'Gladiator' leads field with 12 Oscar nods

Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – "Gladiator," Hollywood's high-tech return to the glories of Rome, led Academy Awards contenders today with 12 nominations, including nods for best picture, actor and director.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the Mandarin-language martial arts epic, was close behind with 10 nominations including best picture and best director. The other best-picture nominees were the French romance "Chocolat," the legal drama "Erin Brockovich," and the gritty drug-war saga "Traffic."

Steven Soderbergh had two directing nominations for "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic." The other director nominees were Stephen Daldry for "Billy Elliot," Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and Ridley Scott for "Gladiator."

Besides best picture, "Gladiator," the first Roman battle spectacle since the genre fell out of favor in the 1960s, grabbed nods for actor Russell Crowe and supporting actor Joaquin Phoenix.

Hans Zimmer's score for "Gladiator" also was nominated, and the computer wizardry Scott's crew used to recreate ancient Rome was honored with a nod for visual effects.

Along with Crowe, the best-actor nominees are Javier Bardem for "Before Night Falls," a film biography of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas; Tom Hanks as a man stranded on an island in "Cast Away"; Ed Harris for "Pollock," a film biography of abstract painter Jackson Pollock; and Geoffrey Rush as the asylum-bound Marquis de Sade in "Quills."

Hanks has won two Oscars, and Rush has one.

Best actress nominees are Joan Allen as a vice-presidential nominee in "The Contender"; Juliette Binoche as an itinerant chocolatier in "Chocolat"; Ellen Burstyn as a diet-pill addict in "Requiem for a Dream"; Laura Linney as a sibling coping with her prodigal brother in "You Can Count On Me," and Julia Roberts as a tart-tounged legal aide in "Erin Brockovich."

Binoche and Burstyn are past Oscar winners.

Snubbed for a best-actress nomination was Icelandic pop singer Bjork, who made her film debut in the dark musical "Dancer in the Dark." Bjork did score a nomination for best song, "I've Seen It All," which she co-wrote.

The best song category was heavy on big names, including Bob Dylan for "Things Have Changed" from "Wonder Boys." The nominees also included Sting and David Hartley for "My Funny Friend and Me" from "The Emperor's New Groove" and Randy Newman for "A Fool in Love" from "Meet the Parents."

Besides Phoenix, supporting-actor slots went to Jeff Bridges as a flamboyant president in "The Contender"; Willem Dafoe as the undead Nosferatu in "Shadow of the Vampire"; Benicio Del Toro as a Mexican drug cop in "Traffic"; and Albert Finney as a pugnacious attorney in "Erin Brockovich."

For supporting actress, the nominees are Judi Dench as a cranky grandmother in "Chocolat"; Marcia Gay Harden as the painter's wife in "Pollock"; Kate Hudson as a '70s rock disciple and Frances McDormand as an obsessive mother in "Almost Famous" and Julie Walters as a disillusioned ballet teacher in "Billy Elliot."

Dench and McDormand both have won Oscars.

"Almost Famous," which had emerged as solid candidate for a best-picture nomination, was shut out in that category and director Cameron Crowe also failed to get a nod. Besides its two supporting-actress nominations, the movie earned a nod for Crowe's original screenplay and for film editing.

Miramax, always a scrappy Oscar campaigner, pulled out a best-picture nomination for "Chocolat," which had been considered something of a longshot. Miramax's past Oscar success include "The English Patient," "Shakespeare in Love," "Life is Beautiful" and last year's "The Cider House Rules."

The Taiwanese "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" also was nominated for best foreign language film. The other nominees are "Amores Perros" from Mexico, "Divided We Fall" from the Czech Republic, "Everybody Famous" from Belgium and "The Taste of Others" from France.