1989 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®
Driving Miss Daisy was the most nominated film and the Best Picture winner in 1989 (with nine nominations and four wins), although its director Bruce Beresford was un-nominated and snubbed as Best Director. [Driving Miss Daisy became the second film since Grand Hotel (1931/2) to win the 'Best Picture' Oscar without a nomination for its director. Wings (1927/28) was the first 'Best Picture' winner that was also not nominated for Best Director.]
The heart-tugging, sentimental, low-budget film was an adaptation of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play about an aging, feisty Southern white widowed grandmother (Tandy) and her complex twenty-five relationship with her simple black chauffeur (Freeman). The plot was based upon Uhry's memories of his grandmother and a family chauffeur.
Its four awards included Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay (Alfred Uhry), and Best Makeup. Oscar-winning and Pulitzer Prize-winning Alfred Uhry became the first writer to win both awards for the same material. The film's co-producer, Lili Fini Zanuck, was awarded the Best Picture honor - she became the second woman to receive such an honor. [The first woman in Oscar history to receive an award for co-producing the Best Picture of the year was Julia Phillips for The Sting (1973).]
The other four Best Picture nominees were:
In the Best Director category, two of the directors of Best-Picture nominated films were neglected: Bruce Beresford for the Best Picture winner Driving Miss Daisy, and Phil Alden Robinson for Field of Dreams. In their places, Woody Allen was nominated for his masterpiece Crimes and Misdemeanors (with three nominations and no wins) - an obvious tribute to Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, and writer/director/actor Kenneth Branagh was nominated for his audacious and inventive first film Henry V (with three nominations and one win - Best Costume Design).
All of the year’s acting winners were first-time winners.
British actor Daniel Day-Lewis (with his first nomination) won the Best Actor award, a surprise win, for his performance as Irish-born artist and author Christy Brown - a self-reliant, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy victim who can only write and draw with his foot, in the British production My Left Foot. [This was the first of three Best Actor wins for British actors in three consecutive years: Jeremy Irons would win for Reversal of Fortune (1990) and Anthony Hopkins for The Silence of the Lambs (1991).]
The other nominees for the Best Actor award were:
Octogenarian Jessica Tandy won the Best Actress award for her performance as wealthy, 72 year-old Atlanta resident and eccentric, cantankerous Jewish matron/matriarch Daisy Werthan in Driving Miss Daisy (1989). Tandy's win set a record at the time - she became the oldest performer (and nominee, at 80 years and 252 days old) to ever win a Best Actress Oscar. She was just three months away from her 81st birthday when she accepted the Oscar (at 80 years and 292 days old).
The other four Best Actress nominees were:
Denzel Washington (with his second nomination and first Oscar win) won the Best Supporting Actor award as Trip, a tough, brave, runaway slave enlisted in the first regimental unit of black troops fighting for the Union in director Edward Zwick's Glory (with five nominations and three wins - Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound). [Denzel Washington became the second black performer to win the Best Supporting Actor award. Lou Gossett, Jr. was the first - for An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). Overall, he was the fourth African-American to win an Oscar, following also after Hattie McDaniel and Sidney Poitier.]
The other four Best Supporting Actor nominees were:
Unknown Irish actress Brenda Fricker (with her first nomination) won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as cantankerous Daniel Day-Lewis' loving and caring mother Mrs. Brown in My Left Foot. Two co-stars of director Paul Mazursky's adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel Enemies: A Love Story (with a total of three nominations - also Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writers Mazursky and Roger Simon) were nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category:
The remaining two Best Supporting Actress nominees were Julia Roberts (with her first nomination) as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie - Sally Field's diabetic daughter and bride-to-be in director Herbert Ross' tearjerker about a group of six southern women who regularly gather in a Louisiana beauty parlor in Steel Magnolias (the film's sole nomination), and Dianne Wiest (with her second nomination) as Helen - a divorced mother with troubled teen children in director Ron Howard's film about parenting, Parenthood (with two nominations and no wins).
And Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, previously nominated only once as Best Director for Ran (1985) (a film with four nominations and one win for Best Costume Design), was presented with an Honorary Award "for accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world." He was best-known for his films Rashomon (1950), Ikiru (1952), and The Seven Samurai (1954).
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
The war epic Glory, about the uncelebrated 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (a black regiment of Union soldiers in the Civil War) was not nominated as Best Picture or for Best Director (Edward Zwick). Also neglected in the cast were Matthew Broderick as young Col. Robert Gould Shaw, and Morgan Freeman as 'elder statesman' Sgt. Major John Rawlins. Actor/director/writer Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing was nominated for only two awards - Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Danny Aiello), without a Best Picture or Best Director nod.
Director Tim Burton's box-office smash Batman had only one nomination and win - Best Art Direction, but was un-nominated in other categories: Jack Nicholson in a dual role as the villain: egotistical mobster Jack Napier (and maniacal Joker), and composer Danny Elfman for his musical score. Likewise, one of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, director Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally..., also had only one nomination (and lost) - for Nora Ephron's witty screenplay. There were many overlooked components: a Best Director nomination, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as the two leads Harry Burns and Sally Albright, and Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher as their best friends Jess and Marie.
Although director/actor Kenneth Branagh was nominated as Best Director and Actor for the expressive Shakespearean Henry V - his first directorial effort - he was devoid of a Best Picture nomination. And another neglected picture - director/writer Nancy Savoca's low-budget debut comedy film True Love with Annabella Sciorra as Italian-American Bronx bride Donna ended up without any nominations.
Other worthy, would-be nominees included:
And although Anjelica Huston was a Best Supporting Actress nominee for Enemies: A Love Story, she also should have been nominated for her role as Dolores Paley in writer/director Woody Allen's morality play Crimes and Misdemeanors (also without a Best Picture nomination!).