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.