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Special Event

2001: An Oscar Odyssey: Nominations Announced Today

Aired February 13, 2001 - 8:30 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN ANCHOR: Sorry to stop that music, but good morning, everybody, and welcome to "2001: AN OSCAR ODYSSEY," our special report on the nominations for the 73rd Academy Awards. I'm Laurin Sydney in New York.

The Shuttle astronauts are high above earth on a space odyssey, but for our Oscar, we're heading to Beverly Hills, where a very important announcement is just minutes away.

For that, let's go to Paul Vercammen, at Academy headquarters.

Good morning, Paul, I know it's early, but it's worth it.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is early, Laurin, about 5:30 here in the morning. It's still dark outside, but the starlight will bask in here soon.

Tremendous sense of anticipation. For weeks now, we've heard the names being bandied around, perhaps Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts will get a nomination this nomination. Well, now in this town, it is absolutely time to start naming names.

And we'll take a look at now some of those folks who might be mentioned during this morning's nominations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): "Gladiator" battling in the arena and "Erin Brockovich" fighting a huge company lead a list of Academy Award contenders for best picture. "Gladiator" won the Golden Globe for best movie drama, while rock 'n' roll "Almost Famous" won the Globe's best musical or comedy.

Also in the hut, "Chocolat," with Juliette Binoche tempting a small French town, the Chinese martial arts epic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the complex drug trade story "Traffic," and underdog English dancer "Billy Elliot," played by Jamie Bell.

JAMIE BELL, ACTOR: I think it's all just a lot of hot air, really. I mean,. it would be very nice, and be deeply honored to receive a nomination, but we don't expect it -- it's a small British film that has done well. But Academy Award is way out of our minds for the minute. VERCAMMEN: In the best actress category, eyebrows will raise higher than Erin Brockovich's hemline if Julia Roberts doesn't get nominated. Others possible: Laura Linney in "You Can Count on Me," "Clocalat"'s Binoche, Joan Allen as a vice presidential nominee in "The Contenter," and Ellen Burstyn as a diet pill addict in "Requiem for a Dream."

ELLEN BURSTYN, ACTOR: Well, it was difficult and challenging and hard and uncomfortable, but I lived it.

VERCAMMEN: Best actor names being bandied about: "Gladiator"'s Crowe; two long shots: Javier Bardem in "Before Night Falls" and Billy Elliot's Bell; Michael Douglas as a college professor in "Wonderboys"; Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade in "Quills"; and Tom Hanks, marooned in "Castaway."

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Oh, it's just shoddy gossip, just talk, my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I watched "Castaway" last night, and I had it easy compared to Tom Hanks.

VERCAMMEN: As for supporting actor buzz, we're hearing "Gladiator"'s Joaquin Phoenix; "Traffic"'s Benicio Del Toro; if it's not rules a lead role, Albert Finney as "Erin Brockovich"'s lawyer boss; both Jeff Bridges and Gary Oldman for "The Contender," and the edgy Willem Dafoe in "Shadow of the Vampire."

WILLEM DAFOE, ACTOR: I'm interested in things with ambiguity, and it may be a strange flavor, but I don't think of what I do as strange.

VERCAMMEN: Best supporting actress favorites include "Chocolat"'s Judi Dench; Julie Walters as "Billy Elliot"'s teacher; Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Traffic"; Kate Winslet in "Quills"; Frances McDormand and Golden Globe winner Kate Hudson for "Almost Famous.

KATE HUDSON, ACTOR: It's the greatest thing when people respond to a movie you loved to make and everybody felt so strongly about.

VERCAMMEN: As for director, Academy Award rules permit Steven Soderbergh to be nominated for both "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich."

STEVEN SODERBERGH, DIRECTOR: A year ago, we were having trouble getting the money for "Traffic," "Erin" wasn't released yet, and -- so this is -- it's been quite a 12 months.

VERCAMMEN: Other directing hopefuls include "Crouching Tiger"'s Ann Lee, the Golden Globe winner; "Chocolat"'s Lasse Halstrom; Cameron Crowe from "Almost Famous"; and "Gladiator"'s Ridley Scott.

Let the games and nominations begin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And now back here live, of course, there will be some surprises, and we're going to hear all about them as well as some of those that were lots (ph) in a moment. So stay with us in "2001, AN OSCAR ODYSSEY." Don't touch that dial.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SYDNEY: For some an Oscar odyssey is about to begin and for others, it's about to end. We will know in a couple of minutes who is nominated for this year's Academy Awards.

And for all the important announcements, let's go back to Paul Vercammen, in Beverly Hills.

VERCAMMEN: Laurin, they are moving briskly here this morning. You might have heard that: 30 seconds to go here. They're going to name nine of the 23 categories. They're going to name all the major acting categories and director and best picture.

Some of the movies that you may hear named a few times this morning: "Gladiator" stands to be a favorite; also "Erin Brockovich," with Julia Roberts; "Traffic" is a movie that could get multiple nominations; as well as "Chocolat."

Kathy Bates is going to announce this, as well as Robert Rehme -- he is the president of the Academy.

ROBERT REHME, ACADEMY PRESIDENT: Good morning, I'm Robert Rehme, president of the Academy.

Before we reveal the nominees for the 73rd annual Academy Awards, I'd like to introduce our co-announcer this morning. Please welcome my fellow Academy officer, the truly wonderfully talented, Oscar- wining actress Kathy Bates.

KATHY BATES, OSCAR WINNER: Thank you, Bob. Good morning, everyone.

The year 2000 nominees for best performance by actor in a supporting role are: Jeff Bridges in the "Contender"; "Willem Dafoe" in "Shadow of the Vampire"; Benicio Del Toro in "Traffic"; Albert Finney in "Erin Brockvich"; and Joaquin Phoenix in "Gladiator" -- Bob.

REHME: Thank you.

For best performance by an actress in a supporting role, the nominees are: Judi Dench in "Chocolat"; Marcia Gay Harden in "Pollack"; Kate Hudson in "Almost Famous"; Frances McDormand in "Almost Famous"; and Julie Walters in "Billy Elliot."

BATES: The nominees for best performance by an actor in a leading role are: Javier Bardem in "Before Night Falls"; Russell Crowe in "Gladiator"; Tom Hanks, "Cast Away"; Ed Harris in "Pollock"; and Geoffrey Rush in "Quills."

REHME: For best performance by and actress in a leading role the nominees are: Joan Allen in "The Contender"; Juliette Binoche in "Chocolat"; Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem for a Dream"; Laura Linney in "You Can Count On Me; and Julia Roberts in "Erin Brockovich."

BATES: In the category of best achievement in directing: Stephen Daldry for "Billy Elliot"; Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; Steven Soderbergh for "Erin Brockovich"; Ridley Scott for "Gladiator"; and Steven Soderbergh for "Traffic."

REHME: For best screenplay written directly for the screen, the nominees are: "Almost Famous," Cameron Crowe; "Billy Elliot," Lee Hall; "Erin Brockovich," Susannah Grant; "Gladiator," David Franzoni and John Logan and William Nicholson; "You Can Count On Me," Kenneth Lonergan.

BATES: Screenplay based on material previously produced or published: "Chocolat," Robert Nelson Jacobs; "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; Wang Hui Ling and James Schamus and Tsai Kuo Jung; "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," Ethan Coen & Joel Coen; "Traffic," Stephen Gaghan; "Wonder Boys," Steve Kloves.

REHME: For best foreign language film, we have: "Amores Perros," Mexico; "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Taiwan; "Divided We Fall," the Czech Republic; "Everybody Famous," Belgium; "The Taste of Others," France.

BATES: And, finally, I'm pleased to announce that the films selected as best picture for the year 2000 are: "Chocolat," David Brown, Kit Golden, and Leslie Holleran, producers; "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Bill Kong, Hsu Li Kong and Ang Lee, producers; "Erin Brockovich," Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher; "Gladiator," Douglas Wick, David Franzoni, Branko Lustig; and "Traffic," Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz and Laura Bickford producers.

REHME: Join us on Sunday, March 25th when we learn who is going to go home with Oscar. See you then!

(MUSIC)

VERCAMMEN: Well, now, back here live.

You can hear the applause here at the Academy in Beverly Hills. You might have heard applause for up to several different areas as people clapped for the movies they like. Javier Bardem got a bit of applause when he was nominated for best actor in a motion picture for "Before Night Falls." That's because there is a huge foreign press contingent here this morning.

And, of course, they root for their countrymen. The wealth was definitely spread around this morning. You heard several movies mentioned. Let's recap just in case you can't see it on your screen. For best motion picture: "Chocolat," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" -- which was also nominated, I believe, in the foreign category -- "Erin Brockovich," "Gladiator" and "Traffic." So again, a huge morning for Steven Soderbergh, who has set a record. He has become the first director to be nominated for two separate films.

In checking with the Academy, years ago, back in the 1930s, there have been instances where somebody might have been nominated as a director for a life-time achievement, a body of work. As far as anybody can remember, nobody had ever done that before. Soderbergh did that this morning with both "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich." Needless to say, he's one of the hottest commodities in town. And a lot of actors are talking about working with Soderbergh. He broke out, of course, with "Out of Sight," which included George Clooney with Jennifer Lopez.

And he's just been on a huge colossal role. This is not the first time he as been nominated, by the way. He was also nominated back, I believe, in 1990 for the screenplay for "Sex Lies and Videotape."

Let's look at some of the other major categories. If we look at -- I'm looking for acting right here. You heard some of the usual suspects. I want go back to Laurin right now. We can talk about that later.

SYDNEY: And I'm here with our "He Said, She Said" critics: Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone" and Lisa Schwarzbaum of "Entertainment Weekly."

Lisa, I've never heard you so vocal. We have been doing this for so many years. You were like a cheerleader.

But first, before we start looking into your crystal ball, please clear up the Stephen Soderbergh story. You're a historian.

(CROSSTALK)

PETER TRAVERS, "ROLLING STONE": I'm going to be very serious here. In 1938, Michael Curtiz was nominated twice for best director, but not -- his two movies didn't get nominated as best picture. Francis Coppola in 1974, nominated as best director twice only for one movie. So the record here is Steven Soderbergh is nominated twice as director and two of his movies are nominated as best picture -- never happened before.

LISA SCHWARZBAUM, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": Only boys who like baseball stats care about that.

(CROSSTALK)

SYDNEY: Let's fast forward up to 2001.

TRAVERS: Yes.

SYDNEY: Lisa, is Soderbergh a shoe-in? Should he get that tux ready?

SCHWARZBAUM: Yes, I think he should, actually. I think he deserves it. And he should get that tux ready. But what I love is that Ang Lee will also get be able to get a tux ready, because "Crouching Tiger," to me, is the story that has happened here. Critics have loved it. But it has really moved forward. Obviously, it's a huge box office hit. But to be nominated for foreign picture and for best picture is such a great coup for Ang lee. And I would love to see him there.

SYDNEY: And, Peter, who's a shoe-in for you?

TRAVERS: Well, it's not just the shoe-in. The shoe-in would be Julia Roberts, who we already know should be dressed and ready to go.

(CROSSTALK)

SYDNEY: I've seen her in jeans, Lisa.

TRAVERS: The great thing about this is that Ang Lee really does move to it, that we all love Stephen Soderbergh because of this happening for him. But he will split the vote, I believe. When you have "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich," two very popular movies with the Academy, you have to vote for one or the other. Ang Lee could move right up there.

(CROSSTALK) SCHWARZBAUM: However, as we just said, since actors love to work with Soderbergh and actors are a huge voting block, they may be casting all of their votes with Soderbergh also. So that would be a direction for him.

SYDNEY: Peter, who got the big boot?

(CROSSTALK) TRAVERS: Michael Douglas in "Wonder Boys." There's "Wonder Boys" nominated for best screenplay and everything like that. It was a very admired movie. Everybody considered that a really terrific performance. And he's not there. He's just gone.

SCHWARZBAUM: The one thing we could say about that is that it is possibly a smaller role than some of the guys who did get nominations. Tom Hanks, obviously, is all over the place, except for the volleyball. You know, Russell Crowe, it's nothing without him. Bardem is the great discovery of this season. So if somebody has to go, it always felt like Michael. That fifth category might be the place where...

SYDNEY: And you know what? He had a great year anyway.

(CROSSTALK)

TRAVERS: He did. But I protest that absence of Wilson the volleyball from the best supporting actor category.

SCHWARZBAUM: But I'm quite happy, actually, that both Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden from "Pollock," another surprise I think, because that came up at the last minute. It was only released for a week for Oscar consideration. And that did extraordinary well -- and well-deserved nominations.

SYDNEY: Peter, as an historian, did a volleyball ever get nominated? TRAVERS: A volleyball never has -- and now never will, I think.

SCHWARZBAUM: Well, that doesn't count some of the supporting actors who...

TRAVERS: We don't go there.

(LAUGHTER)

SYDNEY: Oh, Lisa.

Now, I know you haven't really had a lot of time to digest. But every year, we always see some sort of trend in the way the nominations have moved. Is there anything here?

TRAVERS: Yes, they've opened the gates, I think, to foreign language film, not just with "Crouching Tiger" happening, but Javier Bardem, nominated for "Before Night Falls." And Benicio Del Toro in "Traffic" does his whole performance in Spanish with subtitles. I mean, this is something the Academy usually says: Oh, no, we'll put that in a special category. This time saying they're saying: Come right in.

I think that's a really good sign.

SYDNEY: Lisa, do you see a trend?

SCHWARZBAUM: I think Peter is right about that. I do like the range of it. I was slightly concerned in the beginning that we were going to get a sort of "Billy Elliot"-"Chocolat" duo, which would have been too square. But the fact that "Crouching Tiger" hit that fifth place, with a great spread of what the best pictures are, it really shows a range of what the big movies were this year.

SYDNEY: OK, crystal ball time.

Peter, best picture?

TRAVERS: Best picture is "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

SYDNEY: Oh.

SCHWARZBAUM: Oh, from your lips...

TRAVERS: I'm going for that one.

SCHWARZBAUM: If it wasn't that, I think it would be "Gladiator." I think "Gladiator" has a chance to just march on through, as it has been doing all year. I would be so happy if it was "Crouching Tiger." It would be like a "Life is Beautiful" kind of year, but much better.

SYDNEY: And that's when your arms really went in the air

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZBAUM: That's right. SYDNEY: OK, Lisa, best actor?

SCHWARZBAUM: Best actor, for me, it would be Tom Hanks. It could be Russell Crowe. It could be Tom Hanks. Hanks is gaining. I mean, it's a great performance. I know he won a lot. And that's against him. But he's the goods. He always is the goods.

SYDNEY: Peter, best actor?

TRAVERS: Russell Crowe in "Gladiator." And I think that the "Gladiator" support that we're seeing here could really ride him home through this one. And he never won one before. And last year he was nominated for "The Insider" for playing something completely different for this one. So if they don't blame him for being a home wrecker with Meg Ryan, I think he should be getting dressed in

(CROSSTALK)

SYDNEY: OK. I thank you so very much.

SCHWARZBAUM: A pleasure, as always.

SYDNEY: Usually, you're pretty right with your crystal ball. But we'll find out in late March.

TRAVERS: OK.

SYDNEY: And joining me now by phone is someone -- OK, well, we are not going to go the phone. We are going go to a break -- equally as good. We'll be right back perhaps with a phoner. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SYDNEY: And we are back waltzing with Peter and Lisa through the Oscar nominations.

OK, back to the crystal ball. You both said Julia Roberts before, so I'm going to skip best actress. The "it" girl of the year was definitely Kate Hudson. Does that mean she's going to get this?

SCHWARZBAUM: No, not necessarily. I think, first of all, the supporting actress category is traditionally the most wide open. You have no idea how they're going to go. They may just decide to be wacky and go in some strange direction. Also, we have a couple of old, old warriors there. We have Judi....

TRAVERS: Old, old, old, old?

SCHWARZBAUM: Well, old, old in that...

SYDNEY: She didn't really mean that. She meant better...

SCHWARZBAUM: They look lovely, they look fabulous, and they're warriors, especially Judi Dench. We have to pause and say, once again, for whatever we think of it, that marketing machine at Miramax has done a fabulous job in getting it through. TRAVERS: Look, whatever she's saying about the marketing machine at Miramax, if there was one movie in the five nominated pictures that I could vote off the island, you know, and give that Tiki torch and say, go away, it would be "Chocolat," you know.

SCHWARZBAUM: Well, I'm with you, my friend.

TRAVERS: I would love to have "Almost Famous" in there, I'd love to have "Wonder Boys" in there, and I'd love to have "You Can Count On Me."

SCHWARZBAUM: I'd like to have "House on Mirth" -- "House of Mirth," but that's just hopeless.

SYDNEY: Lisa's favorite.

SCHWARZBAUM: Yes, it is.

SYDNEY: Since Day 1.

SCHWARZBAUM: Yes, it is. And Jillian Anderson, she was robbed. But that's another story.

SYDNEY: And what about best supporting actor? Peter, your crystal ball?

TRAVERS: Well, I mean, there I think they could go with the war horse and they could decide that it's Albert Finney. But it seems to really be Benicio Del Toro's year. And if "Traffic" is going to get something here, I think he's going to be the guy that represents it. Plus, he's really good, you know. This is nice.

SYDNEY: Lisa.

SCHWARZBAUM: I agree with you on that. If it's not him, well, I would be with you about Albert Finney. You know who I'm missing? Bruce Greenwood. I think Bruce Greenwood did a great job...

TRAVERS: With "JFK."

SCHWARZBAUM: Yes, exactly, in "13 Days." And maybe next year. He's definitely been discovered, this Canadian actor. He's fabulous.

SYDNEY: Are we going to see passion at this year's Oscars? So many people throughout the year said that the movies aren't really bringing out the passion this year.

TRAVERS: I think you'll see that passion for those of us that are really happy about "Crouching Tiger," which has made that kind of a hit. There would be passion, I think, because Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are such major movie stars. But the lack that you're seeing is that, well, Tom Hanks has all those awards. And Julia Roberts has everything else in the world.

SCHWARZBAUM: So here's...

SYDNEY: They deserve it, though.

SCHWARZBAUM: We're not going to get passion, but we are going to get Steve Martin as the host...

TRAVERS: Right. That we are.

SCHWARZBAUM: ... which will be an entirely different tone, which will be fantastic. I'm really looking forward to that. And, of course, we'll get fashion.

SYDNEY: OK. And we're going to see you both dressed for the Oscar. But right now, we're going to finish with a little bit of a wrap up. Thank you so much.

So the word is out and it is spreading fast. And here who is in the running for the Academy Awards this year.

For best picture, the nominees are: "Chocolat," even though Peter and Lisa don't agree; "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; "Erin Brockovich"; "Gladiator" and "Traffic."

Best director nominees are: Stephen Daldry for "Billy Elliot"; Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; Ridley Scott for "Gladiator"; and Steven Soderbergh for both "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic."

On the best actor list: Javier Bardem for "Before Night Falls"; "Gladiator"'s Russell Crowe; "Castaway"'s Tom Hanks -- not the volleyball; Ed Harris for "Pollock" and Geoffrey Rush for "Quills."

Best actress nominees are: "The Contender"'s Joan Allen; she will compete with "Chocolat"'s Juliette Binoche; Ellen Burstyn for "Requiem for a Dream"; Laura Linney for "You Can Stand By Me"; and Julia Roberts for "Erin Brockvich."

And in the supporting actor category, it is Jeff Bridges; Willem Dafoe; "Erin Brockovich"'s Albert Finney; Joaquin Phoenix; and "Traffic"'s Benicio Del Toro.

And for supporting actress, it is Judi Dench; Marcia Gay Harden; Kate Hudson for "Almost Famous"; Frances McDormand for "Almost Famous"; and Julie for "Billy Elliot."

There you have it, the lucky few embarking on their own Oscar odyssey in 2001.

Now, throughout the day on CNN "Showbiz Today" reports, we'll update you on the nominations and reaction from the motion picture industry. Stay tuned for all of that.

From New York, I'm Laurin Sydney. We're going to leave you now with one of the best song nominees from the "Wonder Boys." Enjoy.

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