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Catherine Martin, wife and creative partner of Baz Luhrmann, is the winningest Australian in the history of the Academy Awards. She has earned nine nominations — including three this year for costume design, production design and best picture for Elvis — and has won four times. She first caught Oscar’s attention in 1997, when she received an art direction nom for Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Their next project, Moulin Rouge!, was a musical about star-crossed lovers (Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor) in 1890s Paris.
The movie divided critics: THR wrote after the film’s May 2001 Cannes premiere, “all [Luhrmann] has is a confection of old Hollywood musicals and Technicolor melodramas. It’s not enough. While clearly an unconventional musical, the pastiche of old songs — ranging from Rodgers and Hammerstein to disco to Elton John — is likely to turn off young moviegoers.” But audiences warmed to it (the film grossed $57.4 million at the U.S. box office) and so did the Academy, nominating it for eight Oscars in 2002 — although Luhrmann was overlooked for best director (a shutout that continues to this day).
After Martin won best costume design (shared with the film’s costume designer Angus Strathie) and art direction (shared with set decorator Brigitte Broch), she told press backstage that her role was small compared to those onscreen: “I’m really happy to be here holding a golden statue, but I’m a condiment. I thank all the actors for their help.”
This story first appeared in a Feb. stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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