In a year that brought Steven Spielberg incredible commercial success with “Jurassic Park,” his dramatic and risky Holocaust epic “Schindler’s List” swept the 1993 Oscar nominations Wednesday in 12 categories, including best picture and best director.
It represents the most nominations since 1990’s “Dances With Wolves,” which also received 12 and went on to win seven, including best picture. Before that, no film had received as many nods since 1981’s “Reds,” which amassed 12 nominations but did not win best picture. The highest number of nominations in Oscar history was 1950’s “All About Eve,” which received 14 and won six, including best picture.
The best picture nominees, like Universal Pictures’ “Schindler’s List,” are all dramas: Miramax Films’ New Zealand period piece “The Piano” and Columbia Pictures’ 1930s melancholy romance “The Remains of the Day,” both receiving eight nominations; and Warner Bros.’ action thriller “The Fugitive” and Universal’s political father-son drama “In the Name of the Father,” both earning seven nominations.
Among the surprises in the nominations were Laurence Fishburne’s picking up a best actor nod for “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and the omission of such prominent directors as Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme and also “The Fugitive’s” Andrew Davis.
Spielberg, whose three-hour-plus film was shot in sobering black and white and takes place in a Nazi-run concentration camp in occupied Poland, said the main joy of the nominations was the recognition of the subject. He told The Times, “For a subject that has needed attention for almost half a century, I am beyond gratified that so many people are not looking the other way when they hear the word Holocaust. “
The filmmaker said the news of 12 nominations was “overwhelming” and represented “a very special moment for all of us who have dedicated ourselves to this subject.”
“Schindler’s List,” which tells the story of how German businessman and Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler secretly saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews, is the first black-and-white movie to be nominated for best picture since 1980’s “Raging Bull” and “The Elephant Man.” If it wins, “Schindler’s List” will be the first black-and-white film to get the best picture honor since 1960’s “The Apartment.”
“The Remains of the Day” producer Ismail Merchant praised the academy for singling out emotionally involving pictures this year rather than simply going for star vehicles. “The Hollywood community is smart, which is what’s important,” he said. “It’s a reflection that the academy is in the right place.”
The academy, however, didn’t ignore one of the year’s big-star, high-concept and most successful movies, “The Fugitive,” although star Harrison Ford didn’t receive a nomination. The film’s producer, Arnold Kopelson, who won the best picture Oscar for the 1986 hit “Platoon,” said the nomination was “an affirmation that a film can be a box-office success and still receive the attention of the academy.” With $170 million in U.S. and Canadian grosses, “Fugitive” was the third-biggest ticket seller of 1993.
Wednesday’s pre-dawn announcements by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the 66th annual awards also made Oscar history. For only the second time, a woman--"The Piano’s” Jane Campion of New Zealand--was nominated for best director. Italy’s Lina Wertmuller was the first, for her 1976 comedy “Seven Beauties.” But Campion is the first nominated female director to have a best picture nomination.
Campion, who was ill and unavailable for comment Wednesday, said in a prepared statement: “I feel privileged to be in the company of such incredible, important filmmakers.” “Piano” producer Jan Chapman said in a phone interview from New Zealand at half past 3 a.m. today: “This is very, very exciting news, something I wasn’t prepared for.” She said earlier in the day that she had had a conversation with Campion in which “we said we’d both go to sleep and see whether we would be woken up with good news.”
Besides Campion and Spielberg (who received his fourth directing nomination), the others in the category are: Jim Sheridan for “In the Name of the Father,” his second nomination; James Ivory for “The Remains of the Day,” his third; and Robert Altman for “Short Cuts,” his fourth. None of the nominees has ever won.
The nomination of Altman, although not a surprise, was an oddity. It is his fourth nomination in this category, and he clearly is highly regarded by academy members, but “Short Cuts” received no other nominations.
In contrast, “Fugitive” director Davis, who received a nomination from the Directors Guild, was not nominated for an Oscar, although the film is a best picture candidate.
Academy voters also gave short shrift to Scorsese and his “The Age of Innocence” from Columbia Pictures and director Demme and his “Philadelphia,” the first major studio movie about the AIDS epidemic, from TriStar Pictures. Neither film received a best picture nomination, but each was nominated in five categories.
The first-time nomination of Fishburne for his performance as pop musician Ike Turner in Touchstone Pictures’ “What’s Love Got to Do With It” was unexpected, given that the veteran actor had not been widely mentioned in pre-Oscar speculation.
Fishburne said he, too, was surprised about the honor: “I’m elated. I was talking to some friends on the phone earlier and was jumping up and down.” When asked what he thinks the nomination will mean for his career, the actor said, “I have a wonderful career, and I’m grateful for whatever it means.”
Ignored entirely in the nominations were the Samuel Goldwyn Co.'s critically praised “Much Ado About Nothing,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, despite an all-out Oscar campaign, and Walt Disney Co.'s generational mother-daughter drama “The Joy Luck Club.”
And although Tom Hanks received a best actor nomination for his performance in “Philadelphia” as a lawyer with AIDS, his co-star and previous supporting actor Oscar winner (for “Glory”), Denzel Washington, didn’t make the Oscar lists.
For Hanks, the nomination is the second of his career. The first was for “Big.”
Joining Hanks and Fishburne are nominees: Daniel Day-Lewis, named best actor for 1989’s “My Left Foot,” for “In the Name of the Father”; Anthony Hopkins, who won for “The Silence of the Lambs,” for “The Remains of the Day,” and first-time nominee Liam Neeson, for “Schindler’s List.”
Holly Hunter and Emma Thompson were the only multiple nominees, with two apiece.
Hunter, who won the Golden Globe and top critics’ prizes, received a best actress nomination for her completely silent performance in “The Piano,” set in turn-of-the-century New Zealand. She also was nominated for supporting actress in last summer’s popular thriller “The Firm.”
Thompson, 1992’s best actress winner for “Howards End,” also came out with two nominations: as best actress in “The Remains of the Day” and as supporting actress in “In the Name of the Father.”
The other actress nominees are Stockard Channing, re-creating her Broadway role in “Six Degrees of Separation,” a first-time nomination; Angela Bassett as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” also a first-time nod. Debra Winger, nominated for best actress in “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Terms of Endearment,” was honored for “Shadowlands.”
Channing, who heard the news in San Francisco, said: “I feel nothing but gratitude to MGM and (director) Fred Schepisi for their decision to do this. I’m sure there were moments when the studio wondered if they should have gone with someone more famous.”
In the supporting actor category, there were first-time nominations for Leonardo DiCaprio for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” Ralph Fiennes for “Schindler’s List” and Pete Postlethwaite for “In the Name of the Father.” Second-time nominees in this category are Tommy Lee Jones for “The Fugitive” and John Malkovich for “In the Line of Fire.”
For supporting actress, besides Hunter and Thompson, there are first-time nominees Anna Paquin for “The Piano,” Rosie Perez for “Fearless” and Winona Ryder for “The Age of Innocence.”
Perez, reached in Berlin, where she is to attend the Berlin Film Festival (“Fearless” is screening there), said she was “shocked by the news” when people from Warner Bros. began pounding on her hotel-room door. “All these Warner Bros. people were screaming their heads off. I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ I was like screaming.”
Eleven-year-old Anna Paquin is the youngest nominee since 8-year-old Justin Henry for his supporting role in 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer.”
“When I first woke up and was informed about the nomination, I said: ‘Truly, Dad, you’re not joking? I’m not dreaming this, am I? Did Holly get nominated too?”
While the bulk of nominations in most categories went to films with dramatic and serious subjects, in the original screenplay category, the comedies “Dave” by Gary Ross and “Sleepless in Seattle” by Nora Ephron, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch, received recognition. The others are Jeff Maguire for “In the Line of Fire,” Campion for “The Piano” and Ron Nyswaner for “Philadelphia.” The nomination for “Philadelphia” comes as a legal battle rages regarding the origin of the story.
For screenplay adaptation, the nominees are Jay Cocks and Scorsese for “The Age of Innocence,” Terry George and Sheridan for “In the Name of the Father,” Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for “The Remains of the Day,” Steven Zaillian for “Schindler’s List,” and William Nicholson for “Shadowlands.”
Films from Asia dominated the foreign-language category, among them “The Scent of Green Papaya,” the first film from Vietnam to be nominated. The other two are “Farewell My Concubine” from Hong Kong and “The Wedding Banquet” from Taiwan. The Welsh-language movie “Hedd Wyn” from the United Kingdom and Spain’s “Belle Epoque” rounded out the category.
Three major pop music stars--Janet Jackson, who co-wrote “Again” for the movie “Poetic Justice,” and Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, who wrote one song each for the movie “Philadelphia"--are among the nominees for best song written directly for the screen.
The two top-grossing films of 1993, Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and the Robin Williams comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire,” scored in the technical categories only: “Jurassic” for sound, sound effects editing and visual effects; “Doubtfire” for makeup.
Times staff writers Elaine Dutka, Claudia Eller, Susan King, Terry Pristin and Robert W. Welkos contributed to this report.