Seabiscuit Receives Oscar NodGAMBIER, Ohio (January 27, 2004) Many thought the racetrack drama Seabiscuit would prove an also-ran in the race to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture this year. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences proved them wrong on Tuesday, January 27, when it named the adaptation of the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, Class of 1989, as one of five films nominated in that coveted category.
Hillenbrand felt a profound bond with the characters in Seabiscuit: An American Legend, the 2001 book that was released as a Hollywood film in the summer of 2003. It's the story of an undersized horse with a crooked leg that had never won a race, along with three men-owner, trainer, and jockey-who had experienced plenty of defeat, disappointment, and hardship of their own. Despite the odds, Seabiscuit went on to defeat Triple Crown winner War Admiral and become, arguably, the most famous celebrity of the 1930s.
And now, despite its July release, seen by many awards analysts as the kiss of death come Oscar season, Seabiscuit has triumphed again. In addition to its best-picture nod, the film was nominated in the adapted-screenplay category. Hillenbrand served as a consultant in the writing of the screenplay. In all, the movie received seven nominations, landing in a third-place tie with Cold Mountain for the most nominations.
"I feel like I am exactly the right person to tell this story," Hillenbrand has said. "What my life has been like has helped me understand these people and this story perhaps better than someone else might have."
In many ways, Hillenbrand's life has been defined by her struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), an incurable disease that racks her with debilitating exhaustion and crippling vertigo. Hillenbrand's battle helped her relate to Seabiscuit's oft-injured jockey, Red Pollard.
"And in the one lucky moment of his unlucky life he found Seabiscuit, a horse as damaged and persistent as he was," Hillenbrand wrote of Pollard in a recent article about her illness in The New Yorker. She even hung Pollard's picture above her writing desk for inspiration. It worked-Sports Illustrated praised Hillenbrand's book as "one of the best sports biographies in the history of the genre." Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper star in the Universal Studios movie.
While CFS forced Hillenbrand to leave college after just two years, Kenyon granted her an honorary bachelor's degree and an honorary doctorate in 2003. "Kenyon turned me around and started my life in the direction it's gone ever since," she says. "Going to Kenyon was the best decision I ever made in my life."
One of the nation's leading liberal arts and sciences colleges and home to The Kenyon Review, Kenyon College offers 1,550 students a challenging educational experience enriched by a culture of friendship. Graduates of the college have included actor and philanthropist Paul Newman and author E. L. Doctorow.