Published January 06, 2002
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring won best-picture honors and two other prizes at the first American Film Institute Awards on Saturday.
Denzel Washington was named best actor for playing a flamboyantly corrupt narcotics detective in Training Day. Sissy Spacek won lead-actress honors as a grieving, vengeful mother in In the Bedroom.
Spacek, a five-time Academy Award nominee who won for Coal Miner's Daughter, could emerge as a front-runner for another Oscar.
"This film is so close to my heart," Spacek said. "It was a real labor of love, I think, for all of those who worked on it."
Robert Altman was picked as best director for his satiric murder mystery Gosford Park.
Gene Hackman of The Royal Tenenbaums and Jennifer Connelly of A Beautiful Mind earned supporting-actor honors.
Hackman won for his role as an outcast patriarch who weasels his way back into the dysfunctional family he abandoned years earlier. Connelly won as the conflicted wife of schizophrenic math genius John Nash (Russell Crowe) in A Beautiful Mind, directed by Ron Howard.
Based on J.R. R. Tolkien's trilogy about hobbits, wizards, elves and a ring of ultimate power, the three parts of Lord of the Rings were shot simultaneously. Part two is due out next Christmas, with the final chapter coming in 2003.
"It's a classic epic. It's a true adventure," said Elijah Wood, who stars as the hobbit Frodo Baggins. "I think it appeals to people of all ages, and it has for years and years."
The 12 awards in the film categories were spread among nine movies. The only multiple winners were Lord of the Rings, which also won for digital effects and production design, and "Moulin Rouge," honored for composing and editing.
In the Bedroom and "Black Hawk Down" had led with five nominations each, but "Black Hawk Down" was shut out in every category.
Writer-director Christopher Nolan won the screenplay award for the convoluted, backwards-moving thriller Memento. Roger Deakins took the cinematography honor for the Coen brothers' film-noir update The Man Who Wasn't There.
Many nominees turned out for the awards show, but there were plenty of no-shows, including Washington, Altman, Hackman, Connelly and James Gandolfini, who won best actor on a TV series for The Sopranos.
Sopranos co-star Edie Falco won the best TV series actress honor. The show also won for best drama series.
"Thanks for watching the show, which we love probably more than you guys," Falco said.
HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm won for best comedy series.
"This is a rare opportunity for my family to see me on TV. They refuse to get HBO, so they have no idea what the show is about," said Larry David, the show's star.
Jeffrey Wright won the best actor award in a TV movie or miniseries as Martin Luther King Jr. in Boycott. Judy Davis took the best actress honor in a TV movie or miniseries as Judy Garland in Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.
Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft, accepted the award on Davis' behalf.
"I would like to thank Judy Davis for her extraordinary courage, her exceptional talent and her love of my mother's memory," said Luft, a producer on the miniseries.
The AFI Awards, aired live on CBS, included nominees in 12 movie and seven television categories.
CBS newsman Dan Rather recapped television's reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, citing David Letterman's return to work and a star-studded multi-network telethon for victims as symbols of the nation's response to the attacks.
The new show is the first big ceremony of Hollywood's long awards season. The Golden Globes take place Jan. 20, actor and director guilds give out their awards in March and the Oscars cap things off March 24.
Nominees were chosen by two 13-member committees - one each for movies and television - which included AFI trustees, industry professionals, film and TV scholars, and critics. Winners were picked by a 100-member jury of industry insiders.
AFI, best known for its lists ranking all-time top American films or screen stars, provides industry training, holds film screenings and conducts movie-preservation efforts.