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13 Is <I>Lord of the Rings'</i> Lucky Number

12 Feb, 2002 By: Staff Reporter

The fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring led the Academy Award field Tuesday with 13 nominations -- best picture, director and supporting actor among them.

Other best-picture nominees were A Beautiful Mind, a dramatization of math genius John Nash's struggle with schizophrenia; the class-war satire and murder mystery Gosford Park; In the Bedroom, a low-budget tale of family tragedy and vengeance; and Moulin Rouge, a tragicomic musical set in 1899 Paris.

A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge were tied for second place with eight nominations each, including acting nominations for Moulin Rouge's Nicole Kidman and A Beautiful Mind's Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly.

The film with the most nominations often wins best picture come Oscar night. But many of the nominations for Lord of the Rings were for technical achievements such as visual effects, sound, costume design and editing. A sprawling fantasy adventure has never won top Oscar honors, so Lord of the Rings could come away with the most trophies while missing out on best picture.

Besides Crowe, who stars as Nash in A Beautiful Mind, the best actor nominees were Sean Penn as a retarded father seeking custody of his daughter in I Am Sam; Will Smith as boxer Muhammad Ali in Ali; Denzel Washington as a rakish bad cop in Training Day; and Tom Wilkinson as a vigilante father in In the Bedroom.

It was the first time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated two blacks for best actor. Washington has received four Oscar nominations previously and won a supporting-actor Oscar for Glory.

Along with Kidman, best-actress nominees were Halle Berry as an executed inmate's widow in Monster's Ball; Judi Dench as British writer Iris Murdoch for Iris; Sissy Spacek as a grieving mother in In the Bedroom; and Renee Zellweger as a Londoner haplessly seeking romance in Bridget Jones's Diary.

For Zellweger it was a rare instance where the academy singled out a comic performance.

Contenders for supporting actor are Jim Broadbent as writer Iris Murdoch's husband in Iris; Ethan Hawke as a rookie narcotics detective in Training Day; Ben Kingsley as a volatile mobster in Sexy Beast; Ian McKellen as an imposing wizard in Lord of the Rings; and Jon Voight as sportscaster Howard Cosell in Ali.

McKellen, the only actor from Rings to be nominated, said he was proud to represent the film. "It's so massive in terms of what it looks like and the story it's telling," McKellen told E! Entertainment Television. "The academy has followed the good taste of the public and discerned that this is an important film."

Up for supporting actress with Connelly, who plays mathematician Nash's wife in A Beautiful Mind are Helen Mirren as a coolly efficient housekeeper and Maggie Smith as a flighty, pampered relation in Gosford Park; Marisa Tomei as a single mom involved with a younger man in In the Bedroom; and Kate Winslet as writer Iris Murdoch in her younger years in Iris.

The best director nominees: Robert Altman, Gosford Park; Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind; Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings; David Lynch, Mulholland Drive; and Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down.

The record for most nominations is held by 1950's All About Eve and 1997's Titanic, which had 14 mentions each and wins totaling six and 11, respectively. Other films with 13 nominations include Gone With the Wind (1939), Forrest Gump (1994) and Shakespeare in Love (1998).

Moulin Rouge was the first live-action musical to land a best picture nomination since All That Jazz in 1979. The animated musical Beauty and the Beast was nominated for best picture in 1991. The last musical to win the top Oscar was Oliver! in 1968.

Nominated in the academy's new animated feature category were Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Monsters, Inc. and Shrek.

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