1990 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
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Academy Awards History (By Decade):
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
Winners Charts:
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®

The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.
Best Picture


Awakenings (1990)

Ghost (1990)

The Godfather, Part III (1990)

GoodFellas (1990)

JEREMY IRONS in "Reversal of Fortune", Kevin Costner in "Dances With Wolves", Robert De Niro in "Awakenings", Gerard Depardieu in "Cyrano de Bergerac", Richard Harris in "The Field"
KATHY BATES in "Misery", Anjelica Huston in "The Grifters", Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman", Meryl Streep in "Postcards from the Edge", Joanne Woodward in "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge"
Supporting Actor:
JOE PESCI in "GoodFellas", Bruce Davison in "Longtime Companion", Andy Garcia in "The Godfather, Part III", Graham Greene in "Dances With Wolves", Al Pacino in "Dick Tracy"
Supporting Actress:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG in "Ghost", Annette Bening in "The Grifters", Lorraine Bracco in "GoodFellas", Diane Ladd in "Wild at Heart", Mary McDonnell in "Dances With Wolves"
KEVIN COSTNER for "Dances With Wolves", Francis Ford Coppola for "The Godfather, Part III", Stephen Frears for "The Grifters", Barbet Schroeder for "Reversal of Fortune", Martin Scorsese for "GoodFellas"

The Best Picture winner, co-producer/director/actor Kevin Costner's three-hour epic and revisionistic western film Dances With Wolves was an anomaly win in Oscar history - it was only the second time that a western genre film won the Best Picture Oscar. [The first Best Picture western film was Cimarron (1930-31), sixty years earlier.] However, some argued that Costner's (another actor-turned-director) romantic-epic film shouldn't have been categorized as a Western.

Dances With Wolves was honored with twelve nominations and seven Oscar wins - Best Picture (Costner), Best Director (for Costner's directorial debut film), Best Adapted Screenplay (Michael Blake), Best Cinematography (Dean Semler), Best Sound, Best Original Score (John Barry), and Best Film Editing. The pretentious, but visually-impressive film told the saga of a Civil War Union officer, Lt. John W. Dunbar, who became disillusioned, headed west, and eventually found peace away from white civilization with nature and the Lakota Sioux. The film contained long portions of the Sioux-Lakota language and detailed the native American culture.

The other four Best Picture nominees were:

Two of the directors of Best Picture nominees were not selected as Best Director nominees: Jerry Zucker for Ghost, and female director Penny Marshall for Awakenings. [Marshall's failure to receive a Best Director nomination was interpreted as sexist. Up to this time in Oscar history, only one women had been nominated for Best Director - Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties (1976), and female director Randa Haines had been passed over four years earlier as Best Director for her Best Picture-nominated Children of a Lesser God (1986).]

The two directors put into their slots for films without Best Picture nominations were Stephen Frears for The Grifters (with four nominations and no wins), a shocking film-noirish tale of three con artists - a film adaptation of Jim Thompson's hard-boiled novel, and director Barbet Schroeder for the dramatic Reversal of Fortune (with three nominations and one win - Best Actor), the story of Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's defense appeal of Claus Von Bulow's conviction for attempted murder of his wife.

The Best Actor award was presented to Jeremy Irons (with his first nomination) for his performance in Reversal of Fortune as the icy, arrogant, and decadently-aristocratic millionaire Claus Von Bulow who was accused of trying to kill his comatose Newport heiress wife Sunny (Glenn Close).

The other four Best Actor nominees were:

The Best Actress award was given to Kathy Bates (with her first nomination) as obsessed, psychopathic fan Annie Wilkes for a romance novelist (James Caan) in director Rob Reiner's black thriller Misery (the film's sole nomination), William Goldman's adaptation of Stephen King's novel.

Her competing nominees for Best Actress included:

In the Best Supporting Actor category, Joe Pesci (with his second nomination) won his first Oscar award for his ferocious performance as comically psychotic gangster killer Tommy DeVito in GoodFellas (the film's sole Oscar win). [The same year, Pesci starred as a clumsy burglar in the blockbuster Home Alone starring Macauley Culkin.]

The other four Best Supporting Actor nominees were:

In 1990, Whoopi Goldberg became the second black actress to win an acting Oscar. [The first black actress to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel's win for Gone With The Wind (1939).] Favored to win, Goldberg (with her second nomination) won the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance as an imposter clairvoyant - and then genuine psychic medium Oda Mae Brown in Ghost. [Some interpreted Goldberg's win as a 'consolation' prize for not winning Best Actress five years earlier when she was considered for the award for her performance in The Color Purple (1985), and lost to Geraldine Page's performance in The Trip to Bountiful (1985).]

The other four Best Supporting Actress nominees were:

Never-nominated actress Myrna Loy received an Honorary Oscar this year, "in recognition of her extraordinary qualities both on screen and off, with appreciation for a lifetime's worth of indelible performances." She was best known for her appearance opposite William Powell in The Thin Man (1934) series of films. Sophia Loren was also presented another Honorary Oscar - "one of the genuine treasures of world cinema who, in a career rich with memorable performances, has added permanent luster to our art form." She had been nominated as Best Actress for Marriage-Italian Style (1964), and won her only Best Actress Oscar for Two Women (1960).

Oscar Snubs and Omissions:

The biggest omission of the year was the Coen Brothers' neglected and fresh gangster film Miller's Crossing (see below for acting omissions) - with no Best Picture, cinematography, or screenplay nominations. In addition, actor/director Jack Nicholson's The Two Jakes, a sequel to Polanski's Chinatown (1974) was completely overlooked: Nicholson's dual roles, screenplay by Robert Towne, Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography, and Harvey Keitel as the "other" Jake. And female director Penny Marshall was overlooked as a Best Director nominee, even though her film Awakenings was a Best Picture nominee. There was no recognition for the latex animatronic costumes (by Jim Henson Productions) for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, for Jim Henson's last-produced film - director Nicolas Roeg's - The Witches with Anjelica Huston, or for Michael Caton-Jones' story about a WWII B-17 bomber and its crew, Memphis Belle.

Bruce Joel Rubin won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Ghost, but his co-scripted screenplay for Jacob's Ladder (with no nominations) was neglected.

The following were not nominated for their acting performances - note that the first four films listed here were 'quality' gangster films - 1990 was a glutted year for the genre:

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