Film Critics Feb. 24 Oscars in Chicago to be private event

Kevin Spacey won the 2000 CFCA Best Actor award for “American Beauty”

Hollywood comes to Chicago a month before the Oscars to honor the winners of 2002’s best in film as named by the influential Chicago Film Critics Association, the most enduring and successful movie awards outside of L.A. and New York.?Year-after-year CFCA shows it can pick ’em as astutely as voting members of the Motion Picture Academy.

The glittery, star-studded 15th annual Awards Show takes place Feb. 24 at the Union League Club, marking the first time the entire event has been held under one roof. And for another first, the show will not be open to the public as it has been in years past.

The critics and their guests, the dozen sponsors and the press comprise the 350 attendees.?Film fans Governor and Mrs. Blagovejich and Mayor and Mrs. Daley have been invited as honored guests.????

Todd Haynes’ “Far from Heaven” was far and above the top pick of the 46 local critics, bestowing upon it a sweep of six awards out of 10 feature categories (see below).?

Not all winners have RSVP’d, but among the celebrities definitely attending thus far are the three non-feature winners: Best Documentary winner Michael Moore, Most Promising Performer Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Adaptation”) and Most Promising Filmmaker Dylan Kidd (“Roger Dodger”).?

Three local awards will acknowledge Chicago’s participation and connection with motion pictures.?Christie Hefner presents the Commitment to Chicago award to director William Friedkin (“Rules of Engagement,” “The Exorcist,” and “The French Connection”).

A newly established Legends of Chicago award aptly will be received by Chicago treasure Studs Terkel.?

And at long last, after 37 years of putting Chicago on the map with a world-class event but never receiving any local pats on the back, Michael Kutza and the Chicago International Film Festival will receive the Big Shoulders award.

Producing the detail-heavy event for the third consecutive year is tireless Sharee Pemberton, backed by a cadre of volunteers.?Dana Olsen (writer of “The Burbs” with Tom Hanks) is scripting and Jim Caruso is directing.?Carleton Brown of Total Vision Video will tape the event.?Copies of the tape are sent to participants.

Board advisors John Iltis and Stuart Wolf, CFCA have pressed a long time to put the awards show, the guest rooms and the party under one roof, “and this year we have made that happen,” stated CFCA president Dann Gire, the Daily Herald critic.?

“We won’t have to move our winners around town,” he said, referring to past shows when guests were shuttled from hotel to theatre to party site. “From the moment they walk through the uniform-guarded doors into the marble entry, you know you are in an exclusive, elegant environment.”

Guests will stay in fabulous suites — where President Bush stayed during his recent Chicago visit — that were redecorated at a reputed cost of $3 million, Gire said.??

At 5:30, invited guests will arrive for a buffet dinner in the Grand Dining Room, a magnificent room with a two-story fireplace and walls lined with invaluable paintings.?(The Club is said to own the biggest private collection outside the Art Institute.)?

At 6:30, guests move to the elegant fifth floor ballroom to sit at assigned tables for dessert, coffee and the 7 p.m. awards presentation.?If all goes as planned, the event should end by 8:30.?”The bar and music will continue until 10 p.m. for socializing and hitting the martinis,” Gire said.?

Jim Pritzker and his Tawani Foundation are generously underwriting the cost of the Union League Club.?Beverages are being donated by Absolute vodka and Coca-Cola.?Guests will be?flown first-class, courtesy of American Airlines.?AT&T and AT&T Wireless, the Illinois Film Office, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, the Chicago Film office, Eastman Kodak, Crystal Cave, the Playboy Foundation, Eli’s Cheesecake and Paterno Group Graphics also are sponsors.

And the winners are. . .

Best Picture, “Far from Heaven;”
Best Foreign Language Film, “Y Tu Mama Tambien;”
Best Director, Todd Haynes, “Far from Heaven;”
Best Screenplay, Charlie & Donald Kaufman, “Adaptation;”
Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, “Gangs of New York;”
Best Actress, Julianne Moore, “Far from Heaven;”
Best Supporting Actor, Dennis Quaid, “Far from Heaven;”
Best Supporting Actress, Meryl Streep, “Adaptation;”
Best Cinematography, Ed Lachman, “Far from Heaven;”
Best Original Score, Elmer Bernstein, “Far from Heaven.”