3 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
A Night At The Oscars
25 Mar 1999 :
Once again, it's payback time in Hollywood. Whatever your feelings may be about the Oscars, there's no denying that, as showbiz smoochfests go, it's undoubtedly the mother of them all. The glamour, the stars, the opulence, and the billion or so people tuning in all over the world - you can run, but you can't hide from the Oscars. All you can do is pull up a chair and try to laugh with, as well as at, the Academy Awards jury's choices.

On a Sunday for the first time (rather than the usual Monday), the 71st Annual Academy Awards offered up no real shocks, but there were a few pleasant surprises. If it was anyone's night, it was undoubtedly Miramax's. Their notoriously heavyweight campaigning paid off handsomely, with their productions Shakespeare In Love and Life Is Beautiful winning ten Academy Awards between them. And the star of the evening was undoubtedly Roberto Benigni, winner of both Actor In A Leading Role and Foreign Language Film for his labour-camp of love, Life Is Beautiful (the film also picking up Original Dramatic Score for Nicola Piovani). The all-smiling, all-hugging, always ecstatic Benigni - a poet trapped inside the body of Harpo Marx - reacted to his first win by scaling the back of the seat in front of him for a two-fisted victory salute. He was the joker in the pack, with twice the hyper energy levels of Robin Williams and about one million times the likeability.

The expected controversy of the night, the Lifetime Achievement Award for director Elia Kazan ("Now I can just slip away"), proved to be far from the flashpoint the media had expected. About forty per cent of the Dorothy Parker Pavilion gave the 89-year old director of such classic films as A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront a standing ovation; the other sixty per cent chose to sit (some, like Nick Nolte, Ed Harris and Holly Hunter, in total silence). The reason behind the protest was that Kazan testified against some communist pals and peers during the McCarthy era, ruining many careers in the process. Even the presenters of the award, Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro (who sported a Bickle-worthy haircut) seemed unsure whether to laugh or sigh.

The night kicked off with everyone's second favourite Oscar host Whoopi Goldberg dressed up as The African Queen or, to be more precise, Queen Elizabeth, in the first of five outfits from the five nominations for Costume Design. And the first award, for Supporting Actor, went, to James Coburn, an actor whom, by his own admission, has been acting for more than half his life. And, considering the man's 70 years of age, that's a long time without an Oscar nomination, never mind a win, to his name. Dame Judi Dench seemed genuinely taken aback by her Supporting Actress win for her eight-minute appearance as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare In Love, the night's only real tension following soon after when the incredibly unfunny Chris Rock warned that De Niro shouldn't be allowed near Kazan backstage - "everyone knows he hates rats". Still, Rock had a point when he looked out at the audience and said, "Man, this looks like the Million White Man March".

Saving Private Ryan won the first of its five Oscars of the night for Sound Effects Editing, followed swiftly by another win for Sound. Winning also for Cinematography and Film Editing, by the end of the evening, with praise and groveling from a string of geeks, Spielberg had his rear end licked clean. The evening took a leap into something approaching genuine emotion with Benigni's energetic acceptance of his Foreign Language Film Oscar, before the eternally cool John Travolta introduced the first In Memoriam nod of the night, with a Martin Scorcese-edited tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Jim Carrey - having failed to grab a nomination for The Truman Show - delivered a mock breakdown during his presentation of the Film Editing award to Michael Kalin for Ryan, because "that's all I'm here to do". Norman Jewison, currently producing his 26th film, picked up this year's Irvin G. Thalberg Award, having given us such films as In The Heat Of The Night and, em, Moonstruck. Irish hunk Liam Neeson got an X-rated introduction from Goldberg, presenting the Visual Effects award, which went to the incredibly beautiful and boring What Dreams May Come. Poor Trigger had to work with Val Kilmer in an almost-troublesome introduction to a tribute to his old master, Roy Rogers, and the heroes of the Western, before Helen Hunt delivered one of the night's true upsets, Roberto Benigni's win for best actor.

Lisa Kudrow - who, many in the industry have said, should have been nominated for The Opposite Of Sex - was given the consolation prize of introducing the great Randy Newman and the increasingly chubby Peter Gabriel for a rendition of "That'll Do" from the kiddie horror flop, Babe: Pig In The City. Kazan's award came up soon after, before the darn sexy Jennifer Lopez broke the bad news that When You Believe by Stephen Schwartz from The Prince of Egypt was the winner of Original Song. At the centre of a mini-controversy, When You Believe exists in two versions, one sung by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, and one sung in the movie by Michelle Pfeiffer. It was the second version that got the nomination, leaving the producer (and partial co-writer) of the former version, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, and his two divas, reportedly fuming. Schwartz was, ahem, "unable to attend".

After the traditional obituary collage - dubbed The Late Show - which tipped its hat to such recently deceased cinema giants as Maureen O'Sullivan, Alan J. Pakula, Phil Hartman, E.G. Marshall and Roddy McDowall, another burst of genuine emotion came gushing forth when Gwyneth Paltrow picked up Best Actress for her cross-dressing role in Shakespeare In Love. Tears came flooding forth as Paltrow thanked everyone, from her agent to her late cousin Keith, but at least she seemed to mean every word. Steven Spielberg then stepped forward to pay tribute to another recently deceased movie legend, the great Stanley Kubrick, before dark horse candidate Bill Condon won Screenplay Adaptation for the James Whale biopic Gods And Monsters. Unsurprisingly, Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard won Original Screenplay for Shakespeare In Love. Spielberg took to the stage once again for Best Director before Harrison Ford presented the last Oscar of the century to Shakespeare In Love for Best Picture.

And then it was all over, with the stars streaming out past the panting, desperate, endless media, to celebrate, commiserate and generally continue to sell their wares on the most important annual PR night of their lives. The lucky few that were taking a little gold-plated statue home with them for the night knew who really deserved to win and who didn't. And each of them also knew that there'd be an awful lot more scripts popping through their letterboxes over the coming weeks.

And the winners are:

    Shakespeare In Love

    Steven Spielberg

    Roberto Benigni

    Gwyneth Paltrow

    James Coburn

    Dame Judi Dench

    Life Is Beautiful

    Bill Condon for Gods And Monsters

    Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard for Shakespeare In Love

    Norman Jewison

    The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years

    The Last Days

    Sandy Powell for Shakespeare In Love

    Janusz Kaminski for Saving Private Ryan

    Elia Kazan


Paul Byrne 22/03/99

Free Industry Newsletter
Subscribe to IFTN's industry newsletter - it's free and e-mailed directly to your inbox every week.
Click here to sign up.

 the Website  Directory List  Festivals  Who's Who  Locations  Filmography  News  Crew  Actors

Contact Us | Advertise | Copyright | Terms & Conditions | Security & Privacy | RSS Feed | Twitter



onwin yeni giris canli bahis rulet siteleri