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 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 09:10 GMT
2002 at the movies
Spider-Man won the blockbusters' battle

BBC News Online looks back at the film year, which boasted more Star Wars, the 20th Bond, A Beautiful Mind and a rather large Greek wedding.

It's been a hit-and-miss sort of year at the cinema.

Following the tragic events of 11 September 2001 and delayed screenings of sensitive films like Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage, Hollywood has shaken off its hair shirt and returned with guns blazing.

The year opened with a slew of Oscar contenders, among them David Lynch's bewildering Mulholland Drive, Richard Eyre's biopic Iris - with an Oscar-winning performance from Jim Broadbent - and Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.

Denzel Washington
Historic day: Denzel wins an Oscar
The latter, a powerful war film dealing with the events leading up to the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, benefited from the patriotic fervour that gripped the US.

It did comfortably at the box office (and later broke records in DVD sales), but outside the US, audiences questioned its blatant jingoism and even the Academy backed off when it came to a best film nomination.

Indeed, this year's Academy favoured fantasy over reality with the first instalment of Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring dominating the nominations in February.

Dual honour

Baz Luhrmann's lavish musical Moulin Rouge and Robert Altman's country house "whodunit" Gosford Park were also popular contenders.

Yet it was A Beautiful Mind that walked off with the dual honour of best film and best director, proving director Ron Howard has come a long way from his starring role in 1970s US sitcom Happy Days.

However, this year's Oscars will be remembered as the year black American actors were finally honoured long after their due.

Denzel Washington took the best actor gong for his role as a corrupt cop in Training Day, after losing out in a string of prior nominations.

But it was Halle Berry's tearful speech that dominated the headlines, making her the first Oscar-winning Bond girl when she starred in Die Another Day, released in November.

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind took the big Oscars
Summer was dominated by the battle of the blockbusters with Spider-Man going head to head with Star Wars Episode II: Battle of the Clones.

The "webbed one" netted the lion's share of critical plaudits, paving the way for the inevitable sequel, while the Star Wars prequel suffered from more lame dialogue and an excess of computer generated imagery (CGI).

Still, for all the blue screen hamming, Attack of the Clones was considered an improvement on reviled Phantom Menace - not least thanks to the diminished role of Jar Jar Binks.

Critical drubbing

Together the blockbusters helped UK cinema to its best June since 1972 and broke the US record for ticket revenue over the summer period.

Summer ticket sales were further bolstered by films like Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, a futuristic thriller starring Tom Cruise, and the live action Scooby-Doo, which pulled in the punters despite a critical drubbing.

Sequels like Austin Powers in Goldmember, Spy Kids 2 and the disappointing Men In Black 2 sent cash tills ringing.

Attack of the Clones
The force was stronger in Clones
Powers triumphed at the US box office where it broke records for the biggest opening for a comedy film.

It also marked the screen debut of Destiny's Child star Beyonce Knowles, who was not alone in making the transition from pop star to film star in 2002.

Fellow would-be thespians included US teen star Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember, Samantha Mumba in the otherwise forgettable HG Wells remake The Time Machine and Britney Spears in Crossroads.

Screen debut

None suffered the ignominious fate of Mariah Carey, whose career subsequently nosedived after Glitter, but only Beyonce - as the sassy Foxxy Cleopatra - showed glimmers of raw talent.

Most hotly anticipated of all is the screen debut of controversial rap star Eminem who has already topped the US box office with 8 Mile, from LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson.

Autumn brought the battle of the secret agents as 007 squared up to new kid on the block Vin Diesel in XXX.

Diesel teamed up with Fast and Furious director Rob Cohen to play an adrenalin junkie forced by the authorities to infiltrate a Russian crime ring.

Eminem: Highly-anticipated debut
But the new age hero proved no match for Pierce Brosnan in his fourth outing as James Bond.

Die Another Day, the 20th official Bond film in the long-running franchise, took $47m (30m) during its opening weekend - the best ever debut for a Bond title.

And so to wizardly shenanigans and the second face-off between Harry Potter and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Chamber of Secrets garnered more positive reviews than the first and features a masterly performance from Kenneth Branagh, plus a host of special effects including squealing mandrakes and a slug-belching Ron.

Huge battle

The Two Towers cast a huge shadow over December as the second part of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy picked up where the first film left off.

Fans of The Fellowship of the Ring had little to complain about but the second film - despite its huge battle sequences - offered little to win over new fans.

Reviewers proclaimed it darker and more involving but it remains to be seen if the second film can make as much money as the first.

Potter fans were delighted with Chamber
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the year came in the form of a lightweight comedy about a Greek woman marrying outside her clan.

Adapted from writer and protagonist Nia Vardalos' one-woman play about growing up in a Greek-American family, the low-budget comedy went on to become the most successful independent film ever.

The film took over $200m (125m) - easily overtaking previous indie hit The Blair Witch Project.

Looking ahead

Looking back



See also:

20 Sep 02 | Entertainment
14 May 02 | Entertainment
22 Nov 02 | Entertainment
21 Jan 02 | Africa
11 Dec 02 | Entertainment
02 Sep 02 | Entertainment
05 Jun 02 | Entertainment
30 Jul 02 | Entertainment
25 Feb 02 | Oscars 2002
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