Wednesday, February 6, 2008

66th Academy Awards

The 66th Academy Awards were presented March 21, 1994 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The show was landmark in that it featured a female African American host for the first time, Whoopi Goldberg, and represented a direct contrast in edgy style from Billy Crystal who had hosted the show the previous four years.

Schindler's List is a 1993 biographical film directed by Steven Spielberg, telling the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of over one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust. It was based on the book Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally, and starred Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as the SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's accountant Itzhak Stern. The film was a box office success, and won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Score. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively, but did not win. The American Film Institute voted it #9 on their AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies series, and in 2007 was voted in at #8 for the tenth anniversary list. In addition, the American Film Institute voted Liam Neeson's Schindler as the 13th greatest movie hero of all time, while Ralph Fiennes' Göth was voted the 15th greatest villain in the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains series. In 2006 it was selected as the 3rd most inspiring movie of all time by AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers. In 2004, the Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Steven Spielberg is an American film director and producer. Spielberg is a three-time Academy Award winner and is the highest grossing filmmaker of all time; his films having made nearly $8 billion internationally. As of 2006, Premiere listed him as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry. In a career that spans almost four decades, Spielberg's films have touched many themes and genres. During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, three of his films, Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park became the highest grossing films for their time. During his early years as a director, his sci-fi and adventure films were often seen as the archetype of modern Hollywood blockbuster film-making. In recent years, he has tackled emotionally powerful issues such as the Holocaust, slavery, war, and terrorism. Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do three TV movies. The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called Duel about a monstrous tanker truck which tries to run a small car off the road. Special praise of this film by the influential British critic Dilys Powell was highly significant to Spielberg's career. Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which had not yet been released as a movie. He fulfilled his contract by directing the TV movie length pilot of a show called Savage, starring Martin Landau. Spielberg's debut theatrical feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby. Studio producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director's chair for Jaws, a horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel. The film about a killer shark won three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound), and grossed $470,653,000 at the box office, setting the domestic record for box office gross and leading to what the press described as "Jawsmania". Jaws made him a household name, as well as one of America's youngest multi-millionaires, and allowed Spielberg a great deal of autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated for Best Picture and featured Spielberg's first of three collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss. Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFOs, which became Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). One of the rare movies both written and directed by Spielberg, Close Encounters… was a critical and box office hit, giving Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy as well as earning six other Academy Awards nominations. It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing, Frank E. Warner). This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg's rise. Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film. Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the Indiana Jones films, was his homage to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood, with Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars films) as the archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones. The biggest film at the box office in 1981, and recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director (Spielberg's second nomination) and Best Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated for Best Picture), Raiders is still considered a landmark example of the action genre. One year later, Spielberg returned to his science fiction genre, with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the story of a boy and the alien whom he befriends, who is trying to get back home to outer space. E.T. went on to become the top-grossing film of all time until it was beaten by another of his films, Jurassic Park, in 1993. E.T. was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Next, Spielberg and George Lucas made another Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The film was plagued with uncertainty for the material and script. The reviews were less positive than they were for its predecessor, though the film was a blockbuster hit in 1984. Between 1982 and 1984, Spielberg produced three high-grossing movies: Poltergeist (for which he also co-wrote the screenplay), a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone and The Goonies. In 1985, Spielberg released The Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, which is about a generation of empowered African-American women (Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey) during depression-era America (Danny Glover played the abusive patriarch). The film was a box office smash and critics hailed Spielberg's successful foray into the dramatic genre. The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, including two for Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. However, Spielberg did not get a Best Director nomination. In 1987, as China began opening to the world, Spielberg shot the first American movie in Shanghai since the 1930s, an adaptation of J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun. The film garnered much praise from critics and was nominated for several Oscars, but did not yield substantial box office revenues. After two forays into dramatic films, Spielberg directed another Indiana Jones film titled Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with actor Sean Connery in a supporting role. The film earned positive reviews and big box office receipts. Next, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the drama Always, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. In 1991, Spielberg directed Hook, about a middle-aged Peter Pan (played by Robin Williams), who returns to Neverland. In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the Japanese Godzilla movie-inspired version of Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park, about dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic, the film would eventually become the highest grossing film of all time. Spielberg's film Schindler's List was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 people from the Holocaust. Schindler's List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). In 1997, Spielberg helmed the sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park with The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which generated nearly $230 million in domestic box office despite its mixed reviews. Amistad was based on a true story (like Schindler's List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg released Amistad under his new studio DreamWorks Pictures, which has released all of his movies since Amistad. In 1998, Spielberg released the World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, about a squad of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) who try to find a missing soldier in France. Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction. In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick's final project, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence which Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report, based upon the sci-fi short story written by Philip K. Dick about a Washington, D.C., police captain who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met. Spielberg's 2002 film Catch Me if You Can is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is known for John Williams's score and its unique title sequence. The film was a hit both commercially and critically. Spielberg collaborated again with Tom Hanks along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in The Terminal, a warm-hearted comedy about a man of Eastern European descent who is stranded in an airport. In 2005, Spielberg did a modernized adaptation of War of the Worlds (a co-production of Paramount and DreamWorks), based on the H.G. Wells book of the same name, featuring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. As with past Spielberg films, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) provided the visual effects. Unlike E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which depicted friendly alien visitors, War of the Worlds had violent alien invaders. Spielberg's film Munich, about the events following the 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games, was his second film essaying Jewish relations in the world (the first being Schindler's List). The film is based on Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, a book by Canadian journalist George Jonas. The film received strong critical praise, but underperformed at the U.S. and world box-office; it remains one of Spielbergs most controversial films to date. Munich received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, Film Editing, Original Music Score (by John Williams), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg. It was Spielberg's sixth Best Director nomination and fifth Best Picture nomination. A year later he received his sixth Best Picture nomination for producing Letters from Iwo Jima. To date, seven films that Spielberg personally directed have been nominated for this award. From 1985 to 1989 Spielberg was married to actress Amy Irving. Following the divorce, Spielberg and Irving shared custody of their son, Max. Spielberg subsequently developed a relationship with actress Kate Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married on October 12, 1991. Capshaw is a convert to Judaism. There are seven children in the Spielberg-Capshaw family: Jessica Capshaw (1976) — daughter from Capshaw's previous marriage to Robert Capshaw Max Samuel Spielberg (June 13, 1985) — son from Spielberg's previous marriage to Amy Irving Theo (1988) — adopted by Capshaw before her marriage to Spielberg; adopted by Spielberg Sasha (May 14, 1990) Sawyer (March 10, 1992) Mikaela George (February 28, 1996) — adopted with Capshaw Destry Allyn (December 1, 1996).

Tom Hanks is a two-time Academy Award and Emmy-winning and four-time Golden Globe Award winning American film actor, director, voice-over artist writer and film producer. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies before achieving notable success as a dramatic actor in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. He is also one of only three actors in the history of film to have seven consecutive US$100 million blockbusters, the two other being Tom Cruise and Will Smith. It was Bosom Buddies and a guest appearance on a 1982 episode of Happy Days ("A Case of Revenge") where he played a disgruntled former classmate of The Fonz that drew director Ron Howard to contact Hanks. Howard was working on Splash (1984), a romantic comedy fantasy about a mermaid who falls in love with a human. At first, Howard considered Hanks for the role of the main character's wisecracking brother, a role which eventually went to John Candy. Instead, Hanks got the lead role and a career boost from Splash, which went on to become a box-office hit, grossing more than $69 million. Hanks succeeded with the fantasy Big (1988), both at the box office and within the industry, establishing Hanks as a major Hollywood talent. It was followed by the 1989 movie Turner and Hooch. Hanks’s choice of roles continued to land him in trouble. He had another string of box-office failures. First, there was The 'Burbs (1989), then Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and finally The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), which saw Hanks as a greedy Wall Street type who gets enmeshed in a hit-and-run accident. Hanks again climbed back to the top with his portrayal of an unsuccessful baseball manager in A League of Their Own (1992). This "modern era" welcomed in a spectacular 1993 for Hanks, first with Sleepless in Seattle and then with Philadelphia. The former was a blockbuster success about a widower who finds true love (in the character of Meg Ryan) over the airwaves. In Philadelphia Hanks played a gay lawyer with AIDS who sues his firm for discrimination (Hanks lost thirty-five pounds and thinned his hair in order to appear sickly for the role.) Hanks won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Philadelphia. During his acceptance speech he revealed that his high school drama teacher was gay. Hanks followed Philadelphia with the 1994 summer hit Forrest Gump, where the lead character moves in and out of cultural events in American history from the 60's onward. Hanks won his second Best Actor Academy Award for his role in Forrest Gump, becoming only the second actor to have accomplished the feat of winning back-to-back Best Actor Oscars. (Spencer Tracy was the first, winning in 1937-38. Hanks and Tracy were the same age at the time they received their Academy Awards: 37 for the first and 38 for the second.) Hanks’s next project reunited him with Ron Howard in the movie Apollo 13, in which he played astronaut and commander James Lovell. The movie also earned nine nominations for an Academy Award in 1996, winning two. For Saving Private Ryan he teamed up with Steven Spielberg to make a film about D-Day, the landing at Omaha Beach, and a quest through war-torn France to bring back a soldier who has a ticket home. It earned the praise and respect of the film community, critics, and the general public; it was labeled one of the finest war films ever made, earning Spielberg his second Academy Award for direction and Hanks a Best Actor nomination. Later in 1998, Hanks re-teamed with his Sleepless in Seattle co-star Meg Ryan for another romantic comedy, You've Got Mail, a remake of 1940's The Shop Around the Corner, which starred Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. In 1999, Hanks starred in an adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Green Mile. He also returned as the voice of Woody in Toy Story 2. The following year he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and an Academy nomination for his portrayal of a shipwrecked FedEx systems analyst in Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away. Next he teamed up with American Beauty director Sam Mendes for the adaptation of Max Allan Collins's and Richard Piers Rayner's graphic novel Road to Perdition, in which he played an anti-hero role as a hitman on the run with his son. That same year, Hanks collaborated with director Spielberg again, starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit crime comedy Catch Me if You Can, based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. The same year, he and wife Rita Wilson produced the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Hanks was absent from the screen in 2003; in 2004, he appeared in three films: The Coen Brothers' The Ladykillers, another Spielberg helmed film, The Terminal, and The Polar Express, a family film from Robert Zemeckis. In August 2005, Hanks was voted in as vice president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hanks next starred in the highly anticipated film The Da Vinci Code, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. The film was released May 19, 2006 in the US and grossed over USD$750 million worldwide. Hanks next appeared in a cameo role as himself in The Simpsons Movie, in which he appears in an advertisement claiming that the US government has lost its credibility and is hence buying some of his. In 2007, Hanks starred in Mike Nichols' film Charlie Wilson's War in which he plays Democratic Texas Congressman Charles Wilson (Texas politician). Hanks was married to Samantha Lewes from 1978 to 1987. The couple had two children, son Colin Hanks (now also an actor) and daughter Elizabeth Ann. In 1988, Hanks married actress Rita Wilson; raised in several different Christian denominations, Hanks converted from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity when marrying Wilson. The two first met on the set of Hanks’s television show Bosom Buddies but later developed a romantic interest while working on the film Volunteers. They have two sons, Chester (Chet) and Truman.

Holly Hunter is an Academy Award-winning American actress. Hunter's first starring role in films came in 1987's Raising Arizona. That year, she also starred in Broadcast News, for which she earned an Oscar nomination for the Best Actress. In 1993, she won the Best Female Performance Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Best Actress Oscar for The Piano and showcased her skill with the piano by playing all the elaborate pieces on the score herself. That year, Hunter was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for The Firm. In 2004, she earned another Best Supporting Actress nomination for Thirteen and voiced a star role (Helen Parr/Elastigirl) in the animated film The Incredibles. Hunter has also appeared in several television films and has earned two Emmys. She is currently starring in and producing Saving Grace, a crime series on TNT portraying an Oklahoma City Police Department detective. For many years, Hunter was in a relationship with actor Arliss Howard. She was married to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski from May 20, 1995 until their divorce on December 21, 2001. Since 2001, she has been in a relationship with American actor Gordon MacDonald. In January 2006, Hunter's publicist announced that the couple had welcomed twins; Entertainment Weekly later reported that the twins were boys.

Tommy Lee Jones is an Academy Award-winning American actor and director. He is perhaps best known for his roles in The Fugitive (and its sequel, U.S. Marshals), JFK, No Country for Old Men, In the Valley of Elah, Batman Forever, Men in Black and its sequel, Men in Black II. He made his debut in movies in Love Story, in 1970. In 1981, he played a drifter opposite Sally Field in Back Roads, a comedy that received middling reviews and grossed $11 million at the box office. In 1983, he received an Emmy for Best Actor for his performance as murderer Gary Gilmore in a TV adaptation of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. In the same year he also starred in pirate adventure Nate and Hayes, playing the heavily bearded Captain Bully Hayes. In the 1990s, movies such as The Fugitive co-starring Harrison Ford, Batman Forever co-starring Val Kilmer, and Men in Black with Will Smith brought him tens of millions of dollars and made him one of the top actors of Hollywood. 1991 brought him his first Academy Award nomination for JFK. His role in The Fugitive won him wide acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. When he accepted his Oscar, his head was shaved for his role in the film Cobb, a situation he made light of in his speech by saying "All a man can say at a time like this is 'I am not really bald.'" In 2005, he released his first feature-film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, that was presented at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. It won him the Best Actor Award. His first film as director was in 1995, a made-for-television movie. Two strong performances in 2007 have marked a resurgence in Jones' career, with his portrayal of a beleaguered father looking for his son in In the Valley of Elah and as a sheriff hunting an assassin in the critically acclaimed No Country for Old Men. For the former, he was nominated for an Academy Award. Jones was married to Kate Lardner, the daughter of Ring Lardner Jr. from 1971 to 1978. Jones has two children from his second marriage to Kimberlea Cloughey: Victoria Kafka (born 1991) and Austin Leonard (born 1982). On March 19, 2001, he married his third wife, Dawn Laurel.

Anna Paquin is an Academy Award-winning and Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated New Zealand actress. Her breakthrough performance was in The Piano, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting actress and made her the second youngest winner in history at the age of 11. She is also the first Canadian-born actress to win Best Supporting Actress. Paquin's big-screen debut happened when she attended the open audition for Flora for The Piano along with her sister. The director was impressed by nine-year-old Paquin's performance of the monologue about Flora's father, and she was chosen from among the 5000 candidates. When the The Piano was released in 1993 it was lauded by critics, won prizes at a number of film festivals, and eventually became a popular movie among a wide audience. Paquin's debut performance in the film earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of eleven, making her the second-youngest Oscar winner in history after Tatum O'Neal. The Piano was made as a small independent movie and wasn't supposed to be widely known, and Paquin and her family didn't plan to continue in the acting circles. However, she was invited to the prestigious William Morris Agency, and she kept receiving offers for new roles. In 1996, she appeared in two movies. The first role was a smallish one as young Jane in Jane Eyre. The other was a lead part in Fly Away Home playing a young girl who, after her mother dies, moves in with her father and finds solace in taking care of orphaned goslings. As a teenager, she had roles in several small films, such as The Member of the Wedding, Amistad, Hurlyburly and She's All That. Paquin returned to worldwide prominence with her role as Rogue in the blockbuster X-Men movie in 2000, its sequel X2: X-Men United in 2003, and its third installment X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006.

Belle Époque is a 1992 Spanish film directed by Fernando Trueba. The title derives from the period French history known as the Belle Époque ('The beautiful Era'). It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

"Streets of Philadelphia" is an Academy Award-winning song written and performed by American singer Bruce Springsteen for the 1993 film Philadelphia. It is a slow, mournful, but melodic dirge about life with AIDS, set against synthesizers and a drum machine. Because of the song's sterling achievements in the awards world, Springsteen played the song live in three high-visibility, prime-time awards show broadcasts: at the 66th Academy Awards in March 1994, at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1994, and at the Grammy Awards of 1995 in March 1995. Between this, Philadelphia's good box office, and the single being a top 10 pop hit, "Streets of Philadelphia" became one of Springsteen's best-known songs to the general music audience.

No comments: