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Oscarlicious nominations

Every year, the Academy Awards represent the ultimate union of art and business, combining talented filmmakers with ruthless marketers to win the coveted Academy nominations.

As always, things do not go as expected. Announced yesterday, leading the 2002 nominees is last year’s surprise financial blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, earning thirteen nominations including best picture, best director, best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay.

Others in the best picture category include the expected favorites Moulin Rouge and A Beautiful Mind, along with In The Bedroom, the indie favorite that continues Miramax’s nomination streak and the Robert Altman film Gosford Park.

The best actor category is as many people predicted, with the notable inclusion of Sean Penn for I Am Sam. Accompanying Mr. Penn are the favorites Russell Crowe, nominated for the third year in a row, Will Smith for Ali, Tom Wilkinson for In The Bedroom and the underdog favorite Denzel Washington for Training Day.

There were few surprises in the best actress category. Nominated three out of the last four years, Judi Dench was nominated for her performance in Iris, along with Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball, Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rouge, Sissy Spacek for In The Bedroom and Renee Zellwegger for Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Best directing nominations were quite surprising, with only three nominees-Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind, Robert Altman for Gosford Park and Peter Jackson for Ringsñalso appearing in the best picture category. It is rare for a film not nominated for best director to win best picture. The shocking vacancies of Baz Luhrman (Moulin Rouge) and Todd Field (In The Bedroom) were filled by Ridley Scott for Black Hawk Down and David Lynch for Mulholland Drive.

Nominated for the new category, best animated feature, were favorites Shrek, Monster’s Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Waking Life, the Richard Linklater film, was on
several critics’ best-of-the-year list, but failed to even get a nomination in this category.

Best foreign film nominations included favorites Amelie from France and No Man’s Land from Bosnia, as well as Elling from Norway, Lagaan from India and Son of the Bride from Argentina.

What does it all mean? Even before the awards
ceremony on March 24, the nominations say a great deal about the opinions of
mainstream Hollywood. Lord of the Rings is the winner of the day, even earning a surprise best supporting actor nomination for Ian McKellen. A Beautiful Mind, the leading favorite for which DreamWorks has been spending volumes promoting, received every nomination expected. In contrast, Moulin Rouge and In The Bedroom, which lost the critical best director nomination, are already at a disadvantage.

And, this is to say nothing of Memento, Waking Life, Ghost World and The Man Who Wasn’t There, all indie films that the Academy has once again turned its back on.

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