there were. But there are two conclusions: It’s the Year of the Woman and the Year of Miramax.

    The studio has “Hours” overseas and Bob and Harvey Weinstein are listed as exec producers of “Rings”; only “The Pianist” kept the Weinsteins from a presence in all five best-film contenders.

    And a quartet of female-centered films — though none could be traditionally considered “a woman’s picture” — earned multiple noms: “Chicago,” “The Hours,” Frida” and “Far From Heaven.”

    The five best-pic contenders are a musical, a period epic, intimate drama, a fantasy and a WWII-era drama. They also rep a mix of box office bonanzas like “Rings” with more modest grossers. But all were late-year openers: The earliest release date of the Big Five was for “Rings,” Dec. 18. Usually the best-pic possibilities include three or four December bows, but it’s rare to have all five. In the last 20 years, it’s only happened once, in1988.

    This year’s crop is also a testimony to perseverance: “Chicago,” “Gangs” and “Rings” all have been eyed for the bigscreen for more than two decades.

    Aside from portions of “Hours,” all five were lensed outside the U.S.

    “Rings” aside, the best-film contenders scored bids in the directing, scripting and acting races.

    Director Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) earned his first nom for his first film; Martin Scorsese (“Gangs”) his fourth; Stephen Daldry (“The Hours”) his second; and Roman Polanski (“The Pianist”) his third. The fifth slot this year went to Pedro Almodovar (Sony Pictures Classics’ “Talk to Her”). The Spanish filmmaker accepted the foreign-language trophy for his 1999 pic “All About My Mother,” but never has he been nominated.

    Almodovar is also in the script race, making him one of several double nominees, along with Polanski, Julianne Moore (“Far From Heaven” and “The Hours”) and Elliot Goldenthal (song and score for “Frida”).

    While veterans paced the acting races, the writing categories are dominated by first-time contenders, with only four of the 10 writing slots including previous nominees. Four of the five top pics earned slots: Bill Condon, “Chicago”; David Hare, “The Hours”; Ronald Harwood, “The Pianist”; and Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan, “Gangs.”

    First-time scribe nominees include Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, Universal’s “About a Boy”; Todd Haynes, Focus Features’ “Far From Heaven”; Nia Vardalos, IFC/Gold Circle Films’ “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”; Carlos Cuaron & Alfonso Cuaron (IFC Films’ “Y tu mama tambien”) and Almodovar.

    Past Oscar winners include Condon and Zaillian, while previous nominees include Cocks, Lonergan, Harwood and Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation”), who was cited this year along with his fictional twin Donald.

    “Rings” filmmaker Peter Jackson failed to repeat his scripting and helming noms from last year, but he shouldn’t be too blue: Over the decades, there have only been three five-for-five correlations of best pic and director. And while Jackson was a nominee of the Directors Guild of America, DGA and Oscar have had identical lists only three times.

    The lineup of producers is even more slanted toward first-timers. These are the first noms for Martin Richards of “Chicago,” Scott Rudin and Robert Fox of “The Hours” and Roman Polanski, Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde of “The Pianist.” Another newcomer is Alberto Grimaldi of “Gangs,” though his fellow producer Harvey Weinstein won for “Shakespeare in Love.” And the trio from “Two Towers” — Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson — scored their second consecutive nom.

    On the acting side, it’s veteran’s day. Four of the five best-actor contenders are already Oscar winners; in all, eight of the 20 thesps have taken home the Golden Guy, including Paul Newman (“Road to Perdition,” here getting his first supporting bid) and Meryl Streep (Sony/Intermedia’s “Adaptation,” earning her record-breaking 13th nom and her first supporting nom in 20 years).

    “Chicago” is dancing to a quartet of acting noms: actress Renee Zellweger, supporting actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah, and supporting actor John C. Reilly. Runners-up, with three, were “Adaptation” (lead Nicolas Cage, supporting Streep and Chris Cooper) and “Hours” (lead Nicole Kidman and supporting thesps Moore and Ed Harris). Lead actor contenders Adrien Brody and Daniel Day-Lewis were cited for “Pianist” and “Gangs,” respectively.

    Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates earned the two noms given to New Line’s “About Schmidt”; Michael Caine and Diane Lane repped the sole noms for their films — respectively, Miramax/Intermedia’s “The Quiet American” and Fox’s “Unfaithful.”

    Also cited were supporting actor Christopher Walken (DreamWorks’ “Catch Me If You Can”) and lead actress Salma Hayek, one of six noms for “Frida.”

    Unfortunately, except for Queen Latifah, blacks were mostly missing from major categories, after a historic year with nominations and two key wins for 2001. Black-centric pics such as “Antwone Fisher” ran vigorous campaigns, but failed to land in the top five.

    But Hispanics did better than usual in Oscar voting, including Hayek — the first Mexico-born actress nominated for a lead acting award — as well as Spain’s Almodovar, Mexico’s Cuaron brothers, the art directors and makeup people for “Frida” and Mexico’s foreign-language entry, “El Crimen del Padre Amaro.” (Mexican-born actress Katy Jurado was nominiated for a supporting actress Oscar in 1954 for “Broken Lance.”)

    Don’t blame the Academy for its lack of diversity; the votes only reflect the state of filmmaking, where pics like “Brown Sugar,” “Blade II,” “Real Women Have Curves” and “Barbershop” are hits, but few in Hollywood ever talked of them as awards fodder.

    Miramax now has earned 13 best pic noms in 11 consecutive years, a modern record. (No studio is likely to ever beat MGM, which got 39 best pic noms over 18 consecutive years in the early days of Oscar, but many of those years featured 10 to 12 best-pic nominations.)

    In the past 11 years, Miramax pics also have gotten 13 directing noms and at least two acting noms each year.

    And since 1989, its films have seen 27 noms in the writing races.

    With “Hero,” from the People’s Republic of China, Miramax also chalks up its 21st foreign-language film nom in 15 years.

    “We’re grateful that the Academy has recognized these films and the extraordinary efforts of all our nominees,” said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax Films.

    “Chicago” ties the record for most noms for a musical, set by Disney’s “Mary Poppins” in 1964.

    It did even better than expected, with 13 noms. Only seven other pics have earned that many, including last year’s “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring”; only two pics earned more (14 apiece for “All About Eve” and “Titanic”).

    The film with the most noms has ended up winning the top prize in 18 of the last 20 years. However, “Chicago” should not be overconfident. Last year, for example, “A Beautiful Mind’s” eight noms were easily overshadowed by the 13 for “Fellowship,” but “Mind” ended up in the winner’s circle.

    On Tuesday, “The Hours” producer Scott Rudin was absolutely gleeful about his first nomination. “I’ve made a mix of movies, some very mainstream, some very ‘off-stream,’ but this was the most difficult to get made. It was made for the purest reasons, by a lot of people who loved this material.” He laughed that he made the movie “hoping that somebody will notice it. And it’s great to get noticed like this.”

    The exec acknowledged the pic’s challenging nature, with the message, “Being alive every day is a decision one makes, and is not something to be taken for granted.” He hopes the noms will spark more interest among filmgoers.

    With six bids, “Two Towers” failed to duplicate the success of last year’s “Fellowship of the Ring,” which earned 13 bids. But New Line shouldn’t dwell on the drop: It’s a major accomplishment that voters are seeing it as its own film, and not just an extension of last year’s.

    Many Oscar pundits are predicting that Hollywood is waiting for next year, to give big-time rewards to the final “LOTR” installment, “The Return of the King.”

    Reached in New York, New Line’s Mark Ordesky described the noms as a huge pat on the back to all the filmmakers and artisans who are working on the final installment.

    They are five years into a six-year marathon, the exec said, and the Oscar noms are “such a celebration of their work. “They’re unbelievably thrilled; they’re having a party in New Zealand,” he laughed.

    “Towers” joins a terrific lineup of films that got best-pic nods but no mentions for writing and directing, including “Jaws,” “Taxi Driver,” “The Right Stuff,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Fugitive” and “Elizabeth.”

    As for “Pianist,” currently on 300 screens, Focus Features co-prez James Schamus says, “Our master plan has remained the same: Nurture the film, tend to it, believe in it, watch it get a lot of Academy Award nominations and let the world see it.”

    Roman Polanski survived the Krakow ghetto and has shunned PR on the film, Shamus said, because he doesn’t want to diminish his experience by hyping his emotions. “The picture speaks for itself. It’s a very old-fashioned approach.”

    The exec added, “We’ve been flying below radar until these nominations came out,” and the depth of the noms “speaks volumes to us. We’ve been waiting for this day.”

    Disney scored three slots in the animated-feature contest. That race, which launched last year with three CGI-animated pics, for the first time this year has five contenders, including cel-animated films.

    Aside from “Hero” and “Padre Amaro,” foreign-language noms include Finland’s “The Man Without a Past” (Sony Pictures Classics), Germany’s “Nowhere in Africa” (Zeitgeist Films) and the Netherlands’ “Zus & Zo” (LifeSize Entertainment). It’s rare that all five foreign-language films have domestic distribution in place at the time of the noms.

    In the past, the documentary feature race has been under fire for being too elitist and for saluting films the public had never heard of, at the expense of more popular fare. This year, the five nominees sent a mixed message on that front, as the popular docu “Bowling for Columbine” (United Artists) was cited, along with several less circulated films.

    One of the most interesting races turned out to be for song, with an eclectic mix of Latin (“Frida”), Broadway (Kander & Ebb, “Chicago,” their second Oscar nomination, , the previous resulting from 1975’s “Funny Lady”), rap (“8 Mile”), rock (U2, “Gangs”) and the first nom for another longtime composer, Paul Simon (“The Wild Thornberrys Movie”).

    The visual effects race features three contenders: “The Two Towers,” “Spider-Man” and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” All feature significant CGI character work.

    As previously announced, Peter O’Toole was voted an honorary Academy Award. However, it’s still up in the air whether he will show up to accept it (Daily Variety, Jan. 29).

    The Acad consists of 5,816 voting members in 15 branches. Of those, the largest group is actors, with 1,311 voting thesps, or 22% of the total.

    Nominations for the 75th annual Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by Acad president Frank Pierson and former winner Marisa Tomei at 5:38 a.m. at Academy headquarters in BevHills.

    Final ballots will be mailed Feb. 25, with polls closing March 18.

    The Oscars will be presented March 23 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood for the second time, hosted by Steve Martin and produced by Gilbert Cates. They’ll be telecast live on ABC.

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