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NIGHT OF OBSESSION

DreamWorks' fractured fairy tale Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for best animated feature at the 74th annual Hollywood showcase Sunday night.

The irreverent story of an overachieving ogre grabbed the prize ahead of Monsters, Inc. from Walt Disney Studios, creators of the feature-length animated format in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

"Thank you for inviting us to the party by creating this award," said producer Aron Warner, who credited DreamWorks animation guru Jeffrey Katzenberg with a love of the art form "bordering on obsession."

Coping with other kinds of obsessions earned a best supporting actor and actress Oscars for Jim Broadbent and Jennifer Connelly.

Connelly played the wife of a mentally tortured genius in Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind. Jim Broadbent's character John Bayley in Iris dealt lovingly with the decline of his wife, novelist Iris Murdoch, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Broadbent posted a minor upset over preshow favorites Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast) and Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring). The British-born actor thanked Bayley and said, "Good luck, Moulin Rouge," another 2001 Best Picture finalist in which Broadbent appears.

Connelly's win in her first trip down the red carpet continued a remarkable trend in Academy voting. Nineteen of the past 20 recipients of the best supporting actress prize were rookies. The exception is Dianne Wiest, who claimed the prize with her first nomination for Hannah and Her Sisters, then won again in 1995 for Bullets Over Broadway.

Connelly also continued a tradition of dull Oscar acceptance speeches, reading a prepared statement of thanks without lifting her eyes to the audience until her final words. Connelly was wise to prepare a speech after winning a Golden Globe and several other prizes during the awards season.

The 31-year-old actor played Alicia Nash, whose devotion to her husband, schizophrenic Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash, was key to his recovery.

"By some beautiful twist of fate I've landed in this vocation that demands that I feel and helps me to learn," Connelly said. "And no film has moved or taught me more than A Beautiful Mind (that) I believe in love. There's nothing more important. Alicia Nash is a true champion of love and so thank you to her for her example."

Midway through the proceedings, three films were tied with two Academy Awards each: Black Hawk Down, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Moulin Rouge.

Peter Jackson's fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring began the Oscar campaign last month as the favorite with 13 nominations, five more than A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge. However, as the awards season progressed, results from such guideposts as the Golden Globes, Producers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild mostly ignored Jackson's epic and shifted attention to A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring didn't show the momentum of a nominations leader in Sunday's early results concentrating on technical achievements. The film won best makeup for its wizardly effects, then best cinematography for Andrew Lesnie's framing of Jackson's vision, based on the writings and drawings of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien.

Jackson's lavish adaptation of Tolkien's novel _ the first of a trilogy _ also had its share of balloting setbacks. The film lost in the film editing category to Pietro Scalia's tension-enhancing assembly of the Somalian war drama Black Hawk Down, his second Academy Award after winning for Oliver Stone's JFK in 1992.

Moulin Rouge claimed Oscars for best costume design and art direction in competitions including The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

The annual Oscar program was entertainment by committee, as four-time host Whoopi Goldberg carried less of the comedy load than usual for an emcee. Her entrance on a trapeze a la Nicole Kidman's character in Moulin Rouge, wearing a Lady Marmalade costume possibly lifted from Patti LaBelle's closet, was a highlight.

ABC-TV's coverage of the event cleverly supported Goldberg's punchlines with well-planned cuts to the butts of her jokes in the audience.

More laughs came from guest stars such as Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson donning nominated costume designs and a surprise standup comedy cameo by longtime Oscar ceremony avoider Woody Allen, encouraging filmmakers' return to postattack New York City.

Sunday's Kodak Theatre moments were held under the tightest security procedures in Oscar history. Streets were blockaded for several blocks around the Academy's new $94-million venue in the heart of old Hollywood. Metal detectors scanned each celebrity, although a few fashion statements such as Sharon Stone's plunging backline and best actress nominee Halle Berry's sheer bodice left little room for sneaking contraband.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said Friday that downtown Hollywood contained as many police officers as would normally patrol all of Los Angeles. The show's producer Laura Ziskin, the first woman to solely hold that position, called the plans "presidential-level security."

Or, as Goldberg put it with typical disregard for anyone else's ego: "The security was tighter than some of the faces here."

Murder on a Sunday Morning was named best documentary feature of 2001. It traces the case of an African-American teenager falsely accused of murder through racial profiling. The short documentary prize went to Thoth, featuring a street musician performing a one-man street corner opera to promote world peace.

Oscar winners

Partial list of 74th annual Academy Awards presented Sunday evening at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood:

ANIMATED FEATURE: Shrek.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jim Broadbent, Iris.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind.

ART DIRECTION: Moulin Rouge.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

COSTUMES: Moulin Rouge.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Murder on a Sunday Morning.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: Thoth.

FILM EDITING: Black Hawk Down.

MAKEUP: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

SOUND: Black Hawk Down.

SOUND EDITING: Pearl Harbor.

Oscar winners previously announced this year:

GORDON E. SAWYER AWARD: Edmund M. Di Giulio.

JEAN HERSHOLT HUMANITARIAN AWARD: Arthur Hiller.

HONORARY AWARDS: Sidney Poitier and Robert Redford.

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