'Chicago' Is Oscar's Kind of Town

03/23/2003 10:58AM

"Chicago" is singing anything but the blues: The big-screen adaptation of Bob Fosse's murderess musical swept the 75th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night, scoring six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The movie -- which was a frontrunner coming into Hollywood's Kodak Theatre with 13 nominations -- also was cited for Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound and Film Editing.

Holocaust drama "The Pianist" followed with three major Oscars, including Best Actor for Adrien Brody, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for Roman Polanski, who faces arrest if he enters the United States because of a 25-year-old statutory rape charge against him.

The other multiple winners were "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," for Visual Effects and Sound Editing, and "Frida," for Makeup and Original Score.

Nicole Kidman was named Best Actress for her role as author Virginia Woolf in "The Hours." Chris Cooper picked up the sole win for "Adaptation" as Best Supporting Actor. And rapper Eminem can now call himself an Oscar winner, though he didn't show up to claim his trophy for Best Original Song, "Lose Yourself," from "8 Mile."

Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York," on the other hand, was completely shut out of the winners' circle, despite 10 nominations.

Original screenplay went to Pedro Almodovar for the Spanish film "Talk to Her." He dedicated his Oscar to "those people who are raising up their voices for peace and for free expression."

Despite the widespread belief that the three-and-a-half hour show might turn into a large-scale anti-war rally, that was never the case. In fact, when "Bowling for Columbine" Documentary winner Michael Moore made a political speech that was entirely anti-Bush, he was roundly booed in the hall -- not so much for his sentiments, but for using the Oscars as a political platform.

"We are against this war, Mr. Bush," Moore shouted above the boos. "Shame on you."

Others took a different approach, whether it was flashing a peace sign (in the case of Susan Sarandon) or simply calling for U.S. troops to come home soon.

In one of the most moving moments of the night, surprise Best Actor winner Brody asked for a "swift end" to the war and remembered a friend from Queens, N.Y., who is currently involved in the fight in Iraq.

But before turning serious, Brody received a standing ovation and planted a kiss on Halle Berry when he arrived onstage. "There comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense," he said. "This is not one of those times."

In her acceptance, a teary Nicole Kidman justified staging the Oscars ceremony during these uncertain times. "Why do you come to the Academy Awards when the world is in such turmoil? Because art is important, and you believe in what you do, and you want to honor that tradition that must be upheld."

Host Steve Martin also kept things light (and occasionally tasteless) throughout the evening, cracking jokes about Jennifer Lopez, Kathy Bates and the decision to eliminate red-carpet arrivals from the Academy Awards pre-show.

"Well, I'm glad they cut out all the glitz," Martin said sarcastically. "You probably noticed, there was no red carpet tonight. That will show them."

He then dedicated the show to U.S. troops watching abroad.

Meryl Streep presented a Lifetime Achievement Oscar to Peter O'Toole, who first became a star more than 40 years ago, in David Lean's larger-than-life epic "Lawrence of Arabia." Nominated for Best Actor seven times but never winning, O'Toole, 70, had written the Academy saying he didn't want the honorary award -- that he'd prefer to wait and still try to win one.

"Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot," O'Toole said. "I have my very own Oscar to be with me until death do us part."

• Check out PEOPLE.com's final Oscar tally.

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