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African Americans Win Top Acting Oscars; 'A Beautiful Mind' Takes Best Picture Honors - 2002-03-25


Two African Americans have won top acting awards at Hollywood's Academy Awards, the Oscars. Other top Oscars went to a fantasy film and a controversial drama.

An emotional Halle Berry became the first African American actress to win an Oscar for a leading performance. She dedicated her Oscar to African American performers who came before her. "It's about so many people that went before me that paved the way and people that are fighting alongside with me and the ones that will come along whose path will be easier," she said. "So it's not really about me as much as it's about so many other women of color."

Another African American actor, Denzel Washington, earned the Oscar for best actor for his role as a dishonest police officer in "Training Day." The second-time Oscar winner paid tribute to veteran performer Sidney Poitier, who received a special Oscar for lifetime achievement. Sidney Poitier earned the best actor award for the 1963 film "Lilies of the Field" and was the only black actor to win the best actor award before Washington.

The fantasy "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" won four Oscars: for makeup, cinematography, visual effects and original score.

The drama "A Beautiful Mind" also earned four Oscars, including best picture. The film's star, Russell Crowe, lost the Oscar for best actor, despite an acclaimed performance as a troubled mathematician. "A Beautiful Mind" was based on a true story and some people criticized the film for ignoring troubling aspects of the subject's life. The film's defenders suggested that rival studios had orchestrated a campaign to undermine the picture. "A Beautiful Mind" Director Ron Howard was named best director and costar Jeniffer Connelly was named best supporting actress. The film was also honored for its adapted screenplay.

The musical "Moulin Rouge" won Oscars for its art direction and costumes. The war film "Black Hawk Down" also won two Oscars, for film editing and sound. In a new category this year, the film "Shrek" has won the Oscar for best animated feature.

In a surprise award, the British actor Jim Broadbent earned the Oscar for his supporting role in "Iris," the story of writer Iris Murdoch, who suffered from Alzheimers Disease.

Singer-composer Randy Newman won his first Oscar for "If I Didn't Have You," a song from the animated feature "Monsters, Inc." ( Monsters Incorporated)

The Oscar for best foreign-language film went to a satirical war film called "No Man's Land" from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Oscar telecast opened with the actor Tom Cruise, who asked if it is right to celebrate movies after the terrorist attacks of September 11. He said the magic of movies is needed now more than ever.

The reclusive filmmaker Woody Allen made his first-ever appearance at the Oscars to present a collage of film images depicting his native New York. Backstage, the director was asked how he will show the altered skyline of New York in future films, after the loss of the landmark World Trade Center. "Now, when I shoot that area of New York, it will be missing because it (really) is missing and I feel it's ridiculous to pussyfoot around and reframe the shot so it doesn't show that and to adopt some sort of unrealistic attitude toward it," he said. "It was a terrible tragedy, but a reality."

New York still has a beautiful skyline, said filmmaker Woody Allen and he, for one, will continue to make his films there.

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