Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge," the postmodern movie musical that uses an eclectic score and a frantic visual language, is up for a 2002 Best Picture Academy Award March 24, when the Oscar ceremony is held in Hollywood.
Theatre people invested in director Luhrmann's upcoming Broadway re-imagining of Puccini's La Boheme will be watching the Oscars closely in the hope that any Oscar wins will help bring attention to the opera.
Also of interest, despite the fact that Luhrmann was not nommed for a Best Director Oscar this year, are the "Moulin Rouge" Oscar noms for Catherine Martin, Luhrmann's collaborator-wife, who is designing sets and co-designing costumes for La Boheme. She was nominated for Oscars this year for "Moulin" for Art Direction (sharing with Brigitte Broch, for the film's set decoration) and Costume Design (sharing the nomination with Angus Strathie).
This is the third Academy Award nomination for Martin. She was previously nominated for "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet" (1996), also directed by Luhrmann.
Actress Nicole Kidman was nommed for Best Actress in the picture, it was announced Feb. 12. The nod for "Rouge"' nod marks the first time in over a decade that a musical has been up for the Best Picture prize. The last musical to win the Oscar was "Oliver" in 1968. The last musical to be nominated was the animated Disney effort, "Beauty and the Beast" in 1991. Other Best Picture musicals include "An American in Paris" (1951), "Gigi" (1958), "West Side Story" (1961), "My Fair Lady" (1964) and "The Sound of Music" (1965).
In total, the film racked up eight nominations: Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, Sound, Art Direction, Cinematography in addition to Best Actress and Picture.
The surprise of the Oscar noms (representing movies released in 2001) was that the visionary Luhrmann was not nominated for Best Director, and it failed to pick up a screenplay nomination.
Luhrmann will stage the American premiere of his 1950s-set La Boheme, in Italian with English surtitles, beginning previews Nov. 21 and opening Dec. 8 at the Broadway Theatre.
The production will reportedly use three different rotating casts and incorporate a walkway that wraps around the orchestra pit. The staging was a smash in Australia a decade ago.
Other theatre folk nominated for major Academy Awards include Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren in the Supporting Actress category for "Gosford Park," Ian MacKellen for Best Supporting Actor for "The Lord of the Rings," Judi Dench for "Iris."
The Best Picture nominees are "A Beautiful Mind," "Gosford Park," "In the Bedroom," "The Lord of the Rings" and "Moulin Rouge." Renee Zellweger, playing Roxie Hart in the now shooting musical movie, "Chicago," was nommed for Best Actress for "Bridget Jones's Diary."
— By Kenneth Jones