Thursday, February 7, 2008

67th Academy Awards

The 67th Academy Awards, honoring the best movies of 1994, were held on March 27, 1995 at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California. They were hosted by well-known comedian and talk show host David Letterman. The ceremony is perhaps best remembered for Letterman's performance as the host. Although some thought of him as different but good, most critics labelled his performance as terrible and vowed for him never to host the Oscars again. This negative criticism arose from Letterman's absurdist brand of comedy, and it would lead to Late Show with David Letterman losing in the ratings to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno by the summer of 1995. Around Academy Award season, Letterman frequently references his lackluster appearance at the Academy awards on his show in a humorous tone.

Forrest Gump won Best Picture, and 6 Oscars, including Tom Hanks' second straight Academy Award for Best Actor.The film tells the story of a man with an IQ of 75 and his epic journey through life, meeting historical figures, influencing popular culture and experiencing first-hand historic events while largely unaware of their significance, due to his lower than average intelligence. The film differs substantially from the book on which it was based.

Robert Zemeckis is an Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning American film director, producer and screenwriter. Zemeckis first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of the comedic time-travel Back to the Future films as well as the live-action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), though in the 1990s he diversified into more dramatic fare, including 1994's Forrest Gump, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director. His films are characterized by an interest in state-of-the-art special effects, including the early use of match moving in Back to the Future Part II (1989) and the pioneering performance capture techniques seen in The Polar Express (2004). The director was jobless until Michael Douglas hired him in 1984 to film Romancing the Stone. A romantic adventure starring Douglas and Kathleen Turner, Romancing was expected to flop (to the point that, after viewing a rough cut of the film, the producers of the then-in-the-works Cocoon fired Zemeckis as director), but the film became a sleeper hit. While working on Romancing the Stone, Zemeckis met composer Alan Silvestri, who has scored all of his subsequent pictures. After Romancing, the director suddenly had the clout to direct his time-traveling screenplay, which was titled Back to the Future. Starring Michael J. Fox, the 1985 movie was wildly successful upon its release, and was followed by two sequels, released in 1989 and 1990. Before the Back to the Future sequels were released, Zemeckis directed another film, the madcap 1940s-set mystery Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which painstakingly combined traditional animation and live action; the film was both a financial and critical success, and won four Academy Awards. In 1992, Zemeckis directed the black comedy Death Becomes Her, starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis. Although his next film would have some comedic elements, Zemeckis' next film was his first with dramatic elements, and was also his biggest commercial and critical success to date, 1994's Forrest Gump. Starring Tom Hanks in the title role, and borrowing heavily from Woody Allen's Zelig, Forrest Gump tells the story of a mentally handicapped man who unwittingly participates in some of the major events of the twentieth century, falling in love, and interacting with several major historical figures in the process. The film grossed $677 million worldwide and became the top grossing U.S. film of 1994; it won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Hanks as Best Actor, and Zemeckis as Best Director. In 1997, Zemeckis directed Contact, a long-gestating project based on Carl Sagan's 1985 novel of the same name. The film centers around Eleanor Arroway, a scientist played by Jodie Foster, who believes she has made contact with extraterrestrial beings. In 1996, Zemeckis had begun developing a project titled The Castaway with Tom Hanks and writer William Broyles Jr., about a man who becomes stranded on a desert island and undergoes a profound physical and spiritual change. While working on The Castaway, Zemeckis also became attached to a Hitchcockian thriller titled What Lies Beneath, the story of a married couple experiencing an extreme case of empty nest syndrome that was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. Because Hanks' character needed to undergo a dramatic weight loss over the course of The Castaway (which was eventually retitled Cast Away), Zemeckis decided that the only way to retain the same crew while Hanks lost the weight was to shoot What Lies Beneath in between. He shot the first part of Cast Away in early 1999, and shot What Lies Beneath in fall 1999, completing work on Cast Away in early 2000. What Lies Beneath, starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, was released in July 2000 to mixed reviews, but did well at the box office, grossing over $155 million domestically. Cast Away was released in that December and grossed $233 million domestically; as Chuck Noland, Hanks received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. In 2004, Zemeckis reteamed with Hanks and directed The Polar Express, based on the children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. The Polar Express utilized the computer animation technique known as performance capture, whereby the movements of the actors are captured digitally and used as the basis for the animated characters. Zemeckis used the performance capture technology again in his latest film, Beowulf, which retells the Anglo-Saxon epic poem of the same name and stars Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, and Anthony Hopkins. In the early 1980s, Zemeckis married actress Mary Ellen Trainor, with whom he had a son, Alexander. He described the marriage as difficult to balance with filmmaking, and his relationship with Trainor eventually ended in divorce. In 2001, he married actress Leslie Harter Zemeckis.

Tom Hanks won as Best Actor and Jessica Lange won her second award, this time as Best Actress, for Blue Sky. Martin Landau is an Academy Award-winning American film and television actor. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the television series Mission: Impossible (1966–1969) and Space: 1999 (1975–1977). He received a Golden Globe Award in 1969 for his performance in the former, playing the role of mission specialist Rollin Hand. In 1968 and 1969 he received Emmy award nominations for best actor in a dramatic series for his Mission: Impossible work. In 1994 several awards, including the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Ed Wood, having already received two previous Oscar nominationsIn 1959, Landau made his first major film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest at the age of 28. A few years later, after turning down the role of Spock in Star Trek, Landau took the role of master of disguise Rollin Hand in Mission: Impossible, becoming one of the show's best-known stars.He co-starred in the series with his then-wife, Barbara Bain, and the two left the series after the third season. In the late-1980s, Landau staged a major career comeback by winning an Academy Award nomination for his role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. He later received a second nomination for Crimes and Misdemeanors and won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his uncanny portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. Upon accepting the award, he was visibly frustrated by the orchestra's attempt to cut short his speech. When the music level rose, he pounded his fist on the podium and yelled "No!" He later stated that he had intended to thank Lugosi and dedicate the award to him and his frustration was that he didn't get to mention the man whom he had been honoured for playing. Landau has two daughters, Susan and Juliet, from his marriage to Barbara Bain. Landau and Bain married on January 31, 1957 and divorced in 1993.

The Best Supporting Actress award went to Dianne Wiest for Bullets over Broadway, her second award. Burnt by the Sun is a 1994 film by Russian director and actor Nikita Mikhalkov. The film received the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, among many other honours.

"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" is an Academy Award-winning song from Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King, composed by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice. It was described by Don Hahn (the film's producer), Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff (the film's directors) as having "the most diverse history" in the film. The song was performed in the film by Kristle Edwards, Joseph Williams, Sally Dworsky, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella, while the end title version was performed by Elton John. It won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It also earned Elton John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

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