Friday, February 1, 2008

62nd Academy Awards

The 62nd Academy Awards were presented March 26, 1990 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. This was the first telecast hosted by Billy Crystal and debuted his famous nominee songs. He would go on to host the show seven more times over the next fifteen years. Since then, Crystal has opened every ceremony he has hosted with a song about the nominees for best picture concluding with the age of the Oscar (the 62nd ceremony means that the Oscar is 62 years old).

Driving Miss Daisy won four awards including Best Picture. It is a 1987 play by Alfred Uhry about the relationship of an elderly Southern Jewish lady shares with her African-American chauffeur, Hoke Colburn, over the span of several decades. The original off-Broadway production starred Dana Ivey and Morgan Freeman. Ivey's performance garnered her an Obie Award as Best Actress. The play was the first in Uhry's "Atlanta Trilogy" dealing with Jewish residents of that city in the early 20th century. Uhry's most successful play, it won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was performed in London's West End in 1988, with Dame Wendy Hiller as Miss Daisy Werthan. In 1989, the play was adapted for a Warner Brothers film with Morgan Freeman reprising his role and Miss Daisy played by Jessica Tandy (who went on to be the oldest winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role). The story defines Daisy and her point of view through a network of relationships and emotions by focusing on her home life, her synagogue, friends, family, fears, and concerns. Hoke is rarely seen out of Miss Daisy's presence, although the title implies that the story is told from his perspective. The film won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Picture. It is also, as of 2007, the last PG-rated film to win that title.The film is the only movie based on an off-broadway production to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Then eighty-year old Jessica Tandy's winning of the Best Actress award was also a history making event, as she is the oldest person to ever win the award.

Director Oliver Stone won as Best Director for Born on the Fourth of July. Daniel Day-Lewis won as Best Actor. He has become known as one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only three movies in the last ten years. He has also been acknowledged for his constant devotion to his roles and copious amounts of research he performs. Often he will remain in character and speak in the accents he has used on screen throughout the entire shooting schedule. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest actors of his generation. Eleven years after his film debut, Day-Lewis continued his film career with a small part in Gandhi (1982) as Colin, a street thug who bullies the title character, only to be immediately chastised by his high-strung mother. In 1984, he had a supporting role as the conflicted, but ultimately loyal first mate in The Bounty. The actor was next featured on stage as "The Count" in the stage-play of Dracula where he appeared with his hair dyed blond in a throwback to Nosferatu. He later let his hair grow out to give a frosted "punk look" when he played half of a gay bi-racial couple in My Beautiful Laundrette. Day-Lewis gained further public notice when the film was released simultaneously with A Room with a View (1986), in which he played an entirely different character: the effete upper-class fiancé of the main character (played by Helena Bonham Carter).In 1987, Day-Lewis assumed leading man status by starring in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, co-starring Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche, as a Czech doctor whose hyperactive and purely physical sex life is thrown into disarray when he allows himself to become emotionally involved with a woman.Day-Lewis put his personal version of "method acting" into full use in 1989 with his performance as Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot which won him numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor. During filming, his eccentricities came to the fore, due to his refusal to break character. Playing a severely paralyzed character onscreen, offscreen Day-Lewis had to be wheeled around the set in his wheelchair, and crew members would curse at having to lift him over camera and lighting wires, all so that he might gain insight into all aspects of Christy Brown's life, including the embarrassments. In 1992, three years after his Oscar win, The Last of the Mohicans was released. Day-Lewis' character research for this film was well-publicized; he reportedly underwent rigorous weight training and learned to live off the land and forest where his character lived, camping, hunting and fishing.While the film carried him to new heights of stardom, Day-Lewis preferred less "Hollywood" films such as The Age of Innocence co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer and directed by Martin Scorsese. He ultimately returned to work with Jim Sheridan on In the Name of the Father, in which he played Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongfully convicted of a bombing carried out by the Provisional IRA. In 1996, Day-Lewis starred in a film version of The Crucible based on the play by Arthur Miller and co-starring Winona Ryder. He followed that with Jim Sheridan's The Boxer as a former boxer and IRA member recently released from prison.After a three-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in Gangs of New York, a film directed by Martin Scorsese (with whom he had worked on The Age of Innocence) and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villain gangleader "Bill the Butcher" (who, ironically, has a pure hatred for Ireland and the Irish people), he starred along with Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Bill's young protegé. His performance in Gangs of New York earned him his third Academy Award nomination and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.In 2007, Day-Lewis appeared in director Paul Thomas Anderson's loose adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, titled There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis received a Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor (which he dedicated to the late Heath Ledger) for the role, and won both a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama and the Critic's Choice Award for Best Actor. He has also garnered a fourth Academy Award nomination for the film.In 1996, while working on the film version of the stage-play The Crucible, he visited the home of playwright Arthur Miller where he was introduced to the writer's daughter, Rebecca Miller. They fell in love and were married two weeks before the film's release. The couple have two sons, Ronan (born June 14, 1998), and Cashel (born May 2002).

Jessica Tandy won as Best Actress. After an acting career spanning some 65 years, Tandy found latter-day movie stardom in major studio releases and intimate dramas alike. From a young age she was determined to be an actress, and first appeared on the London stage in 1926. Following the end of her first marriage (to Jack Hawkins), she moved to New York and met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn, who became her second husband and frequent partner on stage and screen. She made her American film debut in The Seventh Cross (1944). She also appeared in The Valley of Decision (1945), The Green Years (1946, ironically enough as Cronyn's daughter!), Dragonwyck (1946) starring Gene Tierney and Forever Amber (1947). She became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1952. For the next 30 years, she appeared sporadically in films such as The Light in the Forest (1958), The Birds (1963), The World According to Garp (1982, as Glenn Close's mother) and Cocoon (1985, the latter two opposite Cronyn). The beginning of the 1980s saw a resurgence in her film career, with character roles in The World According to Garp, Best Friends, Still of the Night (all 1982) and The Bostonians (1984), and the hit film Cocoon (1985), opposite Cronyn, with whom she reteamed for *batteries not included (1987) and Cocoon: The Return (1988). She and Cronyn had been working together more and more, on stage and television, to continued acclaim, notably in 1987's Foxfire which won her an Emmy Award (recreating her Tony winning Broadway role). However, it was her colorful performance in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), as an aging, stubborn Southern-Jewish matron, that made her a bona fide Hollywood star and earned her an Oscar. She was the oldest actor to ever win an Academy Award, beating out George Burns by less than a year.She earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in the grassroots hit Fried Green Tomatoes (1992), and co-starred in The Story Lady (1991 telefilm, with daughter Tandy Cronyn), Used People (1992, as Shirley MacLaine's mother), To Dance with the White Dog (1993 telefilm, with husband Hume Cronyn), Nobody's Fool (1994), and Camilla (also 1994, with Cronyn). Camilla was to be her last performance, and it was bold in one way that she, at the age of about 84 and knowing that she was dying, had a brief nude scene,Tandy married twice. Her first, to British actor Jack Hawkins, in 1932, produced one daughter, Susan Hawkins (born 1934). The couple divorced in 1942. Tandy remarried, to Canadian-American actor, Hume Cronyn, in 1942. The couple had two children, Tandy Cronyn, also an actress, and son Christopher Cronyn. Tandy and Cronyn remained together until her death in 1994.She died at home on September 11, 1994, in Easton, Connecticut, of ovarian cancer at the age of 85.

Denzel Washington, a two-time Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning American actor and director. He has garnered much critical acclaim for his portrayals of several real-life figures, such as Steve Biko, Malcolm X, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Melvin B. Tolson, Frank Lucas, and Herman Boone. Shortly after graduating from Fordham, Washington made his professional acting debut in the 1977 made-for-television movie Wilma. He made his film debut in the 1981 film Carbon Copy. His big break came when he starred in the popular television hospital drama, St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988. In 1987, after appearing in several minor television, film and stage roles, Washington starred as South African anti-apartheid campaigner Steve Biko in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom, a role for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 1989, Washington won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing a defiant, self-possessed ex-slave in the film Glory. Also that same year, he gave a powerful performance as Reuben James, a Caribbean-born man who turned from a British Army paratrooper into a vigilante in For Queen and Country. Washington played one of his most critically acclaimed roles in 1992's Malcolm X, directed by Spike Lee. His performance as the Black Nationalist leader earned him an Oscar nomination. Malcolm X transformed Washington's career, turning him, practically overnight, into one of Hollywood's most respected actors. He turned down several similar roles, such as an offer to play Martin Luther King, Jr., because he wanted to avoid being typecast. The next year, in 1993, he took another risk in his career by playing Joe Miller, the homophobic lawyer of a homosexual man with AIDS in the movie Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks. During the early and mid 1990s, Washington became a renowned Hollywood leading man, starring in several successful thrillers, including The Pelican Brief and Crimson Tide, as well as comedies (Much Ado About Nothing) and romantic dramas (The Preacher's Wife). In 1999, Washington starred in The Hurricane, a movie about boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, whose conviction for triple murder was overturned after he had spent almost 20 years in prison. Various newspaper articles have suggested that the controversy over the film's accuracy may have cost Washington an Oscar for which he was nominated.In 2000, Washington appeared in the crowd-pleasing Disney film, Remember the Titans, which grossed over $100 million at the United States box office. He was nominated and won an Oscar for Best Actor for his next film, the 2001 cop thriller, Training Day, which was considered a change of pace for Washington, as he played a villainous character after many roles as a heroic lead. Washington was the second African-American performer ever to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Actor (for Training Day), the first being Sidney Poitier, who happened to receive an Honorary Academy Award the same night that Washington won for Best Actor. Washington holds the record for most Oscar nominations by an actor of African descent, so far he has earned five. Between 2003 and 2004, Washington appeared in a series of thrillers that performed generally well at the box office, including Out of Time, Man on Fire, and The Manchurian Candidate. In 2006 he starred in Inside Man, a Spike Lee-directed bank heist thriller co-starring Jodie Foster and Clive Owen, and Déjà Vu released in November 2006. Next, he co-starred with Russell Crowe in American Gangster and directed and starred in The Great Debaters. In 1983, Washington married actress Pauletta Pearson (now Pauletta Washington), whom he met on the set of his first screen role, Wilma. The couple has four children: John David (b. July 28, 1984), who signed a football contract with the St. Louis Rams in May 2006 after playing college football at Morehouse; Katia (b. November 1987), who is attending Yale University, and twins Olivia and Malcolm (b. April 10, 1991). In 1995, the couple renewed their wedding vows in South Africa with Archbishop Desmond Tutu officiating.

Brenda Fricker won as Best Supporting Actress. Fricker began her feature film career with a small uncredited part in the 1964 movie Of Human Bondage, based on the 1915 novel by William Somerset Maugham of the same name. Initially better known in the United Kingdom for her role as Megan Roach in the BBC One television drama series Casualty, she won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Christy Brown's mother in My Left Foot. She then co-starred in the 1990 film The Field. She then starred in the 1992 TV Movie Seekers alongside Josette Simon, produced by Sarah Lawson. She subsequently joined and remained with Casualty, before going on to star in a series of hit movies, including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and So I Married an Axe Murderer, as a Weekly World News-obsessed Scottish immigrant. In 2004 she played nurse Eileen in the film Inside I'm Dancing.

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988) is an Italian film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. It was internationally released as Cinema Paradiso in France, Spain the UK and the US. It was originally released in Italy at 155 minutes but poor box office performance in its native country led to it being shortened to 123 minutes for international release. It was an instant success. This international version won the Special Jury Prize at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and the 1989 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. In 2002, the director's cut 173-minute version was released (known in the U.S. as Cinema Paradiso: The New Version). It stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio. It was produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli, and the music was by Ennio Morricone along with his son Andrea Morricone.

"Under the Sea" is an Academy Award-winning song from Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman and is heavily influenced by the Calypso style of the Caribbean. The song was performed in the film by Samuel E. Wright. The song is a plea by the crab Sebastian imploring Ariel to remain sea-bound, and resist her desire to become a human in order to spend her life with the prince she has fallen in love with. Sebastian warns of the struggles of human life while at the same time expounding the benefits of a care-free life underwater.

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