SCMP Thursday, February 15, 2001

12-time nominated Gladiator battles Crouching Tiger


Gladiator, Hollywood's hi-tech return to the glories of Rome, led Academy Awards contenders yesterday with 12 nominations, including best picture, actor and director, beating Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which received 10 nominations including best picture and best director.
The other best picture nominees were French romance Chocolat, legal drama Erin Brockovich and the gritty drug-war saga, Traffic.
Steven Soderbergh had two directing nominations, for Erin Brockovich and Traffic.
The other director nominees were Stephen Daldry of New Zealand for Billy Elliot, Ang Lee of Taiwan for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ridley Scott for Gladiator.
Besides best picture, Gladiator, the first Roman battle spectacle since the genre fell out of favour in the 1960s, won nominations for New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe and supporting actor Joaquin Phoenix. Hans Zimmer's score was also nominated, and the computer wizardry Ridley Scott's crew used to recreate ancient Rome was honoured with a nod for visual effects.
Along with Crowe, the actor nominees were Spain's Javier Bardem for Before Night Falls, a film biography of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas; Tom Hanks as a man stranded on an island in Cast Away; Ed Harris for Pollock, a film biography of abstract painter Jackson Pollock; and Geoffrey Rush of Australia as the asylum-bound Marquis de Sade in Quills.
Best actress nominees were Joan Allen as a vice-presidential nominee in The Contender; France's Juliette Binoche as an itinerant chocolatier in Chocolat; Ellen Burstyn as a diet-pill addict in Requiem for a Dream; Laura Linney as a sister coping with her prodigal brother in You Can Count On Me; and Julia Roberts as a tart-tongued legal aide in Erin Brockovich. Binoche and Burstyn are past Oscar winners.
Snubbed for a best-actress nomination was Icelandic pop singer Bjork, who made her film debut in the musical Dancer in the Dark. However, Bjork did score a nomination for best song.
Production company Miramax, always a strong Oscars contender, gained a best-picture nomination for Chocolat, which had been considered a long shot.
The Oscars will be presented on March 25 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles by host Steve Martin.