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THE OSCARS

Oscargo

March 25, 2001|SUSAN KING

Joaquin Phoenix is nominated for best supporting actor as Commodus in "Gladiator." Christopher Plummer played the role of Commodus in the 1964 spectacle "The Fall of the Roman Empire."

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"Gladiator" best actor nominee Russell Crowe once guest-starred on the Australian TV series "The Late Show," playing someone called Shirty, the Slightly Aggressive Bear.

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Three of this year's best picture nominees, "Traffic," "Chocolat" and "Gladiator," have one-word titles. Over the years, several one-word title films won the best film Oscars including "Wings," "Cimarron," "Cavalcade," "Rebecca," "Hamlet," "Marty," "Oliver!," "Patton, "Rocky," "Gandhi," "Amadeus," "Platoon," "Unforgiven," "Braveheart" and "Titanic."

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Tom Hanks isn't the first actor to be nominated for playing a castaway on a deserted island. Dan O'Herlihy was nominated for best actor for playing Daniel Defoe's legendary Robinson Crusoe in Luis Bunuel's "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" (1954).

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Benicio Del Toro, a supporting actor nominee for "Traffic," made his film debut in 1988's "Big Top Pee-wee," playing Duke the Dog-Faced Boy.

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This year's host, Steve Martin, was the star and writer of the 1977 Oscar-nominated live action short "The Absent-Minded Waiter."

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Documentary short nominee "The Man on Lincoln's Nose" profiles 91-year-old production designer Robert Boyle. Boyle himself received four Oscar nominations during his career: "The Shootist," "North by Northwest," "Gaily, Gaily" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

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Say what you want about how myopic Hollywood is, but when it comes to the Oscars, it sure helps to be from out of town. Starting with "Wings," 1927's best picture (set and shot in Texas), Oscar voters have overwhelmingly preferred pictures that were filmed far away--the farther the better. India ("Gandhi"), Kenya ("Out of Africa"), Austria ("Amadeus") and Jordan ("Lawrence of Arabia") are the kind of spots academy voters like in a best picture. This year they're lucky--they have China, France, ancient Rome and Mexico represented among the nominees. Even New York fares better than Los Angeles--"Annie Hall," "Kramer vs. Kramer," "The Apartment," "Midnight Cowboy." . . . Even the biting Broadway tale "All About Eve" beat out the movie-biz noir "Sunset Boulevard" of 1950.

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If Tom Hanks wins for "Cast Away," he'll be the only actor to win three Academy Awards for best actor. Walter Brennan received three best supporting Oscars ("Come and Get It," "Kentucky" and "The Westerner"), and Jack Nicholson has won two best actor awards ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "As Good as It Gets") and one for best supporting actor ("Terms of Endearment").

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Best actress nominee Joan Allen ("The Contender") was voted most likely to succeed at Rochelle Township High School in Rochelle, Ill.

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Supporting actor nominee Willem Dafoe ("Shadow of the Vampire") made his film debut in 1980's "Heaven's Gate," which also starred supporting actor nominee Bridges.

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At the time known as Ellen McRae, best actress nominee Ellen Burstyn ("Requiem for a Dream") appeared as Dr. Kate Bartok on the NBC daytime serial "The Doctors" in 1964-65.

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Supporting actress nominee Judi Dench ("Chocolat") won the 1998 best supporting actress Oscar for her eight-minute performance as Queen Elizabeth in "Shakespeare in Love."

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With a best actor nomination as artist Jackson Pollock, Ed Harris follows in the footsteps of Jose Ferrer and Kirk Douglas, who were nominated in this category for playing famous painters. Ferrer was nominated for his Toulouse-Lautrec in 1952's "Moulin Rouge," and Douglas for his Vincent van Gogh in 1956's "Lust for Life." Anthony Quinn, who played Paul Gauguin, won best supporting actor for "Lust for Life."

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Supporting actress nominee Julie Walters ("Billy Elliot") originally trained to be a nurse.

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Albert Finney ("Erin Brockovich") is the oldest best supporting actor nominee this year. He'll be 65 in May.

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Supporting actress nominees Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock") and Frances McDormand ("Almost Famous") made their film debuts in Joel and Ethan Coen movies. Harden began in "Miller's Crossing" and McDormand in "Blood Simple." McDormand is married to Joel Coen, who, with brother Ethan, is up for an Oscar for adapted screenplay for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

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Ed Harris is one of a handful of actors who have directed themselves to nominations for best actor. Only two performers have directed themselves to best actor Oscars: Laurence Olivier for 1948's "Hamlet," and Roberto Benigni for 1998's "Life Is Beautiful."

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Supporting actor nominee Jeff Bridges ("The Contender") made his film debut as a baby being held by Jane Greer in the 1950 film "The Company She Keeps."

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This year's Governors Ball will reflect the early years of filmmaking. The foyer at the Shrine Exposition Hall will feature hand-painted columns and wall coverings. Guests will be seated at hexagonal tables and the upholstered chair backs will have tuft-button accents. Floral centerpieces will evoke the Edwardian era.

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Javier Bardem, honored for his role as gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in "Before Night Falls," is the first Spanish actor to be nominated for a best actor Oscar.

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