Nicole Kidman called in late last night from her family retreat in remote Australia. The reason? She'd just heard about her double Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress. And she's over the moon.
"I was asleep when they were announced," Nicole told me. "But Russell [Crowe] called me right away. He's here, and he was awake."
Kidman also got calls from another friend and one from her publicist. She didn't say if Tom Cruise had called. But it doesn't matter anymore. For a decade she's had to listen to critics suggest that she had a career because she was Mrs. Cruise. Not anymore. With these two critical and box office hits, Kidman has solidified her position as a leading lady. And she's pulled off a coup unequalled by even her ex husband.
Kidman was nominated in the drama category for The Others and in the musical comedy category for Moulin Rouge.
"I was dreaming," she said. "Did this really happen? Then I asked if Baz [Luhrmann, director of Moulin Rouge] and Ewan [McGregor, her co-star] had won. That's what makes it so special, that the whole team is in.
"I was also happy so many Australians got nominations. Simon Baker" — TV's The Guardian — "was nominated. I grew up with his wife! It's so amazing!" Other nominated Australians include Kate Winslet and Russell Crowe.
Soon Kidman will have to make a decision about which role to push for in the Oscar race. It will be tough, too, since The Others has earned her the best reviews of her career, while Luhrmann is a close friend. In the meantime, she said, "I have to really enjoy the moment. That's what my mum said as soon as she heard."
Kidman will spend the holidays with her family in Australia, then head to Sweden to film Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier.
Don't be led astray by the theory that the Oscars follow the Golden Globes. Quite the contrary.
Yesterday's announcement of Golden Globe nominees ensures that certain movies and actors will receive recognition that they will not get later from the more critically disposed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which picks the Globes' nominees and winners, represents countries around the world where English is most definitely not the first language. In the end, Golden Globe winners have to be big stars and movies that translate easily in concept and language around the planet.
To that end, past winners have included people like Tom Cruise, Madonna, Sharon Stone and Jim Carrey. The HFPA loves these people because they're movie stars. Consequently, Oscar usually skips them.
So I can tell you already that some of these nominations are lovely, but they are not going to translate past Jan. 20. But that's why there are different kinds of award shows, isn't it?
Best Picture — Drama: A Beautiful Mind, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings, The Man Who Wasn't There, Mulholland Drive. Of these, expect the last two to drop away almost certainly. They are each worthy of mention, but lack mainstream appeal.
Of the first two, trouble is already brewing for A Beautiful Mind. Reportedly, the real story of John Forbes Nash, who Russell Crowe portrays, is quite different from the story the movie tells.
Does it matter? Yes. If Nash has an arrest record and a history of homosexuality, as has been alleged, then those things — without judgment — should be included in the movie. Furthermore, nothing in A Beautiful Mind explains how or why Nash became a schizophrenic.
If the gaping holes in the story are filled by tabloid reports, then the Ron Howard movie will be a dead duck at the Oscars. Look for Gosford Park, Memento, Shipping News, Ali, or Amelie to try to fill the void.
The best guess: The Globes will give their award to Lord of the Rings, thus freeing the Academy to select In the Bedroom. It will be a classy choice.
Best Actress: Nicole Kidman, as I've predicted all along, pulled off a coup by getting nominated in both drama (The Others) and musical/comedy (Moulin Rouge). No doubt Moulin Rouge is a popular film among the HFPA. The songs are well known and the movie is colorful. But for real acting, Kidman stands her best Oscar shot with The Others. It's her finest career performance, and I think it may win the day.
The other actresses — Judi Dench, Sissy Spacek, and Halle Berry — will probably move on to the Oscars intact. But I have my doubts about Tilda Swinton from The Deep End. Audrey Tautou, the star of Amelie, is her likely replacement, since that movie seems to have real box-office clout and a cult following.
Best Actor: Kevin Spacey may not want an Oscar nomination, but he got one from the Globes based on recognition. The success of The Shipping News at the box office will determine his future with the Oscars. Russell Crowe is a lock for a nomination as Nash, even if the movie is proven to be a stretch of the truth.
But you can say goodbye to Billy Bob Thornton, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, and John Cameron Mitchell by Oscar time. Ditto Will Smith, whose fortunes will rise and fall on the public's interest in the bloated Ali.
My guess is Gene Hackman has a better shot as the con man Royal Tenenbaum. And Tom Wilkinson, the father in In the Bedroom, is a certainty. But my choice: Denzel Washington from Training Day, who is phenomenal. If Denzel is given a little push in the right direction, this could finally be his year.
Best Director: The Globes were extremely kind to Steven Spielberg, perhaps out of deference to his reputation. I liked A.I. a lot, but no one else did, including the Academy. His nomination will be his reward, I think. But Robert Altman for Gosford Park, is a lock. Again, Ron Howard's fortunes will depend on what happens to the veracity of A Beautiful Mind.
Peter Jackson, Baz Luhrmann and David Lynch round out this group, but by Oscar time at least two of them will be replaced — either by Lasse Hallström (for Shipping News, which is a director's film), and Michael Mann for the feat of Ali. With the Globes, don't be surprised if Luhrmann wins. Moulin Rouge, like Rings, works well abroad. Better than it does here.
Two supporting nominations stood out for me, too. Although Maggie Smith is the odds-on favorite for a Globe, from Gosford Park, I was excited to see the HFPA acknowledge Cate Blanchett's outstanding work in Bandits. If Blanchett makes it to the Oscars — she's also terrific in The Shipping News — she'll give Smith some trouble. And the fact that the HFPA remembered Jude Law's exceptional performance in A.I. was great news. But for him to get to the Oscars, the Academy voters will really have to plough through the movie again. And that's unlikely.
Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky took a tumble yesterday in the midweek box office tally. It finished third, behind Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven.
How significant is this? Well, both movies are playing in comparable numbers of theatres. But Vanilla Sky is a week newer and so should be in second, not third place, after Lord of the Rings. This means that Sky's "legs" are weak, and as the weekend unfolds it will start to fall apart. Poor reviews, and a bad ad campaign have contributed to its downfall.
Yesterday a rumor went around newsrooms that Tom Cruise was going to marry his Vanilla co-star Penelope Cruz over the holidays. No one bit, because the feeling is that this is another publicity stunt designed to revive the movie. My advice to this couple: it's not worth it. And you can't help the film anymore. Keep your Champagne bottles corked and tell the maid of honor to go home.