Trashy, goofy, and surprisingly sincere, this superhero fantasy is better than you expect but not as good as it should be.
But "Philadelphia," another serious film about a grim subject, did not do as well as expected. It was passed over in the picture and director categories, although Tom Hanks, the first major Hollywood star to play an AIDS victim, was nominated for best actor."The Piano," about a painful romance in a 19th century backwater, and "The Remains Of The Day," about an English butler who puts his job ahead of his emotions, each got eight nominations, and joined "Schindler's List" on the best picture list. Also named in the best picture category were "In the Name of the Father" (1994), the angry story of innocent Irishmen framed as IRA bombers, and "The Fugitive," a polished thriller inspired by the cult TV series. Both films got seven nominations, followed by "The Age of Innocence" and "Philadelphia," with five apiece.
For the first time in Oscar history, two performers were nominated twice: Emma Thompson, as best actress for "Remains of the Day" and "In the Name of the Father," and Holly Hunter, for "The Piano" and "The Firm." For the second time in the Academy's 65-year history, a woman was nominated in the best director category: Jane Campion, for "The Piano."There were several surprises when the nominations were revealed before dawn in Los Angeles. They included a supporting nomination for Anna Pacquin, the 11-year-old actress who plays Hunter's daughter in "The Piano;" and twin nominations for best actor and actress Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, in "What's Love Got to do With It?," the critically-acclaimed Tina Turner biopic that was a box office disappointment. Miss Pacquin is the youngest nominee since 8-year-old Justin Henry, for "Kramer vs. Kramer" in 1979.
Two of the year's top box office winners, "Jurassic Park" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," were passed over in the major categories. Since "Jurassic," the most profitable film in history, was made by Spielberg, voters apparently decided to focus on his achievement with "Schindler's List," although "Jurassic" got three nods in technical categories. But Robin Williams was considered a likely best actor candidate for his cross-dressing nanny in "Mrs. Doubtfire," and his exclusion is an upset. And the Academy also passed over many likely nominees for "The Age of Innocence," including director Martin Scorsese and actress Michelle Pfeiffer.The best actor nominees included Hanks, Fishburne, Daniel Day -Lewis as the wrongly-accused prisoner in "In the Name of the Father," Anthony Hopkins as the emotionally-repressed butler in "Remains of the Day," and Liam Neeson as a businessman who outsmarts the Nazis to save 1,200 Jews in "Schindler's List."For best actress, the academy named Bassett; Stockard Channing, as a brittle Manhattanite in "Six Degrees of Separation;" Hunter, whose character in "The Piano" maintained almost complete screen silence; Thompson, who was the head housekeeper unavailingly in love with Hopkins in "Remains of the Day;" and Debra Winger, as an American woman who falls in love with confirmed British bachelor and author C. S. Lewis in "Shadowlands."
For best supporting actor, Leonardo De Caprio was named for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," where he played a retarded son in a troubled but brave family; Ralph Fiennes, as the brutal Nazi prison camp commandant in "Schindler's List;" Tommy Lee Jones as a laconic federal marshal in "The Fugitive;" John Malkovich as a demented would-be Presidential assassin in "In The Line Of Fire," and Pete Postlethwaite, who played Day-Lewis's father in "In The Name of The Father."
In the best supporting actress category, Hunter's nomination came for a brief but memorable role as a private eye's zealous secretary in "The Firm." Thompson played a defense attorney in "In The Name of The Father." Also nominated were Anna Paquin, the child who had more dialog than most of the adults in "The Piano;" Rosie Perez as an air crash survivor in "Fearless," and Winona Ryder as a New York society woman who quietly controls her husband in "The Age of Innocence."On the best director list, antiestablishment Robert Altman was nominated for "Short Cuts," even though the picture was passed over in other major categories. Ironically, last year, his film "The Player" was nominated for best picture, but Altman was not mentioned for best director. Other nominees were Jim Sheridan, for "In the Name of the Father;" Jane Campion, for "The Piano;" James Ivory, for "Remains of the Day;" and Spielberg, for "Schindler's List."
In the original screenplay category, films nominated were "Dave," "In the Line of Fire," "Philadelphia," "The Piano" and "Sleepless in Seattle." Nominated for best screenplay adaptation from another medium were "The Age of Innocence," "In the Name of the Father," "The Remains of the Day," "Schindler's List" and "Shadowlands."The best foreign film category included, for the first time, three films with Asian themes: "Farewell My Concubine," from China via Hong Kong; "The Wedding Banquet," from Taiwan; and "The Scent Of Green Papaya," which was the first Vietnamese film ever nominated, although in fact it was shot entirely on Paris sound stages which recreated pre-war Saigon. Other nominations were Spain's "Belle Epoque," and the Welsh-language "Hedd Wyn."
For best original song, the nominees included Neil Young's "Philadelphia" and Bruce Springsteen's "The Streets of Philadelphia," from "Philadelphia; Janet Jackson's "Again," from "Poetic Justice;" "The Day I Fall in Love," from "Beethoven's 2nd," and "A Wink and a Smile," "Sleepless in Seattle."
Other nominees, from AP:Art Direction: "Addams Family Values," "The Age of Innocence," "Orlando," "The Remains of the Day," "Schindler's List."Cinematography: "Farewell My Concubine," "The Fugitive," "The Piano," "Schindler's List," "Searching for Bobby Fischer."Costume Design: "The Age of Innocence," "Orlando," "The Piano," "The Remains of the Day," "Schindler's List."Documentary Feature: "The Broadcast Tapes Of Dr. Peter," "Children Of Fate," "For Better Or For Worse," "I Am A Promise: The Children Of Stanton Elementary School," "The War Room."Documentary Short Subject: "Blood Ties: The Life And Work Of Sally Mann," "Chicks In White Satin," "Defending Our Lives."Film Editing: "The Fugitive," "In The Line Of Fire," "In The Name Of The Father," "The Piano," "Schindler's List."Makeup: "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Philadelphia," "Schindler's List."Music Original Score: Elmer Bernstein, "The Age Of Innocence"; Dave Grusin, "The Firm"; James Newton Howard, "The Fugitive"; Richard Robbins, "The Remains Of The Day"; John Williams, "Schindler's List."Music Original Song: "Again," "Poetic Justice"; "The Day I Fall In Love," "Beethoven's 2nd"; "Philadelphia," "Philadelphia"; "Streets Of Philadelphia," "Philadelphia"; "A Wink And A Smile," "Sleepless In Seattle."Animated Short Film: "Blindscape," "The Mighty River," "Small Talk," "The Village," "The Wrong Trousers."Live Action Short Film: "Black Rider," "Down On The Waterfront," "The Dutch Master," "Partners," "The Screw (La Vis)."Sound: "Cliffhanger," "The Fugitive," "Geronimo: An American Legend," "Jurassic Park," "Schindler's List."Sound Effects Editing: "Cliffhanger," "The Fugitive," "Jurassic Park."Visual Effects: "Cliffhanger," "Jurassic Park," "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
SIDEBAR: Front Runners Easy to Pick
Movies / Roger Ebert There won't be much excitement in this year's Oscar-guessing sweepstakes. The front-runners in major categories are easily predicted, and the tie-breakers will have to come from farther down the list.These are obviously the names to beat:
Best Picture: "Schindler's List."
Best Actor: Tom Hanks, for "Philadelphia."
Best Actress: Holly Hunter, for "The Piano."
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, for "The Fugitive."
Best Supporting Actress: Winona Ryder, for "The Age of Innocence."
Best Director: Steven Spielberg, for "Schindler's List."
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