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.

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