Cast, crew express surprise, gratitude
This article was updated at 2:31 p.m.
Though many films relish Oscar attention because it will help box office and raise a film’s profile, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” doesn’t have such concerns. Still, everyone at New Line was elated.
“You’re now having the industry saying, ‘Well done.’ It’s no more complicated than that,” said a genial Peter Jackson. “They’re choosing their favorite movies of the year and we’re included, which is a great compliment.”
Jackson was especially happy for his coworkers. “The technical nominations (for “King”) are full of people from New Zealand who worked alongside me for five years and had never had an opportunity to work on something this big. This tiny country, with a tiny film industry, knew they had to prove themselves and they all rose to the occasion.”
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Jim Sheridan was one proud papa on nomination day. The “In America” helmer, who co-penned the nominated pic with daughters Naomi and Kirsten, has been tapped twice before in the screenplay categories (“In the Name of the Father” and “My Left Foot”), but this time he gets to share the laurels with his girls.
“The only thing that mattered to me really was the screenplay nomination,” said Sheridan. “Being able to stand with my daughters takes the edge off the megalomania of the whole thing. Getting them to write the script was a real lesson in humility for me. I think there should be a mandatory school report for children to write about their parents. It is an extraordinary thing to see yourself through their eyes,” he said.
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Reached at home in Sydney, director Peter Weir expressed gratitude to Academy voters, but he was typically self-effacing about his own two nominations, diverting attention to his colleagues. “I was delighted by the fact that basically the entire crew, production and post-production, were nominated.” The Academy saluted the “film and the level of craft.” While he was disappointed by the actors’ absence, he said the film’s 10 noms are “tremendous.”
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“I hope this further proves what I knew all along: There is vitality and life after 50. We can do the job, given the right material,” said “Something’s Gotta Give” nominated actress Diane Keaton.
“I am so proud of this film and am happy it found an audience and appealed to so many people because of what it’s about,” she added. “This has been the biggest thrill of my professional life because of when it happened.”
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“In America” actress nominee Samantha Morton, who at just 26 now has two noms under her belt, told Daily Variety that while she is overjoyed, “The joy is not about me. It’s about Jim (Sheridan) and, most of all, the character I played. The way I see it, she got the nomination.”
Morton, previously nommed for Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Lowdown,” added, “I only hope the recognition will get more people to the cinema to see the film.”
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“I am having an out-of-body experience,” said Aussie thesp Naomi Watts, who garnered a nod from the Academy for her perf in “21 Grams.” “I did not sleep at all last night due to nerves, so I feel a bit like a robot today. I can’t process it yet; for that I will need to talk to my mom and friends. I think I will need to experience this through them to really feel it.”
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“Lost in Translation” producer Ross Katz was right where he wanted to be on Oscar nomination morning; watching the film’s four noms unveiled in the company of his No. 1 helmer, Sofia Coppola.
“We were whooping it up,” he said, “and had some extra screams for Bill Murray.”
Murray nabbed his first nomination for his perf as film actor Bob Harris.
“Bill is an American treasure, and was a real partner with us in making the film. He really put his heart into it,” Katz said.
As for Coppola’s pair of noms (writer and helmer), Katz said, “Her script was one of the most elegant pieces of writing I have ever come across. I thought to myself, I just hope this gets out into the world because I think it is a story that everyone can relate to on some level. We have all been there at one point or another — trying to find ourselves. You don’t have to be an actor, and you need not be in Tokyo for the story to ring true.”
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There was nothing blase Tuesday about the “Lost in Translation” troupe that won Golden Globes Sunday, preceded by several accolades from critics groups around the country. Sofia Coppola, her “Lost in Translation” producer Ross Katz and her agent Bart Walker, all in pajamas, awaited the Oscar announcements in their L.A. hotel room Tuesday morning, then broke out the champagne as the film garnered its four nominations.
Sofia said they quickly called fellow nominee (and Globe winner) Bill Murray, who’d returned to Rome, where he’s filming “The Life Aquatic.” His laughing response to her: “I’m so happy, and now I’m going to start acting difficult.”
I had last spoken to Sofia just before Christmas when she was heading to the Napa compound of Francis Ford Coppola and family. At that time, she noted she was “awed” to be in the company of the nominees in the awards upcoming. Her “awe” continues, as she’s become the first American woman to be nominated for a directing Oscar. (Lina Wertmuller and Jane Campion are the other distaffers.)
“It is hard to believe,” she told me. I asked who had influenced her directing career. She said they include Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Antonioni, Godard, “and of course my dad, I grew up being exposed to so much of his movie making.”
Francis had told me during my last Coppola family interview that his daughter’s accomplishments have brought him “nachas” (Yiddish for — well, “nachas”!). He continued, “This beautiful slip of a girl is holding up the family name in the company of such wonderful people.”
But he noted, “She has a distinct voice. You can see her style. She wrote it out of her heart.” Sofia told me she will now get back to writing. I asked if she would now tackle something in the scale of the other nominees — in other words, “a big picture.” Coppola, 32, answered, “I like to do intimate things, personal things, something I can relate to.”
So I asked about something personal — her divorce from husband Spike Jonze. Her answer: “It (the divorce) is in the process. I’m doing fine.”
— Army Archerd
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Supporting actress contender Marcia Gay Harden (“Mystic River”) said the only way her day could have gone better was if co-star Laura Linney’s name was up there next to hers. “But I am overjoyed for Clint (Eastwood) and the boys,” said the 7-months-pregnant actress. She was referring to the film’s six bids, including actor and supporting actor nods for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, respectively.
“Clint really took this film home,” she added. “He used every bit of his expertise, from direction to composing, and made it come alive.”
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“Capturing the Friedmans” director Andrew Jarecki summed up his mindset about the docu’s nom in one word: “gratifying.”
“Audiences seem to be embracing nonfiction films more and more each year; it’s a good time for docs.”
“Friedmans” concerns a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class family whose world is transformed when father and son Arnold and Jesse Friedman are arrested and charged with shocking crimes.
“I can only hope that the attention the project has received can help to eventually clear Jesse,” Jarecki said. “I called him this morning to tell him the news. It was important for me to be able to share the moment.”
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Ondrej Trojan, director-producer of foreign-lingo nominee “Zelary,” was in his Prague office when he learned of his good fortune. “It took me at least half an hour to recover from the shock,” he said. “The BBC in the Czech Republic called me to tell me the news. I am extremely proud of this film. All my life I have supported strong women both in film and in real life. Ana Geislerova (the star of the film) is the perfect example of such a woman. I am humbled.”
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Alec Baldwin was “knocked out” by his supporting actor nomination for “The Cooler.” “My career has been somewhat of a seesaw the past few years,” he said. “This business is so up and down. One minute you are putting in an application to be a waiter somewhere, and the next you are back in the game with an Oscar nomination.” Baldwin is in Gotham rehearsing the play “Twentieth Century” opposite Anne Heche.
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“The first thing I did was call my dad,” said “Seabiscuit” hyphenate Gary Ross, who added both a writing and a best pic nom to his Oscar repertoire. He previously nabbed writing noms for “Big” and “Dave.”
“I am a second-generation writer. I grew up hearing my dad typing away on the typewriter every morning; it’s a family business.” Ross’ father, Arthur Ross, shared an Oscar nom with W.D. Richter for penning “Brubaker” (1980).
“I am feeling euphoric,” Ross added, “seven nominations, up and down the board, from art direction to (sound) mixing. It’s the way it should be, because nobody makes a film by themselves. This was a collegial experience, and it is rewarding to see my crew get their hat in the ring as well.”
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Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, the writing and directing team behind “American Splendor,” celebrated their nod for adapted screenplay with some pancakes and bacon, courtesy of room service at their L.A. hotel.
“It’s my last splurge,” Berman said. ” I have a dress to worry about now.”
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Sting, whose song “You Will Be My Ain True Love” gave “Cold Mountain” one of its seven noms, said, “The beautiful book by Charles Frazier was a favorite of mine.
“When I learned Anthony Minghella was directing a film of the book, I wanted to be part of it. The film he showed to me inspired the words and music. Alison Krauss’ magnificent voice so perfectly captured both the strength and the fragility of the character Ada, for whom the song is written. I am extremely grateful to the Academy for this recognition.”
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“I am very grateful and touched that the members of the Academy have nominated me for the work in ‘Pirates,’ ” Johnny Depp said in a written statement.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same breath with such talented actors. But the most moving thing for me has been the response from the audience, kiddies and adults alike. I’m really happy people liked our movie.”
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Brazilian pic “City of God” surprised with four nods. “I want to thank the academy for recognizing me and my film with four nominations,” said helmer Fernando Meirelles, in a written statement . “It is truly an honor and a surprise for me and the cast and crew who were all collaborators on a very meaningful project. I am humbled to be in the company of such tremendous talent and am truly thankful for the film being nominated in so many categories.”
“I really wasn’t expecting this. I’m extremely honored with this nomination and wanted to thank the academy for acknowledging my work,” added pic’s writer, Braulio Mantovani. “I just wanted to say that the script is a tool that would not work without the talent of Fernando Meirelles, the entire cast and the crew.”
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Ken Watanabe said in a statement, “It is such an honor to be nominated for an Academy Award, and I am particularly flattered to be in the company of such fine actors. When I was shooting this film, although I was proud of my work at the time, I never would have imagined in a million years that my performance would take me to the Oscars. It all feels like a dream.”