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Oscar Nominations Reflect Banner Year for Women
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – And the winner is… women. Whoever takes home those coveted golden statuettes next month, it’s been a memorable year at the movies for females, producing a bumper crop of performances from ladies with more on their minds than little men called Oscar.
In a town where glamour still reigns and actresses frequently lament the dearth of decent roles for those over 35, Hollywood on Tuesday nominated one of the strongest, most complex group of female performers seen at the Oscars for years.
“These are not big hambone dramatic roles. These are really psychologically complicated parts that delve into the souls and hearts of these women. What’s so terrific this year is that we’ve got so many of them,” said Oscar pundit Tom O’Neil.
From Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore in “The Hours,” the intensely emotional drama about three diverse women, to the hi-jinks of Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Queen Latifah in girl-power musical “Chicago,” the best actress and best supporting actress Oscar nominations reflected the range and depth of Hollywood’s leading women.
“The Hours” and “Chicago” — also both nominated for best film — could hardly be more different in their style, tone and subject matter yet they both break the Hollywood mold.
“Look at Renee Zellweger, in ‘Chicago.’ This is not any woman singing and dancing ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music.’ She is kicking up her heels trying to get away with murder. These are not your typical Hollywood heroines,” O’Neil told Reuters.
Salma Hayek, won a best actress nomination for her role as the very atypical, unconventional Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in “Frida.” Hayek had lobbied for years to raise the money for the movie and prove that a former Mexican soap star like herself could make her way in Hollywood as an actress, producer and director.
“It’s a wonderful year for the women, and also the movies themselves are so diverse,” said Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as the Oscar nominations were announced.
Scott Rudin, producer of “The Hours,” said film writers were finally recognizing the growing importance of the female audience, and as a result, better parts are being written for actresses.
Kathy Bates, nominated for best supporting actress for playing a sexually adventurous, middle-aged woman in “About Schmidt,” said it had been a “banner year” for women.
“It’s great to see a range of actresses (nominated). You’ve got wonderful actresses out there, like Meryl (Streep) and you just want to see what she’s going to do next,” Bates said. “To us gals over 50, there is a range there, and I hope that continues to play out.”
What would the Oscars be without Streep, enjoying critical acclaim for “The Hours” and Oscar nominated for her best supporting role in the quirky comedy “Adaptation?”. The nomination, Streep’s 13th, took the 53-year-old actress past legend Katharine Hepburn to become the most nominated performer in Oscar history.
Diane Lane, nominated for best actress for portraying an adulterous wife in “Unfaithful,” said she has seen a wider range of parts coming to her.
“I think we can see the diversity, and that is always refreshing,” she said, “and the fact that ‘The Hours’ was named best picture by the Hollywood foreign press (Golden Globes) is a wonderful vote for the strength of women’s roles.”
Julianne Moore was nominated both for best actress for her role in the 1950s domestic drama “Far From Heaven” and as best supporting actress for “The Hours,.
But she doubted that the strong showing for women in 2002 would necessarily pay off in terms of better roles.
“It’s nice to be nominated in a year when there is this much attention for women,” Moore said.
“I don’t know that it’s a trend, but I do think it shows audiences are interested in more substantive films … it’s great material, and the fact that there are ideas behind the movies, that is what is resonating with audiences.”