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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — February 27, 2004


Oscar maniacs
prepare for glittery

Sophia Coppola’s nomination for the sublime "Lost in Translation" makes her the first American woman ever nominated for best director.

Express Staff Writer

For 76 years a glittering affair, known familiarly as the Oscars, has taken place in Hollywood. It began as a dinner party for a relatively small number of stars. In fact, the first ceremony was held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The attendance was 250 and tickets cost $10.

In 1953, the presentation was first televised live from Hollywood with Bob Hope emceeing.

The always pitch perfect actress Patricia Clarkson is a supporting actress nominee for her role as a mother with Cancer and regrets in "Pieces of April." Photos courtesy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 76th Annual Academy Awards

This year marks the third year the Academy Awards will be held in its new permanent home, the 3,300 seat Kodak Theatre 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 29, on ABC. Billy Crystal is back as emcee for the eighth time. If he keeps it up, he’ll be on par with Bob Hope, who hosted 15 times, though with co-hosts on several of those occasions.

Last year, the ceremony was tainted by the days-old invasion of Iraq. Many people watched the night-vision green glow of nonstop live cable coverage of the invasion in between the announcements of winners. It was a tad gloomy, but all rallied.

But each year, everyone from movie studios, preening stars and desperate starlets to insane fans and those at home making honorary dinners, it comes off as though it was all newly minted.

However, this year is truly remarkable. The nominees are all fabulous, gorgeous, well-honed and talented. There’s Diane Keaton, for crying out loud. There’s plenty of international flavor, too, with nominees from New Zealand, England, Iran, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the USA.

After a career of challenging roles, Johnny Depp is an Oscar nominee for a movie based on a Disney ride: "Pirates of the Caribbean." Photos courtesy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 76th Annual Academy Awards

The nominated movies are extremely diverse, from fantasy and comedy to rugged realism and a soggy epic. In many ways, these movies should be in entirely different categories. Naturally, there’s money on the winners with "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" leading the pack.

Many feel that Peter Jackson, the director, really has earned it. No trilogy has ever been nominated for all three movies in consecutive years. Not to mention that his trilogy is beautifully shot and imagined, it has much appreciated heart and was, by the way, shot over 264 consecutive days in New Zealand. The feat itself is worth awarding.

It would be nice if money were not the point, but it often is. In which case, it’s perhaps important to note that "The Return of the King," has become the second movie ever to break the $1 billion box-office mark worldwide. "Titanic," which earned top honors at the 70th Academy Awards, made $1.8 billion worldwide.

In Tokyo while filming "Lost in Translation," director Sophia Coppola strolls with her leading man, Bill Murray. Coppola wrote the part for Murray, and said she would not have made it without him. Photos courtesy Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 76th Annual Academy Awards

Another interesting aspect this year is Sophia Coppola’s nomination for the sublime, "Lost in Translation," which makes her the first American woman ever nominated. Two other women who have been nominated for achievement in directing are Australia’s Jane Campion in 1993 for "The Piano" and Germany’s Lina Wertmüller in 1976 for "Seven Beauties."

Coppola’s movie is favored by many to take home some awards, but speculation is that Coppola might win for best original screenplay rather than direction.

Film clips and fashion are among the highlights of any Oscar presentation. This year, Blake Edwards is the recipient this year of Academy’s Honorary Award. Edwards, wrote and or directed such movies as "Days of Wine and Roses," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and "Victor/Victoria" the Pink Panther movies, "A Shot in the Dark," "The Party," "10" "The Great Race," "Operation Petticoat," "Darling Lili," "Switch," and the Peter Gunn series.

Edwards received his only Academy Award nomination in 1982 for his screenplay of "Victor/Victoria," which starred his wife, Julie Andrews. So we know, along with the nomination of Bill Murray that comedy will be served this year.

Here are the main categories
and the 2003 nominees:

Actor in lead role
Johnny Depp "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"
Ben Kingsley "House of Sand and Fog"
Jude Law "Cold Mountain"
Bill Murray "Lost in Translation"
Sean Penn "Mystic River"

Actor in a supporting role
Alec Baldwin "The Cooler"
Benicio Del Toro "21 Grams"
Djimon Hounsou "In America"
Tim Robbins "Mystic River"
Ken Watanabe "The Last Samurai"

Actress in lead role
Keisha Castle-Hughes "Whale Rider"
Diane Keaton "Something’s Gotta Give"
Samantha Morton "In America"
Charlize Theron in "Monster"
Naomi Watts "21 Grams"

Actress in supporting role
Shohreh Aghdashloo "House of Sand and Fog"
Patricia Clarkson "Pieces of April"
Marcia Gay Harden "Mystic River"
Holly Hunter "Thirteen"
Renée Zellweger "Cold Mountain"

"City of God" Fernando Meirelles
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" Peter Jackson
"Lost in Translation" Sofia Coppola
"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" Peter Weir
"Mystic River" Clint Eastwood

Best motion picture
"The Lord of the Rings"
"Lost in Translation"
"Master and Commander"
"Mystic River"


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