The 68th Academy Awards was held on March 25, 1996 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. The show was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. The ceremony was watched 48.28 million viewers, with 30.0% households watching. Despite controversy from the NAACP concerning what was deemed as a lack of attention to African-American actors by the Academy, this show was one and only time an African-American was hired to produce the show to date. Key moments in this presentation included Christopher Reeve making his first public appearance onstage after becoming paralyzed, the performance of the troupe Stomp, the sextet Take 6, and a lifetime achievement award to Kirk Douglas recovering from a stroke. A special tribute to Gene Kelly was also produced.
Braveheart won 5 Oscars including Best Picture. Braveheart is a 1995 historical action-drama movie produced and directed by Mel Gibson, who also starred in the title role. The film was written for screen and then novelized by Randall Wallace. Gibson portrays a legendary Scot, William Wallace, who gained recognition when he came to the forefront of the First War of Scottish Independence by opposing Edward I of England (portrayed by Patrick McGoohan) and subsequently abetted by Edward's daughter-in-law Princess Isabelle (played by Sophie Marceau) and a claimant to the Scottish throne, Robert the Bruce (played by Angus Macfadyen). The film won five Academy Awards at the 68th Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, and had been nominated for an additional five. Produced by Icon Productions for Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, the film's success may have helped to revive the historical epic genre, with subsequent films such as Gladiator, The Patriot, Alexander, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven and 300.
Mel Gibson is an American-Australian actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Born in the United States, Gibson moved to Australia when he was 12 years old and he later studied acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. After establishing himself as a household name with the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, Gibson went on to direct and star in the Academy Award-winning Braveheart. Gibson's direction of Braveheart made him the sixth actor-turned-filmmaker to receive an Oscar for Best Director. In 2004, he directed and produced The Passion of the Christ, a blockbuster movie that portrayed the last hours of the life of Jesus. Gibson's good looks made him a natural for leading male roles in action projects such as the "Mad Max" series of films, Peter Weir's Gallipoli, and the "Lethal Weapon" series of films. Later, Gibson expanded into a variety of acting projects including human dramas such as Hamlet, and comedic roles such as those in Maverick and What Women Want. His greatest artistic and financial success came with films where he expanded beyond acting into directing and producing, such as 1993's The Man Without a Face, 1995's Braveheart, 2004's Passion of the Christ and 2006's Apocalypto. Gibson got his breakthrough role as the leather-clad post-apocalyptic survivor in George Miller's Mad Max. In 1984, he starred as Fletcher Christian in The Bounty. Gibson moved into more mainstream commercial filmmaking with the popular buddy cop Lethal Weapon series, which began with the 1987 original. In the films he played LAPD Detective Martin Riggs, a recently widowed Vietnam veteran with a death wish and a penchant for violence and gunplay. He is partnered with a reserved family man named Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). Gibson stated that when the Braveheart script arrived and was recommended by his agents, he rejected it outright because he thought he was too old to play the part. After careful thought, he decided to not only act in the film, but to direct it as well. Gibson received five Academy Awards, Best Director and Best Picture, for his 1995 direction of Braveheart. In the movie, Gibson starred as Sir William Wallace, a 13th century martyr of Scottish nationalism. In 2004 Gibson directed The Passion of the Christ which was based on the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus Christ according to the Four Evangelists and Roman Catholic Sacred Tradition. It was rendered multilingually in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin. Gibson co-wrote the screenplay with writer Benedict Fitzgerald and financed the film himself. The filming took place on location in Matera, Italy and Cinecittà Studios in Rome. Prior to making the film, Gibson constructed a traditionalist Catholic chapel on his California estate. It became the eighth highest-grossing film in history and the highest-grossing rated R film of all time. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Original Music Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Makeup at the 77th Academy Awards and won the People's Choice Award for Best Drama. Gibson's next historical epic, Apocalypto, was released to theaters on December 8, 2006. The film is set in Mesoamerica, during the fifteenth century. It focuses on the decline of the Maya civilization which reached its zenith around 600 AD, collapsed around 900 AD, and fell into a period of competing city states until the Conquistadors invaded. Dialogue is spoken in the Yucatec Maya language. It features a cast of actors from Mexico City, the Yucatán, and some Native Americans from the United States. Gibson met his wife Robyn Moore in the late 1970’s soon after filming Mad Max when they were both tenants at the same house in Adelaide. At the time, Robyn was a dental nurse and Mel was an unknown actor working for the South Australian Theatre Company. On June 7, 1980, they married in a Catholic Church in Forestville, New South Wales. They have one daughter, six sons, and one grandchild. Their seven children are Hannah (born 1980), twins Edward and Christian (born 1982), William (born 1985), Louis (born 1988), Milo (born 1990), and Thomas (born 1999).
Nicolas Cage is an Academy Award-winning American actor and an exemplar of method acting. He has also worked as a director and producer, through his production company Saturn Films. As of 2007, Cage has been nominated twice for an Academy Award as Best Actor in a Leading Role, winning the award for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas. Through his father, Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, as well as the cousin of director Sofia Coppola and actors Robert Carmine and Jason Schwartzman. Cage's two brothers are Christopher Coppola, a director, and Marc "The Cope" Coppola, a New York radio personality. His other nomination was for playing real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Kaufman's fictional twin Donald in Adaptation. Most of his financial successes have come from his forays into the action-adventure genre. In his second highest grossing film to date, National Treasure, he played an eccentric historian who goes on a dangerous adventure to find treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States. Other action hits in which Cage has starred include The Rock, in which he played a young FBI chemical weapons expert who infiltrates Alcatraz Island in hopes of neutralizing a terrorist threat, Face/Off, a John Woo film where he played both a hero and a villain, and World Trade Center, director Oliver Stone's film regarding the September 11, 2001 attacks. Cage has been married three times: Patricia Arquette (married on April 8, 1995 – divorce finalized May 18, 2001) Cage proposed to her on the day he met her in the early 80s. Arquette thought he was strange, but played along with his antics by creating a list of things Cage would have to do to "win her hand", including obtaining the autograph of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. However, when he seriously started working through the list of demands, Arquette became scared and avoided him. They met again many years later and went on to marry. Lisa Marie Presley (married on August 10, 2002 and separated after four months in December 2002; their divorce was finalized on May 16, 2004) — the daughter of Elvis Presley, of whom Cage is a fan and based his performance in Wild at Heart on. He later said they shouldn't have been married in the first place. Alice Kim, a former waitress who previously worked at the Los Angeles restaurant Kabuki, met Cage at Los Angeles based Korean Nightclub, Le Privé. She is mother to his son, Kal-El (born October 3, 2005). She had a minor role in the 2007 movie Next which he produced.
Susan Sarandon is an American actress. She has worked in films and television since 1970 and has won an Academy Award for her role in Dead Man Walking. She is also noted for her political activism for liberal causes. In 1969, Sarandon went to a casting call for the motion-picture Joe with her then husband Chris Sarandon. Although he did not get a part, she was cast in a major role of a disaffected teen who disappears into the seedy underworld (the film was released in 1970). Five years later, she appeared in the cult favorite The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That same year, she also played the female lead in The Great Waldo Pepper, opposite Robert Redford. Her most controversial film appearance was in The Hunger in 1983, a modern vampire story which turned out to be a critical and box office flop. The film has gained some cult status for a rather graphic lesbian love scene between Sarandon and co-star Catherine Deneuve. It was the first mainstream American film to feature such a scene between two star actresses. However, Sarandon did not become a "household name" until her breakthrough in the 1988 film Bull Durham. which became a huge commercial and critical success. Sarandon received five Academy Award nominations for best actress, in Atlantic City (1981), Thelma & Louise (1991), Lorenzo's Oil (1992), and The Client (1994), finally winning in 1996 for Dead Man Walking. Her other movies include Stepmom (1998), Anywhere but Here (1999), Cradle Will Rock (1999), The Banger Sisters (2002), Shall We Dance (2004), Alfie (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005) and Elizabethtown (2005). While in college, she met and married fellow student Chris Sarandon in 1967. They divorced in 1979 and she retained her married name as her stage name. In the mid-1980s, Sarandon dated director Franco Amurri, with whom she had a daughter in 1985, actress Eva Amurri. Since 1988, Sarandon has been in a relationship with actor Tim Robbins, whom she met while filming Bull Durham. The couple have two children: Jack Henry (born 1989) and Miles Guthrie (born 1992). Sarandon and Robbins are often involved in the same social and political causes.
Kevin Spacey is an American actor (film and stage) and director. Spacey grew up in California, and began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s, before being cast in supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in the early 1990s, culminating in his first Oscar for 1995's The Usual Suspects (Supporting), followed by a Best Actor Oscar win for 1999's American Beauty. Spacey has since spent time working on stage productions in London, and has remained in the public eye, starring in several major Hollywood films, including Se7en, Pay It Forward, L.A. Confidential, and his portrayal of Lex Luthor in Superman Returns. Some of Spacey's earlier roles include a widowed eccentric millionaire on L.A. Law, the made-for-television film The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988) opposite Jack Lemmon, and the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder-starring comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Spacey earned an avid fan following after playing the criminally insane arms dealer Mel Profitt on the television series Wiseguy. He quickly developed a reputation as a character actor, and was cast in bigger roles, including one-half of the bickering Connecticut couple in the dark comedy The Ref (1994), a malicious Hollywood studio boss in the satire Swimming with Sharks, and the put-upon office manager in the all-star ensemble film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), gaining him positive notices by critics. In 1995, Spacey appeared in Se7en, and as the enigmatic criminal Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects. His role in The Usual Suspects launched him to A-list status and won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1996, he played an egomaniacal district attorney in A Time to Kill. Spacey won universal praise and an Best Actor Oscar for his role as a depressed suburban father who re-evaluates his life in 1999's American Beauty; He played a physically and emotionally scarred grade school teacher in Pay It Forward, a patient in a mental institution who may or may not be an alien in K-Pax, and singer Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea. Spacey's most recent film role is as the villainous Lex Luthor in the Bryan Singer-directed superhero film, Superman Returns. It has recently been confirmed that he will reprise the role in the upcoming sequel, scheduled for 2009.
Mira Sorvino is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning American actress. She recently guest starred on an episode of House M.D. When the 1993 film Amongst Friends entered pre-production, she was hired as third assistant director, then was promoted to casting director, then to assistant producer, and was finally offered a lead role. Positive reviews opened doors for her. After small but showy roles in Robert Redford's Quiz Show and Whit Stillman's Barcelona, her portrayal of a squeaky-voiced, foul-mouthed prostitute in Woody Allen's 1995 film Mighty Aphrodite won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Other credits include Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (opposite Lisa Kudrow) and At First Sight with Val Kilmer. In recent years, she has starred in lower budget and independent films. In 2005, she received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the Lifetime film Human Trafficking. She met actor Christopher Backus—fourteen years her junior—at a friend's charades party in August 2003: they were engaged within a month. On June 11, 2004, they married in a private civil ceremony at a Santa Barbara, California courthouse, then later had a hilltop ceremony in Capri, Italy. Their daughter, Mattea Angel, was born on November 3, 2004 and their son, Johnny Christopher King, was born on May 29, 2006.
Antonia (released as Antonia's Line in the English-speaking world) is a 1995 film by Dutch director, writer, and feminist Marleen Gorris. The film, described by its director as a "feminist fairy tale," tells the story of the matronal Antonia (Willeke van Ammelrooy) who, after returning to the anonymous Dutch village of her birth, establishes and nurtures a close-knit matriarchal community. Spanning nearly forty years, it follows Antonia as she takes over the family farm, befriends a recluse, takes in the village simpleton, and provides a home for a retarded young woman who has been raped by a brother. The film covers a breadth of liberal topics, with themes ranging from death and religion to sex, intimacy, and love. It won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice award, and the Nederlands Film Festival Golden Calf award.
"Colors of the Wind" by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz was the 1995 Oscar-winner for Best Original Song from the Disney animated feature film Pocahontas. It also won the Golden Globe in the same category as well as the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Movie. The song poetically presents the Native American viewpoint that the earth is a living entity where mankind is connected to everything in nature. The song was performed within the movie's narrative by Judy Kuhn as the singing voice of Pocahontas. Singer/actress Vanessa Williams recorded a version for the end credits which was successfully released as a single and became one of Williams' biggest hits in 1995, earning a gold single for sales of 500,000 copies.