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Volume 68, Issue 118, Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

'Chicago' big winner, 'Pianist' close second

By Geronimo Rodriguez
The Daily Cougar

Chicago danced away from the 75th Academy Awards with six "gold-dipped Ken dolls," while The Pianist lit up the Kodak Theater with a couple surprises. But celebrities made most of the noise Sunday by sealing acceptance speeches with fervent opinions about the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Adrian Brody won the award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a brilliant Jewish pianist forced to live in the Warsaw ghetto in The Pianist at the 75th Annual Academy Awards.

Photo courtesy of ABC-13

After a lot of talk about Hollywoodis lack of respect for soldiers on the waris front line, why did the ceremony even go on?

Nicole Kidman, who grabbed the best actress award for her role as Virginia Woolf in the depressing yet intriguing The Hours, justified her presence by saying, "because art is important and because you believe in what you do."

Just about every Oscar winner sprinkled their words with anti-war sentiment, but documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who won his first Oscar for this yearis Bowling for Columbine, pounded home his resistance toward the Bush administration.

"We live in a time where we have a man whois sending us to war for fictitious reasons," Moore said over boos mixed with applause. "We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you."

After stealing a kiss from Halle Berry, first-time Oscar winner Adrien Brody, who earned the best actor award, had Hollywoodis finest on their feet.

Brody said his experience with making The Pianist ­ a film based the life of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman ­ "made me very aware of the sadness and dehumanization of people in times of war, and the repercussions of war."

"And whether you believe in God or Allah, may he watch over you, and letis pray for a peaceful and swift resolution," he said.

Brody beat out Hollywood heavyweights Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt), Nicolas Cage (Adaptation), Michael Caine (The Quiet American) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York).

Brody also praised the movieis director, Roman Polanski. Polanski, who left the United States 26 years ago for France to keep from going to jail for a statutory rape conviction, grabbed the Oscar for best director. It was his first Oscar and fourth nomination.

For obvious reasons, Polanski couldnit make it, but those who were, including fellow nominees Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York), Rob Marshall (Chicago), Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her) and Stephen Daldry (The Hours), gave the U.S. fugitive a rousing standing ovation.

But even though Polanski was a no-show, Brodyis lip-lock with Berry was enough to catapult this ceremony into one of the most memorable in recent years.

The Pianist also grabbed awards for best adapted screenplay (Ronald Harwood).

One of the yearis biggest films, Chicago, which was nominated for 13 awards, earned six Oscars, including best picture and best supporting actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Before an eight-month-pregnant Zeta-Jones gave her first Oscar acceptance speech, she team up with Queen Latifah, whom Steve Martin called "sequel money," to perform best-song-nominated "I Move On."

Even though Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and Zeta-Jones have attributed Chicagois success to Rob Marshall, the filmis director didnit get a chance to thank them in return. When on stage up for the best picture award, Marshall let the filmis producer, Marty Richards, have the microphone. Unfortunately, Richards never gave it up.

Marshallis film also garnered awards for best film editing, best sound, best costume design and best art direction.

Another one of Miramaxis much-hyped films, Gangs of New York, didnit fare too well.

Despite being nominated for 10 awards, including best director (Scorsese), Gangs failed to bully its way to the stage for an award.

The movie took a pounding by critics, who said Scorsese handled too much. Others disagreed, saying critics and viewers have begun to take Scorseseis films for granted.

Either way, like Alfred Hitchcock, Scorseseis brilliant storytelling may never gain Oscaris approval.

The Academy was expected to keep Scorsese sitting. But Oscar should be commended for rewarding Polanski and Brody for a film that amplifies one of the most horrific stages ever reached in the history of war.

For a second, it seemed as if a flashy Chicago would overshadow some of the yearis more cinematic feats. But truth prevailed for the most part.

In the coming years, letis just hope Oscar can warm up to the likes of Salma Hayek. Judging from her looks, it shouldnit be too hard.

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