HOLLYWOOD, March 4 (UPI) -- Fully half the 20 actors and actresses nominated for Academy Awards this year are foreign born, most of them from England.
Tack on Russell Crowe, a native of New Zealand, for best actor in "A Beautiful Mind" and Australia's Nicole Kidman for best actress in "Moulin Rouge" to demonstrate how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has matured over the years.
The nomination of Robert Altman ("Gosford Park") for best director at 76, shatters the age record for directors in an Oscar race.
The diversification of nominees in national origin, age, ethnicity and movie genre demonstrates the growth and maturity of the academy since its first Oscar presentations in 1927/28 when "Wings" won the award for best picture.
In the intervening years the Academy Awards has become the best known, most
highly publicized awards around the globe.
Whether or not the televised nose counts are accurate -- 1 billion viewers -- the Oscar show is TV's most widely watched single event.
The annual hullabaloo has become a focus of international attention, never mind that the awards also are a significant source of movie income.
They might even be applauded as an example of capitalism at its most effective and efficient.
In any event, movies are America's most popular export, creating an international culture that is comprehensible to all peoples and nations.
Their global popularity suggests more people are aware of Julia Roberts than have heard of Joan of Arc; Tom Cruise is more familiar to the planet's populace than, say, George W. Bush.
Movie stars have become world celebrities because their faces are seen, their voices heard repeatedly on screens in virtually every nation on Earth.
So confident is the academy of the familiarity of movies that it has issued an Oscar Quiz.
Question: What was the first movie in color to win best picture?
Answer: "Gone With the Wind" (1939).
Q: Who were the only women nominated for directing?
A: Lina Wertmuller for "Seven Beauties" (1976) and Jane Campion for "The Piano" (1993)
Q: Who was the first performer to win consecutive Oscars?
A: Luise Rainer for "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936) and "The Good Earth" (1937).
Q: What were the only two films to win three out of four acting awards? None has won all four.
A. "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) and "Network" (1976).
Q. "Titanic" (1997) tied what movie as most honored film by winning 11 Oscars?
A. "Ben-Hur" (1959).
Q. Who are the only brother and sister to win acting Oscars?
Q. Lionel Barrymore (1931/32) for "A Free Soul" and Ethel Barrymore (1944) "None but the Lonely Heart".
Q. Who were the only performers nominated for playing the same character in the same film?
A. Kate Winslet as young Rose DeWitt Bukater and Gloria Stuart as old Rose in "Titanic" (1997).
Q. Name the two most nominated films and how many nominations they received.
A. "All About Eve" (1950) and "Titanic" (1997) both with 14.
Q. Who received the most Academy Awards at a single ceremony and how many Oscars did the person win?
A. Walt Disney in 1953 won four Oscars for documentary feature, documentary short subject, cartoon short subject and two-reel short subject.
Q. Name the director responsible for the most Oscar-winning and award-nominated performances.
A. William Wyler directed members of his casts to 35 nominations and 14 wins.
Q. Whose foreign-language performance was the first to win an Academy Award
and in what movie?
A. Sophia Loren, best actress for Italy's "Two Women."
Q. Which seven films had their leading actor and actress each win Oscars?
A. "It Happened One Night" (1934) Clark Gable/Claudette Colbert. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) Jack Nicholson/Louise Fletcher. "Network" (1976) Peter Finch/Faye Dunaway. "Coming Home" (1978) Jon Voight/Jane Fonda. "On Golden Pond" (1981) Henry Fonda/Katharine Hepburn. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) Anthony Hopkins/Jodie Foster. "As Good As It Gets" (1997) Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt.