Wednesday, January 23, 2008

47th Academy Awards

The 47th Academy Awards were presented April 8, 1975 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Sammy Davis, Jr., Bob Hope, Shirley MacLaine, and Frank Sinatra.

The Godfather Part II is a 1974 motion picture directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo. The film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, chronicling the story of the Corleone family following the events of the first film while also depicting the rise to power of the young Vito Corleone. It is ranked as the third best movie of all time by the Internet Movie Database, with the movie's predecessor, The Godfather, ranked as #1, and the American Film Institute lists it as #32. The Godfather Part II is considered by many as the greatest sequel of all-time, being nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning 6, including the Best Picture Award and the Best Supporting Actor Award. It is considered by some critics to be better than the original. The Godfather Part II has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.The Godfather Part II is the only official sequel ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won the 2004 Oscar for Best Picture, is the third part of a single trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silence of the Lambs, the 1991 winner for the Academy Award for Best Picture, is not an official sequel to Manhunter.) The Godfather series remains the only film series to win two Academy Awards for Best Picture. Between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Coppola directed The Conversation, which was released in 1974 and was also nominated for Best Picture. This resulted in Coppola being the second director in Hollywood history to have two films released in the same year nominated for Best Picture. (The first was Sir Alfred Hitchcock in 1941 with Foreign Correspondent and Rebecca, which won. This achievement was matched by Steven Soderbergh in 2000, when the films Erin Brockovich and Traffic were both nominated for Best Picture.)

The Best Actor Oscar went to Art Carney, who began his film career in 1941 with a uncredited role in Pot o' Gold, a minor film starring James Stewart and Paulette Goddard, playing one of her brothers. In the season two opening episode of the television series Batman, titled "Shoot a Crooked Arrow" (1966), Carney gave a memorable performance as the newly-introduced villain "The Archer". In 1974 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Harry Coombes, an elderly man going on the road with his pet cat, in Harry and Tonto. In 1978, Carney appeared in The Star Wars Holiday Special, a spin-off film to the Star Wars series. In it, he played Trader Saun Dann, a member of the Rebel Alliance who was a close friend of Chewbacca and his family. He also appeared in such films as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, The Late Show, House Calls, Movie Movie and Going in Style. Later movies included The Muppets Take Manhattan, and the thriller Firestarter. Carney gained lifelong fame for his portrayal of upstairs neighbor and sewer worker, Ed Norton, opposite Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden in the popular television comedy show The Honeymooners and on the Gleason variety shows that preceded and followed the sitcom. His portrayal of Norton continues to influence pop culture, particularly by inspiring the Hanna-Barbera characters, Yogi Bear and Barne Rubble. Although he retired in the late 1980s, he returned in 1993 to make a small cameo in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero. Carney was married three times to two women: Jean Myers, from 1940 to 1965; and again from 1980 to his death: three children; and Barbara Isaac from December 21, 1966 to 1977. Carney died of natural causes at a rest home near his home in Westbrook, Connecticut, five days after his 85th birthday; he was survived by his widow and children.

Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1974 for her performance in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for the film The Last Picture Show, and was subsequently nominated for Best Actress in 1973 for the horror movie The Exorcist, in 1978 for Same Time, Next Year, in 1980 for Resurrection, and for Requiem for a Dream in 2000. Burstyn's most recent film appearance was in The Fountain, directed by Darren Aronofsky, with whom she worked in Requiem for a Dream.

The Best Supporting Actor was won by Robert De Niro for The Godfather part II. He is noted for his method acting and portrayal of conflicted, troubled characters, for his enduring collaboration with director Martin Scorsese and for his early work with director Brian De Palma. He is best known for his roles as the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Michael "Mike" Vronsky The Deer Hunter, The Infamous boxer Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull & as Jimmy Conway in the gangster classic Goodfellas. De Niro was voted No.2 in Total Film's 100 greatest actors of all time. He gained popular attention with his role as a dying Major League baseball player in Bang the Drum Slowly (1973). The same year he began his fruitful collaboration with Scorsese when he played his memorable role as the smalltime Mafia hood "Johnny Boy" alongside Harvey Keitel's "Charlie" in Mean Streets (1973). In 1974, De Niro played a pivotal role in Francis Coppola's The Godfather Part II playing young Don Vito Corleone. His performance earned him his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. After working with him in Mean Streets he had a very successful working relationship with Scorsese in films such as Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), and Casino (1995). (They also acted together in Guilty by Suspicion and Shark Tale.) In these films, De Niro has primarily played charming sociopaths. Taxi Driver is particularly important to De Niro's career; his iconic performance as Travis Bickle shot him to stardom and forever linked De Niro's name with Bickle's famous "You talkin' to me?" monologue, which De Niro improvised himself. In 1976, De Niro appeared, along with Gérard Depardieu and Donald Sutherland, in Bernardo Bertolucci's epic biographical exploration of life during World War II, Novecento (1900), seen through the eyes of two Italian childhood friends at the opposite sides of society's hierarchy. In 1978, De Niro played "Michael Vronsky" in the acclaimed Vietnam War film The Deer Hunter, for which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Praised for his commitment to roles (stemming from his background in Method acting), De Niro gained 60 pounds (27 kg) and learned how to box for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, ground his teeth for Cape Fear, lived in Sicily for The Godfather Part II, worked as a cab driver for three months for Taxi Driver, and learned to play the saxophone for New York, New York. He also put on weight and shaved his hairline to play Al Capone in The Untouchables. Although unmistakably better known for his roles in Scorsese's films, he starred in Sergio Leone's last film: a four-hour gangster movie titled Once Upon a Time in America. Fearing he had become typecast in mob roles, De Niro from the mid-1980s began expanding into occasional comedic roles, and has had much success there as well with such films as Brazil (1985), in which he had a small role; the hit action-comedy Midnight Run (1988), Awakenings (1990) with Robin Williams where DeNiro plays a catatonic patient brought to life by medication; Showtime (2002) opposite Eddie Murphy; and the film-and-sequel pairs Analyze This (1999) and Analyze That (2002), and Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004). Other films include Falling in Love (1984), The Mission (1986), Angel Heart (1987) Heat (1995), Wag the Dog (1997) and Ronin (1998). In 1997, he reteamed with Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta, along with Sylvester Stallone, in the crime drama Cop Land. De Niro proved he was able to play a supporting role taking a back seat to Stallone, Keitel and Liotta.In 1995 De Niro starred in Michael Mann's Heat, along with fellow actor Al Pacino. The duo drew much attention from fans as both have generally been compared throughout their careers. Though both Pacino and De Niro starred in The Godfather Part II, they shared no screen time. In De Niro's next project, he directed and co-starred in The Good Shepherd (2006), also starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. The movie also reunited him onscreen with Joe Pesci, with whom De Niro had starred in Raging Bull, Once Upon A Time in America, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale and Casino. De Niro has won two Academy Awards: Best Actor for his role in Raging Bull; and Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather Part II. De Niro has a son, Raphael, with first wife Diahnne Abbott. He also adopted Abbott's daughter, Drena, from a previous relationship. He also has twin sons, Julian Henry and Aaron Kendrick, (conceived by in vitro fertilization) from a long-term live-in relationship with former model Toukie Smith. Raphael, a former actor, now works in New York real estate.In 1997, De Niro married his second wife, Grace Hightower, a former flight attendant, at their estate near Marbletown in upstate New York (De Niro also has residences on the east and west sides of Manhattan). Their son Elliot was born in 1998.

The Best Supporting Actress award went to Ingrid Bergman for Murder on the Orient Express and the Best Director award to Francis Ford Coppola. In the early 1960s, Coppola started his professional career making low-budget films with Roger Corman and writing screenplays. In 1971, Coppola won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Patton. However, his name as a filmmaker was made as the co-writer and director of The Godfather (1972), The Conversation (1974), and The Godfather Part II (1974). In between directing the Godfather films, Coppola wrote the screenplay for the critically and commercially unsuccessful 1974 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, which was directed by Jack Clayton and starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. While at Warner Brothers Coppola hired George Lucas as his assistant and eventually produced Lucas' breakthrough film, American Graffiti, which was released in 1973. In 1974 the highly anticipated sequel The Godfather Part II was released. Again directed and co-written by Coppola, the second film follows the story of the Corleone family under Michael Corleone throughout the 1950s and 60s, intercut with sequences depicting Vito Corleone as young man and his subsequent rise to power. The sequel was equally as successful commercially as the first film and received much critical praise. It became the first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture; it also earned Coppola Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay while winning three other awards and earning five other nominations. In between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Coppola directed The Conversation, the story of a paranoid wiretapping and surveillance expert (played by Gene Hackman) who finds himself caught up in a possible murder plot. The Conversation was released to theaters in 1974 and was also nominated for Best Picture, competing against The Godfather Part II. Following the success of The Godfather, The Conversation and The Godfather Part II, Coppola began filming Apocalypse Now, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness set in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The production of the film was plagued by numerous problems, including typhoons, nervous breakdowns, the firing of Harvey Keitel, Martin Sheen's heart attack, extras from the Philippine military leaving in the middle of scenes to go fight rebels, and an unprepared Marlon Brando with a bloated appearance (which Coppola attempted to hide by shooting him in the shadows). It was delayed so often it was nicknamed Apocalypse Whenever. The film was equally lauded and hated by critics when it finally appeared in 1979. In 1990 he completed the Godfather series with The Godfather Part III which, while not as critically acclaimed as the first two movies, was still a box office success. Some reviewers criticized the casting of Coppola's daughter Sofia, who stepped into a role abandoned by Winona Ryder just as filming began. Coppola often worked with family members on his films. He cast his two sons in The Godfather as extras during the street fight scene and Don Corleone's funeral; his daughter, Sofia Coppola, appeared in the first and third installments of the series. His sister, Talia Shire, played Connie Corleone in all three Godfather films. His father Carmine, a composer and professional musician, co-wrote much of the music in The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Apocalypse Now. His nephew, Nicholas Cage, starred in Coppola's film Peggy Sue Got Married and was featured in Rumble Fish and The Cotton Club. His eldest son, Gian-Carlo Coppola, was in the early stages of a film production career when he was killed on May 26, 1986 in a speedboat accident. Coppola's surviving son, Roman Coppola, is a filmmaker and music video director whose filmography includes the feature film CQ and music videos for The Strokes, as well as co-writing the Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited. Coppola's daughter, Sofia Coppola, is an Academy Award-winning writer and -nominated director. Her films include the critically-acclaimed films The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. In 2004, she became the first American woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, for Lost in Translation. Other famous members of Coppola's family include his nephews, Jason Schwartzman and Robert Schwartzman. Jason Schwartzman has starred in several films, such as Rushmore and Slackers. He also co-wrote (along with director Wes Anderson and cousin Roman Coppola) and starred in the 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited. His brother, Robert Schwartzman, is the lead singer in the band Rooney and has made small appearances in several films, including his cousin's The Virgin Suicides. In recent years, Coppola, with his family, has expanded his business ventures to include winemaking in California's Napa Valley at the Rubicon Estate Winery in Rutherford, California. His company, Francis Ford Coppola Presents, owns a winery in Geyserville, Sonoma County, California. The company also produces a line of pastas and pasta sauces, and it owns several cafes and resorts.

Amarcord (1973), directed by Federico Fellini, is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale that combines poignancy with bawdy comedy. It tells the story of a wild cast of characters in Fellini's home town of Rimini in 1930s Fascist pre-World War II Italy. Amarcord (a m'arcòrd) is Romagnolo for "I remember". The film won the Oscar for "Best Foreign Language Film".

We May Never Love Like This Again is a song written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn for the 1974 film The Towering Inferno. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and was performed by Maureen McGovern both for the film score and, briefly, in the film itself with McGovern portraying a singer.

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