New Line’s Tolkien tale tops ‘Moulin’ & ‘Mind’

Everybody was talkin’ Tolkien on Tuesday as New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” nabbed 13 Oscar nominations, including best picture. Only two films have earned more (“All About Eve” and “Titanic,” with 14 each) and six other pics have whipped up a baker’s dozen.
Runners-up, with eight each, were Universal/DreamWorks’ “A Beautiful Mind” and 20th Century Fox’s “Moulin Rouge.”

Those three films will compete in the pic race against USA Films’ “Gosford Park” and Miramax’s “In the Bedroom,” which earned seven and five bids, respectively.

In general, voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences spread the wealth: Every studio had nominations in key categories (which is rarer than one would think).

“Bedroom” marks Miramax’s 11th best film nomination in 10 years, thus beating WB’s record of 10 noms in 10 years (1955-64). “Bedroom” was also nominated for adapted script, meaning 25 noms in the writing races since 1989. With “Amelie,” the studio also chalks up its 20th foreign-language film nom in 14 years.

In terms of domestic distribs, Miramax has 15 bids, New Line has 14; Disney, Fox and Universal, nine each (U also shares in the nom for “Bridget Jones’s Diary” with Miramax and Studio Canal); USA, Sony and Warner Bros., eight apiece; MGM/UA and Paramount, two each. DreamWorks has two solo, and shares in the eight for “Mind.” Two genuine indies, Lions Gate and Newmarket, each nabbed a pair.

New Line co-chairman/co-CEO Michael Lynne said Tuesday, “Audiences have had their say all over the world, and now to have this kind of acknowledgement, across all disciplines, is a special kind of gratification.”

USA Films also has a great showing. Not yet 3 years old, the company has had at least five noms each year, with a director bid each year, and two film bids.

The five film contenders rep a wide range of genres: fantasy, drama, comedy-mystery and musical. And they offer a wide range of budgets and box office results, from pricey B.O. bonanzas to small budgets and modest (so far) grossers.

Oscar noms always offer some surprises, and this year was no exception. “Rouge” got a picture nom though director Baz Luhrmann failed to make the final five; conversely, Ridley Scott was nominated as helmer of Sony/Revolution’s “Black Hawk Down,” though his picture wasn’t cited. (In Academy history, however, there are only three years when there was a five-for-five correlation of picture and director).

Reached in Miami on Tuesday, Luhrmann was upbeat, celebrating the noms for his “Rouge” co-workers: “The most important thing about this film was to find a way to make the musical work again. That’s all that matters. The audiences discovered it and now our colleagues have celebrated it.”

As for his helming omission, he shrugged, “It’s a little disappointing, but all those five directors have done remarkable work.”

“Gosford Park” and “Amelie” did well, while Disney/Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” nabbed four noms. And there was good news for plenty of hopefuls who were far from shoo-ins, including director David Lynch, actors Renee Zellweger, Sean Penn, Ethan Hawke and Will Smith.

Drawing attention

“Monsters, Inc.,” DreamWorks’ “Shrek” and Paramount’s “Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius” will square off in one of this year’s most closely watched races: animated feature, the Acad’s first new category in 20 years. Though cel animation has been the standard for more than 60 years, it’s a sign of the times that AMPAS’ debut of the category sees nominees that are all computer animated.

The Oscar lineup clearly favored year-end releases. Last year, several multinommed films were already on DVD and VHS by the time mentions came out (“Gladiator,” “Erin Brockovich,” etc.). This year, 17 films earned multiple noms, but only four of them are on vid: “Moulin Rouge,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Memento” and “Shrek.”

Universal chairman Stacey Snider paid tribute to such colleagues as Nikki Rocco and Mark Shmuger in talking about the success of “Mind,” and saluted Scott Greenstein “at our new sister company” USA Films. And she had special praise for “Mind” helmer Ron Howard. She said the film’s subject matter, genre and period setting made it “scary. But Ron was the thing that I held onto as a security blanket; I knew that he would bring out its humanity and its universal elements.”

“Mind” marks the second consecutive pic nod for Universal/DreamWorks (after “Gladiator”), and the fourth consecutive for DreamWorks. The company has had a pic contender in each of the four full years that it’s been a distributor.

Speaking about “Rouge,” Fox chairman Tom Rothman smiled, “To say we were an underdog is an understatement. Our goal all along was to get members of the Academy to see the movie and make their minds up.” The eight noms indicate “the widespread affection for the movie across a lot of branches of the Academy. People appreciate it for its audacity and originality.”

Miramax co-chair Harvey Weinstein said of his company’s record run of film bids, “The whole streak is a credit to the Academy, because the films are so diverse, ranging from ‘Il Postino’ to ‘The English Patient’ to ‘Bedroom,’ which I think cost $2 million.”

Familiar competish

This marks the fourth consecutive faceoff between Miramax and DreamWorks. Weinstein said he and Jeffrey Katzenberg would celebrate by having dinner together Tuesday: “We’re going to make it an annual event.”

Weinstein added that “Bedroom” widens to 1,000 screens from 700 on Friday and Miramax has the film “in a number of territories overseas.” The film will broaden soon in such areas as England, Australia and Latin America

Similarly, USA chairman Greenstein noted that “Gosford Park” is on 800 screens and continues to widen. The company has been beating the drum for the pic for months. “We started screening it in September. We believed in the movie and let it speak for itself.”

This year’s derby also marks the debut of Joe Roth’s Revolution Pictures.

Pic contenders “Gosford” and “Rouge” are from original screenplays; “Mind” and “Rings” are adapted from books; and “Bedroom” is based on a short story. “Rouge” is the only one of the five that failed to get a screenplay nom. But each of the quintet has at least one acting nomination.

“Rouge” and “Rings” were filmed Down Under, “Gosford” in the U.K.; “Mind” and “Bedroom” are domestic.

“Amelie” was handed five mentions, the highest for any foreign-language film this year. Miramax’s “Iris” earned bids for actors Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet. Winslet plays the younger version of Iris Murdoch, Dench’s character. It’s deja vu for Winslet: She and Gloria Stuart similarly were nommed for playing the same character in “Titanic.”

It’s also interesting that Dench and Broadbent share most of their scenes, though she’s nominated as lead while he’s in supporting. Similarly, Jennifer Connelly is cited as supporting, though the Screen Actors Guild Awards put her in the lead race.

With $670 million globally, “Rings” is the highest-grossing pic nominee. The top-grossing films worldwide during calendar 2001 that were Oscar-eligible: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Shrek,” “Pearl Harbor,” “The Mummy Returns,” “Jurassic Park III,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Hannibal,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Rush Hour 2” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

There were three bids for “Harry,” two for “Shrek,” four for “Pearl” and one for “Bridget.” The others went home empty-handed.

Staking early lead

The film with the most noms has ended up winning the best picture prize in 18 of the last 20 years (and nine of the past 10). But, for the other four pics, there’s always hope: 1992’s “Silence of the Lambs” was not even runner-up in the nom count and it went on to win the top five prizes.

Last year, there was a heavy presence of Asians in many races, thanks to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” There were also Hispanics in key races, such as Benicio Del Toro and Javier Bardem.

This year, the actors’ roster is overwhelmingly Caucasian, but it’s the third time in Academy history that three blacks have been cited in the thesp categories. (Oscar results only reflect the state of filmmaking, particularly in Hollywood. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, for example, reinforced their popularity in “Rush Hour 2,” but nobody was predicting Oscar noms for either one.)

As previously announced, Arthur Hiller will receive the Hersholt Humanitarian Award, while Sidney Poitier and Robert Redford will receive another honorary nod.

Awards will be presented March 24, in ceremonies hosted by Whoopi Goldberg at the new Kodak Theater at the Hollywood & Highland complex. Event, produced by Laura Ziskin, will air live on ABC.

Nominations were announced Tuesday at 5:38 a.m. PT at Academy headquarters in BevHills by Acad president Frank Pierson and last year’s supporting actress winner Marcia Gay Harden.

This year, 248 films were eligible. Films must have had a commercial run of at least seven consecutive days beginning during calendar year 2001 in L.A. County. Other categories, including docu, foreign-language, animated feature and short film, have different eligibility rules.

This year, the Acad has 5,739 voting members in 15 branches; the largest single branch is actor, 1,315; the smallest is documentarians, 110. Final ballots will be mailed Feb. 27, with polls closing March 19.

Top to bottom:
‘Lord of the Rings,’ 13
“A Beautiful Mind” 8
“Moulin Rouge” 8
“Gosford Park” 7
“Amelie” 5
“In the Bedroom” 5
“Black Hawk Down” 4
“Monsters, Inc.” 4
“Pearl Harbor” 4
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” 3
“Iris” 3
“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” 2
“Ali” 2
“Memento” 2
“Monster’s Ball” 2
“Shrek” 2
“Training Day” 2