'Forrest Gump' grabs Best Picture award and five others Oscar's Scence Stealers 67TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

March 28, 1995|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

"Forrest Gump" proved that nice guys finish first, and that $315 million at the box office carries a lot of clout, as the story of the lovably lucky, but intelligence-impaired Alabaman on a cavalcade through modern American history won six Academy Awards last night.

Besides the coveted and climactic Best Picture award, the movie also won for Best Actor (Tom Hanks), Best Director (Robert Zemeckis) Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth), Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing.

Hanks became the first actor to win back-to-back Best Actor Oscars since Spencer Tracy in 1937-1938. He won last year for "Philadelphia." Four other actors have won Oscars twice in a row but in other categories.

Robert Zemeckis thanked his mentor Steven Spielberg for getting him into movies years back.

Jessica Lange won the Best Actress Academy Award for a film she completed more than three years ago, "Blue Sky," in which she played the manic-depressive wife of an Army physicist.

"This is such a wonderful honor for a little film that seemed to have no future," Miss Lange said, thanking Orion Films "past and present," a reference to the financial difficulties of the studio, which consigned the movie to a vault for three years.

She also thanked the late Tony Richardson, the director whose last film it was, after a storied career that included "Tom Jones" among others.

Martin Landau won for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood," the story of the campy, talentless '50s director. Landau brought a surprising dignity and compassion to the role of the flamboyant Romanian who flashed to stardom in the '30s as Dracula and then endured a slow, drug-addled decline.

Landau, an ex TV-warhorse who first achieved fame on an adventure series, warned "Please don't play the music from 'Mission Impossible' or I'll get very angry." He has been nominated twice before in the category, for "Tucker" in 1988 and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" in 1989. This was his first win.

Dianne Wiest won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a self-involved diva in Woody Allen's theatrical comedy, "Bullets Over Broadway."

"Oh, thanks," gushed Wiest when she reached the podium, before beginning a more traditional acceptance speech. "I'm so privileged to be in the presence of these gifted women, including Jennifer Tilly, my gifted colleague, who's so wonderful. I owe a debt to a remarkable artist, Woody Allen, who gave me such a gift in this role."

Ms. Wiest won a previous Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1986, also for a Woody Allen film, "Hannah and Her Sisters."

Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary won the Best Original Screenplay award for their "Pulp Fiction" script. "This has been a very strange year," said Tarantino. His partner, Avary, thanked his wife and then admitted he had to go use the bathroom, surely an Academy first.

The evening began with an impassioned and largely humorless appeal by Academy President Arthur Hiller in support of the National Endowment for the Arts, bottomed out quickly on an elaborate musical homage to film comedy based on "Make 'Em Laugh" from the great old MGM musical "Singin' in the Rain." But Kathy Najimi and Tim Curry weren't up to Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly.

David Letterman took over as host of the show, but the audience seemed not to notice, not even to respond to one of his video skits involving taxi drivers on the subject of the Oscars.

But as the night wore on, Letterman's ad libs got sharper and the audience relaxed. He brought Tom Hanks up on stage to assist in a Stupid Pet Trick.

In technical awards, Rick Baker, Ve Neill and Yolanda Toussieng won for Best Makeup, for turning Landau into Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood." Stephen Hunter Flick won for Best Sound Effects Editing.

"Forrest Gump's" win in the Film Editing category (for Arthur Schmidt) was a disappointment for the Oscar-snubbed "Hoop Dreams," which was ignored in the documentary category but nominated in this one. "Gump" received its next Oscar in the Best Special Effects category, where the academy recognized the sophisticated effects that blanked out Gary Sinise's legs, filled a sky with helicopters or a Washington with peace demonstrators and introduced Forrest to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for their work on "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," an Australian comedy about three drag queens who drive a lavender bus across the Outback, to the tunes of Abba, for the movie industry's glitziest show of the year.

Quincy Jones was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and Jack Nicholson presented Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni with an Honorary Award, for which the audience delivered a standing ovation.

The evening's first surprise was the Oscar for cinematography which sidestepped favorites "Forrest Gump" and "The Shawshank Redemption" and went to John Toll for the beautiful but otherwise totally overlooked "Legends of the Fall."

A rare tie marked the Live-Action Short category, where "Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life" (produced by Peter Capaldi and Ruth Kenley-Letts) and "Trevor" (Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone, producers) both received the award.

"The Madness of King George" won the award for Art Direction. The recipients were Ken Adam and Carolyn Scott.

"Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision" won the Documentary Feature award, the category from which "Hoop Dreams" was snubbed.

Hans Zimmer won the Best Score Oscar for "The Lion King" and the Elton John-Tim Rice collaboration "Can You Feel the Love" completed "The Lion King's" sweep of the music awards.

"Burnt By the Sun," a Russian film, won Best Foreign Film.

An estimated 1 billion people in nearly 100 countries were watching the Oscar telecast.

OSCARS FAX

You can get a fax of the complete list of Oscar winners if you call Sunfax at (410) 332-6123 and punch in the four-digit code 5100. For more Sunfax options, see the SunSource directory on Page 2A.

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