1985 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®
Sydney Pollack's grandly-spectacular, handsome romance spanning two decades, Out of Africa, was based by Kurt Luedtke on the life, works, and memoirs of Karen Blixen (a Danish writer who published under the name Isak Dinesen). The romantic biopic had eleven Oscar nominations and captured all the major awards, seven in all - except in the acting categories (Best Picture, Best Director (Sydney Pollack), Best Screenplay Adaptation (Kurt Luedtke), Best Cinematography (David Watkins), Best Art/Set Direction, Best Sound, and Best Original Score).
Another Best Picture nominee with eleven nominations was director Steven Spielberg's affecting drama, The Color Purple (Spielberg's first theatrical feature was the drama The Sugarland Express (1974) directed many years earlier) - the first PG-13 rated film to be nominated for Best Picture. With a largely black cast, it was an adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a young black girl growing to maturity in rural 20th century Georgia. Five of Out of Africa's seven Oscars directly defeated The Color Purple's nominations. In fact, The Color Purple didn't win a single Oscar award. [This 'un-achievement' tied the shutout record with The Turning Point (1977) - both films had the most nominations (11) without a single win.]
The other three Best Picture nominees were:
Steven Spielberg was the only director of a Best Picture nominee who was not nominated for Best Director. There was a tremendous lack of judgment in the Academy's humiliating treatment of Steven Spielberg as director. [It was the first time since 43 years earlier that Sam Wood, another director with a film with ten or more nominations - The Pride of the Yankees (1942) - didn't have a Best Director nomination.] Spielberg's Best Picture-nominated film had eleven nominations, but a nomination for Best Director was not one of them. [Spielberg had previously been nominated as Best Director in 1977, 1981, and 1982 - without a win - he wouldn't win until Schindler's List (1993).]
Spielberg's position in the nominees was taken by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa for Ran (with four nominations - Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, and its sole win for Best Costume Design), an adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear, the historical epic of a tragic, 16th century Japanese warlord. [Kurosawa was later honored with a Special Oscar in 1989.]
All ten of the Best Actor/Actress nominees were American-born - the first time in Oscar history. In this year, it was also the second time in Academy history (the first was in 1972) that three of the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees in 1985 were black performers: Whoopi Goldberg as Best Actress for The Color Purple, and Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey as Best Supporting Actress for The Color Purple. But all of them lost in their categories.
The Best Actor honor was won by William Hurt (with his first of three consecutive nominations) for his role as the flamboyant, homosexual Luis Molina, a South American hairdresser/romantic who creates imaginary film dreams, and is planted by the authorities in a prison to learn revolutionary secrets from fellow prisoner (Raoul Julia) in Kiss of the Spider Woman. [Note: Kiss of the Spider Woman was the first independent film to be nominated for Best Picture. Hurt's win in the Best Actor category was the first time a performer won the award for playing a 'gay' person.]
The other Best Actor nominees were:
In the Best Actress category, Geraldine Page (with her eighth nomination and first and sole win) won her long-awaited first Oscar for her role as elderly, hymn-singing widow/pensioner Mrs. Watts who leaves Houston and returns to her hometown of Bountiful for a last visit before her death in The Trip to Bountiful, a debut film for director Peter Masterson. [Since 1953, Page had already been nominated three times for Best Actress and four times for Best Supporting Actress, and lost for some more impressive performances. With her long losing streak, she was the first person to win an acting Oscar on her eighth attempt after seven previously unsuccessful nominations. Her seven failed tries tied similar efforts of both Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton. Most people interpreted her Oscar win as a 'tribute' to her entire career.]
The other four Best Actress nominees were:
All of the nominees in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories were first-time nominees.
The Best Supporting Actor award was a sentimental honor won by 77 year-old veteran actor Don Ameche as Art Selwyn - a rejuvenated, break-dancing, retirement home resident who is given the chance of immortality in director Ron Howard's light, science-fiction comedy Cocoon. The other nominees in the Best Supporting Actor category were:
The Best Supporting Actress award was presented to Anjelica Huston in the role of a Mafia assassin's (Jack Nicholson) scorned, but cunning and long-suffering girlfriend Maerose Prizzi in Prizzi's Honor. [As the director's daughter, Anjelica was the first person to be directed to an Oscar by her own father. John Huston had also directed his own father Walter to an Oscar win in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Anjelica was also the first Oscar winner whose father and grandfather (Walter Huston) were also Oscar winners. And this remarkable feat made the Hustons the first family with three generations of Oscar winners - Huston became the only director to have directed both his father and daughter to Oscar victories.]
Two of the other Best Supporting Actress nominees were African-American actresses and co-stars in their debut performances, in The Color Purple:
The remaining two Best Supporting Actress nominees were Amy Madigan as Gene Hackman's daughter caught by her father's mid-life crisis in Bud Yorkin's Twice in a Lifetime (the film's sole nomination), and Meg Tilly as the childlike, beatific Sister Agnes in Agnes of God.
The Honorary Oscar honoree was Paul Newman, "in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft." From 1958 to 1982, he had been nominated six times for Best Actor - and failed each time. Newman's directorial effort for Rachel, Rachel (1968) also earned four nominations (including Best Picture). He would only have to wait one more year to win his first Best Actor Oscar for The Color of Money (1986).
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
The unsafe, inventively-futuristic film from Terry Gilliam - Brazil (although nominated and unsuccessful for Best Original Screenplay and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration awards) was missing from the nominations for Best Director and Best Picture (although the Los Angeles Film Critics Society awarded it those two distinctions). And writer/director Lawrence Kasdan's unique western Silverado, Nicolas Roeg's Insignificance, and writer/director/star Albert Brooks' Lost in America were conspicuously absent from major nomination categories.
The Best Visual Effects Oscar award was won by Cocoon, but director Barry Levinson's nominated Young Sherlock Holmes should have won instead for its startling and superb CGI SFX - its sole nomination. The anthem Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds from The Breakfast Club was un-nominated for Best Original Song, as was writer/director John Hughes.
Akira Kurosawa's Ran (although it had four nominations and one win as noted above for Costume Design) was not nominated for Best Picture, Best Score, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, or Best Actor/Actress (for Tatsuya Nakadai as Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, or Mieko Harada as ruthless widowed warrior Lady Kaede).
The following were un-nominated roles:
In director/writer Woody Allen's comedy-fantasy The Purple Rose of Cairo (with only one nomination, Best Original Screenplay), a take-off on Buster Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. (1924), Mia Farrow was overlooked as unfulfilled waitress/dishwasher Cecilia, as was Jeff Daniels in a dual role as (1) the main fictional character of "The Purple Rose of Cairo" - a dashing explorer/archaeologist named "Tom Baxter", and as (2) Gil Shepherd - the real-life actor who played Tom on the screen.