For the first time in Academy Awards history, no American was nominated for directing, even though big-studio favorites swept the best picture nominations in a topsy-turvy 60th Oscar race.
"The Last Emperor," Columbia's Bernardo Bertolucci-directed film about Chinese emperor Pu Yi, topped the list with nine nominations, including best picture, best directing and best screenplay adaptation.
James Brooks was one of several prominent American contenders passed over for the coveted directing nomination, even though his "Broadcast News" picked up seven nominations, second only to "The Last Emperor," including best picture, best original screenplay and three acting categories.
"Empire of the Sun," "Fatal Attraction" and "Moonstruck" received six nominations each.
Heavy With Perennials
The lead acting categories were heavy with Hollywood perennials.
Oscar veterans Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep took nominations for their roles as a pair of boozy down-and-outers in "Ironweed," while previous winners or nominees William Hurt ("Broadcast News"), Glenn Close ("Fatal Attraction") and Cher ("Moonstruck") also received nods.
But nine out of 10 supporting actors and actresses were first-time nominees.
They included Sean Connery for "The Untouchables," Denzel Washington for "Cry Freedom," Albert Brooks for "Broadcast News," and a trio of aging actresses, Ann Sothern for "Whales of August," Olympia Dukakis for "Moonstruck" and Anne Ramsey for "Throw Momma from the Train."
Major Studios Honored
In a year when the movie market was glutted with independent releases, major studios nonetheless walked away with the best picture nominations. Columbia had two, with "Hope and Glory" and "The Last Emperor." The others were "Broadcast News," released by 20th Century Fox; "Fatal Attraction," released by Paramount, and "Moonstruck," released by MGM/UA.
Despite its hot streak at the box office, Walt Disney Co. was virtually shut out of the race, except for comedian Robin Williams' nomination as best actor for his role as a manic disc jockey in "Good Morning, Vietnam." Columbia, plagued by management instability and a poor box-office record, by contrast led the studios with at least 15 nominations.
In a selection that is likely to provoke fierce debate in Hollywood's creative community, Academy members gave the best directing nominations to Britons John Boorman ("Hope and Glory") and Adrian Lyne ("Fatal Attraction"), Canadian Norman Jewison ("Moonstruck"), Italian Bernardo Bertolucci ("The Last Emperor") and Swede Lasse Hallstrom ("My Life as a Dog").
The list of those passed over for that honor reads like a Who's Who of American directing. It includes Steven Spielberg ("Empire of the Sun"), Stanley Kubrick ("Full Metal Jacket"), Brooks ("Broadcast News") and the late John Huston ("The Dead").
Brooks Snub Surprising
It is particularly surprising that the Academy snubbed Brooks, while awarding seven other nominations to his "Broadcast News," a biting, behind-the-scenes look at TV newscasters. Brooks--who swept the writer, director and best picture Oscars for "Terms of Endearment"--did receive a nomination for writing the film's screenplay.
Steve Martin wasn't nominated for his performance in "Roxanne," and John Lone wasn't nominated for his lead role in "The Last Emperor," even though both had been favored in pre-Oscar betting.
Other best original screenplay nominations were Louis Malle, for "Au Revoir les Enfants," John Boorman for "Hope and Glory," John Patrick Shanley for "Moonstruck" and Woody Allen for "Radio Days."
Rounding out the best leading actress nominations were Holly Hunter ("Broadcast News") and Sally Kirkland ("Anna"). Best leading actors included Michael Douglas, who received his first acting nomination for depicting a corrupt money man in "Wall Street," and previous Oscar winner Marcello Mastroianni, who was nominated for "Dark Eyes."
The only major nomination garnered by John Huston's final film, "The Dead," was son Tony's nomination for best screenplay adaptation of a James Joyce short story.
Supporting actor nominations were rounded out by Albert Brooks for "Broadcast News" and Vincent Gardenia for "Moonstruck." Supporting actresses included Norma Aleandro for "Gaby--A True Story" and Anne Archer for "Fatal Attraction."
The Oscars will be awarded April 11 at the Shrine Auditorium.