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:: Spotlight :: 77th Academy Awards

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Nominations for the 77th annual Academy Awards were announced on January 25 by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Frank Pierson and Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody.

Pierson and Brody announced 10 of the 24 categories at a news conference attended by over 400 international media. Nominations in all categories were distributed to news media in attendance and via the Internet on the official Academy Awards website

Brody received his Oscar for his leading role in “The Pianist” in 2002. He recently starred in “The Village,” and will next be seen starring in “The Jacket” and “King Kong.”

Academy Awards® for outstanding film achievements of 2004 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

The complete list of nominations for the 77th Annual Academy Awards is shown below.

Best Picture: “The Aviator,” “Finding Neverland,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Ray,” “Sideways.”

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “The Aviator”; Clint Eastwood, “Million Dollar Baby”; Taylor Hackford, “Ray”; Alexander Payne, “Sideways”; Mike Leigh, “Vera Drake.”

Best Actor: Don Cheadle, “Hotel Rwanda”; Johnny Depp, “Finding Neverland”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Aviator”; Clint Eastwood, “Million Dollar Baby”; Jamie Foxx, “Ray.”

Best Actress: Annette Bening, “Being Julia”; Catalina Sandino Moreno, “Maria Full of Grace”; Imelda Staunton, “Vera Drake”; Hilary Swank, “Million Dollar Baby”; Kate Winslet, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Alda, “The Aviator”; Thomas Haden Church, “Sideways”; Jamie Foxx, “Collateral”; Morgan Freeman, “Million Dollar Baby”; Clive Owen, “Closer.”

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, “The Aviator”; Laura Linney, “Kinsey”; Virginia Madsen, “Sideways”; Sophie Okonedo, “Hotel Rwanda”; Natalie Portman, “Closer.”

Nest Adapted Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Kim Krizan, “Before Sunset”; David Magee, “Finding Neverland”; Paul Haggis, “Million Dollar Baby”; Jose Rivera, “The Motorcycle Diaries”; Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, “Sideways.”

Best Original Screenplay: John Logan, “The Aviator”; Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”; Brad Bird, “The Incredibles”; Mike Leigh, “Vera Drake”; Keir Pearson and Terry George, “Hotel Rwanda.”

Best Foreign Film: “As It Is In Heaven” (Sweden), “The Chorus (Les Choristes)” (France), “Downfall” (Germany), “The Sea Inside” (Spain), “Yesterday” (South Africa).

Best Animated Feature Film: “The Incredibles,” “Shark Tale,” “Shrek 2.”

Best Animated Short Film: “Birthday Boy,” “Gopher Broke,” “Guard Dog,” “Lorenzo,” “Ryan.”

Best Live Action Short Film: “Everything in This Country Must,” “Little Terrorist,” “7:35 in the Morning (7:35 de la Manana),” “Two Cars, One Night,” “Wasp.”

Best Documentary: “Born Into Brothels,” “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” “Super Size Me,” “Tupac: Resurrection,” “Twist of Faith.”

Best Documentary Short Subject: “Autism Is a World,” “The Children of Leningradsky,” “Hardwood,” “Mighty Times: The Children's March,” “Sister Rose's Passion.”

Best Art Direction: “The Aviator,” “Finding Neverland,” “Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “A Very Long Engagement.”

Best Cinematography: “The Aviator,” “House of Flying Daggers,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “A Very Long Engagement.”

Best Film Editing: “The Aviator,” “Collateral,” “Finding Neverland,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Ray.”

Best Costume Design: “The Aviator,” “Finding Neverland,” “Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Ray,” “Troy.”

Best Makeup: “Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Sea Inside.”

Best Original Score: “Finding Neverland,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Village.”

Best Original Song: “Accidentally In Love” from “Shrek 2,” “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “Believe” from “The Polar Express,” “Learn To Be Lonely” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)” from “The Chorus (Les Choristes).”

Best Sound Editing: “The Incredibles,” “The Polar Express,” “Spider-Man 2.”

Best Sound Mixing: “The Aviator,” “The Incredibles,” “The Polar Express,” “Ray,” “Spider-Man 2.”

Best Visual Effects: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “I, Robot,” “Spider-Man 2.”

Oscar winners previously announced this year:
Honorary Academy Award: Sidney Lumet.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Roger Mayer.
Gordon E. Sawyer Award (technical achievement): Takuo Miyagishima.
Scientific and Technical Oscars: Horst Burbulla, Jean-Marie Lavalou, Alain Masseron and David Samuelson.

OTHER NEWS

Director Sidney Lumet has been voted an Honorary Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Award, an Oscar statuette, will be presented at the 77th Academy Awards presentation . The Honorary Award will be given to Lumet to honour his “brilliant services to screenwriters, performers and the art of the motion picture.”

“Lumet is one of the most important film directors in the history of American cinema,” said Academy President Frank Pierson, “and his work has left an indelible mark on both audiences and the history of film itself. It was a great personal pleasure and professional honour to call Sidney to tell him he'd won his profession's highest honour.”

The son of actor Baruch Lumet and dancer Eugenia Wermus, Lumet was born in Philadelphia and made his stage debut at New York's Yiddish Art Theatre at the age of four, acting until the 1950s when he began working as a television director.

Lumet made his feature film debut in 1957 with the widely praised “12 Angry Men,” which earned him an Academy Award nomination for directing.

He has earned three additional directing nominations, for “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1975, “Network” in 1976 and “The Verdict” in 1982, as well as a nomination for adapted screenplay (with Jay Presson Allen) for “Prince of the City” in 1981.

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The 10 short films that received Oscar nominations in the Animated and Live Action Short Film categories for the 77th Academy Awards will screen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, February 22, at 7:30pm in the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre.

This marks the first time that the five nominated films in each of these two categories will be shown by the Academy prior to the Oscar telecast. In previous years a screening of the short film nominees took place in the months following the Academy Awards.

“Traditionally short films aren't distributed as widely as feature-length films so we want to give the public this opportunity to see these nominees before the telecast. Oscar Week provides a great time-frame for the Academy to present this program,” said Ric Robertson, the Academy's executive administrator.

Following is the schedule for the evening:

Part One – Animation

“Birthday Boy” ( Sejong Park and Andrew Gregory, Australia )

“Gopher Broke” (Jeff Fowler and Tim Miller, U.S.A. )

“Guard Dog” (Bill Plympton, U.S.A. )

“Lorenzo” (Mike Gabriel and Baker Bloodworth, U.S.A. )

“Ryan” (Chris Landreth, Canada )

Part Two – Live Action

“Everything in This Country Must” (Gary McKendry, U.S.A. )

“Little Terrorist” ( Ashvin Kumar, United Kingdom )

“7:35 in the Morning ( 7:35 de la Mañana)” (Nacho Vigalondo, Spain )

“Two Cars, One Night” (Taila Waititi and Ainsley Gardiner, New Zealand )

“Wasp” (Andrea Arnold, United Kingdom )

The public in New York City also will have the opportunity to view the short film nominees when they screen twice on Saturday, February 19, first at 12:30pm and again at 4pm in the Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International in Manhattan.

Screenings of the short film nominees will also take place during Oscar Week in Washington D.C. at the National Archives. Additional information about these events, including dates, times and locations, can be found on the Academy's website

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Confirmed presenters in Academy Awards ceremony:
SELMA HAYEK, CHARLIZE THERON, MARTIN SCORSESE, TIM ROBBINS, PENELOPE CRUZ, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, RENEE ZELLWEGER, ORLANDO BLOOM, GWYNETH PALTROW, ZIYI ZHANG, and ROBIN WILLIAMS.

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Statement by Martin Scorsese on Oscar nomination:

“Bringing The Aviator to the screen took years of effort by an extraordinary group of individuals, and I am thrilled that so many of the people who poured their heart into the film have been recognised by the Academy. It is a thrill for me to know that the efforts of so many talented members of the cast and crew have been honoured with nominations.”

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Oren Jacoby, the New York filmmaker whose “Sister Rose's Passion” has been nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject expressed delight and determination to continue to take on challenging documentary subjects.

“This Academy Award nomination crowns the efforts of Steve Kalafer, Peter LeDonne and Kellie Pyffer and a number of other people directly and importantly involved with ‘Sister Rose's Passion.’ Most important, it recognises the life work of Sister Rose Thering herself.”

“The awards ceremony on February 27 happens to fall on my birthday - so, I'm hoping for the best,” Jacoby commented. “But I think this would have made my father Irving Jacoby happy - he was nominated in this same category 46 years ago. I'm also very grateful for all the support I've gotten from talented mentors and colleagues over my fifteen years in this field,” Jacoby said. “I'm committed to continue to try and produce the best films I can and am very happy to be working, now, on another provocative and dramatic documentary,” he added.

Jacoby said his current project is based on the book “Constantine's Sword” by James Carroll, “the moving story of one Christian's odyssey of discovery - of his own and his Church's complicity in history's most lethal hatred. A saga crossing 20 centuries and the length of one man's life.”

Sister Rose's Passion, with run time of 38 minutes 49 second, describes the largely thankless, often resisted lifelong crusade by a Catholic nun - Sister Rose Thering - to challenge the doctrine that blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus. She played a key role in Vatican II, which officially changed the church's position on their relationship with the Jewish people. This documentary follows Sister Rose, today, at age 84, as she continues to fight against religious intolerance.

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America's leading film critics reveal their selections for the five major categories of Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, and Best Picture during “Ebert & Roeper's” annual special “If We Picked The Winners.”

A yearly pre-awards tradition, “If We Picked The Winners” showcases work the critics believe the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences should recognise during the ceremony on February 27.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Roeper's pick - Virginia Madsen, “Sideways”
Ebert's pick - Virginia Madsen, “Sideways”

ROEPER: ‘Once Madsen was given this plum role, she hit every note with grace and confidence. It's an impressive and very authentic piece of natural acting.’

EBERT: ‘I agree totally with you. Here is a role for her and she glows in it. I mean you just absolutely love her, you are behind her, you have sympathy with her, you feel bad for her.’

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Roeper's pick - Alan Alda, “The Aviator”
Ebert's pick - Morgan Freeman, “Million Dollar Baby”

ROEPER: ‘My favorite here is the always respected but perhaps underrated Alan Alda for his work in “The Aviator.” Alan Alda will always be identified with “MASH,” but he doesn't always play the nice guy pacifist. This man is corrupt and amoral, and we know it from the start. Nice piece of work from Alan Alda.’

EBERT: ‘My pick would be Morgan Freeman who is not just a supporting character in “Million Dollar Baby,” but a wise observer who sees things that both the trainer and the boxer need to have pointed out to them. He finds the right note of weariness and experience, love and concern, and is the natural narrator to tell us the story.’

BEST ACTRESS
Roeper's pick - Kate Winslet, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
Ebert's pick - Hilary Swank, “Million Dollar Baby”

ROEPER: ‘It's tough to argue against the devastatingly effective work of Imelda Staunton and Hilary Swank, but I'm casting my vote for Kate Winslet's screen-popping performance in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”’

EBERT: ‘You go through the year and you see wonderful performances and you think maybe they deserve an Oscar, and then you see a performance that blows the others way. That happened for me last year with Charlize Theron in “Monster,” and this year with Hilary Swank.’

BEST ACTOR
Roeper's pick - Don Cheadle, “Hotel Rwanda”
Ebert's pick - Don Cheadle, “Hotel Rwanda”

ROEPER: ‘I think this is one of the great desperate man performances in recent years.’

EBERT: ‘The Academy showed real imagination in nominating him for an important film like “Hotel Rwanda,” and while I would be happy if Eastwood or Foxx won as best actor, I think I'd let out a whoop for Cheadle.’

BEST PICTURE
Roeper's pick — “The Aviator”
Ebert's pick — “Million Dollar Baby”

ROEPER: ‘This is a lengthy and richly detailed examination of one of the towering figures of modern times. But director Martin Scorsese is never a conventional filmmaker, and he puts his own unique imprint on every frame of this movie.’

EBERT: ‘I pick “Million Dollar Baby” for best picture. I thought it was the year's best…It's very rare for a film to completely involve your emotions and your attention, to draw you in so deeply you forget it's a movie, and just start really caring about the characters.’

Roger Ebert is film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago's WLS-TV.

Richard Roeper is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and film critic for Chicago's WBBM-TV.

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Global Green USA Campaign Promotes Energy Independence, Smart Solutions to Climate Change Through Stars Arriving at Academy Awards in Fuel-Efficient Cars

Nominees, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, Morgan Freeman, and presenters Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Orlando Bloom, Robin Williams, Salma Hayek, and Penelope Cruz among others, are planning to arrive at the Academy Awards in fuel-efficient Toyota Prius hybrids instead of gas-guzzling limos. The celebrities want to demonstrate how each of us can take a simple yet powerful step to decrease dependence on fossil fuels, reduce air pollution, and stem climate change.

Salma Hayek, actor, and presenter at this year's Awards says: “With global warming threatening us all, driving a fuel efficient car like a hybrid is something that everybody can do to protect our planet. I am proud to do my part: I personally own and drive a hybrid car. And I love it!”

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Comedian Chris Rock, host of the 77th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, told nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner that he‘s going to 'shock’ viewers on Sunday night.

“Just the fact that I‘m there is going to be a shock,” said Rock, who raised eyebrows when he recently said that he did not know any straight men that watched the Oscars. “When the show starts and a brother says, 'What's up? Welcome to the Oscars.’ That's it.”

During the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” the nation's leading entertainment syndicated morning radio show; Rock clarified his previous comments saying about gays not watching the Oscars, saying: “Seriously, I don't remember my father, the guys on the block - we just never watched the Oscars … You tuned in a little bit, but it wasn't the thing I did growing up.”

Responding to a question about the noticeable number of African Americans nominated this year, Rock labelled this year's Oscars the “Def Oscar Jam”.

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**WINNERS & RED CARPET PICTURES**

Million Dollar Baby scored the top accolades at the 77th annual Academy Awards, taking Best Film, Best Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Actress for Hilary Swank and Best Supporting Actor for Morgan Freeman.

It was Clint Eastwood's second Oscar win for best director at the grand old age of 74 - the oldest ever recipient. His first was for Unforgiven.

He said: “I'd like to thank my mother. She was here with me in 1993 and she was only 84 then. She's here again tonight. So at 96, I'm thanking her for her genes.”

The Aviator, which had 11 nominations, won five, the biggest of which was Best Supporting Actress for Australian Cate Blanchett. It was disappointment again for Martin Scorsese who missed the prized Oscar for best director. He has not won in five nominations.

Cate Blanchett won her first best actress award for her role in The Aviator. She said her award was “an indescribable surprise and honour”. She thanked her real-life character, Katherine Hepburn, and director Martin Scorsese, of whom she said: “I hope my son will marry your daughter!”

Here is the list of winners:

BEST PICTURE
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy and Tom Rosenberg

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jamie Foxx
RAY

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Hilary Swank
MILLION DOLLAR BABY

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Morgan Freeman
MILLION DOLLAR BABY

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Cate Blanchett
THE AVIATOR

DIRECTING
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clint Eastwood

ART DIRECTION
THE AVIATOR
Dante Ferretti (Art Direction); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration)

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
THE INCREDIBLES
Brad Bird

MAKEUP
LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
Valli O'Reilly and Bill Corso

COSTUME DESIGN
THE AVIATOR
Sandy Powell

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BORN INTO BROTHELS
Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski

FILM EDITING
THE AVIATOR
Thelma Schoonmaker

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman; Story by Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
SIDEWAYS
Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor

VISUAL EFFECTS
SPIDER-MAN 2
John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
WASP
Andrea Arnold

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
RYAN
Chris Landreth

CINEMATOGRAPHY
THE AVIATOR
Robert Richardson

SOUND MIXING
RAY
Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer and Steve Cantamessa

SOUND EDITING
THE INCREDIBLES
Michael Silvers and Randy Thom

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
MIGHTY TIMES: THE CHILDREN'S MARCH
Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston

MUSIC (SCORE)
FINDING NEVERLAND
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

MUSIC (SONG)
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
“Al Otro Lado Del Río”
Music and Lyric by Jorge Drexler

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
THE SEA INSIDE
Spain
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar

Pictures from the Red Carpet: (courtesy of Steve Granitz)

Salma Hayek
Scarlett Johansson
Penelope Cruz Natalie Portman
Orlando Bloom Hilary Swank
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
Halle Berry
Gwyneth Paltrow Charlize Theron
Emmy Rossum Drew Barrymore
Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet
Virginia Madsen Taryn Manning
Catalina Sandino Moreno
Salma Hayek
Carlos Santana Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith