Wednesday, January 27, 2010


With all the building Oscars frenzy of late, I've been re-inspired by the greatness that is Rob Marshall's 2002 directorial debut, CHICAGO.  The film which won a total six Academy Awards, including Best Picture at the 75th edition of the ceremony, really does stand the test of time as an outstanding work, topping my list of Best Films of the Past Decade.  And above this, it was filmed in my hometown of Toronto, in our historic Distillery district. Although Marshall doesn't stand a chance in hell at winning Best Picture again in the forthcoming 82nd edition of the ceremony, NINE just might squeak in a nomination since the voting format for Academy members now allows them to select ten finalists versus just five in that category.  We'll know Tuesday, February 2, 2010 when nominees are announced.

In addition to amazing choreography, art direction, costumes, music and direction, CHICAGO  is held together by an outstanding ensemble cast.  After looking into how the eventual cast was chosen, I am now in complete awe at the A-list contenders who got turned down for the principal roles.  Take a look:

For the role of Billy Flynn : Rupert Everett, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta and Hugh Jackman.  Richard Gere was chosen despite Miramax feeling he was too old for the role.  Gere went on to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Motion Picture, but failed to get any respect in the Oscars race.

For the role of Roxie Hart : Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Aniston, Juliette Binoche, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Téa Leoni, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Debra Winger, Marisa Tomei, Melanie Griffith, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino, Anne Heche, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charlize Theron, Milla Jovovich, Kate Winslet, Bridget Moynahan, Heather Graham, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock, Hilary Swank, Monica Potter, Drew Barrymore, Mía Maestro, Rhona Mitra, Katie Holmes, Denise Richards, Christina Applegate, Vinessa Shaw, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cate Blanchett, Rachel Griffiths, Winona Ryder, Lucy Lawless, Claire Forlani, Angie Harmon and Kristin Chenoweth.  Renée Zellwegger was chosen and garnered a nomination for Best Actress.

For the role of Velma Kelly : Madonna and Angelina Jolie were serious contenders.  Catherine Zeta-Jones was chosen and she won for Best Supporting Actress.

For the role of Kitty : Britney Spears, Andrea Corr, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and  Mandy Moore.  Despite getting only a little screen time, Lucy Liu got the part. Yay, China.

For the role of Mama Morton : Cher, Anjelica Huston, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell and Kathy Bates.  The role went to Queen Latifah, who was nominated along with Zeta-Jones for Best Supporting Actress.

For the role of Amos : John Cusack, Keanu Reeves and Charlie Sheen were all serious contenders.  The role went to John C. Reilly, who got a nod for Best Supporting Actor.

Although it would've been amazingly interesting seeing some of these actors and actresses in the film (imagine Jolie singing?), Marshall really got it right.  In all honesty though, none of the principal cast members have since been able to go on to eclipse the quality of work Marshall brought out from them in CHICAGO.  Despite winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress the following year for Cold Mountain, Zellwegger's career has fallen dangerously into the "straight-to-DVD" realm.  And poor Zeta-Jones has shot some Box Office blanks, although it doesn't appear she really needs the money, instead focusing on theatre work of late.  

If you haven't seen this amazing cinematic achievement, please do yourself something good by seeing it. Get ready to be wowed.  Order CHICAGO (Widescreen Edition).

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