The National Association of Theatre Owners paid tribute to the talent responsible for the product they exhibit with their traditional final night awards ceremony and banquet, held on Thursday, March 7. Earning top honors on the acting end were two big stars who actually had middling box office success in 2001: Male Star of the Year Will Smith, Academy Award-nominated for his performance in last year's financially underachieving biopic Ali; and Female Star of the Year Jennifer Lopez, whose work in the music industry was far more successful than her big screen showcase last year, the underseen Angel Eyes.
Curiously, only one supporting honor was given out this year, Supporting Actress of the Year, for Marisa Tomei, who earned a second Academy Award nomination for her acclaimed work in Best Picture nominee In the Bedroom. Naomi Watts, the star of another critics' darling, David Lynch's Mulholland Dr., was named Female Star of Tomorrow; her male counterpart was Josh Hartnett, who starred in two blockbuster war films last year, Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down. Big box office also distinguishes the Comedy Star of the Year, Chris Tucker, who had one of the year's top grossers with last summer's smash sequel Rush Hour 2. Nicole Kidman, who had quite the banner year with the Oscar-nominated musical Moulin Rouge! and the sleeper success The Others, had ten years worth of work recognized by way of the Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film award.
Behind the scenes talent were also recognized. Ron Howard, director of the Oscar-nominated and commercially successful drama A Beautiful Mind, was ShoWest's Director of the Year. NATO also turned to Academy choices in selecting their Screenwriter of the Year, Gosford Park scribe Julian Fellowes. Producer of the Year honors went to Doug Wick, whose next endeavor is this summer's sequel to his 1999 hit Stuart Little. Finally, NATO bestowed lifetime achievement honors upon Steven Spielberg, whose classic E.T. receives a 20th anniversary reissue this month, and has the sci-fi thriller Minority Report set for release in June.
The winner of the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Award to Columbia University film student David Pastor Vallejo for his short film Movie (Theater) Hero. Vallejo won the award out of sone 200 film students nationwide who submitted concepts tailored specifically for a pre-feature entertainment short. Movie (Theater) Hero was selected from ten finalists by a 15-member panel of entertainment industry experts. Vallejo will receive $10,000, and his film will show as part of the pre-feature program on more than 19,000 screens nationwide.
Earlier in the week, on Monday, March 4, Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who was not in attendance, was named the recipient of this year's award for International Achievement in Filmmaking.
The full honoree list:
Male Star of the Year: Will Smith
Female Star of the Year: Jennifer Lopez
Director of the Year: Ron Howard
Supporting Actress of the Year: Marisa Tomei
Male Star of Tomorrow: Josh Hartnett
Female Star of Tomorrow: Naomi Watts
Comedy Star of the Year: Chris Tucker
Producer of the Year: Doug Wick
Screenwriter of the Year: Julian Fellowes
International Achievement in Filmmaking: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Lifetime Achievement: Steven Spielberg
Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Award: David Pastor Vallejo
Noteworthy individuals and teams in the exhibition industry were also given a variety of honors during events throughout the week.
ShoWester of the Year (honoring achievement in domestic exhibition)
Kurt Hall, President and CEO, United Artists Theatre Circuit
International Exhibitor of the Year
Paul Johnson, CEO, Hoyts Cinema Ltd.
Bert Nathan Memorial Award (presented by the National Association of Concessionaires)
Larry Etter, Director of Concessions and Operations, Malco Theatres
Libby Mauro, National Sales Manager, Banner Candy Manufacturing
Ken Mason Intersociety Award (presented by the Inter-Society for the Enhancement of Theatrical Presentation)
Ioan Allen, Vice President, Dolby Labs
Hollywood Reporter Showmanship Awards (honoring film promotion)
Best of Show & Most Creative Awards
Trent Jones, Consolidated Valley View Grande (Roanoke, VA)