Sunday, January 27, 2008

53rd Academy Awards

The 53rd Academy Awards were presented March 31, 1981, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies, which were presided over by Johnny Carson, was originally scheduled the previous day but postponed due to the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Ordinary People is an Academy Award-winning 1980 American motion picture drama and the directorial debut of Robert Redford. The story is about the disintegration of an upper middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois, following the death of the oldest son. It was based upon the 1976 novel by Judith Guest. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning that year's Academy Award for Best Picture and various other major film awards. Robert Redford and Timothy Hutton both won Academy Awards for their respective debuts: Redford as a director and Hutton as an actor. The movie marked Mary Tyler Moore's career breakout from the stereotype of the light-hearted comedienne.

Robert Redford won as Best Director for the above film. While still largely an unknown, Redford made his screen debut in War Hunt (1962), co-starring with John Saxon in a film set during the last days of the Korean War. This film also marked the debuts of Sydney Pollack and Tom Skerritt. After his Broadway success, he was cast in larger feature roles in movies. He played a bisexual movie star who marries starlet Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) and rejoined her for Pollack's This Property Is Condemned (1966)—again as her lover. The same year saw his first teaming with Jane Fonda, in Arthur Penn's The Chase. Fonda and Redford were paired to better effect in the big screen version of Barefoot in the Park (1967), and were again co-stars in Pollack's The Electric Horseman (1979). Redford became concerned about his blond male starlet image and turned down roles in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate. Redford found the property he was looking for in George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in which he was paired for the first time with with Paul Newman (1969). The film made him a bankable star and cemented his screen image as an intelligent, reliable, sometimes sardonic good guy, and Redford became one of the most popular stars of the 1970s.But his overall career was flourishing, with the critical and box office hit, Jeremiah Johnson (1972), the political satire The Candidate (1972), the maudlin Barbara Streisand vehicle, The Way We Were and The Sting, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. During the years 1974-76, exhibitors voted Redford Hollywood's top box office name. His hits included the glossy The Great Gatsby (1974), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) and Three Days of the Condor (1975). The popular and acclaimed All the President's Men (1976), directed by Alan J. Pakula and scripted once again by Goldman, was a landmark film for Redford. Not only was he the executive producer and co-star, but the film's serious subject matter, the Watergate scandal, also reflected the actor's offscreen concerns for political causes.Redford had long harbored ambitions to work on both sides of the lens. As early as 1969, Redford had served as the executive producer for Downhill Racer. As he entered middle age, Redford possessed the stature to start directing. His first outing as director was in 1980's Ordinary People, a drama about the slow disintegration of an upper-middle class family, for which he won the Academy Award. Redford was credited with obtaining the powerful dramatic performance out of America's Sweetheart, Mary Tyler Moore, as well as superb work from Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton. Redford did not direct again until The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), a well-crafted—though not commercially successful screen version of John Nichols' acclaimed novel of the Southwest. Other directorial projects have included the successful period family drama A River Runs Through It (1992), based on Norman Maclean's novella, and the intelligent exposé Quiz Show (1994), about the quiz show scandal of the late 1950's. Working from a screenplay by Paul Attanasio with noted cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and a strong cast that featured John Turturro, Rob Morrow, and Ralph Fiennes. Redford's skill behind the camera earned him well-deserved praise. Redford handpicked Morrow for his part in the film (Morrow's only high profile feature film role to date), because he liked his work on Northern Exposure. Redford also directed Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000). Besides his directing and producing duties, Redford continued acting. And at an age when many actors would be taking character roles, Redford continued playing romantic leads. He played opposite Meryl Streep in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning Out of Africa (age 49), Michelle Pfeiffer in the newsroom romance Up Close & Personal (age 60), and Kristin Scott Thomas in The Horse Whisperer (age 62), which he also directed. Redford also continued work in films with political undertones, such as Havana (1990), Sneakers (1992), and Spy Game (2001). With the financial proceeds of his acting success, starting with his salaries from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Downhill Racer, Redford bought a modest ski area just northeast of Provo, Utah called "Timphaven," which was renamed "Sundance" (over his initial objections). Redford's wife Lola was from Utah and they had built a home in the area in 1963. Portions of the movie Jeremiah Johnson (1972), a film which is both one of Redford's favorites and one that has heavily influenced him, were shot near the ski area. He founded the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute, Sundance Cinemas, Sundance Catalog, and the Sundance Channel, all in and around Park City, Utah, 30 miles (48 km) north of the Sundance ski area. The Sundance Film Festival caters to independent filmmakers in the United States and has received recognition from the industry as a place to open films. On September 12, 1958, Redford married Lola Van Wagenen. They divorced in 1985. During their marriage, the couple had four children; Scott (1959-1959), who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Shauna Redford (b. 1960), David James Redford (b. 1962), and Amy Redford (b. 1970). In the years following his divorce, Redford's romantic interests have included actress Sonia Braga and costume designer Kathy O'Rear. Since 1996, his companion has been German painter Sibylle Szaggars. Redford has four grandchildren. His daughter Amy is set to direct her first feature film, an independent drama entitled The Guitar. His other daughter, Shauna, married Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser (born August 17, 1959) on October 5, 1985 in Provo, Utah. The couple has two children.

The Best Actor Oscar went to Robert De Niro for Raging Bull, his second award but first in a leading role. The Best Actress Oscar was won by Sissy Spacek. Spacek started out as a country singer, recording one single ("John, You Went Too Far This Time," about John Lennon) under the name "Rainbo." With the help of her cousin, actor Rip Torn, she was able to enroll in Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio and then the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City. Her first credited role was in the 1972 movie Prime Cut, in which she played a young woman sold into sexual slavery. The first role that brought her notice was the 1973 film Badlands, where she met art director Jack Fisk, whom she would later marry. Her breakout role was in 1976's Carrie, in which she played the title character, an unpopular and emotionally troubled teenager with telekinetic powers. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in the film. She won the Oscar in 1980 for Coal Miner's Daughter, in which she played country music star Loretta Lynn. Spacek married production designer Jack Fisk in 1974. They have two daughters; Schuyler Elizabeth and Madison Fisk. Schuyler Fisk has appeared in several starring film roles. Her cousin is also actor Rip Torn. Spacek and her family live on a horse ranch near the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Timothy Hutton is an American Academy Award-winning actor — the youngest ever to win the award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 20. Hutton received the award for his performance as Conrad Jarrett in Ordinary People (1980), the Oscar-winning directorial debut of Robert Redford. Since winning the Oscar and the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actor for Ordinary People, Hutton has gone on to numerous popular roles in feature films and television. He starred as detective Archie Goodwin in the A&E TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–2002), and also served as an executive producer and directed several episodes of the critically acclaimed series. His other directing credits include the family film Digging to China (1998).Hutton has married twice. His first marriage (1986-1990) was to actress Debra Winger; they have a son, Noah. In 2000, he married illustrator Aurore Giscard d'Estaing; their son Milo was born in Paris on September 11, 2001.

Mary Steenburgen won as Best Supporting Actress. Steenburgen moved to New York City in 1972, working at Doubleday's while studying acting at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. Her break came when she discovered by Jack Nicholson in the reception room of Paramount's New York office, and soon after cast her as the lead in his second directorial effort, the 1978 Western Goin' South. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1980 film Melvin and Howard. She played Clara Clayton in Back to the Future Part III (1990), a role which her children, fans of the Back to the Future movies, convinced her to play. She also had a role in the 1979 film Time After Time in which she played the love interest to H.G. Wells played by her husband-to-be Malcolm McDowell. In both films, she played the love interest of a time traveller. She also starred in the sitcom Ink and the television miniseries of Gulliver's Travels with her husband Ted Danson. Steenburgen married Malcolm McDowell in 1980 and they had two children together: Lily Amanda, born January 21, 1981 and Charles Malcolm born July 10, 1983, before divorcing in 1990, and has been married to actor Ted Danson since 1995.

Moscow Does not Believe in Tears is a 1979 Soviet film made by Mosfilm. The actual Russian translation of the title is "Moscow Does Not Trust Tears." It was written by Valentin Chernykh and directed by Vladimir Menshov. The leading roles were played by Menshov's wife Vera Alentova and by Aleksey Batalov. The film won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980.

"Fame" is a pop song written by Michael Gore (music) and Dean Pitchford (lyrics) that was released in 1980 and achieved chart success as the theme song to the Fame movie and TV series. The song was performed by Irene Cara, who played the role of Coco Hernandez in the original movie. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for the same.

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