HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST NIGHT: THE 75TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS®
Cleared for my first Academy Awards®, I was so excited by all the build up leading up to Oscar® Sunday, scheduled for March 23, 2003. Then, on March 20, Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, began its course. Plans for the 75th celebration of Hollywood’s Biggest Night were quickly thrown into chaos.
Many of the A-Listers in town, and most of the nominees, all said if the traditional extravaganza of a red carpet arrivals fête were to happen, they would refuse to do interviews and use the side doors instead. The threat was real, resulting in a last-minute cancellation of the press coverage of the arrivals. A few of the top wire services were permitted coverage, but not the rest of us.
Being as it was my first Academy Awards®, I was disappointed, yet, as one of the 70 photographers who had been cleared for the red carpet, I was fortunate to also be among the 65 photographers (not necessarily all the same) who were cleared for the Press Room. So the excitement of covering my first Oscars® quickly outweighed the disappointment.
The opportunity to photograph entertainment industry history, and some of its most notable personalities, is an honor I will always be proud of. To have the privilege to photograph living legends like actor Sean Connery, who presented to Catherine Zeta-Jones (see below) …
… and actor Peter O’Toole who, after 8 Oscar® nominations in his life, received an Honorary Award as The Academy proclaimed, “Whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters,” is an honor I do not take lightly!
Yes, a few icons of the music industry also came through the press room, like Jennifer Lopez, after presenting the Oscar® for Achievement in Art Direction.
It took a very pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones (daughter Carys Douglas was born just 4 weeks later on April 20) a little extra time to make her appearance in the Press Room after her Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role win for her role in “Chicago”. See the order of appearance in the photo gallery below? She was supposed to enter the room with her presenter, Sean Connery! 😉 Understandably, she joked in the Press Room that she was trying to ensure her daughter didn’t make an early appearance during her acceptance speech!
Known for producing “The Boys From Brazil” (1978) and “The Shining” (1980) producer Martin Richards was very animated with his first Oscar® win for Best Picture of the Year for his work in “Chicago” … nice addition to the collection Martin! 😀
Sometime during the evening, for the winners, there is that moment; after you realize your name has been announced, you walked in a total fog to the stage, stammered, and maybe even cried a little through something you vaguely remember was an acceptance speech. Then you were whisked backstage where your publicists, manager and stylists met you, and began pulling you to the press room. A quick touch up of the makeup, maybe a little brush and spray of the hair, and you’re back onstage in front of the cameras again.
… with an embrace …
… and you stand there and smile; with emotions raging, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, and so many thoughts rushing through your head you’re dizzy. It’s clear to see. Just look at the different expressions below. Giddy … and … WTF! 😉
For Nicole, after Adrien stepped aside so she could pose for singles (photos by herself), it showed when she was finally somewhat alone with her thoughts, yet still in front of the cameras. The instant of realization, and thankfulness as it starts to sink in, when she took a private moment for herself to appreciate where she is and what is happening. Being in the moment of … “I just won an Academy Award® for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role!”
As a press photographer who has covered countless awards shows, this is not a moment we witness often at all. And it’s very good to see it on the rare occasions when it does happen. Look back through the gallery. If you notice, you don’t see this kind of moment from ANY of the other winners.
Scenes of great joy and celebration? Yes, those are all over the gallery. Just look at producer Martin Richards with his Oscar® for Best Picture above. But personal, silent moments of introspection and appreciation? This one is it, for the entire evening. If it happened with anyone else, I would have captured it, because … THIS is what we look for!
Congratulations all over again Nicole … 13 years later! 😉
Gallery photos below are in chronological order of the evening’s events. Winners pictured here, and their awards, are listed below the gallery.
Click the thumbnails below
to view full-size photos.
Academy Award® Winners in order of appearance in the photo gallery above are:
- Visual effects artists Randall William Cook, Alex Funke, Joe Letteri, and Jim Rygiel – Achievement in Visual Effects for their work in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
- Presenter Jennifer Lopez with production designers John Myhre and Gord Sim – Achievement in Art Direction for their work in “Chicago”
- Actor Chris Cooper – Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in “Adaptation”
- Visual effects artist Eric Armstrong – Best Animated Short Film for his work in “The ChubbChubbs!”
- Writer/director Martin Strange-Hansen, producer Mie Andreasen, writer Flemming Klem, and producer Kim Magnusson – Best Live Action Short Film for their work in “This Charming Man”
- Presenter Mira Sorvino and costume designer Colleen Atwood – Achievement in Costume Design for her work in “Chicago”
- Prosthetic makeup artist John E. Jackson and key hair stylist Beatrice De Alba – Achievement in Makeup for their work in “Frida”
- Presenter Sean Connery – presented the Oscar® for Actress in a Supporting Role to Catherine Zeta-Jones for her work in “Chicago”
- Sound engineers Michael Minkler, Dominich Tavella and David Lee – Achievement in Sound for their work in “Chicago”
- Sound Engineers Ethan Van der Ryn and Michael Hopkins – Achievement in Sound Editing for their work in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
- Producer/director/writer Michael Moore and producer Michael Donovan – Best Documentary Feature for their work in “Bowling For Columbine”
- Presenter Jack Valenti with producer Bill Guttentag and executive producer Robert David Port – Best Documentary Short Subject for their work in “Twin Towers”
- Director of photography Conrad W. Hall – Achievement in Cinematography for his work in “Road to Perdition”
- Editor Martin Walsh – Achievement in Film Editing for his work in “Chicago”
- Composer Luis Resto – Achievement in Music Original Song (8 Mile) for his work in “Lose Yourself”
- Actor Peter O’Toole – Honorary Award -“Whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters.” — A.M.P.A.S.
- Composer Elliot Goldenthal – Achievement in Music Original Score for his work in “Frida”
- Producer Martin Richards – Best Picture of the Year for his work in “Chicago”
- Writer Ronald Harwood – Best Adapted Screenplay for his work in “The Pianist”
- Writer Pedro Almodóvar – Best Original Screenplay for his work in “Talk to Her”
- Actor Adrien Brody – Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in “The Pianist”
- Actress Nicole Kidman – Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in “The Hours”
- Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones – Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in “Chicago”
The art of event photography, especially when working a press room with 64 other yelling, screaming photographers, all vying for attention, is the ability to capture just that very instant when you connect with your subject, and the rest of the world simply fades away, as in this photo of Nicole Kidman. Some refer to it as a money shot. I regard this photo as a special moment in my photographic career.
The skill of event photography is the ability to do so with multiple subjects over time at multiple events. That is what makes a successful event photographer.
But there are definitely some moments along the way that clearly add to the fun, as with this perfect photo bomb of Perdo Almodóvar long before it was a trend! 😉
- 75th Annual Academy Awards (Official Site)
- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.)
- Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre)
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