1984 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
Most of the nominations-totals for 1984's Best Picture nominees were very close, and two 'prestige' pictures were tied for eleven nominations each:
Ultimately, the 1984 awards were monopolized by Amadeus with eight wins, the Saul Zaentz-produced, Milos Forman-directed film. The musical biopic/epic won the following awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham), Best Director, Best Screenplay Adaptation (Peter Shaffer for the transformation of his own Broadway/London stage hit), Best Art/Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup. It became the 7th film in Oscar history to win eight Oscars.
The Best Picture winner was visually and musically superior and focused on the court rivalry between flamboyant, genius composer (and scatologically-obsessed buffoon) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the less-talented, intensely-jealous Antonio Salieri, both composers for Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II.
The other Best Picture nominees included strong contenders:
Milos Forman's second Oscar win as director for Amadeus was a follow-up to his successful collaboration with Saul Zaentz nine years earlier in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975), a five Oscar winner. Director Norman Jewison was the only director of a Best Picture nominee who was denied a Best Director Oscar nomination for A Soldier's Story. His spot was taken by Woody Allen for Broadway Danny Rose (with two nominations and no wins), a film about a legendarily hapless talent agent. David Lean was nominated as Best Director, and for Best Screenplay Adaptation and Best Editor for A Passage to India, but he failed to win any of the awards.
The two winners of the lead and supporting actor Oscars were basically unknowns - and both won for their first nomination! The Best Actor award was won by F. Murray Abraham (with his sole career nomination and Oscar) in his remarkable role as Antonio Salieri, a jealous, mediocre court composer who is consumed and made insane by his distaste for a rival composer, 26 year-old prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Amadeus. [Abraham was the first actor of Arab descent to win the Best Actor Oscar.] Another nominee was the title role character in the same film, played by Tom Hulce (with his sole career nomination).
The other three Best Actor nominees were:
With her second Best Actress nomination, Sally Field won her second Oscar for her moving performance (her first was for a similar role in Norma Rae (1979)) as a 1930s depression-era penniless Texas farm widow of a murdered policeman, the determined, indomitable Edna Spaulding who must face a bank foreclosure, a greedy cotton-dealer, and a tornado, in Places In The Heart. She has become the best-remembered and most-quoted Oscar winner ever (with the possible exception of James Cameron's declaration, "I'm the King of the World" for Titanic (1997)), with her exclamatory, infamous speech after the win:
Field joined two of the other Best Actress nominees who were also playing strong matriarchal roles as rural women/farmers who found themselves in life-death struggles to keep their properties in male-dominated, chauvinistic circumstances:
The other two Best Actress nominees in the category were:
Among the five Best Supporting Actor nominees, three were first-time movie performers. The Best Supporting Actor winner was Cambodian native Haing S. Ngor (a non-professional actor in his film debut who actually survived Cambodia's horrors) as a Cambodian refugee doctor and advisor/interpreter Dith Pran for a photojournalist (Sam Waterston) who miraculously survives the horrors and tortures of war and Pol Pot's regime in producer David Puttnam's British film The Killing Fields. Ngor became the first Asian performer to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. [Tragically, he was murdered 12 years later in February of 1996 by a gang of drug dealers in a Los Angeles parking garage.]
The losing nominees for Best Supporting Actor were:
Talented British stage actress Peggy Ashcroft (with her only nomination and Oscar win) won the Best Supporting Actress award as Judy Davis' prospective mother-in-law Mrs. Moore, a Raj matron in frail health in A Passage to India. [At the age of 77, Ashcroft's win made her the oldest winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in Academy history.]
The other four nominees were:
This year, all five nominees for Best Original Song were well-known radio hits, something fairly rare. Stevie Wonder won for his song "I Just Called to Say I Love You," from the film The Woman in Red, thereby becoming the first blind Academy Award winner. The Best Song category was fiercely competitive, with nominees including Phil Collins' title song ("Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)") from Against All Odds (its sole nomination), two nominations from Footloose (for "Footloose" and "Let's Hear It For the Boy"), and the title song from Ghostbusters.
This year's honoree with an Honorary Oscar was the venerable James Stewart, who had won a Best Actor Oscar forty-four years earlier for The Philadelphia Story (1940) - his only win out of five Best Actor career nominations (he had also been nominated in 1939, 1946, 1950, and 1959). He was honord for "his fifty years of memorable performances. For his high ideals both on and off the screen. With the respect and affection of his colleagues."
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Writer/director James Cameron's low-budget, science-fiction action film The Terminator - with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the threatening, leather-clad cyborg, and Linda Hamilton as the rescued Sarah Connor by Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) was entirely absent from any awards categories. So was Australian director Paul Cox's touching yet kinky Man of Flowers, as was writer/director/star Rob Reiner's quasi-documentary spoof This Is Spinal Tap about an aging British heavy metal band. And Sergio Leone's final film, Once Upon a Time In America, went completely unnominated, with its lead performances by Robert DeNiro (as 'Noodles') and James Woods (as 'Max') as childhood friends/rivals spanning four decades, Elizabeth McGovern's supporting role as Deborah, and Ennio Morricone's score. Its neglect by Academy voters was attributed to a disastrous studio cut which severely truncated the film -- had the original nearly four hour running time version been released, the film might have been given far more consideration.
Tri-Star, a new studio, released its first film - Barry Levinson's sports drama The Natural, with four unsuccessful nominations - Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Supporting Actress. And the biggest box-office earner of the year, Beverly Hills Cop, with Eddie Murphy in a star-making role as Axel Foley, was overlooked.
Although Jeff Bridges received a Best Actor nomination (the film's sole nomination), director/co-screenwriter John Carpenter's Starman was neglected in these other categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Karen Allen as Jenny Hayden), Best Supporting Actor (Charles Martin Smith as scientist Mark Shermin), Best Original Score (Jack Nitzsche) and Best Original Screenplay. [Bridges' nomination was the only nomination ever given to any of John Carpenter's films.] British director and co-writer Michael Radford's faithfully-adapted Nineteen Eighty-Four was also overlooked in all categories with zero nominations, bypassing performances by John Hurt (as Winston Smith), Richard Burton (as O'Brien), and Suzanna Hamilton (as Julia), and the cinematography of acclaimed Roger Deakins.
Many other actors were denied award opportunities:
Like TRON (1982) two years earlier, the innovative CGI effects of The Last Starfighter, with its use of CGI to replace model miniatures for all its spaceship shots -- were overlooked. Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters was nominated in two categories (without winning either): Best Song (Ray Parker, Jr.) and Best Visual Effects. It should have been recognized in other categories as well - Best Actor (Bill Murray), Best (Supp.) Actress (Sigourney Weaver), Best Original Screenplay (Aykroyd, Ramis, and Torokvei), Best Production Design (John De Cuir), and Best Cinematography (Laszlo Kovacs and Herb Wagreitch).