'Shakespeare' Is Loved

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LOS ANGELES: All the world's a stage -- but comics need not apply. Academy Awards voters lavished 13 Oscar nominations on the Bard-soaked romance "Shakespeare in Love" -- and Olde England got even merrier with seven nods for the queenly costume drama "Elizabeth" -- but wasn't all the world supposed to love a clown, too? After winning the Golden Globe for "The Truman Show," Jim Carrey wasn't even nominated, and his film - the most ambitious, refreshing movie to come out of Big Hollywood in years - had to settle for Miss Congeniality nods for Best Director (Peter Weir) and Best Original Screenplay (Andrew Niccol). Bill Murray, despite plenty of buzz, was similarly ignored for his deft tragicomic turn in "Rushmore."

The straight-faced shakeout means that on awards night March 21, Miramax and Dreamworks SKG had better bring shopping carts. Roberto Benigni's "Life Is Beautiful" added seven nominations to Miramax's "Shakespeare" pile, and appears a shoo-in for Best Foreign Language Film at the very least. The rest is war - and no one's giving Terrence Malick's underviewed "The Thin Red Line" (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay) any chance at all against the seemingly irresistible force of the Spielberg/Hanks powerhouse "Saving Private Ryan" (11 nods). But the real sign that the cultural apocalypse is upon us may be that Gwyneth Paltrow, as the girl Shakespeare was in love with, is now considered the front-runner for Best Actress. And there's nothing funny about that.

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