The pre-Oscar orgy of film awards and still more film awards reached a final frenzy over the weekend leading up to tonight's Main Event: the 63rd Annual Academy Awards.
Director Martin Scorsese was saluted at a celebrity-studded benefit for the American Cinematheque on Friday and the independent movies, "The Grifters" and "To Sleep With Anger," and stars Anjelica Huston and Danny Glover shared honors at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday.
It was a weekend when Oscar nominees and other celebrities scrambled to be at the Beverly Hilton for the Publicists Guild luncheon Friday, to the Century Plaza for Friday night's Scorsese tribute, to the Beverly Hills Hotel for the once-small party for independent filmmakers that has grown into a glamorous affair. Even the normally nimble hordes of camera crews, reporters and paparazzi could barely keep pace. "I feel like I'm doing an Olympic sprint," said one photographer as he changed lenses for a long shot.
Nominees Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia, Whoopi Goldberg, Annette Bening, Richard Harris, Diane Ladd, Bruce Davison, Graham Greene, Huston and Scorsese made appearances at the various parties that followed on top of a week's worth of events, including the Directors Guild of America awards, the Writers Guild of America awards and a luncheon hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for all its Oscar nominees.
At the American Cinematheque's fifth annual Moving Picture Ball on Friday night, Scorsese was saluted by many of the actors and filmmakers he has worked with during a career that has included such celebrated films as "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "The Last Temptation of Christ" and current nominee "GoodFellas."
"It's amazing when I think back to when I used to see Marty over 30 years ago standing in a hallway, when we were kids, that we would ever wind up in this situation," said De Niro. "It's incredible . . . it's a classic movie story."
After tributes from Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Ray Liotta, Jodie Foster, Sam Arkoff and Irwin Winkler, among many others, Scorsese was called to the stage amid a standing ovation to accept the American Cinematheque Award from the organization's president, attorney Peter J. Dekom.
A sentimental Scorsese recalled his Italian roots and his neighborhood in New York, growing up with images that he said later would reappear in such films as "Mean Streets" and "Last Temptation." The Catholic Church was a major part of his life, always tugging and supporting his interest in film.
"Movies turned out to be my vocation. My calling. I love movies. I love watching them, I love making them and I love trying to save them. I guess that's what brings me here tonight for the American Cinematheque."
Scorsese referred to the Cinematheque's plans to build a film center in Hollywood next to Mann's Chinese Theater with theaters, seminar rooms and a bookstore devoted to movies not shown in commercial theaters, revivals and preservation. Artistic founder/director Gary Essert said the Scorsese dinner drew 1,300 guests and raised in excess of $400,000 for the Cinematheque.
The normally sedate Beverly Hills Hotel got a dose of the pre-Oscar rush Saturday afternoon with the arrival of a number of Oscar nominees, stars such as Jodie Foster, Isabella Rossellini and Edward James Olmos, director Oliver Stone and Creative Artists Agency chief Michael Ovitz, attending the Independent Spirit Awards luncheon.
Talk among the speakers, guests and host Buck Henry lamented the growth of the awards program, which was begun 10 years ago by the Independent Feature Project/West to honor movies made and distributed independently from the major Hollywood studios. The program has grown from an informal occasion at a now-defunct restaurant on La Cienega to what Henry--surveying the audience and media--described as "the three weird sisters of show business: publicity, celebrity and glitz. What's next?" he asked, "the Hollywood Bowl?"
The Miramax-distributed film noir "The Grifters" was chosen best feature of the year, and Huston was named best actress for her role in the film directed by Stephen Frears, about a trio of small-time crooks. It was a second recognition for Scorsese over the weekend, as he co-produced "The Grifters" with Robert Harris and James Painten.
But it was the comic-drama "To Sleep With Anger," about a black family in South-Central Los Angeles, that won the most awards--four in all, for director and writer Charles Burnett, best actor Danny Glover and best supporting actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Ralph, who came to Hollywood after playing a leading role in the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls," accepted her prize with a rousing speech that charged neglect by Hollywood filmmakers for black, female actresses. The speech drew the afternoon's only standing ovation.
Ralph said she had one time been interviewed by a top studio executive who asked her: "What do I do with a pretty talented black girl. . . . What do I do? Do I team you up with Tom Cruise? Do you kiss? Who goes to see the movie? He didn't say much more, except he wished me luck in my career.
"Well," she paused to stare at the audience, "I'm happy to say that I fought those odds and I do have a career. Thank you very much."
Earlier, Costner, introduced by Jim Wilson, his longtime partner and co-producer of the Oscar-nominated "Dances With Wolves," delivered a speech exhorting independent filmmakers to buck the odds and to "love the work."
The winners of the Independent Feature Project/West Spirit Awards for 1990:
Best feature film: "The Grifters," produced by Martin Scorsese, Robert Harris, and James Painten; directed by Stephen Frears; distributor, Miramax Films.
First feature film (for first-time director): "Metropolitan," produced and directed by Whit Stillman; distributor, New Line.
Director: Charles Burnett, "To Sleep With Anger"; distributor, Samuel Goldwyn Co.
Screenplay: Charles Burnett, "To Sleep With Anger."
Cinematography: Fred Elmes, "Wild at Heart"; distributor, Samuel Goldwyn Co.
Actor: Danny Glover, "To Sleep With Anger."
Actress: Anjelica Huston, "The Grifters."
Supporting actor: Bruce Davison, "Longtime Companion"; distributor, Samuel Goldwyn Co.
Supporting actress: Sheryl Lee Ralph, "To Sleep With Anger."
Foreign film: "Sweetie," from Australia; director Jane Campion; distributor, Avenue Pictures. Reel of Gold Award: Alpha Cine Laboratory, Inc.
Friend of Independents Awards: Sovereign Pictures, Inc.; Eastman Kodak Co.
John Cassavetes Awards: director Jon Jost; producer Ed Pressman.
Award of Distinction: Jim Wilson and Kevin Costner, co-producers of "Dances With Wolves."
CHRONOLOGY FOR TONIGHT'S OSCAR SHOW
Following is a short rundown of tonight's Oscarcast, which begins at 6 p.m. on ABC. It is subject to change.
Introduction: Academy President Karl Malden
Satellite remote: Michael Caine in Paris introduces historic film.
Opening production number: features Jasmine Guy and Steve LaChance
Introduction: Billy Crystal
* Best supporting actress award
Presented by Denzel Washington
* Best sound award
Presented by Dianne Wiest
"Ghost" best picture clip introduced by Jack Lemmon
* Best makeup award
Presented by Ann Archer
Madonna performs best original song nominee "Sooner or Later" from "Dick Tracy"
* Best supporting actor award
Presented by Brenda Fricker
* Live-action short film award
Presented by Martin Short and Chevy Chase
* Animated short film award
Presented by Martin Short, Chevy Chase and Woody Woodpecker
* Honorary award to Myrna Loy
Presented by Anjelica Huston
Macaulay Culkin introduces historic film
Performance of best original song nominee introduced by Macaulay Culkin
"Somewhere in My Memory" from "Home Alone" performed by a children's choir
* Best costume design award
Presented by Annette Bening
* Sci/tech awards introduced by Geena Davis
"GoodFellas" best picture clip introduced by Danny Aiello
Billy Crystal introduces historic film
* Best visual effects award
Presented by Jack Valenti
* Irving Thalberg Award to Richard Zanuck and David Brown
Presented by Michael Douglas
Performance of best original score production number, introduced by Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger
* Best original score award
Presented by Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger
* Film editing award
Presented by Danny Glover and Kevin Kline
Performance of best original song nominee introduced by Meryl Streep
"I'm Checkin' Out" from "Postcards From the Edge," performed by Reba McEntire
* Best art direction award
Presented by Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon
Bob Hope introduces historic film
* Documentary/feature length award
Presented by Phoebe Cates and Ron Silver
* Documentary/short subject award
Presented by Phoebe Cates and Ron Silver
"Dances With Wolves" best picture clip introduced by Robert De Niro
* Sound effects editing award
Presented by Andy Garcia and Whoopi Goldberg
Performance of original song nominee introduced by Christian Slater
"Blaze Of Glory" from "Young Guns II," performed by Jon Bon Jovi
* Best cinematography award
Presented by Glenn Close
* Best foreign-language film award
Presented by Dustin Hoffman
* Best original screenplay award
Presented by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins
* Best screenplay adaptation award
Presented by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins
"Awakenings" best picture clip introduced by Debra Winger
* Honorary award to Sophia Loren
Presented by Gregory Peck
Performance of original song nominee introduced by Billy Crystal
"Promise Me You'll Remember" from "The Godfather Part III"
* Best original song award
Presented by Ann-Margret and Gregory Hines
* Best actress award
Presented by Daniel Day-Lewis
* Best actor award
Presented by Jessica Tandy
"The Godfather Part III" best picture clip introduced by Jeff Bridges
* Best director award
Presented by Tom Cruise
* Best picture award
Presented by Barbra Streisand