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25 Mar 2003

the gayest oscars ever!

With Chicago's six wins, Nicole Kidman wining the Best Actress award for her role in sapphic drama, The Hours, and Spanish gay filmmaker Pedro Almodvar winning the Best Original Screenplay award, this has to be gayest Oscars ever!

With 13 nominations and six awards including Best Picture, Chicago - made by openly gay filmmakers Rob Marshall (director), Bill Condon (screenwriter), and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (executive producers) - was the main winner at the 75th Academy Awards.

From the top: Chicago's producer Martin Richards with director Rob Marshall (right), Best Actress Nicole Kidman and Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (right) and Best Actor Adrien Brody with Nicole Kidman.
Leading the way with 13 nominations, flashy musical Chicago won six awards for Best Picture (Martin Richards), Supporting Actress (eight-months-pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones), Art Direction (John Myhre - Art Direction; Gordon Sim - Set Decoration), Costume (Martin Richards), Film Editing (Martin Walsh) and Sound (Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella and David Lee) making it the first movie musical since 1968's Oliver to win the Best Picture award.

For the movie, Broadway musical veteran and first-time director Marshall recruited John DeLuca, his life partner of 20 years, as choreographic supervisor. "John has this incredibly brilliant eye, and he's a genius working with actors," says Marshall, 42, "especially actors who are new to musicals. He was really like a security blanket for Renee, Richard and Latifah." He told the San Francisco Gate newspaper.

Bill Condon is best known for writing and directing God and Monsters starring Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, and Lynn Redgrave; the movie earned him an Oscar for Screenplay Adaptation in 1999.

Musicals gradually fell out of favour in Hollywood after their critical peak in the early 1960s, when West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music won Best Picture. Last year, gay favourite Moulin Rouge nominated in the Best Picture category helped rekindle the genre.

Nicole Kidman took home the Best Actress prize for portraying author Virginia Woolf in the sombre lesbian drama, The Hours, directed by openly gay Stephen Daldry who was nominated two years ago for Billy Elliot and produced by openly gay Scott Rudin.

Frida, starring producer-actress Salma Hayek as bisexual artist, Frida Kahlo, bagged the Best Makeup and Original Score awards.

The Best Original Screenplay Oscar went to openly gay filmmaker Pedro Almodvar for Talk to Her, marking the first time that a Spanish-language film received an award in the screenplay category.
The most surprising showing came from the Holocaust drama The Pianist where exiled director Roman Polanski took the directing honour beating Martin Scorsese who was viewed as the likely winner for Gangs of New York. A Holocaust survivor himself, Polanski has been an exile from the United States since he fled 25 years ago to avoid sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He would have faced arrest had he entered the country to attend the Oscars.

From the top: Chicago's producer Martin Richards with director Rob Marshall (right), Best Actress Nicole Kidman and Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (right) and Best Actor Adrien Brody with Nicole Kidman.
The Pianist also won writer Ronald Harwood the adapted-screenplay award, and 29-year-old Adrien Brody the Best Actor award beating Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York).

In his acceptance speech, Brody expressed one of the more piercing comments on the US-led war in Iraq. "It (the award) fills me with great joy, but I'm also filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I'm accepting an award at such a strange time."

"You know my experiences in making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanisation of people at times of war and the repercussions of war. Whether you believe in God or Allah, may He watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution [to the war]."

Michael Moore, whose film Bowling for Columbine won the award for Best Documentary, drew received a standing ovation as well as boos from the audience when he launched into a derisive comment of US President George W. Bush during his acceptance speech.

"We live in a time with fictitious election results that elect fictitious presidents. We live in a time when we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons," said Moore. "We are against this war Mr. Bush. Shame on you. Shame on you!"

Susan Sarandon, the usually outspoken Hollywood peace activist, however, surprised the audience when she just flashed a peace sign to the crowd as her subtle comment on the war while she took to the stage as a presenter.

Most noticeably, the traditional red-carpet arrival spectacle where Hollywood's brightest stars prance and ham it up for the cameras while critics pick on people's fashion choices, was cancelled in an effort to tone down the glamour in light of war.
Some men wore business suits while most women have visibly forgone the expensive jewels while several stars intentionally wore jewellery to show their feelings - actors including Richard Gere, Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis wore a gold-and-diamond pin, commissioned by a group called Global Vision for Peace. The pins are to be auctioned on eBay with the proceeds going to humanitarian efforts.

From the top: Chicago's producer Martin Richards with director Rob Marshall (right), Best Actress Nicole Kidman and Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (right) and Best Actor Adrien Brody with Nicole Kidman.
Other surprises included a Best Song honour for controversial rapper Eminem who was a no-show, and co-writers Jeff Bass and Luis Resto for "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile.

Here is the list of winners from the 75th annual Academy Awards:

Picture: Chicago
Director: Roman Polanksi, The Pianist
Actor: Adrien Brody, The Pianist
Actress: Nicole Kidman, The Hours
Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper, Adaptation
Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago
Adapted Screenplay: The Pianist, Ronald Harwood
Original Screenplay: Talk to Her, Pedro Almodvar
Animated Feature: Spirited Away
Animated Short Film: The ChubbChubbs!
Art Direction: Chicago
Cinematography: Road to Perdition
Costume: Chicago
Documentary Feature: Bowling for Columbine
Documentary (short subject): Twin Towers
Film Editing: Chicago
Foreign Language Film: Nowhere in Africa, Germany
Live Action Short Film: This Charming Man (Der Er En Yndig Mand)
Makeup: Frida
Original Score: Frida
Original Song: "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile, Eminem, Jeff Bass, and Luis Resto
Sound: Chicago
Sound Editing: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Visual Effects: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Honorary Award: Peter O'Toole
Academy Award of Merit: Alias/Wavefront for its Maya computer imaging software
Academy Award of Merit: The Arnold & Richter Cine Technik and Panavision companies for their advanced motion picture camera systems

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