Wednesday, February 13, 2008

73rd Academy Awards

The 73rd Academy Awards ceremony was the last to take place at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. It was hosted by first-time host Steve Martin, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his presentation. Notable films receiving Academy Awards at the ceremony included Gladiator, which received 12 nominations and 5 awards, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which received 10 nominations and 4 awards. After a three-year streak of high ratings, the annual ceremony received very low ratings for the first time in four years. This is partially due to the popularity of CBS's Survivor which was number one on the Nielsen Weekly Ratings. The awards show dropped to second place for the first time in broadcasting history (42.93 million viewers; with 21.1% of households watching). The second time the ceremony placed below the top happened in 2003 when it was surpassed by American Idol. The Icelandic pop singer Björk arrived in a gown with a fake swan draped across her. It caused an audience reaction that led to several comments by those participating in the Awards Ceremony.

Gladiator is a 2000 epic film. It is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi and Richard Harris. Crowe portrays General Maximus Decimus Meridius, friend of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who is betrayed and murdered by the emperor's ambitious son, Commodus (Phoenix). Captured and enslaved along the outer fringes of the Roman empire, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his family and his Emperor. The film won five Academy Awards in the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film's epic scope and intense battle scenes, as well as the emotional core of its performances, received much praise. The film's success may have helped to revive the historical epic genre, with subsequent films such as Troy, Alexander, 300, and Scott's own Kingdom of Heaven.

Steven Soderbergh is an American film producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, and Academy Award-winning director. It wasn't until Soderbergh came back to Baton Rouge that he conceived the idea for sex, lies, and videotape (1989), which he wrote in eight days. The independent film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, became a worldwide commercial success and greatly contributed to the 1990s independent film revolution. His commercial slump ended in 1998 with Out of Sight, a stylized adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, written by Scott Frank and sta
rring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. The film was widely praised, though only a moderate box-office success. It reaffirmed Soderbergh's potential, sparking the beginnings of a lucrative artistic partnership between Clooney and Soderbergh. Soderbergh followed up on the success of Out of Sight by making another crime caper, The Limey (1999), from an original screenplay by Lem Dobbs and starring veteran actors Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda. The film was well-received, but not as much as Erin Brockovich (2000), a "Rocky movie" he directed, written by Susannah Grant and starring Julia Roberts in her Oscar-winning role as a single mother taking on industry in a civil action. Later that year, Soderbergh released his most ambitious project yet (with a running time of 147 minutes, the film had 135 speaking parts set in eight different cities), Traffic, a social drama written by Stephen Gaghan and featuring an ensemble cast. Traffic became his most acclaimed movie since sex, lies, videotape, and earned him an Academy Award for Best Director. He was also nominated that same year for Erin Brockovich. He is the only director to have been nominated in the same year for Best Director for two different films by the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild of America. It was the first time it had happened at the Oscars in 60 years. Ocean's Eleven (2001), featuring an all-star cast and flashy aesthetics, is Soderbergh's highest grossing movie to date, grossing more than $183 million. The film's star, George Clooney, subsequently appeared in Solaris (2002), marking the third time the two have headlined a film. In the same year, Soderbergh made Full Frontal which was shot mostly on digital video in an improvisional style that deliberately blurred the line between which actors were playing characters and which were playing fictionized versions of themselves. Following up Full Frontal stylistically was Soderbergh next project, K Street (2003), a ten-part political HBO series he co-produced with Clooney. Ocean's Twelve (2004), a sequel to Ocean's Eleven, has followed. The Good German a romantic drama set in post-war Berlin starring Cate Blanchett and Clooney was released in late 2006. The sixth pairing of Clooney and Soderbergh, Ocean's Thirteen, was released in June of 2007.

Russell Crowe is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning New Zealand-born Australian actor. His acting career began in the early 1990s with roles in Australian TV series such as Police Rescue and films such as Romper Stomper. In the late 1990s, he began appearing in US films such as the 1997 movie L.A. Confidential. In the 2000s, he was nominated for three Oscars, and in 2001, he won the Academy Award as Best Actor for his starring role in the film Gladiator. After initial success in Australia, Crowe began acting in American films. He first co-starred with Denzel
Washington in Virtuosity in 1995. He went on to become a three-time Oscar nominee, winning the Academy Award as Best Actor in 2001 for Gladiator. Crowe received three consecutive best actor Oscar nominations for The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Crowe won the best actor award for A Beautiful Mind at the 2002 BAFTA award ceremony. However he failed to win the Oscar that year, losing to Denzel Washington. Within the six year stretch from 1997-2003, he also starred in two other best picture nominees, L.A. Confidential and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, though he was nominated for neither. In 2005 he re-teamed with A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for Cinderella Man. In 2006 he re-teamed with Gladiator director Ridley Scott for A Good Year, the first of two consecutive collaborations (the second being American Gangster co-starring again with Denzel Washington, released in late 2007). On 7 April 2003, his 39th birthday, Crowe married Australian singer and actress Danielle Spencer. Crowe met Spencer while filming The Crossing (1990). Crowe and Spencer have two sons: Charles "Charlie" Spencer Crowe (born 21 December 2003) and Tennyson Spencer Crowe (born 7 July 2006).

Julia Roberts is an Academy Award-winning American film actress and former fashion model. She shot to fame during the early 1990s after starring in the romantic comedy, Pretty Woman, opposite Richard Gere, which grossed US$463 million worldwide. She won the Best Actress Acade
my Award in 2001 for her critically acclaimed turn as the title character in Erin Brockovich and earned Oscar nominations as Best Supporting Actress for Steel Magnolias (1989) and Best Actress for Pretty Woman (1990). Her films, which also include The Pelican Brief, My Best Friend's Wedding, Mystic Pizza, Notting Hill, Runaway Bride, and Ocean's Eleven, have collectively earned box office receipts well over US$2 billion. Roberts's two films released in 2006, The Ant Bully and Charlotte's Web, were both animated features for which she provided only voice acting. Her next film, Charlie Wilson's War, with Tom Hanks and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, directed by Mike Nichols and based on the book by former CBS journalist George Crile was released on December 21, 2007. On June 27, 1993, she married country singer Lyle Lovett; the couple had met only three weeks earlier. The wedding took place on 72-hours' notice and was held in Marion, Indiana, near where Lovett was appearing on tour with his band. Less than two years later, in March 1995, the couple announced their separation. They subsequently divorced. Roberts met her current husband, cameraman Daniel Moder, on the set of her movie The Mexican in 2000 and they began an affair. He and Roberts wed on Fourth of July 2002, at her ranch in Taos, New Mexico. On November 28, 2004, they became the parents of fraternal twins, daughter Hazel Patricia and son Phinnaeus Walter. Their third child, son Henry Daniel Moder, was born on June 18, 2007 in Los Angeles.

Benicio del Toro is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning Puerto Rican actor and film producer. He is best known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual Suspects, Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez in Traffic and Jack 'Jackie Boy' Rafferty in Sin City. In Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, a complex dissection of the North American drug wars - as Javier Rodriguez — a Mexican border cop struggling to remain honest amid the corruption and deception of illegal drug trafficking — del Toro, who spoke most of his lines in Spanish, gave a performance that dominated the film and earned him his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Marcia Gay Harden is an Academy Award-winning American actress.For her film work, she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Pollock (2000), and was nominated in the same c
ategory for Mystic River (2003). She is currently shooting a film called Home, in which she will be playing the role of a mother (to her real daughter, Eulala Scheel) as she did in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (2005). Other notable films include The Imagemaker (1986), her first screen role, in which she played a stage manager; the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing (1990), a 1930s mobster drama in which she gained her first wide exposure; the Disney sci-fi comedy Flubber (1997), a popular hit in which she co-starred with Robin Williams; the supernatural drama Meet Joe Black (1998); Labor of Love (1998), a Lifetime Television movie in which she starred with David Marshall Grant; and an all-star adventure-drama of aging astronauts, Space Cowboys (2000). Harden is married to Thaddaeus Scheel, with whom she worked on The Spitfire Grill (1996), and the couple have three children: a daughter, Eulala Grace Scheel, and twins Julitta Dee Scheel and Hudson Harden Scheel.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an Academy Award winning Chinese-language film in the wuxia (chivalric and martial arts) style, released in 2000. A China-Hong Kong-Taiwan-United States co-production, the film was directed by Ang Lee and featured an international cast of ethnic Chinese actors, including Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen. The movie was based on the fourth novel in a pentalogy, known in China as the Crane-Iron Pentalogy, by Wang Dulu. The martial arts and action sequences were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping. Made on a mere US$15 million budget, with dialogue in Mandarin, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a surprise international success. It grossed US$128 million in the United States alone, becoming the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and three other Academy Awards, and was nominated for six other Oscars, including Best Picture.

"Things Have Changed" is a song from the film Wonder Boys, written and performed by Bob Dylan. The song won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Director of Wonder Boys Curtis Hanson also created a music video for "Things Have Changed," filming new footage of Bob Dylan on the film's various locations and editing it with footage used in Wonder Boys as if Dylan were actually in the film.

No comments: