1987 featured a dynamic slate of Best Picture nominees with “Platoon,” “Children of a Lesser God,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “The Mission,” and “a Room with a View.” Oliver Stone’s war film took the top prize, awarding the director with his only Oscar.
Woody Allen, Roland Joffe, James Ivory, and David Lynch also received directing nods. Allen took home the Best Original Screenplay award, beating Oliver Stone, who was nominated twice for writing “Platoon” and “Salvador.” Ruth Prawer Jhabvala won best Adapted Screenplay for her EM Forester adaptation “A Room With a View.”
The acting awards were spread between three different films, none going to best picture winner “Platoon.” Paul Newman won Best Actor for Martin Scorsese’s “The Color of Money” in which he reprises his role of Fast Eddie from “The Hustler.” Newman had been nominated 7 times and skipped the show saying, “I’ve been there six times and lost. Maybe If I stay away I’ll win.” He was right.
Marlee Matlin, Chicago area native, won Best Actress for her debut film role in “Children of a Lesser God.” Matlin played the same role in the stage version and began a long film and television career after her win, breaking barriers for actors with disabilities. William Hurt, fellow nominee for “Children of a Lesser God” actually presented the award to his co-star and one time paramour.
The great Dianne Wiest and Michael Caine took home Supporting Actor awards for “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Wiest may be one of my favorite Oscar winners. Her work in “Hannah” as the plain middle sister to Mia Farrow and Barbara Hershey is understated, winning, and human. Caine, who played the erudite husband with a lustful eye for his wife’s sister, did not expect to win and skipped the ceremony.
The Academy awarded Steven Spielberg with the Irving Thalberg award for his substantial contribution to film craft and artistry. Maybe that was a mea culpa for his the complete shut out with “The Color Purple.”