The 74th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), took place on March 24, 2002, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories honoring films released in 2001. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Laura Ziskin and directed by Louis J. Horvitz. Actress Whoopi Goldberg hosted the show for the fourth time. She first hosted the 66th ceremony held in 1994 and had last hosted the 71st ceremony in 1999. Three weeks earlier, in a ceremony held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on March 2, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Charlize Theron.
A Beautiful Mind won four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Ron Howard. Other winners included The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring also with four awards, Black Hawk Down and Moulin Rouge! with two, and The Accountant, For the Birds, Gosford Park, Iris, Monster's Ball, Monsters, Inc., Murder on a Sunday Morning, No Man's Land, Pearl Harbor, Shrek, Thoth, and Training Day, with one. Despite a record length of four hours and twenty-three minutes, the telecast garnered nearly 42 million viewers in the United States.
The nominees for the 74th Academy Awards were announced on February 12, 2002, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by Frank Pierson, president of the Academy, and the actress Marcia Gay Harden. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring earned the most nominations with thirteen. It was the seventh film to earn that many nominations. A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge! tied for second place with eight apiece.
The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on March 24, 2002. By virtue of its latest Best Picture victory for A Beautiful Mind, DreamWorks became the second film studio to release three consecutive Best Picture winners; the studio had previously released American Beauty and Gladiator. Denzel Washington was the second African-American to win Best Actor in a Leading Role, following Sidney Poitier for 1963's Lilies of the Field. Halle Berry became the first African-American to win Best Actress in a Leading Role. Nominated for their performances as the title character in Iris, Best Actress nominee Judi Dench and Best Supporting Actress nominee Kate Winslet became the second pair of actresses nominated for portraying the same character in the same film.
Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger ().Sidney Poitier
The following individuals (in order of appearance) presented awards or performed musical numbers.
The Academy wanted to find a new venue for the festivities amid limited seating and rehearsal time concerns with the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In addition, problems arose regarding staging the Oscars at the Shrine Auditorium because there was difficulty of directing guests from the auditorium where the main event took place to the adjacent Exhibition Hall for the Governor's Ball. In August 1997, AMPAS and Canadian development firm TrizecHahn went into negotiations over the development of an entertainment complex located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue adjacent to the Mann's Chinese Theatre. Seven months later, both the Academy and TrizecHahn agreed on a twenty-year lease that allowed for the ceremony to be staged at a new venue, which would later be called the Kodak Theatre, located within the property which was also situated near the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel site of the inaugural awards ceremony in 1929. This was the first time the ceremony was held in Hollywood since the 32nd ceremony took place at the Pantages Theatre in 1960.
In view of the return of the Oscars to Hollywood, the Academy hired film producer and Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Laura Ziskin in September 2001 to oversee production of the telecast. AMPAS president Frank Pierson explained the decision to hire Ziskin saying, "This show is one of the most difficult—if not the most difficult—producing jobs in show business. Laura Ziskin brings intelligence, experience and wit expressed in everything she has done." This marked the first occurrence that a woman produced the Oscars solo. Four months later, Whoopi Goldberg was selected as host of the 2002 ceremony. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Ziskin justified her choice of Goldberg commenting that she has "great warmth, with humor, humanity and social conscience, all qualities that I feel are essential for this year's show. I look forward to collaborating with Whoopi to put on a meaningful and entertaining evening."
Furthermore, the September 11 attacks affected the telecast and its surrounding events. Despite speculation and suggestions that the festivities be postponed or canceled, AMPAS president Pierson wrote in a Variety column refusing to take such action stating that it would send the message that "the terrorists have won". However, due to security concerns the Academy announced that red carpet bleacher seats would now be limited on a reservation basis based on a random selection and a background check. In addition, filmmaker and director Woody Allen, who had previously refused to attend a ceremony, made a surprise appearance to present a film produced by fellow New Yorker and screenwriter Nora Ephron saluting New York City in film.
Several other people participated in the production of the ceremony. Actors Glenn Close and Donald Sutherland served as announcers during the show. The orchestra led by film composer and telecast musical supervisor John Williams, performed selections of film scores during a montage saluting film composers produced by Kyle Cooper. Filmmaker Errol Morris filmed a vignette featuring several famous people discuss movie memories. Director Penelope Spheeris produced a montage saluting 60 years of Oscar-winning documentary feature films. Cirque du Soleil performed a dance number inspired by movies and visual effects.
Beginning with this ceremony, AMPAS introduced a new competitive award that would honor animated feature films. According to Academy communications director John Pavlik, the film must be at least 70 minutes in length, have a significant amount of animated characters, and be at least 75 percent animated in order to be qualified for consideration. A minimum of eight qualifying films must be released within the calendar year to permit a slate of three nominees. If the number of films exceeds twelve, the nominee roster increases to five. Prior to the introduction of this category, three Disney films (1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and 1995's Toy Story) were all given Special Achievement Academy Awards.
At the time of the nominations announcement on February 12, the combined gross of the five Best Picture nominees at the US box office was $484 million, with an average of $96.9 million per film. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was the highest earner among the Best Picture nominees with $271 million in domestic box office receipts. The film was followed by A Beautiful Mind ($113 million), Moulin Rouge! ($57.1 million), Gosford Park ($22.2 million), and finally In the Bedroom ($19.5 million).
Of the top 50 grossing movies of the year, 46 nominations went to 14 films on the list. Only The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2nd), Shrek (3rd), Monsters, Inc. (4th), A Beautiful Mind (15th), Black Hawk Down (25th), Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (27th), Training Day (29th), Bridget Jones's Diary (31st), Ali (41st), and Moulin Rouge! (44th) were nominated for Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, or any of the directing, acting, or screenwriting awards. The other top-50 box office hits that earned nominations were Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1st), Pearl Harbor (7th), Vanilla Sky (19th), and AI: Artificial Intelligence (28th).
The show received a mixed reception from media publications. Some media outlets were more critical of the show. Television critic Robert Bianco of USA Today complained that the awards ceremony was "intensely narcissistic and characteristically, almost unrelievedly, dull." Columnist Matthew Gilbert of the The Boston Globe bemoaned that "TV's most-watched slug crawled back into town last night." He also sniped, "As usual, the technical awards formed a Bermuda triangle in the middle of the show, and the film-clip fests and production numbers numbed our brains." The Sacramento Bee's Rick Kishman lamented that "It was the first time both best-acting Oscars went to African Americans...yet viewers had to fight hours and hours of boredom to care." He also quipped that the excessive amount of montage and tributes dragged down the proceedings.
Other media outlets received the broadcast more positively. Orange County Register film critic Henry Sheehan praised Goldberg's performance as hosting writing that her "ensuing entrance a la Moulin Rouge was a comparative triumph and her boom-boom-boom succession of jokes put the show right on track." Television columnist Joanne Ostrow of The Denver Post raved, "The nearly five-hour telecast was stunning, historic, slick, efficient, and helped along by some knockout clothes." She also commented that Washington and Berry's acceptance speeches and the Sidney Poitier tribute added to the historic and emotional mood of the festivities. John Levesque of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer commended producer Ziskin for producing "the best Oscar telecast this TV watcher can remember." In addition, he wrote that "It was clear the 74th Academy Awards ceremony was something special: fresh, crisp, different from its predecessors."
The American telecast on ABC drew in an average of 41.82 million people over its length, which was a 3% decrease from the previous year's ceremony. The show also earned lower Nielsen ratings compared to the previous ceremony with 25.54% of households watching over a 40.34 share. In addition, it garnered a lower 18–49 demo rating with a 16.13 rating over a 36.46 share among viewers in that demographic.
In July 2002, the ceremony presentation received seven nominations at the 54th Primetime Emmys. Two months later, the ceremony won one of those nominations for Debra Brown's choreography during the telecast.
The annual In Memoriam tribute, presented by actor Kevin Spacey, honored the following people.
Before the In Memoriam montage was shown, Spacey requested a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the September 11th attacks.