James L. Brooks’ “Terms of Endearment” took home the top prizes of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Shirley MacLaine), and Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson). Other nominees that year included “The Big Chill,” “The Dresser,” “The Right Stuff,” and “Tender Mercies.” Robert Duvall won Best Actor for “Tender Mercies” and Linda Hunt won Best Supporting Actress for “The Year of Living Dangerously.”
After being nominated 6 times (including 1960 for “The Apartment”), Shirley MacLaine beat her co-star Debra Winger and Meryl Streep (“Silkwood”) for Best Actress. MacLaine has not been nominated again since. 1984 was Queen Meryl’s 5th nomination, after having won the award the previous year for “Sophie’s Choice.” Julie Walters (who plays Molly Weasley in Potter films) was also in the running that year for “Educating Rita” along with her co-star Michael Caine.
Film-making awards were dominated by Ingmar Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander,” which also won Best Foreign Language Film. ”The Right Stuff” also took technical awards including a win in best Sound Effects, beating “Return of the Jedi.” The last Star Wars installment did receive a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects. Today, Lucas would have cleaned up.
Best Original Song went to “What a Feeling” from “Flashdance,” beating two songs from Barbara Streisand’s “Yentl.”
Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” and Sidney Pollack’s “Out Of Africa” went into Oscar night in 1986 evenly matched with 11 nominations each. However it was “Africa” that came out the victor, taking 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Pollack, Best Score, Art Direction, Sound, and Adapted Screenplay.
This was Pollack’s only Oscar for Directing out of three nominations in the category. Despite 11 nominations, including acting nods for Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Avery, “The Color Purple” went home empty handed.
The Best Actress statue went to screen legend Geraldine Page for “Trip to Bountiful.” Page had been nominated 8 times and beat out Meryl Streep, Goldberg, Anne Bancroft, and Jessica Lange. Her win was met with rousing cheers from her peers, with presenter F. Murray Abraham calling her the “greatest actress in the English language.”
The actor category was just as prestigious including Harrison Ford, Jon Voight, James Garner, and Jack Nicholson. Yet, it was William Hurt who won the category for his role in “The Kiss of the Spider Woman.”
Don Ameche won Best Supporting Actor for “Cocoon,” his first and only Academy Award nomination. Cher, clad in a sequence and see-through gown, presented the award. That must have been a sight. Angelica Houston won for the delightfully wicked “Prizzi’s Honor” on her first nomination. That John Huston crime-comedy was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Picture, Director, and Actor for Jack Nicholson.
The Academy rewarded Paul Newman with an Honorary Oscar that year. Newman had been nominated 7 times previous, including in 1983 for “The Verdict.” Newman delivered his acceptance by video from Chicago.
I have to say 1988 has the oddest collection of Best Picture nominees I’ve ever seen. In the pack you’ve got Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic “The Last Emperor,” James L. Brooks romantic dramaedy “Broadcast News,” Norman Jewison’s romantic comedy “Moonstruck,” John Boorman’s passion project “Hope and Glory,” and Adrian Lyne’s sexual horror story “Fatal Attraction.” How do you even compare these films? Even stranger was James L. Brooks being left out of the Best Director category, with Lasse Hallistrom taking the fifth spot.
Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won ever category including two statues for Bertolucci in Directing and Adapted Screenplay.
"Moonstruck" delivered three Oscars including Best Actress for Cher, Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis, and Best Original Screenplay for John Patrick Shanley (Director of "Doubt"). Cher beat Queen Meryl Streep on her 7th nomination for "Ironweed." It was Cher’s second Oscar nomination; the first being for "Silkwood," which she co-starred with Meryl Streep.
James Bond himself, Sean Connery won Best Supporting Actor for “The Untouchables.” Despite being a screen icon, this was Connery’s first and only nomination. Connery beat Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington for the honor in their first Oscar recognised roles.
"Fatal Attraction" star Michael Douglas actually won Best Actor for "Wall Street." Douglas’ portrayal of the miserly bastard Gordan Gekko is one of my favorite Oscar performances ever. Everything from the style of dress, to his dastardly grins, and bold pronouncements about greed defined a generation of financial company men and women. Even though Oliver Stone meant "Wall Street" as a critique of the soulless pursuit of money, Douglas’ performance is too good not to admire. Also in that category was William Hurt, nominated for "Broadcast News." This was Hurt’s third Oscar nomination in three years with his win for "The Kiss of the Spider Woman" and nod for "Children of a Lessor God." Quite a run.
I can’t get over “Fatal Attraction” getting 6 Oscar nominations. Glenn Close definitely deserved her Best Actress nod, but Directing and Adapted Screenplay seem odd to me.
"Broadcast News," probably the best love triangle brought to modern film and the funniest film about people at work, was nominated for 7 awards, but went home empty handed.
Best Foreign Film went to the wonderful Danish film “Babette’s Feast” about enjoying life and its conincidences.