The 61st Academy Awards were presented March 29, 1989 at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. The producers of the ceremony attempted to change established Oscar traditions for this year's show. One noticeable difference was that instead of an award presenter saying, "and the winner is.." they'd say, "and the Oscar goes to...". Many however, continued announcing winners with the traditional line. In addition, there was no official host for the ceremony this year. The show's opening number consisted of an elaborate stage-show featuring Merv Griffin, Snow White (portrayed by actress Eileen Bowman), and Rob Lowe - the latter two singing a disastrous rendition of the song "Proud Mary". This debacle, in addition to the changes made by the producers, led to the television broadcast receiving a disastrous reception. Consequently, producer Allan Carr would not return to produce the ceremony again, and future ceremonies would not open with a lavish "Broadway-style" opening number until the 74th Academy Awards. Right before Cher was to present the award for Best Picture, she had an anxiety attack. Jack Nicholson was brought backstage to help calm her down and almost had to present the award with her. Best Actor winner Dustin Hoffman, upon realizing he'd forgotten to thank Tom Cruise and director Barry Levinson in his Best Actor acceptance speech asked Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn (who were presenting next) to please thank them for him before presenting their award, which Russell did. Then, when Hoffman and Cruise took the stage later in the show to present the Best Actress award, Hoffman said "In my nervousness, I left out the director's name and I left out Tom's name. Tom, thank you very much. I love you very much." This is one of the few years in history that the nominees for Best Song were not performed during the ceremony. This was the final public appearance of Lucille Ball who died less than one month later. Ball presented an Oscar with long-time friend Bob Hope.
Rain Man is an Academy Award winning, 1988 drama film directed by Barry Levinson which tells the story of an abrasive, selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt, who discovers that his father has left all of his multi-million dollar estate to his autistic brother Raymond whom he never knew existed. The movie stars Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt, Dustin Hoffman as Raymond, and Valeria Golino as Charlie's girlfriend, Susanna. The character of Raymond was inspired by a real-life savant, Kim Peek. Rain Man won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Dustin Hoffman), Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. It was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography (John Seale), Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Score. The film also won the Golden Bear at the 1989 Berlin International Film Festival. To date Rain Man is the only film to have won both the Golden Bear and the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Barry Levinson won as Best Director for Rain Man. After some success as a screenwriter (Silent Movie, 1976, High Anxiety (in which he made a cameo appearance as a bellboy), 1977, and the Oscar-nominated script (co-written by then-wife Valerie Curtin) ...And Justice for All, 1979), he began his career as a director with Diner (1982), for which he had also written the script and which earned him a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination. Diner was the first of a series of films set in the Baltimore of Levinson's youth. The other films in this series were Tin Men (1987), starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, and the turn-of-the-century immigrant family saga Avalon (which featured Elijah Wood in one of his earliest screen appearances), as well as the more recent Liberty Heights (1999). All four movies were written and directed by Barry Levinson himself; for the last two he also acted as producer.His biggest hit, both critically and financially, was Rain Man (1988) with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise (in which he also appeared as an antagonistic doctor). The film won four Academy Awards including Best Director for Levinson. Other notable films in his directing career were The Natural (which starred Robert Redford, who later directed Quiz Show, which included an appearance by Levinson playing Dave Garroway) (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Toys (1992), both with Robin Williams, and Bugsy (1991) with Warren Beatty. Apart from producing many of his own films, he has also been producer or executive producer for such major productions as The Perfect Storm (directed by Wolfgang Petersen, 2000), Analyze That (2002, starring Robert de Niro as neurotic mafia boss and Billy Crystal as his therapist), and Possession (2002, based on the bestselling novel by A. S. Byatt). Levinson married his writing collaborator Valerie Curtin in 1975. They would divorce seven years later. He later married Dianna Rhodes whom he met in Baltimore while filming Diner.
The Best Actor award went to Dustin Hoffman for Rain Man. It was his second Oscar. The Best Actress Award went to Jodie Foster, a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress, director, and producer. She has also won two Golden Globes, three BAFTA awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award, making her one of the few people to have won all four major motion picture acting awards. Although Foster's first acting appearance was at three years old, her first significant role came in 1976 as an underage prostitute in Taxi Driver, receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She won an Oscar for Best Actress in 1988 for playing a rape victim in The Accused. In 1991, she starred in The Silence of the Lambs as Clarice Starling, a gifted FBI trainee, assisting in a hunt for a serial killer. This performance received international acclaim and her second Oscar for Best Actress. Her films and roles have spanned a wide variety of genres, including thrillers, crime, romance, comedy, children's movies, and science fiction. Popular later films include the box office successes Contact (1997), Panic Room (2002), Flightplan (2005) and Inside Man (2006).She began her career at age three as the Coppertone Girl in a television commercial and debuted as a television actress in a 1968 episode of Mayberry R.F.D. In 1969 she appeared in an episode of Gunsmoke where she was credited as "Jody Foster". She made her film debut in the 1970 TV movie Menace on the Mountain. Foster made a number of Disney movies, including Napoleon and Samantha (1972), One Little Indian (1973), Freaky Friday (1976) and Candleshoe (1977). She also co-starred with Christopher Connelly in the 1974 TV series version of Paper Moon and alongside Martin Sheen in the 1976 cult film The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. At age fourteen, Foster was nominated for the Academy Award For Best Supporting Actress for her role as Iris, a pre-teen prostitute in Martin Scorsese's film Taxi Driver opposite Robert De Niro. De Niro's character, the psychotic Travis Bickle, intends to "save" her from life on the streets. When that does not succeed, he tries to assassinate a presidential candidate. After this fails, he shoots Iris' pimp, played by Harvey Keitel. John Hinckley Jr., a deranged fan, became obsessed with her after watching Taxi Driver a number of times, and he stalked her while she attended Yale, sending her love letters to her campus mail box and even talking to her on the phone. On March 30, 1981, he attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan, (shooting and wounding Reagan and three others) and claimed his motive was to impress Foster, then a Yale freshman. Foster successfully made the transition to adult roles, but not without initial difficulty. Several of her post-Taxi Driver works were financially unsuccessful, such as Foxes, The Hotel New Hampshire, Five Corners, and Stealing Home. She had to audition for her role in The Accused. She won the part and the first of her two Golden Globes and Academy Awards as Best Actress for her role as a rape survivor. She earned her second as FBI agent Clarice Starling, opposite Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, in the 1991 film, The Silence of the Lambs. She made her directorial debut in 1991 with Little Man Tate, a critically acclaimed drama about a child prodigy, in which she also co-starred as the child's mother. She also directed Home For The Holidays (1995), a black comedy starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. She began working as a producer in 1994 with the acclaimed Nell, the story of a young woman raised in an isolated place who has to return to civilization. Foster played Laural Sommersby in Sommersby and Annabelle Bransford in the 1994 film Maverick. In 1997, she starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in the sci-fi movie Contact, based on the novel by scientist Carl Sagan. She portrayed a scientist searching for extra-terrestrial life in the SETI project. She has two sons, Charles Bernard Foster (b. 1998) and Kit Bernard Foster (b. 2001); the actress has never identified or discussed their father.
Kevin Kline won as Best Supporting Actor. Kline finally ventured into film in 1982, winning the coveted role of the tormented and mercurial Nathan opposite Meryl Streep in Alan Pakula's Sophie's Choice. Streep won an Academy Award for her performance in the film, and Kline was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for best debut performance. During the 1980s and early-1990s, Kline made several films with director Lawrence Kasdan, including The Big Chill, Silverado, Grand Canyon, I Love You To Death, and French Kiss. In the mid-1990s, he was supposed to star as Mandrake the Magician in the movie of the same name, but the film never got off the ground. In 1989, Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the British comedy A Fish Called Wanda, in which he played a caricature of a painfully stupid American ex-CIA thug opposite John Cleese's genteel British barrister. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film twenty-first on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs. Kline married actress Phoebe Cates in 1989. The couple make their home in New York City and have three children: Owen Joseph Kline (born 1991), who had a featured role in The Squid and the Whale, and Greta Simone Kline (born 1994).
The Best Supporting Actress award went to Geena Davis. She was working as a model when director Sydney Pollack spotted her and cast her in Tootsie (1982) as a soap opera actress. She followed this up with roles in the short-lived television series Buffalo Bill (1983–1984), for which she also wrote an episode, and Sara (1985). Davis made her film breakthrough with The Fly and Beetlejuice. She received an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Accidental Tourist (1988) and a Best Actress nomination for her role in Thelma and Louise (1991). Davis replaced Debra Winger for the lead in A League of Their Own and received a Best Actress Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance. She then co-starred in Hero alongside Dustin Hoffman and Andy Garcia. Following this, Davis teamed up with then husband Renny Harlin for the films Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight. She and Harlin produced the films. Davis starred in the short-lived sitcom The Geena Davis Show (2000–2001). In early 2004, she guest-starred as Grace Adler's sister Janet on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace. She most recently starred in the ABC television series Commander in Chief as the first female President of the United States.On September 1, 2001, Davis married Iranian-American Dr. Reza Jarrahy. They have three children: daughter Alizeh Keshvar (born April 10, 2002) and fraternal twins Kian William Jarrahy and Kaiis Steven Jarrahy on May 6, 2004. The marriage is Davis' fourth; she was previously married to Richard Emmolo (25 March 1982 - 26 February 1983); actor Jeff Goldblum, with whom she co-starred in three films, Transylvania 6-5000, The Fly and Earth Girls Are Easy (1987 to 1990); and Renny Harlin, who directed her in Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1993 to 1998).
Pelle the Conqueror is a 1987 film that tells the story of two Swedish immigrants to Denmark, a father and son, who try to build a new life for themselves. It stars Pelle Hvenegaard as the young Pelle, with Max von Sydow as his father. Pelle the Conqueror won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 1988; it was submitted to the Academy by the Danish government, giving Denmark its second consecutive win after Babette's Feast. Max von Sydow was nominated for, but did not win, the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film also won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (1988) and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
"Let the River Run" is an Academy Award winning song first featured in the film Working Girl, with music and lyrics by Carly Simon. This song won the Academy Award for Best Song at the 61st Academy Awards in 1988.