Caine, Jolie, Swank and Spacey: four-square acting honours. Image  PA

Starry starry night

James Cameron-Wilson delivers Film Review's British perspective on the Academy Awards

Reporting selected from the 16-page Oscar® awards section in
Film Review #593
, (our 50th Anniversary Edition!) – published March 30 2000

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On the night that American Beauty cleaned up for director Sam Mendes, Michael Caine claimed not to have ‘won’, and The Matrix proved that some good can come of high technology after all, James Cameron-Wilson brings us all the news and gossip on Hollywood’s biggest, glitziest (and longest) night at the movies...

Thank God for Hilary Swank. Not only is this 25-year-old actress considerably prettier than Michael Caine, but she was not a clear favourite for the best actress prize at this year's Oscar shindig. Over-running by 40 minutes, the 72nd ceremony held few surprises, although with five gongs to our credit the British did better than anticipated. The kittens were scattered out of the bag when The Wall Street Journal polled six per cent of the 5,600 Academy members, drawing up a reasonable picture of who and what was going to triumph. The outcome looked pretty straightforward: American Beauty was going to win the day.

Nonetheless, the favourite for best actor, American Beauty's Kevin Spacey, faced stiff competition from Denzel Washington (winner of the Golden Globe for The Hurricane) and The Insider's Russell Crowe (recipient of the best actor accolade from The Los Angeles Film Critics). Equally, the favourite for best actress, American Beauty's Annette Bening, had to contend with England's Janet McTeer, who had scooped a Golden Globe for the magnificent Tumbleweeds.

In the security of hindsight, the awards were incredibly predictable this year. But that's easy to say now. Some thought Tom Cruise was a shoo-in for best supporting actor, having been nominated and over-looked for Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire. To be absolutely honest (an honourable trait of this magazine), the only clear winners were actually the best picture trophy for American Beauty and the gong for best supporting actress - for Angelina Jolie's electric turn as a psychotic beauty in Girl, Interrupted.

Still, the ceremony - staged at the leviathan Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles - was a sedate and plodding affair. Without the brilliant hosting of Billy Crystal, it might even have been insufferable. The continuous supply of celebrities, the occasional faux pas, the glitter, the tears and the glory is a heady cocktail that proves irresistible to most film fans. But how much can you take? Two hours? Three? Four?

The awards themselves started with a minor surprise. The Oscar for best costume design went to our very own Lindy Hemming for her elaborate Oriental creations in Topsy-Turvy, Mike Leigh's wonderful biography of Gilbert and Sullivan. Ding! The first Oscar and Britain is already ahead.

Britain racked up its second gong of the night when Erykah Badu and Tobey Maguire - the stars of The Cider House Rules - presented the award for best make-up. Again, Topsy-Turvy skewered the prize, albeit in a minor category (minor that is, unless you're make-up artists like Christine Blundell and Trefor Proud).

In one of the evening's funniest moments, Robin Williams came on stage with a black tape across his mouth. Ripping it off, the comic broke into a rendering of Blame Canada, the hilarious nominated song from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. But the Oscar goes to: Tarzan's Phil Collins! Ding! Another triumph for the Brits. But, hey, doesn't the Disney cartoon always nab the best song Oscar?

Dame Judi Dench glided on stage to hand out the medal for best supporting actor...

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Image copyright: PA
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction.

Get the whole 16-page section with dozens of pictures from The 72nd Academy Awards (the Oscars to you and me)
in the May 2000 issue of Film Review

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