'Emperor' Leads Topsy-Turvy Oscar Race : American Directors Are Shut Out for the First Time in Academy History

Times Staff Writer

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.

But Steven Spielberg and James L. Brooks were among several prominent American contenders passed over for the coveted directing nominations.

Brooks' "Broadcast News" picked up seven nominations, including best picture, best original screenplay and three acting nods, including Holly Hunter for best actress. Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" scored six nominations, including cinematography and editing, but was bypassed in the major categories.

In the 1985 race, the academy's directors' branch similarly bypassed Spielberg for "The Color Purple," leading to a major debate about the awards process among studio executives and Hollywood's creative community.

The lead acting categories this year were heavy with Hollywood perennials.

Most notably, Oscar veterans Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep took nominations for their roles as a pair of boozy down-and-outers in "Ironweed," possibly boosting the hard-to-sell Tri-Star film at the box office just as it goes into wider release. Other predictables included best acting nominations for Cher ("Moonstruck"), Glenn Close ("Fatal Attraction") and William Hurt ("Broadcast News").

But nine out of 10 supporting actors and actresses were first-time nominees.

They included seasoned actor Sean Connery for "The Untouchables," Denzel Washington for "Cry Freedom," Albert Brooks for "Broadcast News," and an unlikely trio of older actresses, Ann Sothern for "Whales of August," Olympia Dukakis for "Moonstruck" and Anne Ramsey for "Throw Momma From the Train."

Despite high expectations in the pre-Oscar handicapping, neither Barbra Streisand ("Nuts") nor Steve Martin("Roxanne")garnered an acting nomination.

In a year when the movie market was glutted with independent releases, major studios nonetheless walked away with the best picture nominations, and the lion's share of other honors.

Columbia has two shots at best picture, with "Hope and Glory" and "The Last Emperor." Among other best picture nominees, Fox released "Broadcast News," Paramount released "Fatal Attraction," and MGM/UA released "Moonstruck."

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 trigger some fierce debate in coming weeks, the academy's directors' branch gave the best directing nominations not only to Bertolucci, an Italian, but also to Britons John Boorman ("Hope and Glory") and Adrian Lyne ("Fatal Attraction"), Canadian Norman Jewison ("Moonstruck"), 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 directors, and includes Spielberg, Brooks, Stanley Kubrick ("Full Metal Jacket"), Oliver Stone ("Wall Street") and the late John Huston ("The Dead").

Reached at his hotel in Berlin, Brooks said he was "so busy feeling good" about the raft of other nominations for "Broadcast News" that he didn't even notice the absence of Americans on the directors' list. "I don't think we want to start an America First movement. Let's not bring back Wendell Willkie," the director quipped, referring to the GOP's 1940 pro-business presidential candidate.

Others in Hollywood argued that the absence of U.S. directors simply showed that European producers and financiers often back more imaginative movie projects than those produced wholly under the aegis of the big studios.

"It reflects the fact that foreign financing is the more intelligent and courageous way to get great movies made," said Bill Block, an agent who recently left ICM to form the InterTalent agency. "Most of those films (on which foreign directors have worked) were co-productions, or relied on" some non-studio money.

When the academy bypassed Spielberg for directing "The Color Purple" in 1985, Warner Bros. responded with a statement expressing "shock and dismay" at the action. This time around, a spokesman for Warners, which released "Empire of the Sun," kept mum. "I think the better part of valor is to say, 'No,' " he remarked when asked for a comment.

Spielberg has received a Directors Guild of America nomination for "Empire of the Sun," as has Brooks for "Broadcast News." Brooks--who swept the Oscars for best picture, best screenplay adaptation and best director with "Terms of Endearment" for 1983--this year received a best original screenplay nomination for "Broadcast News." Boorman, nominated by the academy for directing, was overlooked by the DGA this year.

Many independent films surfaced in the nominations, though none promised the kind of strength shown by Island Alive's "Kiss of the Spider Woman," a 1985 film that was nominated for best picture, best actor and best director.

"The Dead," John Huston's final picture, was nominated for best screenplay adaptation, written by Tony Huston, the director's son. Other independently distributed pictures that scored nominations included Vestron's "Anna," for best actress performance by Sally Kirkland; Island's "Dark Eyes," for best actor performance by Marcello Mastroianni, and Skouras' "My Life as a Dog," for both directing and best screenplay adaptation.

Among the bigger major studio disappointments, Fox's much-touted "Wall Street" received just one nomination, for Michael Douglas' portrayal of a corrupt money man; Warner's "Witches of Eastwick" was nominated only for sound and original score; the same studio's "Full Metal Jacket" garnered only a screenplay adaptation nod for Stanley Kubrick and his collaborators, and Paramount's "The Untouchables" didn't receive major nominations other than Connery's.

One of the nominees for best foreign-language film, Louis Malle's "Au Revoir, les Enfantes" (Goodby, Children), is scheduled to open here Friday. The other foreign-language film nominees, none of which is currently playing here, are "Babette's Feast" (Denmark); "Course Completed" (Spain); "The Family" (Italy), and "Pathfinder" (Norway). The nominees:

Picture: "Broadcast News" (James L. Brooks, producer); "Fatal Attraction" (Stanley R. Jaffe and Sherry Lansing, producers); "Hope and Glory" (John Boorman, producer); "The Last Emperor" (Jeremy Thomas, producer); "Moonstruck" (Patrick Palmer and Norman Jewison, producers).

Actor: Michael Douglas, "Wall Street"; William Hurt, "Broadcast News"; Marcello Mastroianni, "Dark Eyes"; Jack Nicholson, "Ironweed"; Robin Williams, "Good Morning, Vietnam."

Actress: Cher, "Moonstruck"; Glenn Close, "Fatal Attraction"; Holly Hunter, "Broadcast News"; Sally Kirkland, "Anna"; Meryl Streep, "Ironweed."

Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, "Broadcast News"; Sean Connery, "The Untouchables"; Morgan Freeman, "Street Smart"; Vincent Gardenia, "Moonstruck"; Denzel Washington, "Cry Freedom."

Supporting Actress: Norma Aleandro, "Gaby--A True Story"; Anne Archer, "Fatal Attraction"; Olympia Dukakis, "Moonstruck"; Anne Ramsey, "Throw Momma From the Train"; Ann Sothern, "The Whales of August."

Director: Adrian Lyne, "Fatal Attraction"; John Boorman, "Hope and Glory"; Bernardo Bertolucci, "The Last Emperor"; Norman Jewison, "Moonstruck"; Lasse Hallstrom, "My Life as a Dog."

Foreign-Language Film: "Au Revoir Les Enfants" (France); "Babette's Feast" (Denmark); "Course Completed" (Spain); "The Family" (Italy); "Pathfinder" (Norway).

Original Score: George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa, "Cry Freedom"; John T. Williams, "Empire of the Sun"; Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne and Cong Su, "The Last Emperor"; Ennio Morricone, "The Untouchables"; John T. Williams, "The Witches of Eastwick."

Original Song: "Cry Freedom" (from "Cry Freedom"); "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" ("Dirty Dancing"); "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" ("Mannequin"); "Shakedown" ("Beverly Hills Cop II"); "Storybook Love" ("The Princess Bride").

Original Screenplay: Louis Malle, "Au Revoir Les Enfants"; James L. Brooks, "Broadcast News"; John Boorman, "Hope and Glory"; John Patrick Shanley, "Moonstruck"; Woody Allen, "Radio Days."

Screenplay Adaptation: Tony Huston, "The Dead"; James Dearden, "Fatal Attraction"; Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr and Gustav Hasford, "Full Metal Jacket"; Mark Peploe and Bernardo Bertolucci, "The Last Emperor"; Lasse Hallstrom, Reidar Jonsson, Brasse Brannstrom and Per Berglund "My Life as a Dog."

Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus, "Broadcast News"; Allen Daviau, "Empire of the Sun"; Philippe Rousselot, "Hope and Glory"; Vittorio Storaro, "The Last Emperor"; Haskell Wexler, "Matewan."

Art Direction: Norman Reynolds (art) and Harry Cordwell (set), "Empire of the Sun"; Anthony Pratt (art) and Joan Woollard (set), "Hope and Glory"; Ferdinando Scarfiotti (art) and Bruno Cesari (set), "The Last Emperor"; Santo Loquasto (art), Carol Joffe, Les Bloom and George DeTitta Jr. (set), "Radio Days"; Patrizia von Brandenstein (art) and Hal Gausman (set), "The Untouchables."

Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins, "The Dead"; Bob Ringwood, "Empire of the Sun"; James Acheson, "The Last Emperor"; Jenny Beavan and John Bright, "Maurice"; Marilyn Vance-Straker, "The Untouchables."

Film Editing: Richard Marks, "Broadcast News"; Michael Kahn, "Empire of the Sun"; Michael Kahn and Peter E. Berger, "Fatal Attraction"; Gabriella Cristiani, "The Last Emperor"; Frank J. Urioste, "RoboCop."

Sound: Robert Knudson, Don Digirolamo, John Boyde and Tony Dawe, "Empire of the Sun"; Bill Rowe and Ivan Sharrock, "The Last Emperor"; Les Fresholtz, Dick Alexander, Vern Poore and Bill Nelson, "Lethal Weapon"; Michael J. Kohut, Carlos DeLarios, Aaron Rochin and Robert Wald, "RoboCop"; Wayne Artman, Tom Beckert, Tom Dahl and Art Rochester, "The Witches of Eastwick."

Visual Effects: Dennis Muren, William George, Harley Jessup and Kenneth Smith, "Innerspace"; Joel Hynek, Robert M. Greenberg, Richard Greenberg and Stan Winston, "Predator."

Makeup: Bob Laden, "Happy New Year"; Rick Baker, "Harry and the Hendersons."

Documentary, Feature: Callie Crossley and James A. DeVinney, "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years/Bridge to Freedom 1965"; John Junkerman and John W. Dower, "Hellfire: A Journey From Hiroshima"; Robert Stone, "Radio Bikini"; Barbara Herbich and Cyril Christo, "A Stitch for Time"; Aviva Slesin, "The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table."

Documentary, Short Subject: Deborah Dickson, "Frances Steloff: Memoirs of a Bookseller"; USC School of Cinema/TV, "In the Wee Wee Hours . . . "; Megan Williams, "Language Says It All"; Lynn Mueller, "Silver Into Gold"; Sue Marx and Pamela Conn, "Young at Heart."

Animated Short Film: Eunice Macaulay, "George and Rosemary"; Frederic Back, "The Man Who Planted Trees"; Bill Plympton, "Your Face."

Live-Action Short Film: Ann Wingate, "Making Waves"; Jonathan Sanger and Jana Sue Memel, "Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall"; Robert A. Katz, "Shoeshine."

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