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OSCARS

The Harveys

Weinstein's Miramax dominates the lineup with 40 nominations.

February 12, 2003|Robert W. Welkos and Susan King | Times Staff Writers

And the Oscar goes to ... Harvey Weinstein. * Love him or loathe him -- and many in Hollywood do both -- the gregarious, burly co-chairman of Miramax Films had a hand in 40 Academy Award nominations Tuesday, including three of the five best picture nominations: "Chicago," "Gangs of New York" and "The Hours." * Miramax dominated the numbers game on a day filled with other intriguing developments, including a nomination for a director who's a fugitive from justice (Roman Polanski of "The Pianist") , a screenplay nod for a writer who doesn't exist (Donald Kaufman of "Adaptation") and even an animated film honor for one of the year's biggest box office bombs, Disney's "Treasure Planet." * On the acting front, Meryl Streep made Oscar history when she received her 13th nomination, edging past screen legend Katharine Hepburn. Jack Nicholson moved into position to win his fourth Academy Award, which would be the most for any actor. Paul Newman proved at 78 that he still has the chops -- and the blue eyes -- to land a best supporting actor bid, for "Road to Perdition." * Tuesday's nominations marked a rousing conclusion to a sometimes difficult year for Miramax Films. Derailed by failed acquisitions like "Pinocchio," costly flops such as "Below" and "They," budget overruns on "Gangs of New York" and unflat-tering media attention, Miramax still garnered more nominations than any other studio. Weinstein's company financed "Chicago," and co-financed "Gangs of New York" and "The Hours." He and his brother, Miramax Co-Chairman Bob Weinstein, also are listed in the credits as executive producers of "The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers." The only best picture nominee without a Weinstein connection is Focus Features' "The Pianist."

Miramax's 40 nominations constitute the biggest Oscar haul for one studio in nearly three decades, but they fall short of a record. United Artists holds that honor with 45 nominations in 1940. But working for Miramax isn't a walk in the park for filmmakers, as director Martin Scorsese learned in his battles with Weinstein in bringing "Gangs of New York" to the screen. Still, after the film received 10 Oscar nominations Tuesday, Scorsese used the opportunity to toss a bouquet to the Miramax mogul.

"He's a showman," said Scorsese, who received a best director nomination. "I think he's in the tradition of ... David O. Selznick, who made these extraordinary films that people argue about today, that have flaws in them but are the essence of Hollywood's Golden Age. In a certain sense, Weinstein is going in the same direction in the modern world."

Weinstein, who was part of a group that tried unsuccessfully to shift part of the Oscars show to New York, issued a modest statement on the nominations windfall: "Everything is cyclical. Thankfully things worked out for us this year."

Overall, "Chicago" had the most razzle-dazzle with members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who honored the film with 13 nominations, including Renee Zellweger for best actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah for supporting actress, John C. Reilly for supporting actor and Rob Marshall for director. No musical has received so many nominations since 1964's "Mary Poppins" -- and no musical has won the best picture Oscar since 1968's "Oliver!"

Other best actress nods

Joining Zellweger in the best actress category are Salma Hayek for her performance as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in "Frida," Nicole Kidman as emotionally devastated novelist Virginia Woolf in "The Hours," Julianne Moore as a troubled '50s housewife and mother in the melodrama "Far From Heaven" and Diane Lane as a commuting suburban adulteress in "Unfaithful."

Moore was also nominated for supporting actress in "The Hours," playing yet another troubled '50s housewife and mother.

"It's insane, it's absolutely insane," the actress said in Los Angeles of her double nomination. A day after "The Hours" had premiered in London, Kidman was on the phone Tuesday discussing her second consecutive Oscar nomination. "Oh my God, oh my God!" she said giddily. "I'm smiling." In Paris, where she is promoting "Frida," a Miramax film she helped produce, Hayek was emotional as she spoke on the phone Tuesday morning. "I have not stopped crying," she said. The first actress of Mexican descent to be nominated in this category said the dreams of her family were riding on her performance: "I don't want to disappoint them."

Like Hayek, Lane is a first-time nominee. The former child star poignantly recalled that her father, who died a year ago, got to see "Unfaithful" and told her "she rang the bell." Lane added: "He said, 'You may go all the way, baby.' "

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