- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2002

From combined dispatches
LOS ANGELES "A Beautiful Mind," the film biography of schizophrenic math genius John Nash, was named Best Picture and took home a total of four Oscars in last night's 74th annual Academy Awards.
Also winning Oscars for "A Beautiful Mind" were director Ron Howard, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and Jennifer Connelly winning the award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of the troubled mathematician's long-suffering wife, Alicia.
"I'm not a good enough actor anymore to make you believe that I have not imagined this moment and played it a thousand times," said Mr. Howard, a child star from the 1960s, as he accepted the best director Oscar. He said he was "grateful for an entire lifetime" in the movies.
For the first time in Oscar history, both the best actor and best actress awards went to black performers, with Denzel Washington winning for "Training Day" and Halle Berry for "Monster's Ball."
Miss Berry became the first black woman ever to win the best actress Oscar.
"This moment is so much bigger than me," the star of "Monster's Ball" said between gasps as tears ran down her cheeks, saying her award was also a honor for such segregation-era black actresses as Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne.
Miss Berry won best actress honors over a strong field of nominees including veteran Sissy Spacek for "In the Bedroom," Nicole Kidman for "Moulin Rouge," Judi Dench for "Iris" and Renee Zellweger for "Bridget Jones's Diary."
Mr. Washington, who starred as veteran undercover detective in "Training Day," noted the irony of his winning his second Oscar on the same night Sidney Poitier was given a lifetime achievement award.
"Forty years I've been chasing Sidney, and they gave him [an Oscar] on the same night," Mr. Washington said with a broad smile.
The other best actor nominees were Russell Crowe for "A Beautiful Mind," Sean Penn for "I Am Sam," Will Smith for "Ali," and Tom Wilkinson for "In the Bedroom."
"Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings" though shut out of the top overall awards tied "A Beautiful Mind" with four Oscars in a ceremony that lasted more than four hours. A Middle Earth fantasy based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, "Lord of the Rings" won Hollywood's highest honors for cinematography, original score, makeup and visual effects.
"A Beautiful Mind" had been at the center of charges and countercharges in the weeks leading up to the 74th Annual Academy Awards. Critics had said the film left out unflattering aspects of Mr. Nash's life, including expressions of anti-Semitism in his personal letters.
In the weeks leading up to last night's awards, Universal Pictures, which owns domestic rights to "A Beautiful Mind," claimed there was an orchestrated smear campaign against the film. But the studio provided no evidence that any rivals were involved.
Miss Connelly, once known for ingenue roles, topped veteran actresses Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith ("Gosford Park"), Marisa Tomei ("In the Bedroom") and Kate Winslet ("Iris") to win best supporting actress honors.
"I believe in love, that there's nothing more important," said Miss Connelly in accepting her best supporting actress Oscar. "Alicia Nash is a true champion of love, and so thank you to her for her example."
Jim Broadbent won the award for best supporting actor for his role as a devoted husband in "Iris," a biographical drama about the life of novelist Iris Murdoch.
Last night's ceremonies acknowledged the shadow cast by the September 11 terrorist attacks. Security was so tight that director Woody Allen joked he had been strip-searched at the door.
Along with "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Lord of the Rings," nominees for best film included the musical comedy "Moulin Rouge," the satirical "Gosford Park" and the dark family drama "In the Bedroom."
Mr. Howard captured the best director award for "A Beautiful Mind" against fellow nominees Robert Altman for "Gosford Park," Mr. Jackson for "The Lord of the Rings," Ridley Scott for "Black Hawk Down," and David Lynch for "Mulholland Drive."
The romantic comedy fairy tale "Shrek" won the Academy's first-ever award for best animated feature.

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