Saturday, February 9, 2008

69th Academy Awards

The 69th Academy Awards, held at the Shrine Shrine Auditorium on March 24th 1997 and hosted by Billy Crystal, were dominated by movies produced by independent studios, financed outside of mainstream Hollywood, leading to 1997 being dubbed "The Year of the Independents". All but one of the nominees for Best Picture were low-budget independent movies The big winner at the ceremony was Anthony Minghella's The English Patient, which had received 12 nominations and won 9 awards including Best Picture. Other notable movies to be honoured at the ceremony included Fargo, which had been nominated for 7 awards and won 2, Shine, which had been nominated for 7 awards and won just one, and Jerry Maguire, which had been nominated for 5 awards and also won just one. The Awards marked one of the greatest upsets in Oscar History as most had predicted Lauren Bacall would win Best Supporting Actress for "The Mirror Has Two Faces." Instead, the Oscar went to Juliette Binoche for "The English Patient." The ceremony attracted a low 40.83m, the lowest audience without dipping below the 40 million mark (later surpassed by the 40.54m who watched in 2002).

The English Patient is a 1996 film adaptation of the novel by Michael Ondaatje. The film, directed by Anthony Minghella, won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Ondaatje worked closely with the filmmakers to preserve his artistic vision, and has stated that he is happy with the film as an adaptation. The film garnered widespread critical acclaim and was a major award winner as well as a box office success; its awards included the Academy Award for Best Picture, the Golden Globe Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Film. Juliette Binoche won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, nosing out Lauren Bacall for The Mirror Has Two Faces (it would have been Bacall's first Oscar win, and in her acceptance speech Binoche commented that Bacall ought to have won). Anthony Minghella took home the Oscar for Best Director. Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor. In all, The English Patient was nominated for an impressive 12 awards and ultimately walked away with 9.

Anthony Minghella is an Academy Award-winning British film director, playwright and screenwriter. He is currently the chairman of the British Film Institute. His 1990
feature Truly, Madly, Deeply, a drama he had written and directed for the BBC's Screen Two anthology strand, bypassed its expected TV broadcast and received a cinema release. In order to make the film, he had turned down an offer to direct another episode of Inspector Morse, which he had thought would be a much higher-profile assignment. In 1996, he won the Academy Award for Directing for The English Patient. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay for 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley and 2003's Cold Mountain. Minghella is married to Hong Kong-born choreographer Carolyn Choa.

Geoffrey Rush is a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Emmy, AFI and Academy Award winning Australian actor. He is the first Australian-born person to win an Academy Award for acting. Rush's film debut was in the Australian film Hoodwink in 1981. His next film was in Gillian Armstrong's Starstruck, the follo
wing year. In 1996, he starred in Shine, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, becoming the first Australian actor to win an Oscar since Peter Finch. From that point on, his film career skyrocketed. In 1998, he appeared in three major films: Les Misérables, in which he played Inspector Javert; Elizabeth, in which he played the suspicious Sir Francis Walsingham; and Shakespeare in Love in which he played Philip Henslowe, the acting company manager who remained calm in the midst of chaos (and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor). In 1999, Rush departured from his usual dramatic stint and took the lead role as Steven Price in the horror flick House on Haunted Hill. In 2000, he received his third Academy Award nomination, for Quills, in which he played the Marquis de Sade. Rush's career continued at a fast pace, with nine films released from 2001 through 2003. He starred in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, as Captain Hector Barbossa, also appearing in its sequels, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Rush played actor Peter Sellers in the television film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. For this performance, he won an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Mini-series or Movie. In 2005, he starred in Steven Spielberg's film Munich as Ephraim, a cold Mossad officer. Since 1988, Rush has been married to actress Jane Menelaus, with whom he has a daughter, Angelica (b. 1992) and a son, James (b. 1995).

Frances McDormand is an Academy Award-winning American film, stage, and television actress. McDormand's film debut was in Joel and Ethan Coen's first film, 1985's Blood Simple. In 1985, McDormand, the Coen brothers, Holly Hunter, and director Sam Raimi shared a house in the Bronx. McDormand appeared in several theatrical and television roles during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. She has gained renown and critical acclaim for her dramatic work, and is a respected actress, having been nominated for Academy Awards four times. In 1988, she was nominated for a Best Actress in a Suppo
rting Role for Mississippi Burning; in 1996, she won the Academy award for Best Actress for her performance as police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo; in 2000, she earned her second nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of a concerned mother in Almost Famous. In 2006, McDormand received her third Best Supporting Actress nod for her performance in 2005's North Country, although she lost to Rachel Weisz. She also had a role in the film Friends with Money, a dark comedy co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener and Joan Cusack, and directed by Nicole Holofcener. McDormand has been married to director Joel Coen since 1984, and the two adopted a son from Paraguay, Pedro McDormand Coen, in 1994. They live in New York City. McDormand has starred in five of the Coen Brothers films, including a minor appearance in Miller's Crossing, a secondary role in Raising Arizona and lead roles in Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn't There and Fargo, for which she won an Academy Award.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. is an Academy Award-winning American actor. Gooding first appeared in a commercial for the clothing line Bugle Boy during the 1980's. His first major film role was in director John Singleton's 1991 film, Boyz N The Hood, a well-reviewed film about inner city youths. Prior to this, he appeared in many TV shows, including a recurring role on MacGyver. He also had a ver
y minor part in the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America. Following the success of Boyz N The Hood, he was cast in a series of roles, both leading and supporting, including the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Gooding produced the murder mystery, A Murder of Crows, with longtime friend and partner Derek Broes, and the movie has gained cult status among murder mystery buffs. Gooding's subsequent career has included box office successes like Men of Honor (2000), Snow Dogs (2002), and a supporting role as Navy Cross awardee Dorie Miller in the 2001 film, Pearl Harbor. In 2006, Gooding appeared in the crime drama Dirty, which received a limited theatrical release, as well as the direct-to-DVD, 24-esque political drama End Game, playing a Secret Service agent who uncovers a conspiracy after a presidential assassination. Gooding has been married to Sara Kapfer since 1994; the two have known each other since 1986. Together, they have three children: sons Spencer Gooding (born in 1994)and Mason Gooding (born in 1996), and a daughter, Piper Gooding (born in 2005).

Juliette Binoche is an Academy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated French film actress. Affectionately nicknamed "La Binoche" by the French press, Binoche is well known worldwide for her roles in popular, award-winning films such as The English Patient (1996) and Chocolat (2000) as well as internationally successful arthouse films including Three Colors: Blue (1993) and Caché (2005). In August 1986, she portrayed Tereza in Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being based on the Milan Kundera novel. This was Binoche's first English language role and was a worldwide success with critics and audiences alike. After this success, Binoche decided to return to France rather than pursue an international career. In 1996, Binoche appeared in A Couch in New York by Chantal Akerman. The film was a flop, but another 1996 film, The English Patient, based on the acclaimed novel and directed by Anthony Minghella, was a worldwide hit. It garnered nine Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Binoche. 2000 saw Binoche appear in four successful, but different, roles. Firstly was La Veuve de Saint-Pierre by Patrice Leconte which saw Binoche nominated for a César Award for best actress. Next she appeared in Michael Haneke's Code Unknown, a film which was made following Binoche's approach to the Austrian director. Back on screen, Binoche was the heroine of the Lasse Hallstrom film Chocolat for which she won a European Film Award for Best Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA. Binoche then teamed up with Michael Haneke again for Caché in 2005. The film was an immediate success, winning best director at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. Binoche was nominated for a European Film Award for Best Actress for her role. Binoche's next film was Bee Season with Richard Gere. Mary (2005) saw Binoche collaborate with Abel Ferrara for an investigation of modern faith and Mary Magdalene's position in the Catholic Church. The film was an immediate success, winning the Grand Prix at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. Binoche has two children: Raphaël (born on September 2, 1993), whose father is André Halle, a professional scuba diver, and Hana (December 16, 1999), whose father is fellow French actor Benoît Magimel, with whom Binoche starred in the 1999 film Children of the Century. Binoche is currently romantically involved with Argentine writer/director Santiago Amigorena.

Kolya is an award-winning 1996 Czech film drama about a man whose life is reshaped in an unexpected way. The action takes place during the last years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, at a time when the Soviet bloc begins to disintegrate. František Louka, a middle-aged Czech man dedicated to bachelorhood and the pursuit of women, is a concert cellist struggling to eke out a living by playing funerals at the Prague crematorium. He has lost his previous job at the philharmonic orchestra due to having been half-accidentally blacklisted as "politically unreliable" by the authorities. A friend offers him a chance to earn a great deal of money through a sham marriage to a Russian woman to enable her to stay in Czechoslovakia. However, the woman uses her Czechoslovak citizenship to emigrate and join her boyfriend in West Germany. Due to a concurrence of circumstances that remain partly unclear, she has to leave behind her Russian-speaking five-year-old son, Kolya, for the disgruntled Czech musician to look after. Gradually, a bond forms between Louka and Kolya. The movie won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

"You Must Love Me" is a song by American singer Madonna from the 1996 soundtrack to the film Evita. The song was released as a single in Octob
er 1996. The track is the only new song for the movie that was not included on the original stage version of the musical. The song united lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber after thirteen years of not working together on any new songs. The song was written specifically for the film and was included in the stage production for the first time when the musical was revived in June 2006 at London's Adelphi Theatre. The song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song From A Motion Picture at the Oscars in March 1997. Madonna also performed the song at the awards. The song also won a Golden Globe Award as Best Original Song.

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