Michael Caine's winning performance: The Cider House Rules

Starry starry night

James Cameron-Wilson continues 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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The five cameras trained on Caine, Cruise, Jude, little Haley Joel and mammoth Michael Clarke and "the Oscar goes to… Michael Caine!" The audience rose to its feet as one and Tom Cruise grabbed Caine in a bear hug. The British really are doing OK. On stage Caine made the best speech of the evening so far, commending the change of intro from "and the winner is" to "and the Oscar goes to…" He also singled out each nominated supporting actor, observing that "I'm here to represent all of you."

Next, Jane Fonda, looking amazing at 62, gave a special presentation to the Polish film-maker Andrzej Wajda - and made the evening's first cock-up: "this is my privilege to prevent this honorary Oscar…" Chow Yun-Fat gave The Matrix its second Oscar - for sound effects editing - and then Arnold Schwarzenegger handed out a third - for best visual effects. Suddenly things were looking really interesting. The Matrix had muscled ahead of Topsy-Turvy, but American Beauty had won nada…

Julianne Moore and Russell Crowe presented the statuette for best art direction to Sleepy Hollow (no surprises there) and Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd gave the trophy for best editing to - wait for it - The Matrix!

Warren Beatty, accepting the Irving Thalberg award, looked a little breathless; doddery even, blinking into the spotlight and getting surprisingly emotional as he addressed his "treasure" Annette Bening. Bening, still the favourite to cop best actress, stared lovingly at her old man. It could become a really mushy evening. It happened to be March the 26th - the day Annette was expecting her fourth baby. How many trophies can a trophy wife bear in one day?

Cut to Brad Pitt who handed out the Oscar for best cinematography to - wait for it - American Beauty! And so the rest of the evening had begun in earnest. Kevin Spacey turned up to hand out a gong to John Irving for his stifling adaptation of the John Irving novel The Cider House Rules and then Mel Gibson gave the Oscar for best original screenplay to Alan Ball - for American Beauty.

Now it's Annette Bening's turn - to blanch. Roberto Benigni tells us for some reason that he is a dog and declared that the winner of the best actress award goes to… "Hilary Swank!" I should think so. Ms Swank was only given four weeks to prepare for her role as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry. Daunted by the task of playing a girl-turned-boy, Swank resolved, "If I couldn't pass for a boy on the street, then I wasn't going to do it." So, cutting her hair, taping back her breasts and packing a sock in her fly, the 24-year-old actress set off to carve out the beginnings of an Oscar-winning performance.

Steven Spielberg, who won last year for Saving Private Ryan, stepped forward to hand out the "lord of all knick-knacks" - to quote Jim Carrey - to Sam Mendes. And, in case you hadn't cottoned on by now, Sam Mendes is English. He's also only 34, the ex-boyfriend of Jane Horrocks, Rachel Weisz and Calista Flockhart and American Beauty is his first film. How does the guy do it? After three days' work on the movie, Mendes approached his producer, Steven Spielberg, and asked to start all over again.

Now, three days' work on a Hollywood movie - even one costing as little as $15 million - is a lot of cash to throw away. It took guts and Mendes went on to become the Oscar-winning director of an Oscar-winning movie. Yep, American Beauty got its lord of all knick-knacks. But don't forget - Britain got five of the little blighters. And Ms Fonda, that's pree-sent…

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

Get the whole 16-page section, covering all the awards, with dozens of pictures from The 72nd Academy Awards (the Oscars to you and me)
in the May 2000 issue of Film Review
Full web edition for this issue coming soon!

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