Oscars create Hollywood history

By Kenneth Baumbach
April 4, 2002

The 74th annual Academy Awards ceremony was held in Hollywood, California for the first time in 42 years. It was a night filled with tension and left many of the nominees on the edge of their seat, waiting to see who won the movie industry’s most prestigious awards.

“Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” lead the nominations with 13. Other heavily nominated films included “A Beautiful Mind,” “Moulin Rouge” and “Pearl Harbor.”

History was made when Halle Berry became the first black actress to earn an Oscar for her performance in “Monster’s Ball.” Berry’s speech was full of emotion and tears. “Oh, my God,” Berry said.

“This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Danbridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has the chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

Denzel Washington won best actor for his role in the movie “Training Day.” Washington is the second African-American in history to win best actor. The only other was Sidney Poitier, who received the best-actor Oscar for 1964’s “Lilies of the Field.”

Poitier received a career-achievement award the very same night. “Two birds in one night,” joked Washington. “Forty years I’ve been chasing Sidney. They finally give it to me and they give it to him the same night,” he said.

Best supporting actor and actress went to performers who played altruistic spouses in their movies. Jim Broadbent won for his role as a husband who tended to novelist Iris Murdoch, who died of Alzheimer’s disease, in “Iris.” Jennifer Connelly took home an Oscar for her portrayal as the steadfast wife of the Nobel-Prize winning mathematician John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind.”

“A Beautiful Mind” won an Oscar for best screenplay based on material previously produced or published.

Many felt that “Lord of the Rings” should have won. “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings,” did however, walk away with four awards of its own, including: best cinematography, best make-up, best visual effects, and best original score.

After a two-year hiatus from hosting the awards, Whoopie Goldberg returned to host the ceremony. The actress-comedian made a surprise entrance, flying in from the ceiling on a trapeze, dressed in an outfit that resembled the award-winning costumes used in “Moulin Rouge.”

Changes were made at this year’s Oscars that may forever change the shape of the awards ceremonies and the future winners. . With new winners etched in the record books, countless memories were made that night that will be cherished for many years.

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Kenneth Baumbach

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