The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a few surprises up its sleeve tonight, though for the most part experts predicted the winners accurately.
Gladiator, which many thought was a shoe-in for Best Picture, was. In a more surprising addition, the film's star, Russell Crowe, beat out Golden Globe winner Tom Hanks for the Best Actor award. Gladiator's chief rival for Best Picture, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, had to be content with the prize for Best Foreign Language Film as well as several technical awards.
Steven Soderbergh seemed surprised to find himself the proud owner of a new gold statue when he was awarded the Best Director Oscar for Traffic, one of two movies for which he was nominated. A win for Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, the other Soderbergh directing venture, was no surprise in the Best Actress category.
In one of the evening's biggest shockers, Marcia Gay Harden walked away with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Pollock, upsetting pundit predictions that newcomer Kate Hudson would take home the statuette. Holding back tears, Harden thanked her co-workers and her family for their support throughout her career.
As expected, Benicio Del Toro took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Traffic. The actor thanked the members of the Academy, and dedicated his Oscar to the people of Nogales, AZ and Nogales, Mexico, two of the cities where the film Traffic was filmed.
Screenplay awards fell out much as anticipated, with Traffic's Stephen Gaghan winning for Best Adapted Screenplay and Cameron Crowe taking home the award for Best Original Screenplay for Almost Famous.
The Oscar for Best Achievement for Costume Design went to Janty Yates for Gladiator, and Goldie Hawn presented the award for the Best Score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon composer Tan Dun. Crouching Tiger's Peter Pau also won for Best Cinematography. The first Oscar awarded this evening, Best Achievement for Art Direction, went to Tim Yip for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. "I am really nervous...this is the first time I win an Oscar," Yip said.
Bob Dylan appeared live from Australia, and later accepted the award for Best Song from there as well. His tune "Things Have Changed" is from Wonder Boys.
Several technical awards went out early in the evening; Jon Johnson won for Sound Editing for U-571, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects went to Gladiator. Nominee Kate Hudson presented the award in the Best Makeup category to Rick Baker, a six-time Oscar winner, and Gail Ryan for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Bob Beemer, Ken Weston and Scott Milan picked up the statue for Best Sound for Gladiator, and that film's John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke and Rob Harvey won for Best Visual Effects. Stephen Mirrione won the Oscar for Best Editing for Traffic.
The Short Subject Documentary award went to Tracy Seretean for Big Mama, and the Documentary Feature award went to Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer for Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kinder Transport.
When Quiero Ser" (I Want To Be ...) won the award for Best Short Live Action Film, director Florian Gallenberger greeted his native Mexico and thanked his film school for making his dreams come true.
The Best Animated Short Film nominee category followed with Michael Dudok de Wit's Father and Daughter taking the prize.
The Academy honored director Jack Cardiff with an honorary Academy Award tonight. "For those of us who are 70 years or younger were born, Jack Cardiff was shooting film...and he's still shooting," Dustin Hoffman said. As he accepted his award, Cardiff hugged his statue and said, "This has to be a dream."
Ernest Lehman, screenwriter for such amazing movies as The Sound of Music and Hello, Dolly, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, as was Gladiator producer Dino De Laurentiis.
In other news, Bob Raime, President of the Academy for five and a half years, told viewers and attendees that he was resigning from office.
Snagging new TV gigs this week:
Molly Ringwald hits the Big Time
Molly Ringwald, America's sweetheart during the late '80s, is back -- this time on the small screen. The actress will be starring in Big Time, a show that centers on a fledging TV network in the early days of the industry.
In the show, which will air on TNT, the setting will be 1948 Manhattan, and Ringwald will play the network head's new bride, who discovers a unique opportunity for herself in the burgeoning landscape of television.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, executive producers John Wells and Carol Flint have also hired actor Dylan Baker of Happiness fame, who will play a tirelessly devoted producer and VP of programming committed to making the young network a success.
The show will be directed and co-executive produced by Paris Barclay and marks Ringwald's return to her television series roots. The actress started her screen career on the NBC comedy The Facts of Life, and moved on to bigger roles on the big screen in '80s flicks such as Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.
Shaun Cassidy Signs TV deal
Former teen idol-turned-TV producer Shaun Cassidy has signed on as producer of The Agency, a CBS drama about the men and women of the CIA, Variety reports.
The former Hardy Boy has also signed on to produce a drama pilot at USA Network titled Wilder, a show which he originally created for the WB for the 2000-01 TV season.
Wilder is about a former teen idol who teams up with his younger cop brother to work as detectives. Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can't Lose) and Ashley Howard (Bring It On) have been cast as the leads in the pilot.
Jim Miller, USA Network's executive VP of original programming, believes the show contains the kind of subject matter that people often try to tackle, but seldom pull off successfully.
"Because [Cassidy] was there, because he understands that mind set -- the good and the bad -- the authenticity, the veracity of it all is just unmatchable,'' he tells Variety.
Culp, DuVall Make a Monster
Steven Culp (Thirteen Days) and Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted) will star in HBO/Cinemax's "How to Make a Monster" for writer-director George Huang (Swimming With Sharks). Production is slated to begin this week.
Monster is about a company man (Culp) who hires three ex-cons-turned-computer programmers to create a computer game, Evilution, which centers on an evil being. Whoever builds the scariest monster will win $1 million.
In their attempt to create the scariest monster, causing the computer to overload with everything that is evil, the monster comes to life.
The Hollywood Reporter adds that Tyler Mane, Jason Marsden and Karim Prince will also be featured in the project.
Tucci Tackles Groucho for CBS
Stanley Tucci, the actor-producer who won an Emmy for his portrayal of the 1950s columnist Walter Winchell, will star as Groucho Marx in Love, Groucho, a two-hour telepic for CBS produced by Alliance Atlantis.
The film is based on the book Love, Groucho: Letters From Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam by Miriam Marx Allen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie will trace highlights of the actor's life, including the breakup of his marriage and the eventual breakup of his career.
Screenwriter Jennifer Miller has penned the script for the project, which is executive produced by Tucci, Peter Sussman, Ed Gernon, Greg Gugliotta and Sandy Gartin.