Monday, February 25, 2008

80th Academy Awards

The 80th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best in film for 2007, was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST (01:00 February 25 UTC). It was the seventh time that the Kodak Theatre hosted the ceremonies since its construction, and the 33rd time that the ceremony was televised by ABC, which is under contract through 2014. Gil Cates was the producer, making it his 14th show, a record. Jon Stewart hosted the show, his second time. He previously presided over the 78th Academy Awards.

No Country for Old Men is an Academy Award-winning 2007 film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem. Faithfully adapted from the well-received Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, No Country for Old Men draws heavily on McCarthy's themes of chance and fate; it tells the story of a drug deal gone wrong and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama as three men crisscross each other's paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. No Country for Old Men was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. Additionally, Javier Bardem won Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role; the Coen Brothers won Achievement in Directing (Best Director) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Other nominations included Best Film Editing (Roderick Jaynes), Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Joel and Ethan Coen, known collectively as The Coen Brothers, are four-time Academy Award winning American filmmakers. For more than 20 years, the pair have written and directed numerous successful films, ranging from screwball comedies (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy) to film noir (Miller's Crossing, Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country For Old Men), to movies where those two genres blur together (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink). The brothers write, direct and produce their films jointly. Joel has been married to actress Frances McDormand since 1984. They have adopted a son from Paraguay named Pedro McDormand Coen (Frances and all her siblings are adopted themselves). McDormand has starred in five of the Coen Brothers' films, including a minor appearance in Miller's Crossing, a supporting role in Raising Arizona, and lead roles in Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn't There, and her Academy Award winning role in Fargo. Ethan is married to film editor Tricia Cooke. In 1984 the brothers wrote and directed Blood Simple, their first film together. Set in Texas, the film tells the tale of a shifty, sleazy bar owner who hires a private detective to kill his wife and her lover. The next film written and directed by the brothers was the 1987 release Raising Arizona. The film is the story of the unlikely married couple ex-convict Hi (played by Nicolas Cage) and ex-cop Ed (played by Holly Hunter) who long for a baby but are unable to conceive. Fortune smiles on them when a local furniture tycoon appears on television with his five newly born quintuplets that he jokes 'are more than we can handle'. Seeing this as a 'sign' and an opportunity to redress the natural balance, Hi and Ed steal one of the quintuplets and start to bring up the child as their own. Miller's Crossing was released in 1990, a straight-ahead homage to the gangster movie genre. Starring Albert Finney, Gabriel Byrne and future Coen brothers' staple John Turturro, the film is set during the prohibition era of the 1930s and tells the tale of feuding mobs and gangster capers. The Coen brothers' reputation was seemingly enhanced with every subsequent release, but it took a massive leap forward with their next movie, 1991s visually stunning Barton Fink. Barton Fink is set in 1941 and is the story of a New York playwright (the eponymous Barton Fink) who moves to Los Angeles to write a B-movie. He settles down in his hotel apartment to commence the writing but all too soon gets writer's block and allows himself to receive some inspiration from the amiable man in the room next door, together with some industry associates. Inspiration comes from the strangest places, and the hotel is definitely unusual and a magnet for the bizarre. Barton Fink was a critical success, garnering Oscar nominations plus winning three major awards at Cannes Film Festival, including the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm). The brothers returned to more familiar ground in 1996 with the low-budget noir thriller Fargo. Set in the Coen brothers' home state of Minnesota, the movie tells the tale of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a man with a money problem, who works in his father-in-law's car showroom. Jerry is anxious to get hold of some money to move up in the world and hatches a plan to have his wife kidnapped so that his wealthy father-in-law will pay the ransom that he can split with the kidnappers. Inevitably, his best laid plans go wrong when the bungling kidnappers deviate from the agreed non-violent plan and local cop Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) starts to investigate the whole affair. A critical and commercial success, with particular praise for its dialogue and McDormand's performance, the film received several awards including a BAFTA Award and Cannes award for direction and two Oscars, one for best screenplay and a best Actress Oscar for McDormand. The Coens' next film would build upon this success and in 1998 The Big Lebowski was released. With its story about "The Dude," an LA slacker (played by Jeff Bridges), used as an unwitting pawn in a fake kidnapping plot with his bowling buddies (Steve Buscemi and John Goodman), the Coens had hit on a film that would provide a mainstream accessibility that they had not enjoyed since Raising Arizona. The Coen brothers' next film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) was yet another critical success. Based loosely on Homer's "Odyssey" (complete with a cyclops, sirens, et al.) the story is set along the Mississippi River in the 1930s and follows a trio of escaped convicts who have absconded from a chain gang and who journey home in an attempt to recover the loot from a bank heist that the leader has buried. But they have no idea what the journey is that they are undertaking. The film also highlighted the comic abilities of George Clooney who starred as the oddball lead character of Ulysses Everett McGill (ably assisted by his sidekick, the now ubiquitous John Turturro). The film's Bluegrass soundtrack, offbeat humor and, yet again, stunning cinematography, meant it was a critical and commercial hit. Intolerable Cruelty, arguably the Coens' most mainstream release, was released in 2003 and starred George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The film was a throwback to the romantic comedies of the 1940s with a story based around Miles Massey, a hot shot divorce lawyer, and a beautiful divorcee whom Massey had managed to stop getting any money from her divorce. She sets out on a course to get even with him while he becomes smitten with her. The Coens' latest movie No Country for Old Men was released in November 2007. Based on the 2005 novel by the author Cormac McCarthy, the film tells the tale of a man named Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) living on the Texas / Mexico border who stumbles upon two million dollars in drug money that he decides to pocket. He then has to go on the run to avoid those looking to recover the money, including a sinister killer (Javier Bardem) who confounds both Llewelyn and the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). This plot line is a return to the dark, noir themes which have provided the Coens with some of their most successful material, but it also marks a notable departure, including a lack of regular Coen actors (with the exception of Stephen Root), a less pronounced comedic element and minimal use of music. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, all of which were received by the Coens, as well as Best Supporting Actor received by Bardem. The Coens recently completed filming on Burn After Reading, a dark comedy starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney. The film is due to be released in Fall 2008.

The ceremony continued trends of recent years, with no film winning more than four awards, the honors for non-documentary features being spread among 13 different films, and major acting honors going to a biographical film. All four major acting awards went to European actors and actresses. The Best Actor award went to Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood. It was his second Oscar.

Marion Cotillard is an Academy Award-, BAFTA-, Golden Globe- and double César-winning French actress, best known for her landmark role as Édith Piaf in La Vie En Rose (2007). After Claudette Colbert in 1934 and Simone Signoret in 1959, she is the third French actress to win an Academy Award for Best Actress (though Juliette Binoche won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). She is the first Best Actress winner in a non-English language performance since Sophia Loren's win in 1961 for her performance in Two Women. She is also the first and so far only winner of an Academy Award for a performance in the French language.

Javier Bardem is an Academy Award-winning Spanish actor. He has made over two dozen films in his native country, but became an international star with his starring role in the critically acclaimed Before Night Falls. With this role, he became the first ever Spanish actor to receive an Academy Award nomination. Bardem won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for his performance as the antagonist Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Bardem starred in his first major motion picture, The Ages of Lulu, when he was 20. In 1992, he made his first international hit with Jamón, Jamón, which also starred Penélope Cruz. After starring in roughly two dozen films in his native country, he would eventually land his international breakthrough performance role in Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls in 2000, as Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role, the first time for a Spaniard. This also marked Bardem's first English language speaking role. In 2002 he starred in John Malkovich's directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs. Bardem won the Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his role in 2004's Mar Adentro, released in the United States as The Sea Inside, in which he portrayed assisted-suicide activist Ramón Sampedro. That year he also made a brief appearance as a vicious crime lord who summons Tom Cruise's hitman to do the dirty work of dispatching witnesses, in Michael Mann's crime drama Collateral, which also starred Jamie Foxx. In 2007 Bardem acted in two film adaptations; the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, based upon the novel of the same name and the adaptation of the classic Colombian novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. In No Country for Old Men, he plays chilling sociopath hitman Anton Chigurh. For that role, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Best Supporting Actor and also won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as the 2008 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Tilda Swinton is an Academy Award- and BAFTA- winning and Golden Globe-nominated British actress known for both arthouse and mainstream films. Her early film work included several film roles for director Derek Jarman, notably War Requiem (1989) playing a nurse opposite Sir Laurence Olivier as an old soldier. Swinton also played the title role in Orlando, Sally Potter's film version of the novel by Virginia Woolf. Recent years have seen Swinton move towards more mainstream projects, including the leading role in the well-reviewed American film The Deep End (2001), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She appeared as the scheming archangel Gabriel in Constantine with Keanu Reeves, as a supporting character in films such as Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, and The Beach, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. Swinton has also appeared in the British films The Statement (2003) and Young Adam (2004), and sat on the jury of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. In 2005, Swinton's performance as the sinister, seductive villainess, the White Witch Jadis, in the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe garnered critical praise as did her portrayal of Audrey Cobb in the Mike Mills film adaptation of the novel Thumbsucker. Swinton's performance as Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton also drew favorable reviews, for which she earned her second Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. After winning a BAFTA award in the same category at the 61st British Academy Film Awards, Swinton won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

The Counterfeiters is an Academy Award winning 2007 Austrian / German film written and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky. It fictionalizes Operation Bernhard, a secret plan by the Nazis during the Second World War to destabilize the United Kingdom by flooding its economy with forged Bank of England currency. The film centers on a Jewish counterfeiter, Salomon Sorowitsch, who is coerced into assisting the Nazi operation at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The film is based on a memoir written by Adolf Burger, a professional printer who was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1942 for political dissension and later interned at Sachsenhausen to work on Operation Bernhard. It won an Oscar Best Foreign Language Film at the 2008 Academy Awards.

"Falling Slowly" is an Academy Award-winning song, written and performed by personal and professional partners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It appeared in the couple's 2006 film Once. The film was eligible for the 2007 Academy Awards, awarded on February 24, 2008. It was chosen as Best Original Song over the choral gospel song Raise It Up from August Rush and three songs from the postmodern Disney musical Enchanted. For some time, the song's eligibility for an Oscar was in dispute, as it had appeared on a 2006 CD issued by Hansard's band, The Frames, and it had been performed by the couple in various European venues. The Academy ruled that because the song had been composed for the movie, and the prior public exposure during the long period that the movie took to produce had been minimal, it remained eligible.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

79th Academy Awards

The 79th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best in film for 2006, took place on March 5, 2006 5:00 p.m. PT/8:00 p.m. ET at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the ceremony for the first time. The producer was Laura Ziskin. The nominees were announced on January 23 at 5:38 a.m. PST (13:38 UTC) by Academy president Sid Ganis and actress Salma Hayek, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters. Bolstered by three nominations for Best Song, the musical Dreamgirls received eight nominations, becoming the first film ever to receive the most nominations in a particular Academy Awards ceremony without being nominated for Best Picture. Babel received the second highest number of nominations with seven.

The Departed is an Academy-Award winning 2006 crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. It is an American remake of the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs. This film takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, where notorious Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Nicholson) plants his protégé Colin Sullivan (Damon) as an informant within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover cop William Costigan, Jr. (DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello's crew. When both sides of the law realize the situation, each man attempts to discover the other's true identity before being found out. The film won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese) (The latter was thought to be long overdue, and some entertainment critics subsequently referred to it as Scorsese's "Lifetime Achievement" Oscar), Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), and Best Adapted Screenplay (William Monahan). Mark Wahlberg was also nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance.

Martin Scorsese is an American Academy Award-winning film director, writer, and producer. Also affectionately known as "Marty", he is the founder of the World Cinema Foundation and a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema and has won awards from the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Directors Guild of America. Championed by influential movie critic Pauline Kael, Mean Streets was a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro, and Keitel. By now the signature Scorsese style was in place: macho posturing, bloody violence, Catholic guilt and redemption, gritty New York locale, rapid-fire editing, and a rock soundtrack. In 1974, actress Ellen Burstyn chose Scorsese to direct her in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Although well regarded, the film remains an anomaly in the director's early career, as it focuses on a central female character. Two year
s later, in 1976, Scorsese sent shockwaves through the cinema world when he directed the iconic Taxi Driver, an unrelentingly grim and violent portrayal of one man's slow descent into insanity in a hellishly conceived Manhattan. The critical success of Taxi Driver encouraged Scorsese to move ahead with his first big-budget project: the highly stylized musical New York, New York. This tribute to Scorsese's home town and the classic Hollywood musical was a box-office and critical failure. New York, New York was the director's third collaboration with Robert De Niro, co-starring with Liza Minnelli. The film is best remembered today for the title theme song, which was popularized by Frank Sinatra. By many accounts (Scorsese's included), Robert De Niro practically saved his life when he persuaded him to kick his cocaine addiction to make what many consider his greatest film, Raging Bull (1980). Convinced that he would never make another movie, he poured his energies into making this violent biopic of middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta, calling it a Kamikaze method of film-making. Scorsese's next project was his fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy (1983). An absurdist satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the more emotionally committed films he had become associated with. Along with the iconic 1987 Michael Jackson music video Bad, in 1986 Scorsese made The Color of Money, a sequel to the much admired Paul Newman film The Hustler (1960). It won actor Paul Newman a belated Oscar and gave Scorsese the clout to xcv dyxfinally secure backing for a project that had been a long time goal for him: The Last Temptation of Christ. Looking past the controversy, The Last Temptation of Christ gained critical acclaim and remains an important work in Scorsese's canon: an explicit attempt to wrestle with the spirituality which had under-pinned his films up until that point. The director went on to receive his second nomination for a Best Director Academy Award (again unsuccessfully, this time losing to Barry Levinson for Rain Man). After a decade of mostly mixed results, gangster epic Goodfellas (1990) was a return to form for Scorsese and his most confident and fully realized film since Raging Bull. A return to Little Italy, De Niro, and Joe Pesci, Goodfellas offered a virtuoso display of the director's bravura cinematic technique and re-established, enhanced, and consolidated his reputationScorsese earned his third Best Director nomination for Goodfellas but again lost to a first-time director, Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves). The film also earned Joe Pesci an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor). 1991 brought Cape Fear, a remake of a cult 1962 movie of the same name, and the director's seventh collaboration with De Niro. The opulent and handsomely mounted The Age of Innocence (1993) was on the surface a huge departure for Scorsese, a period adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about the constrictive high society of late-19th Century New York.1995's expansive Casino, like The Age of Innocence before it, focused on a tightly wound male whose well-ordered life is disrupted by the arrival of unpredictable forces. Sharon Stone was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. In 1999 Scorsese also produced a documentary on Italian filmmakers entitled Il Mio Viaggio in Italia, also known as My Voyage to Italy. The documentary foreshadowed the director's next project, the epic Gangs of New York (2002), influenced by (amongst many others) major Italian directors such as Luchino Visconti and filmed in its entirety at Rome's famous Cinecittà film studios. Gangs of New York was Scorsese's biggest and arguably most mainstream venture to date. Like The Age of Innocence, it was a 19th century-set New York movie, although focusing on the other end of the social scale (and like that film, also starring Daniel Day-Lewis). The production was highly troubled with many rumors referring to the director's conflict with Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein. Gangs of New York earned Scorsese his first Golden Globe for Best Director. In February 2003, Gangs of New York received ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. This was Scorsese's fourth Best Director nomination, and many thought it was finally his year to win. Ultimately, however, the film took home not a single Academy Award, and Scorsese lost his category to Roman Polanski for The Pianist. Scorsese's film The Aviator (2004), was a lavish, large-scale biopic of director, producer, legendary eccentric, multi-millionaire, and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. The film received highly positive reviews, The film also met with widespread box office success and gained Academy recognition. In January 2005, The Aviator became the most-nominated film of the 77th Academy Award nominations, nominated in 11 categories including Best Picture. The film also garnered nominations in nearly all of the other major categories, including a fifth Best Director nomination for Scorsese, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), and Alan Alda for Best Supporting Actor. Despite having a leading tally, the film ended up with only five Oscars: Best Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing and Cinematography. Scorsese lost again, this time to director Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (which also won Best Picture). Scorsese returned to the crime genre with the Boston-set thriller The Departed, based on the Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs. The film reunited the director with Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor he has worked with for three consecutive projects. The Departed also brought Scorsese together with Jack Nicholson. Martin Scorsese's direction of The Departed earned him his second Golden Globe for Best Director, as well as a Critic's Choice Award, his first Director's Guild of America Award, and the Academy Award for Best Director. It was presented to him by his longtime friends and colleagues Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas, all fellow members of the New Hollywood generation. The Departed also received the Academy Award for the Best Motion Picture of 2006, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing by longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker, her third win for a Scorsese film. Scorsese has been married to Helen Morris since 1999; she is his fifth wife. They have a daughter, Francesca, who appeared in The Departed and The Aviator. He has a daughter, Catherine, from his first marriage to Laraine Brennan, and a daughter, Domenica Cameron-Scorsese, who is an actress, from his second marriage to Julia Cameron. Scorsese was also married to actress Isabella Rossellini from 1979 to their divorce in 1982. He married producer Barbara De Fina in 1985; their marriage ended in divorce as well.

Forest Whitaker is an Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, and Emmy-winning American actor, producer, and director. For his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film, The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker won several major awards, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA. He became the fourth African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, following in the footsteps of Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and Jamie Foxx. Whitaker immersed himself in the details of Amin's life to prepare himself for the part. He has earned a rep
utation for this kind of intensive character study work for films such as Bird and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Whitaker has a long history of working with well-regarded film directors and fellow actors. In his first onscreen role of note, he played a football player in Amy Heckerling's 1982 coming-of-age teen-comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He co-starred alongside Nicolas Cage, Phoebe Cates, and Sean Penn. In 1986, he appeared in Martin Scorsese's film, The Color of Money (with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise), and in Oliver Stone's Platoon. The following year, he co-starred with Robin Williams in the comedy Good Morning, Vietnam. In 1988, Whitaker played the lead role of musician Charlie Parker in the Clint Eastwood-directed film, Bird. To prepare himself for the part, he sequestered himself in a loft with only a bed, couch, and saxophone, having also conducted extensive research and taken alto sax lessons. His performance, which has been called "transcendent," earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination. Whitaker continued to work with a number of well-known directors throughout the 1990s. Neil Jordan cast him in the pivotal role of "Jody" in his 1992 film, The Crying Game. In 1994, he was a member of the cast that won the first ever National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble for Robert Altman's film, Prêt-à-Porter. He gave a "characteristically emotional performance" in Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's 1995 film, Smoke. Whitaker played a serene, pigeon-raising, bushido-following, mob hit man in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, a 1999 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Whitaker's greatest success to date is the 2006 film, The Last King of Scotland. To prepare for his role as dictator Idi Amin, Whitaker gained 50 pounds, learned to play the accordion, and immersed himself in research. He read books about Amin, watched news and documentary footage, and spent time in Uganda meeting with Amin's friends, relatives, generals, and victims; he also learned Swahili and mastered Amin's East African accent. His performance earned him the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, making him the fourth African-American actor in history to do so. In 1996, Whitaker married fellow actress Keisha Nash, whom he met on the set of Blown Away. The Whitakers have four children: two daughters together (Sonnet and True), his son (Ocean) from a previous relationship, and her daughter (Autumn) from a previous relationship.

Helen Mirren is an English stage, film and television actress. She has won an Oscar, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and four Emmy Awards during her career. Mirren has made numerous appearances in an array of films. Some of her earlier film appearances include Caligula, Excalibur, 2010: The Year We Make Contact (in which she speaks Russian), The Long Good Friday, White Nights and The Mosquito Coast. After those appearances she received roles
in Belfast-born director Terry George's film Some Mother's Son, which was about the 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland, opposite Irish actress Fionnuala Flanagan, Painted Lady, The Prince of Egypt and The Madness of King George. One of Mirren's other film roles was in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as the eponymous thief's wife, opposite Michael Gambon. Mirren continued her successful film career when she starred more recently in Gosford Park with Maggie Smith and Calendar Girls where she starred with Julie Walters. Other more recent appearances include The Clearing, Pride, Raising Helen, and Shadowboxer. Mirren also provided the voice for the supercomputer "Deep Thought" in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series. These include Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in the film The Queen (2006), and Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, in The Madness of King George (1994). Her role in The Queen gained her numerous awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar for Best Actress. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, Mirren praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign as Queen. Mirren married American director Taylor Hackford (her partner since 1986), in the Scottish Highlands on 31 December 1997, his 53rd birthday. It was her first marriage, and his third (he has two children from his previous marriage). Mirren has no children.

Alan Arkin is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning and four-time Emmy nominated American actor and director. He is best-known for starring in such films as Catch-22, The In-Laws, Edward Scissorhands, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Glengarry Glen Ross and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2007. He is the father of actor Adam Arkin. Arkin is one of only eight actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance (for The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming in 1966). Two years later, he was again nom
inated, for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Arkin is equally comfortable in comedy and dramatic roles. Among those for which he has garnered the most favorable critical attention are his Oscar-nominated turns above; Wait Until Dark, as the erudite killer stalking Audrey Hepburn; director Mike Nichols' Catch-22; The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (where he played Sigmund Freud); writer Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, which Arkin directed; the The In-Laws, co-starring Peter Falk; Glengarry Glen Ross; and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he received his third Oscar nomination, in the category of Best Supporting Actor. On the 11th February 2007 he received a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Grandfather Edwin in Little Miss Sunshine. On February 25, 2007, upon winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Arkin, who plays a foul-mouthed grandfather with a taste for heroin said, "More than anything, I'm deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the possibility of innocence, growth and connection". At 72 years old, Arkin became the sixth oldest winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Arkin has been married three times. He and Jeremy Yaffe, to whom he was married from 1955 to 1960, have two sons: Adam Arkin, born Aug. 19, 1956 or 1957 (accounts differ), and Matthew Arkin, born in 1960. In 1967, Arkin had son Anthony (Tony) Dana Arkin with actress-screenwriter Barbara Dana (born 1940), to whom he was married from June 16, 1964 to the mid-1990s. In 1996, Arkin married a psychotherapist, Suzanne Newlander.

Jennifer Hudson is an Academy Award-winning American actress and singer. She first gained notice as one of the finalists on the third season of the FOX television series American Idol. She went on to star as Effie White in the 2006 motion picture musical Dreamgirls for which she won numerous awards including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a SAG Award. In November 2005, Hudson was cast in the prized role of Effie White, the role originally created in a legendary Broadway performance by Jennifer Holliday, for the film adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls, which also starred Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, and Eddie Murphy. This role marked Hudson's debut screen performance. Hudson won the role over hundreds of professional singers and actresses, including American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. On February 25, 2007, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. At 25 years old, Hudson became the eighth-youngest winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Upon winning this award, Hudson also became one of the very few performers ever to win an Oscar for a debut screen performance. As of 2007, she is also the only person to have gone from participating in a reality television series to becoming an Academy Award winner.

The Lives of Others is an Academy Award-winning German film, marking the feature film debut of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. With The Lives of Others Donnersmarck won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film had earlier won seven Deutscher Filmpreis awards including best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor and best supporting actor, after having set a new record with 11 nominations. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Golden Globe Awards.

"I Need to Wake Up" is an Academy Award-winning song by Melissa Etheridge, written for the 2006 documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. It is the first instance of a documentary film winning the Best Song category. Etheridge received the 2006 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "I Need to Wake Up."

Monday, February 18, 2008

78th Academy Awards

The 78th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2005, were held on March 5, 2006 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. The ceremony was pushed back from its newly established February date because of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. The nominees were announced on January 31, 2006. Ang Lee's drama Brokeback Mountain had the most nominations of the year's films, receiving eight. Its nominations included Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Paul Haggis' Crash, George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck, and Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha each received six nominations.

Crash is an Academy Award-winning drama film directed by Paul Haggis. It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2004, and was released in
ternationally in 2005. The film is about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles. A self-described "passion piece" for director Paul Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real life incident in which his Porsche was carjacked outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard in 1991. It won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing of 2005 at the 78th Academy Awards. The film depicts several characters living in Los Angeles during a 36-hour period and brings them together through car accidents, shootings, and carjackings. Most of the characters depicted in the film are racially prejudiced in some way and become involved in conflicts which force them to examine their own prejudices. Through these characters' interactions, the film seeks to depict and examine not only racial tension, but also the distance between strangers in general. There has been much criticism over Crash winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, as an underdog over front-runner Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain led the pre-Oscar award season by winning most of the key precursor awards, particularly at the Golden Globes as well as earning the most Academy Award nominations (8).

Ang Lee is an Academy Award-winning film director from Taiwan. While The Wedding Banquet (1993) became a break-out hit for Lee as the most proportionatel
y profitable film of 1993, it was Sense and Sensibility (1995) that brought Lee his first true international acclaim. Following that, both Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) (nominated for Academy Award for Best Director), and Brokeback Mountain (2005) (which won the Academy Award for Best Director), became cultural touchstones, sweeping awards ceremonies, and, in the case of Brokeback Mountain, sparking intense critical debates. In 2007, Lee's film Lust, Caution earned him a second Golden Lion, making him one of only two directors to have ever won Venice's most prestigious award twice. The 2005 movie about the forbidden love between two Wyoming sheepherders immediately caught public attention and initiated intense debates. The film was critically acclaimed at major international film festivals and won Lee numerous Best Director and Best Film awards worldwide. In addition, "Brokeback" became a cultural phenomenon and a box office hit. "Brokeback" was nominated for a leading eight Oscars and was the frontrunner for Best Picture heading into the March 5 ceremony, but lost out to Crash, a story about race relations in Los Angeles, in a controversial upset. There was speculation that the film's depiction of homosexuality might have been the reason for that upset.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is an Academy Award-and Golden Globe-winning American actor. One of Hoffman's earliest major roles was as a defendant in a 1990 episode of the television series Law & Order. He made his film breakthrough in 1992 when he appeared in four feature films, with the most successful film being Scent of a Woman, in which he played a backstabbing classmate of Chris O'Donnell's character. He had been stocking shelves at a city grocery at the time before landing the role and credits the film to kickstarting his career. Hoffman has es
tablished a successful and respected film career playing diverse and idiosyncratic characters in supporting roles, working with a wide variety of noted directors, including Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers, Cameron Crowe, Spike Lee, David Mamet, Robert Benton, Todd Solondz and Anthony Minghella; notably, he has appeared in four out of five of Anderson's feature films to date (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love). Hoffman has continued to play supporting parts in such films as Cold Mountain, as a carnally obsessed preacher, Along Came Polly, as Ben Stiller's crude has-been actor buddy, and Mission: Impossible III, as villainous arms dealer Owen Davian out to kill Ethan Hunt. Hoffman has distinguished himself by playing a wide contrast of characters including gay characters (Boogie Nights, Flawless and Capote), lonely losers (Happiness), spoiled rich brats (Scent of a Woman, Patch Adams and The Talented Mr. Ripley), caring and nurturing figures (Magnolia and Almost Famous), vicious thugs (Punch-Drunk Love and Mission: Impossible III), sensitive artists (State and Main), outlandish CIA agents (Charlie Wilson's War), and so on. In 2005, Hoffman won widespread acclaim for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in the film Capote. His performance received numerous high-profile accolades and awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In 2007, Hoffman was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing Gust Avrakotos, a CIA agent who helps Congressman Charlie Wilson support a covert war in Afghanistan in the movie Charlie Wilson's War. In 2008, he was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same role. Hoffman is in a relationship with costume designer Mimi O'Donnell. They met while working on the 1999 play In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, which Hoffman directed. They have a son, Cooper Alexander, born in March 2003, and a daughter, Tallulah, born in November 2006.

Reese Witherspoon is an American actor who has won an Acad
emy Award and established herself as one of the highest-paid female Hollywood actors in recent years. Witherspoon landed her first feature role as the female lead in the movie The Man in the Moon in 1991; later that year she made her television acting debut, in the cable movie Wildflower. In 1996, Witherspoon's performance in Freeway established her as a rising star and led to roles in three major 1998 movies: Overnight Delivery, Pleasantville, and Twilight. The following year, Witherspoon appeared in the critically acclaimed Election, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. 2001 marked her career's turning point with the breakout role as Elle Woods in the box office hit Legally Blonde, and in 2002 she starred in Sweet Home Alabama, which became her biggest commercial film success to date. 2003 saw her return as lead actress and executive producer of Legally Blonde 2. In 2005, Witherspoon received worldwide attention and praise for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, which earned her an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Witherspoon married actor and Cruel Intentions co-star Ryan Phillippe in 1999; they have two children, Ava and Deacon. The couple separated at the end of 2006 and divorced in October 2007.

George Clooney is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter, who gained fame as one of the lead doctors in the long-running television drama, ER (1994–99), as Anthony Edwards's best friend and partner, Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross, but is best known for his subsequent rise as an "A-List" movie star in contemporary American cinema. Winner of an Academy Award and two Golden Globes, Clooney has balanced his glamorous performances in big-budget blockbusters with work as a producer and director behind commercially riskier projects, as well as social and political activism. On January 18, 2008, the United Nations announced Clooney's appointment as a United Nations peace envoy. Clooney continued to star in movies while appearing in ER, his first major Hollywood role being From Dusk Till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez. He followed its success with One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer and The Peacemaker with Nicole Kidman, the latter being the initial feature length release from Dreamworks SKG studio. Clooney was then cast as the new Batman in Batman & Robin. In 1998, he starred in Out of Sight, opposite Jennifer Lopez. This was the first of many collaborations with director Steven Soderbergh. He also starred in Three Kings during the last weeks of his contract with ER. After leaving ER, Clooney starred in major Hollywood successes, such as Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. In 2001, he teamed up with Soderbergh again for Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the 1960s Rat Pack film of the same name. Alongside Clooney, the film also starred Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, and Julia Roberts. To this day, it remains Clooney's most commercially successful movie, earning approximately US$444,200,000 worldwide. The film spawned two sequels, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007. He made his directorial debut in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, an adaptation of the autobiography of TV producer Chuck Barris. Though the movie didn't do well at the box office, Clooney's direction was praised among critics and audiences alike. In 2005, Clooney starred in Syriana, which was based loosely on former Central Intelligence Agency agent Robert Baer and his memoirs of being an agent in the Middle East. The same year he directed, produced, and starred in Good Night, and Good Luck, a film about 1950s television journalist Edward R. Murrow's famous war of words with Senator Joseph McCarthy. Both films received critical acclaim and decent box-office returns despite being in limited release. At the 2006 Academy Awards, Clooney was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. As with tradition, last year's acting winners present an acting award for the opposite sex. Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress the previous year but was contractually signed to star in a play in New York City, therefore unable to present the award for Best Supporting Actor; Nicole Kidman was recruited to fill in. He became the first person in Oscar history to be nominated for directing one movie and acting in another in the same year. He would go on to win for his role in Syriana. On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Michael Clayton. Clooney has only been married once, to actress Talia Balsam from 1989 to 1993.

Rachel Weisz is an Academy Award-winning English actress. She became well-known after her roles in the Hollywood films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and has since continued appearing in major film roles. Weisz started her cinem
a career in 1995 with Chain Reaction and then appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty. She followed this work with more English films including My Summer with Des, Swept from the Sea, The Land Girls, and Michael Winterbottom's I Want You. Although she received favourable critical recognition for her work to this point, her breakout into wide audience recognition came from a popular serio-comic horror movie The Mummy, in which she played the lead female role. Since then she has starred in a number of films including The Mummy Returns (2001), which grossed higher than the original, as well as Enemy at the Gates (2001), About a Boy (2002), Runaway Jury (2003) and Constantine (2005).In 2005, Weisz starred in The Constant Gardener, a film adaptation of a John le Carré thriller of the same title set in the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalani, Kenya. For this role, Weisz won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Weisz is engaged to American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. They have been dating since 2004. They have a son, Henry Chance, born on May 31, 2006 in New York City.

Tsotsi is a 2005 Academy Award-winning film directed by Gavin Hood and set in a Soweto slum, near Johannesburg, South Africa. It is based on a novel of the same name by Athol Fugard. The soundtrack features Kwaito music performed by the popular South African artist Zola as well as a score by Mark Kilian and Paul Hepker featuring the voice of South African protest singer/poet Vusi Mahlasela.Tsotsi won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards. In 2005, Gavin Hood was nominated for the Screen International Award at the European Film Awards for his work on the movie. Tsotsi received a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. The film also won at least five "audience" or "people's choice" awards at various film festivals.

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is a 2005, Academy Award winning song written for the film Hustle & Flow by Memphis hip hop artists Paul Beauregard and Jordan Houston (both from rap group Three 6 Mafia), and Cedric Coleman. It was performed in the film by stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Three 6 Mafia made history as they became the first African-American hip-hop group to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song and also became the first hip-hop artists to ever perform at the ceremony. However, it was the second hip hop song to win an Oscar, after Eminem's "Lose Yourself", from the film 8 Mile, won in 2002.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

77th Academy Awards

The 77th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2004, were held on February 27, 2005, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by comedian Chris Rock. The nominees were announced on January 25, 2005. Martin Scorsese's biopic of the eccentric Howard Hughes, The Aviator, led the pack with eleven nominations including Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Marc Forster's Finding Neverland and Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby each had seven nominations. Ray and Sideways rounded out the nominees for Best Picture.

Million Dollar Baby is an Academy Award winning 2004 dramatic film directed by Clint Eastwood. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman. It is the sto
ry of an under-appreciated boxing trainer, his elusive past and his quest for atonement in helping an underdog amateur female boxer (the film's title character) achieve her fragile dream of becoming a professional. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The screenplay was written by Paul Haggis, based on short stories by F.X. Toole, the pen name of fight manager and "cutman" Jerry Boyd. Originally published under the title Rope Burns, the stories have since been republished under the movie's title. Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a female amateur who aspires to prove her worth by becoming a successful boxer, is taken in by Frank Dunn (Clint Eastwood), a down-and-out boxing trainer who has been cast aside by most of society, including his estranged daughter Katie. Dunn aids Maggie in realizing her goal while developing a stronger-than-blood bond. Initially, Dunn is dispassionate toward Maggie because she is a 31-year-old female. Maggie, however, perseveres in her attempts to gain Dunn's favor by training each day in his gym, even when others discourage her. Frank's friend and employee, ex-boxer Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman) narrates the story in non-dialogue scenes. Million Dollar Baby received the award for Best Picture of 2004 at the 77th Academy Awards. Eastwood was awarded his second Directing Oscar for the film and also received a Best Actor nomination. Swank and Freeman received Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor Oscars, respectively. The film was also nominated for the Film Editing and Writing Adapted Screenplay awards. The film beat what many thought to be the front-runner, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, which had won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for Best Drama.

Jamie Foxx is an American actor, singer, and stand-up comic. Foxx is possibly best known for his portrayal of musician Ray Charles in Ray, and for his collaborations with director Michael Mann. With Ray, he became one of the few African-Americans to
win the Academy Award for Best Actor. Foxx's first dramatic role came in Oliver Stone's 1999 film Any Given Sunday, where he played a heavy-partying football player. He was cast in the role in part because of his background as a football player. Foxx has since evolved into a respected dramatic actor. Following Any Given Sunday, Foxx was featured as taxi driver Max Durocher in the film Collateral alongside Tom Cruise, for which he received outstanding reviews and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His standout performance, however, was his portrayal of Ray Charles in the biopic Ray (2004), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Foxx is the second male, and the first African American, in history to receive two acting Oscar nominations in the same year for two different movies, Collateral and Ray. The only other male actor to achieve this was Al Pacino. Following this success, Foxx appeared in three more movies: Jarhead, Miami Vice, and Dreamgirls which were hits at the box office and lifted Foxx even higher as a bankable star in Hollywood. 2007 brought him the lead role in the film The Kingdom, opposite Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner.

Morgan Freeman is an Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning American actor, film director, and film narrator. Noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice, Freeman has become one of Hollyw
ood's most popular and respected actors. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Freeman began playing prominent supporting roles in many feature films, earning him a reputation for depicting wise and fatherly characters. As he gained fame, he went on to bigger roles in films such as the chauffeur Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy, and Sergeant Major Rawlins in Glory (both in 1989). In 1994 he portrayed Red, the redeemed convict in the acclaimed The Shawshank Redemption. His star power was already confirmed as he starred in some of the biggest films of the 1990s, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Se7en, and Deep Impact. After three previous nominations – a supporting actor nomination for Street Smart (1987), and leading actor nominations for Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Million Dollar Baby. Freeman is recognized for his distinctive voice, making him a frequent choice for narration. In 2005 alone, he provided narration for two of the most successful films of the year, War of the Worlds and the Academy Award-winning documentary film March of the Penguins. Freeman has recently been well known for his role as God in the hit movie Bruce Almighty and its sequel, Evan Almighty, as well as his role as Lucius Fox in the critical and commercial success Batman Begins and its upcoming sequel, The Dark Knight. He starred in Rob Reiner's 2007 film The Bucket List, opposite Jack Nicholson, playing terminal cancer patients who must fulfill their lists of goals. Freeman was married to Jeanette Adair Bradshaw from October 22, 1967, until 1979. He has been married to Myrna Colley-Lee since June 16, 1984. He has two sons, Alfonso and Saifoulaye, from previous relationships. He adopted his first wife's daughter, Deena, and the couple also had a fourth child, Morgana.

Cate Blanchett, is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning Australian actress. She has won various other awards, most notably two SAGs and two BAFTAs, as well as the Volpi Cup at 64th Venice International Film Festival. She came to international attention in the 1998 film Elizabeth, directed by Shekhar Kapur, in which she played Elizabeth I of England. She is also well known for her portrayals of the elf queen Galadriel in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, a role which brought her the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Blanchett is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women of all time. Blanchett made her international film debut as an Australian nurse captured by the Japanese in a production of Paradise Road directed by Bruce Beresford, co-starring Glenn Close and Frances McDormand. Her first high-profile role was as Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 movie Elizabeth, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Blanchett lost out to Gwyneth Paltrow for her role in Shakespeare in Love but won a British Academy (BAFTA) Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. The following year, Blanchett was nominated for another BAFTA Award for her supporting role in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Already an acclaimed actress, Blanchett received a host of new fans when she appeared in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. She played the role of the High Elf Queen Galadriel in all three films, which hold the record as the highest grossing film trilogy of all time. In 2005, she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. This made Blanchett the first person ever to garner an Academy Award for playing a previous Oscar-winning actor/actress. In 2006 she starred in both Babel opposite Brad Pitt, and Notes on a Scandal playing Sheba Hart opposite Dame Judi Dench. Coincidentally, Dench won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for playing Elizabeth I, the same year Blanchett lost for playing the same historical figure, albeit in a different category. Blanchett received her third Academy Award nomination for her performance in the film (Dench was also Oscar nominated). In 2007, she won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival for portraying one of six incarnations of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes' feature film I'm Not There and also reprised her role as Elizabeth I in the sequel to Elizabeth entitled Elizabeth: the Golden Age. Cate Blanchett received double Oscar nominations on January 23, 2008, including Best Actress for her regal performance in Elizabeth: the Golden Age and Best Supporting actress for her portrayal of music legend Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, putting the Australian actress on track to make Academy Awards history. Blanchett's husband is playwright and screenwriter Andrew Upton, whom she met in 1996 while she was performing in a production of The Seagull. The two were married on December 29, 1997. Their first child, Dashiell John, was born on December 3, 2001; their second child, Roman Robert, was born on April 23, 2004. She is now currently pregnant with her third child, who is due in April 2008.

The Sea Inside (Spanish: Mar adentro) is a 2004 film by the Spanish/Chilean director Alejandro Amenábar. It is based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro (played by Javier Bardem), a Spanish ship mechanic left quadriplegic after a diving accident who fought a 28-year campaign in support of euthanasia and his right to end his own life.The Sea Inside won the 2004 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the 2004 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and 14 Goya Awards.

"Al otro lado del río" (English: On the other side of the river) is a song written and performed by Uruguayan singer Jorge Drexler for the film The Motorcycle Diaries (2004). Beside the film's soundtrack, it can also be found in Drexler's seventh album Eco, in the soundtrack the great bassist and double bassist Jeff Eckels preformed. "Al otro lado del río" received the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 77th ceremony, becoming the first song in Spanish and the second in a foreign language to receive such an honor.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

76th Academy Awards

The 76th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2003, were held on February 29, 2004 (the first ceremony in 62 years to occur at a different date rather than its longtime March or April date) at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by comedian Billy Crystal. The big contenders for the 76th Academy Awards (for the best achievement in film in 2003) included The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Lost in Translation, and in the highly competitive Best Actor category, strong work from Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Jude Law.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King swept all 11 categories in which it was nominated. It matched the record 11 wins of Titanic and Ben-Hur and beat the previous record of Gigi and The Last Emperor for the largest sweep of every nominated category, both of which had achieved nine-for-nine. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is an epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. It is primarily based on the third volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (but also includes material from the second volume), and it is the concluding film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It follows The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers and was filmed simultaneously with them. As Sauron launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth, Gandalf the Wizard and Théoden King of Rohan step up their forces to help defend Gondor's capital Minas Tirith from this threat. Aragorn must finally take up the throne of Gondor and summons an army of ghosts to help him defeat Sauron. Ultimately, even with full strength of arms, they find they cannot win; it comes down to the Hobbits Frodo and Sam, who themselves face the burden of the Ring and the treachery of Gollum, to finally destroy the One Ring in Mordor. Released on December 17, 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became one of the most critically acclaimed films and greatest box-office successes of all time. It swept all eleven Academy Awards it was nominated for, which ties it with only Titanic and Ben-Hur for most Academy Awards ever won. It also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the only time in history a fantasy film has done so. It also became the second highest grossing movie worldwide of all time behind Titanic, unadjusted for inflation and the most successful film in the series.

Peter Jackson is an Academy Award-winning New Zealand filmmaker best known as the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which he, along with Fran Walsh, his long time partner, and Philippa Boyens, adapted from the novels by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is also known for his 2005 remake of King Kong. Jackson first gained attention with his "splatstick" horror comedies, and came to prominence with success and critical acclaim for Heavenly Creatures, for which he shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen with Walsh. Jackson's eldest son Billy (born 1995), has had cameo appearances in every one of his parents' films since his birth, namely The Frighteners (1996), The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and King Kong. His daughter Katie (born 1996) appeared in all the above films, except The Frighteners.

Sean Penn
is an Academy Award-winning American film actor and director, known for playing intense and unsympathetic characters. He was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Mystic River. Penn has also been nominated for three other Academy Awards in recognition of his roles in I Am Sam, Sweet and Lowdown and Dead Man Walking. Penn launched his career with the 1981 film Taps, followed a year later with the comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the role of Jeff Spicoli and has since starred in over forty movies. In 1985, Penn gave a memorable performance in the role of Andrew Daulton Lee in The Falcon and the Snowman. Lee was a former drug dealer by trade, convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and was originally sentenced to life in prison. Penn's personal life began to attract media attention when he married pop star Madonna in 1985. The relationship was marred by violent outbursts against the press,Penn and Madonna divorced in 1989. He soon began a relationship with Robin Wright, and their first child, Dylan Frances, was born in 1991. Their second child, Hopper Jack, was born in 1993. Penn and Wright married in 1996 and live in Ross, California. On December 27, 2007, the couple's representative announced that the Penns were divorcing.

Charlize Theron is a South African actress and former fashion model with American citizenship. She is well-known for her portrayal of the serial killing le
sbian Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she won an Academy Award. She was cast in her first film part, a non-speaking role in the direct-to-video film Children of the Corn III. Larger roles in widely released Hollywood films followed, and her career skyrocketed in the late 1990s with box office successes like The Devil's Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules. After appearing in a few notable films, Theron starred as the lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). For this role, Theron won the Best Actress Oscar at the 76th Academy Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award. She is the first South African to win an Oscar for Best Actress. Theron now resides in Los Angeles in the home of late 1930's actress Helen Twelvetrees, with her long-time boyfriend Stuart Townsend, with whom she starred in the 2004 film Head in the Clouds, as well as in the 2002 film Trapped.

Tim Robbins is an Academy Award-winning American actor, screenwriter, director, producer, activist, and musi
cian. He is the longtime partner of actress Susan Sarandon, with whom he shares liberal political views. He received critical acclaim and won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his starring role as an amoral movie executive in Robert Altman's 1992 film The Player. He made his directorial and screenwriting debut with 1992's Bob Roberts, a mockumentary about a right-wing senatorial candidate. Robbins then starred alongside Morgan Freeman in the critically acclaimed The Shawshank Redemption (1994), which was based on Stephen King's short story. Robbins has written, produced, and directed several films with strong social content, such as the critically acclaimed capital punishment saga Dead Man Walking (1995), starring Sarandon and Sean Penn. The film earned him a Oscar nomination for Best Director. His next directorial effort was 1999's Depression-era musical Cradle Will Rock. Robbins has also appeared in mainstream Hollywood thrillers, such as 1999's Arlington Road (as a terrorist) and 2001's Antitrust (as a malicious computer tycoon). Robbins has also acted in and directed several Actors' Gang theater productions. Robbins won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and the SAG Award for his work in Mystic River (2003), as a man traumatized from having been molested as a child.

Renée Zellweger is an American actress who has won an Academy Award and established herself as one of the highest-paid female Hollywood actors in recent years. While still in Texas, Zellweger appeared in several films. In 1993, she made a brief appearance in the comedy-drama film Dazed and Confused, then had a minor role in ABC TV mini series named Murder in the Heartland. The following year, she appeared in Reality Bites, the directorial debut of Ben Stiller and the biopic film 8 Seconds, directed by John G. Avildsen. Zellweger's first main part in a movie came with the 1994 horror movie Return of the Texas Chainsa
w Massacre, in which she acted alongside Matthew McConaughey. She played Jenny, a teenager who leaves a prom early with three friends and ended up getting into a car accident, which leads to their meeting a murderous family. In her next movie was Love and a .45, in which she played the role of Starlene Cheatham, a woman who plans a robbery with her boyfriend. The performance earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance. She subsequently moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, winning roles in the films Empire Records, The Whole Wide World. Zellweger first became widely known to audiences around the world with her role in 1996's Jerry Maguire, where she played the romantic interest of Tom Cruise's character. She won the role over Mira Sorvino and Marisa Tomei. Since then, Zellweger has won acclaim in roles such as One True Thing opposite William Hurt and Meryl Streep, and in Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty opposite Morgan Freeman. The role garnered the actress her first of three Golden Globe Awards. In 2001, Zellweger gained the prized lead role as Bridget Jones, playing alongside Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, in the British romantic comedy film Bridget Jones's Diary, a film that is based on the 1996 novel Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, amid much controversy since she was neither British nor overweight. As a result of her considerable efforts to effect author Helen Fielding's character, Zellweger caught the attention of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and received her first Best Actress Academy Award nomination. In 2002, she starred with Michelle Pfeiffer in White Oleander and in Rob Marshall's Academy Award for Best Picture winning film Chicago opposite Catherine Zeta Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C. Reilly. Zellweger earned her second Academy Award nomination as Best Actress, as well as the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award. In 2004, Zellweger finally received an Academy Award, this time as Best Supporting Actress in Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain opposite Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Zellweger has since starred in the sequel to Bridget Jones' Diary in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, lent her voice to the DreamWorks animated features Shark Tale and Bee Movie, and starred in the 2005 Ron Howard film Cinderella Man opposite Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti. On May 9, 2005, Zellweger married singer Kenny Chesney in a ceremony at the island of St. John. They had met in January at a tsunami relief benefit concert. On September 15, 2005, after only four months of marriage, they announced their plans for an annulment. The annulment was finalized in late December 2005.

The Barbarian Invasions is a French Canadian comedy/drama film directed by Denys Arcand. It is the sequel to Arcand's earlier award-winning film The Decline of the American Empire and is followed by Days of Darkness. The film was produced by companies from both Canada and France, including Téléfilm Canada, Société Radio-Canada and Canal+. It was released in 2003 and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004.

"Into the West" is a song written by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore and Annie Lennox, and performed by Lennox herself during the closing credits of the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It has also been recorded by New Zealand singers Hayley Westenra and Yulia Townsend. The song was conceived as a bittersweet Elvish lament sung by Galadriel for those who have sailed across the Sundering Sea. Several phrases from the song are taken from the last chapter of Return of the King. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 76th Academy Awards, one of the movie's 11 Academy Awards.

Friday, February 15, 2008

75th Academy Awards

The 75th Academy Awards ceremony was originally intended to be an especially festive celebration of the ceremony's 75th anniversary. However, it was muted five days before the show by the onset of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which coincided almost exactly with the ceremony. As a result, the hype and tone of the show were scaled back, and some Award winners (notably Adrien Brody and Michael Moore) took the opportunity to voice their opposition to the invasion. The ceremony received very low ratings, falling to second place in the Nielsen Ratings behind American Idol.

Chicago is a 2002 musical film released by Miramax Films. First released in limited cities on June 27, 2002, Chicago opened in wide release on January 24, 2003. An adaptation of the satirical stage musical Chicago, the film explores the themes of celebrity and scandal in Jazz age Chicago. Directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, and adapted for film by screenwriter Bill Condon, Chicago won six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture. The film was the first musical film to win the Best Picture Oscar since Oliver! (1968). Chicago centers around Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, two murderesses who find themselves on death row together in 1920s Chicago. Velma, a professional vaudevillian, and Roxie, a housewife with aspirations of being a star, fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows. The film stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Richard Gere, also featuring Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, and Mýa.

Roman Polanski is an Academy Award-winning French-born Polish film director, writer, actor, and producer. After beginning his career in Poland, Polanski becam
e a celebrated arthouse filmmaker, and Hollywood director of such films as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974). He is also known for his tumultuous personal life. In 1969, his wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family. In 1978, after pleading guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a thirteen year old girl, Polanski fled to France, where he now resides and is considered by US authorities to be a fugitive from justice. Because he faces jail time if he returns to the United States, he has continued to direct films in Europe, including Frantic (1988), Death and the Maiden (1994), the Academy Award-winning and Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or-winning The Pianist (2002), and Oliver Twist (2005). In May 2002, Polanski won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Pianist, for which he also took Césars for Best Film and Best Director, and later won the 2002 Academy Award for Directing. He did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood. After the announcement of the "Best Director Award", Polanski received a standing ovation from most of those present in the theater.

Adrien Brody is an American actor. Brody hovered on the brink of stardom, receiving an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in the 1998 film Restaurant and later praise for his roles in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam and Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line. He received widespread recognition when he was cast as the lead in Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002). To prepare for the role, Brody withdrew for months, gave up his apartment and his car, learned how to play Chopin on the piano, and lost 29 lbs (13 kg). The role won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, making him the youngest actor ever to win the award. He also won a César Award for his performance, becoming the only American actor to win one. Throughout his career, Brody has been compared to Al Pacino for his unique looks and method acting. He is also widely known for giving presenter Halle Berry a back-breaking kiss after winning his Best Actor Oscar, and as the spokesman for fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna. After The Pianist Brody has appeared in three very different movies. He played Noah Percy, a mentally disabled young man in the movie The Village by M. Night Shyamalan, shell-shocked war veteran Jack Starks in The Jacket, and writer Jack Driscoll in the 2005 King Kong remake.

Nicole Kidman is an Academy Award-winning Australian actress and occasional singer. In 2006, she became the highest paid a
ctress in the film industry. After making various appearances in film and television, Kidman received her breakthrough role in the 1989 thriller Dead Calm. Since then, Kidman's acting career has developed greatly. Her performances in several films, such as To Die For (1995), Moulin Rouge! (2001), and The Hours (2002), have won her not only critical acclaim but also many film awards. She is also well-known for her former high-profile marriage to Tom Cruise, as well as her current marriage to singer Keith Urban. In 1990, she appeared opposite Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder, a stock car racing movie. After this, Kidman starred with Cruise in Ron Howard's Far and Away (1992). In 1995, Kidman featured in the ensemble cast of Batman Forever. In 2002, Kidman received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the 2001 musical film Moulin Rouge!, in which she played the courtesan Satine opposite Ewan McGregor. Consequently, Kidman received her second Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The same year, she had a well-received starring role in the horror film The Others. The following year, Kidman won critical praise for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours, in which the prosthetics applied to her made her almost unrecognizable. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this role, along with a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA, and numerous critics awards. Kidman became the first Australian actress to win an Academy Award.

Chris Cooper is an Academy Award-winning American film actor. He became well known in the late 1990s, having appeared in supporting performances in several major Hollywood films, including American Beauty, Capote, and Seabiscuit. Some of his standout performances include Money Train as a psychotic pyromaniac who terrifies toll booth operators, Lone Star in a rare leading role as a Texas sheriff charged with solving a decades old case, and American Beauty as a homophobic Colonel of the United States Marine Corps. Cooper won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award in 2003 for playing the role of John Laroche in Adaptation. Cooper also appeared in The Bourne Identity in 2002 as a ruthless CIA special ops director, a role he reprised (in flashbacks) in The Bourne Supremacy. Cooper is often typecast as a government/military character. Cooper was busy in 2005, having appeared in three well-received and acclaimed films: Jarhead (reuniting him with American Beauty director Sam Mendes and October Sky actor Jake Gyllenhaal), Capote and Syriana. He was in the thriller Breach, playing real-life FBI operative and spy Robert Hanssen.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is an Academy Award-winning Welsh actress based p
redominantly in the United States. She began her career on stage at an early age. After starring in a number of UK and US television films and small roles in films, she came to prominence with roles in Hollywood movies such as The Phantom, The Mask of Zorro, and Entrapment in the late 1990s. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Velma Kelly in the 2002 film adaptation of Chicago, making her the first and only Welsh actress to do so in that category. In 2003, she voiced Marina in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas opposite Brad Pitt, as well as starring in Intolerable Cruelty with George Clooney. In 2004 she was in The Terminal, as well as Ocean's Twelve, the sequel to Ocean's Eleven. In 2005, she reprised her role as Elena in The Legend of Zorro, the sequel to The Mask of Zorro. In 2007, she starred in the romantic comedy No Reservations, a remake of the German film Mostly Martha. Zeta-Jones is married to Michael Douglas, with whom she shares a birthday. They have two children - Dylan (named after Dylan Thomas) and Carys.

Nowhere in Africa is an epic 2001 German film directed by Caroline Link and based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Stefanie Zweig. It tells the story of a Jewish family that emigrates to Kenya during World War II to escape the Nazis and run a farm. The film won an 2002 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

"Lose Yourself" is an Academy Award and Grammy Award winning hip hop song written and produced by Eminem. It was released in 2002 as part of the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning film 8 Mile, also starring Eminem. The song had additional production by Luis Resto and Jeff Bass. The song achieved significant success, reaching the top of many charts around the world, including the Billboard Hot 100, the UK Singles Chart, and the United World Chart, among others. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, two Grammy Awards, and two other Grammy nominations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

74th Academy Awards

The 74th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2001, were held on March 24, 2002, for the first time at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. The ceremony was historically notable for honoring two African American actors for their Leading Roles. Laura Ziskin (Spider-Man producer) was executive producer for the first time making her the first woman to solo produce the telecast. She also produced the 2007 telecast. The telecast, which was shown in the United States on ABC, is currently the longest to date. Furthermore the tone of this show was quieted by the recent occurrence of the attacks on September 11. Just as the 53rd Primetime Emmy Awards were postponed in 2001, and the Oscar nominations were supposed to come out just two months after the attacks, many wondered if the Oscars would be postponed as well. Frank Pierson, then president of the Academy stated that the Oscars would proceed as scheduled, and to postpone would mean that "the terrorists have won". However, the red carpet festivities prior to the awards were severely curtailed.

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical film about John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Laureate (Economics) mathematician. The film was directed by Ron Howard and written by Akiva Goldsman. It was inspired by a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-nominated 1998 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The film stars Russell Crowe, along with Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Paul Bettany. The story begins in the early years of Nash's life at Princeton University as he develops his "original idea" that will revolutionize the world of mathematics. Later, Nash develops schizophrenia and endures paranoid and delusional episodes while painfully watching the loss and burden his condition brings on his wife and friends. The film opened in US cinemas on December 21, 2001. It was well received by critics, and went on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. It was also nominated for Best Leading Actor, Best Editing, Best Makeup, and Best Score. The film has been criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of some aspects of Nash's life.

Ron Howard is an American actor and Academy Award-winning film director and producer, known for his roles on sitcoms, movies and television. The naturally red-headed Howard came to prominence in the 1960s as Andy Griffith's son, Opie Taylor, on The Andy Griffith Show, and later in the 1970s as Tom Bosley's son and Henry Winkler's best friend, Richie Cunningham, on Happy Days (a role he played from 1974 to 1980). He attained film success with his role as Steve Bollander in George Lucas' teen movie American Graffiti. Before leaving Happy Days in 1980, Howard made his directing debut with the 1977 project "Grand Theft Auto" (Howard went on to direct several TV movies. His big theatrical break came in 1982 with Night Shift featuring soon-to-be stars such as Michael Keaton and Shelley Long, as well as reuniting Howard with "Happy Days" co-star Henry Winkler. He has since directed a number of high-visibility films, the most acclaimed of which include "Splash", "Willow", "Cocoon", "Apollo 13" (nominated for several Academy Awards), "A Beautiful Mind" (for which he won the Oscar for "Best Director"), and Cinderella Man. His latest film, "The Da Vinci Code", rejoining with "Splash" and "Apollo 13" star Tom Hanks, has been a box office hit earning more than $700 million at the box office, but a critical letdown. On June 7, 1975, Howard wed his high-school sweetheart, Cheryl (née Alley), a writer with a degree in geriatric psychology. They have four children; daughters Bryce Dallas Howard (b. 1981), Jocelyn Carlyle (twin, b. 1985), Paige Carlyle (twin, b. 1985), and son Reed Cross (b. 1987). Their daughters Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard are actresses. In February 2007, Howard became a grandfather when his daughter, Bryce, gave birth to a son.

The ceremony also saw both the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars awarded to African-American actors for the first time in Academy Award history: Denzel Washington for Training Day and Halle Berry for Monster's Ball. Berry has received Emmy and Golden Globe awards for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, and an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for her performance in Monster's Ball, becoming the only woman of African-American descent to have won the award for Best Actress. She is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood and also a Revlon spokeswoman. She is attempting to expand into the production side of Hollywood. Before becoming an actress, Berry entered several beauty contests, finishing runner-up in Miss USA (1986), and winning the Miss USA World 1986 contest. Her breakthrough feature film role was in the 1991 Jungle Fever. This led to roles in The Flintstones (1994), Bulworth (1998), X-Men (2000) and its sequels, and Die Another Day. She also won a worst actress Razzie award in 2005 for Catwoman, and accepted the award in person. Berry has been married twice. Her first marriage, in 1992 to former baseball player David Justice, ended in divorce in 1996. Berry's second marriage was to musician Eric Benét. They had met in 1997, and married in 2001. The couple separated in 2003. The divorce was finalized in January 2005. In November 2005, she began dating French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry, who is ten years her junior. The couple met at a Versace photoshoot. Berry confirmed in September 2007 that she was three months pregnant with Aubry's child.

Jim Broadbent won as Best Supporting Actor. Broadbent made his film debut in 1978 with a tiny role in Jerzy Skolimowski's The Shout, and made his television debut the following year. He went on to work with Stephen Frears (for television, and in
The Hit (1984)) and Terry Gilliam (in Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985) before establishing himself in Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet (1990). He proved his ability as a character actor in films including The Crying Game (1992), Enchanted April (1992), Bullets Over Broadway (1994), The Borrowers (1997) and Little Voice (1998) before taking a leading role in another Mike Leigh film, Topsy-Turvy (1999). In 2001, Broadbent starred in three of the year's most successful films: Bridget Jones's Diary, Moulin Rouge!, for which he won a BAFTA and Iris, for which he won an Oscar for his portrayal of John Bayley. He is regarded as one of cinema's most reliable character actors and has a reputation of being very easy to work with. On September 17, 2007 it was announced that he will play Horace Slughorn in the sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Jennifer Connelly is an American film actress and former child model. Although she has been working in the
film industry since she was a teenager and catapulted to fame on the basis of her appearances in films like Labyrinth and Career Opportunities, she did not receive wide exposure for her work until the 2000 drama Requiem for a Dream, and the 2001 biopic A Beautiful Mind, for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Connelly starred in two films in 2003: Hulk and House of Sand and Fog. Hulk was something of a box office disappointment, but afforded Connelly the chance to work with noted director Ang Lee. House of Sand and Fog, based on the novel by Andre Dubus III, was reminiscent of much of her independent film work of the late 1990s. Connelly appeared in the 2005 horror film Dark Water, which was based on a Japanese film. In 2006, Connelly appeared in two films, both of which were nominated for multiple Academy Awards. She played a major role in an adaptation of the novel Little Children alongside Kate Winslet. Though her role as Kathy Adamson was very important in the novel, the director gave her character less screen time, instead focusing on the characters played by Winslet and Patrick Wilson. She also played a journalist in Blood Diamond opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. She is married to well-known English actor Paul Bettany (born 1971), whom she met while working on A Beautiful Mind. The couple's son, Stellan, was born on August 5, 2003. She also has a son, Kai (born 1997), from her relationship with photographer David Dugan.

No Man's Land is a war drama that is set in the midst of the Bosnian war in 1993. The film is a parable with a tone of ironic black comedy. The film marked the debut of writer and director Danis Tanović. The film is a co-production between companies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Italy, France, Belgium and the UK. No Man's Land won Prix du scénario at the Cannes Film Festival, followed by numerous awards, including the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001, while in competition with French Amélie. Tanović was presented the Oscar by John Travolta and Sharon Stone. Briefly after, Tanović thanked everyone who worked with him on the film and supported its creation. He ended his acceptance speech by saying, "This is for my country".

If I Didn't Have You is a song from the Pixar and Disney movie, Monsters Inc., written by songwriter and singer Randy Newman. Sung by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, the song helped Newman to win his very first Oscar. Prior to this Oscar win, Randy Newman had previously been nominated for 15 Oscars in the Best Score and Best Song categories, without a single win.