1992 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®
The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.
The Crying Game (1992, UK)
A Few Good Men (1992)
Howards End (1992, UK)
Scent of a Woman (1992)
AL PACINO in "Scent of a Woman", Robert Downey, Jr. in "Chaplin", Clint Eastwood in "Unforgiven", Stephen Rea in "The Crying Game", Denzel Washington in "Malcolm X"
EMMA THOMPSON in "Howards End", Catherine Deneuve in "Indochine", Mary McDonnell in "Passion Fish", Michelle Pfeiffer in "Love Field", Susan Sarandon in "Lorenzo's Oil"
GENE HACKMAN in "Unforgiven", Jaye Davidson in "The Crying Game", Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men", Al Pacino in "Glengarry Glen Ross", David Paymer in "Mr. Saturday Night"
MARISA TOMEI in "My Cousin Vinny", Judy Davis in "Husbands and Wives", Joan Plowright in "Enchanted April", Vanessa Redgrave in "Howards End", Miranda Richardson in "Damage"
CLINT EASTWOOD for "Unforgiven", Robert Altman for "The Player", Martin Brest for "Scent of a Woman", James Ivory for "Howards End", Neil Jordan for "The Crying Game"
A large number of non-American films and performers received nominations in 1992, and Variety actually dubbed it - "The Year of the Visa." (Foreign nominees won in 10 different categories.) But there were many representative Hollywood films and actors/actresses that won Oscars or were considered for awards as well. During the nominations period, the awards were also proclaimed as the "Year of the Woman," although it was still thought that Hollywood provided few roles for women thespians.
The Best Picture winner was actor / producer / director Clint Eastwood's deconstructed western Unforgiven. From an Oscar-nominated script by David Webb Peoples, the film told the tale of a corrupt violent sheriff in the town of Big Whiskey in 1880s Wyoming, and a retired bounty hunter/pig farmer who emerges from retirement for one last act of vengeance against a prostitute-attacker. Before this film, Eastwood hadn't even been nominated for an Oscar, although he had directed over a dozen films and appeared in dozens more.
Eastwood's film had nine nominations and four Oscar awards - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. Unforgiven's Best Picture award was a distinction - it was the third western film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. [The first two western films to be recognized as Best Pictures were Cimarron (1930/31) and Dances With Wolves (1990).]
The other four Best Picture nominees were:
- writer/director Neil Jordan's plot-twisting Irish film about an IRA terrorist, The Crying Game (with six nominations and one win - Best Original Screenplay)
- producer/director Rob Reiner's military courtroom drama A Few Good Men (with four nominations and no wins). It was the only Best Picture nominee without any Oscar wins
- American director James Ivory's impressive-looking Merchant-Ivory production of E. M. Forster's classic 1910 novel Howards End (with nine nominations and three wins - Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay (for Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), and Best Art Direction)
- director Martin Brest's story of an embittered ex-lieutenant, Scent of a Woman (with four nominations and one win)
Howards End, The Crying Game, and The Player, with a combined total of 18 Oscar nominations, did very well when compared to the Oscar nominations for the big studios' releases.
The Best Director Oscar went to Best Picture director Clint Eastwood (with his first/second nominations and first Oscar) for Unforgiven. Eastwood's Oscar acknowledged, at least in part, his entire film career. When Eastwood was honored with the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars, he joined Woody Allen (for Annie Hall (1977)), Warren Beatty (for Reds (1981)), and Kevin Costner (for Dances With Wolves (1990)) as one of four actors who won a Best Director award for the film he also starred in. Actor Robert Redford had also accomplished the same thing as a director - when he won as Best Director for Ordinary People (1980) and lost as Best Actor for The Sting (1973).
Of the five directors of Best Picture nominees, only Rob Reiner was not nominated for his direction of A Few Good Men. His fifth slot was filled by director Robert Altman (with his third directorial nomination) for The Player (with three nominations and no wins), a character-intensive satire on contemporary Tinseltown morality and its wheeling and dealing.
The Best Actor Oscar went to Al Pacino (his first Oscar win after six prior nominations) for his memorable performance as foul-mouthed, blind (as a result of a boozing-related accident), retired Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman. The film was most noted for his tango with Gabrielle Anwar. [As with Paul Newman's first Oscar, Pacino's win was actually honoring his many previous superior performances.]
[Best Actor Oscar-winner Al Pacino was also simultaneously nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in Glengarry Glen Ross. With his nomination, he became the first actor to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in two different roles in the same year. The second actor to achieve the same feat was Jamie Foxx in 2004. Both won Best Actor and lost Best Supporting Actor.]
The other four Best Actor nominees were:
- Robert Downey, Jr. (with his first nomination) as The Tramp in director Richard Attenborough's portrait of the classic comedian Chaplin (with three nominations and no wins)
- Clint Eastwood (with his first acting nomination) as William Munny - a former gunfighting outlaw and aging pig farmer turned bounty reward-hunter to avenge the slashing of a prostitute's face in Unforgiven
- Stephen Rea (with his first nomination) as IRA gunman Fergus (who is surprised by Jaye Davidson's gender) in The Crying Game
- Denzel Washington (with his third nomination) as the revolutionary black leader in the title role of director Spike Lee's Malcolm X (with two nominations and no wins)
Emma Thompson (with her first nomination), the wife of actor-director Kenneth Branagh, won the Best Actress award - and her first Oscar - as an intellectually-liberated, poor, middle-class British woman named Margaret Schlegel who was duped out of her inheritance by a betrayal from sister/co-star Helena Bonham Carter (who inherits the country estate named Howards End) in Howards End.
The other four nominees in the Best Actress category were:
- Catherine Deneuve (with her first nomination) as Eliane Devries - an Asian-born, French-descended owner of a rubber plantation in director Regis Wargnier's French film about 1930s French Indochina, Indochine (the foreign language film Oscar winner)
- Mary McDonnell (with her second nomination) as traffic accident-paralyzed TV soap opera actress Mary-Alice Culhane in director John Sayles' Passion Fish (with two nominations and no wins)
- Michelle Pfeiffer (with her third unsuccessful nomination) as bored, 1960s Dallas housewife Lurene Hallett deeply affected by the Kennedy assassination and involved in an interracial romance in director Jonathan Kaplan's Love Field (the film's sole nomination)
- Susan Sarandon (with her third unsuccessful nomination) as Michaela Odone - the mother of a seriously-ill 5 year-old son Lorenzo in director George Miller's Lorenzo's Oil (with two nominations and no wins)
Gene Hackman (with his fifth nomination - and his second Oscar award twenty-one years after his first one awarded for The French Connection (1971)) won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance as autocratic, vicious and sadistic Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett in Unforgiven.
The other four Best Supporting Actor competitors were:
- 24 year-old Jaye Davidson (with his first nomination) as transvestite singer Dil, in the noirish, gender-bending The Crying Game
- Jack Nicholson (with his tenth nomination - this achievement tied actor Laurence Olivier's number of nominations) as Guantanamo's confrontational, tough Army Col. Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men
- Al Pacino (with his seventh/eighth nomination) as real estate sales leader Ricky Roma in director James Foley's film of David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross (the film's sole nomination)
- David Paymer (with his first nomination) as Stan Yankelman - agent/brother of washed-up, stand-up comedian co-star Billy Crystal in Mr. Saturday Night (the film's sole nomination)
The surprise winner (in a major upset) of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar was little-known Brooklyn-ite Marisa Tomei (with her first nomination and first Oscar) as the leggy, feisty, joke-cracking, gum-chewing, auto-knowledgeable, New York girlfriend/fiancee Mona Lisa Vito of inexperienced lawyer-boyfriend Joe Pesci in director Jonathan Lynn's popular comedy farce My Cousin Vinny (the film's sole nomination and win). Marisa Tomei was the only American nominee in the category - all of her competing, foreign-born actresses were from England (Plowright, Richardson, and Redgrave) and Australia (Davis). [Note: A hurtful urban legend developed regarding her Oscar win, reportedly started by film critic Rex Reed who claimed the win was a mistake. He said that presenter Jack Palance read the wrong name off the front of the envelope instead of the inside.]
Three of Tomei's co-nominees were British actresses:
- Joan Plowright (with her first nomination) was nominated for her role as the haughty widow Mrs. Fisher - one of four troubled English women vacationing in a medieval Italian villa in director Mike Newell's Enchanted April (with three nominations and no wins)
- Vanessa Redgrave (with her sixth nomination) as country house owner Ruth Wilcox in Howards End
- Miranda Richardson (with her first nomination) as the distraught and anguished wife Ingrid Fleming of co-star Jeremy Irons (sexually obsessed over another woman) in French director Louis Malle's melodramatic Damage (the film's sole nomination) [Miranda should have been considered instead for her lead role as Jude in The Crying Game]
The remaining nominee was the overwhelming favorite - Aussie Judy Davis (with her second nomination) as neurotic, intelligent, fault-finding, dissatisfied New York housewife Sally in a failing marriage with her estranged husband (Sydney Pollack), in director Woody Allen's comedy/drama Husbands and Wives (with two nominations and no wins). Her nomination was distastefully colored by Allen's scandal at the same time over his breakup with Mia Farrow. [A similar competition between a sole American actor and four other off-shore actors occurred for Robert Duvall during the 1983 ceremonies.]
The late 63 year-old Audrey Hepburn, who died on January 20, 1993 of colon cancer, just about two months before the awards ceremony, received the Hersholt Humanitarian award - the first such honor awarded posthumously.
73 year-old, legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini was given the Honorary Academy Award for his inspired career, influencing filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. He even inspired an adjective -- "Fellini-esque" -- for his uniquely kaleidoscopic and stylized creations. He earned four Oscar nominations for direction for La Dolce Vita (1960), 8 1/2 (1963), Satyricon (1969), and Amarcord (1973), and had eight screenplay nominations (tied with John Huston for third-most in Oscar history, and the most written in a foreign language) for Open City (1945) - awarded in 1946, Paisan (1946) - awarded in 1949, La Strada (1954) - awarded in 1956, Vitelloni, I (1953) - awarded in 1957, La Dolce Vita (1960) - awarded in 1961, 8 1/2 (1963) - awarded in 1963, Amarcord (1973) - awarded in 1975, and Casanova (1976) - awarded in 1976. Four of his films won Best Foreign Language Film Oscars: La Strada (1954) in 1956, Nights of Cabiria (1957) in 1957, 8 1/2 (1963) in 1963, and Amarcord (1973) in 1974. Fellini died of a heart attack seven months after accepting the career award.
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Danish director Lars von Trier's stylistic Zentropa (aka Europa), and Hong Kong director John Woo's thrilling action film Hard-Boiled were un-nominated films. The three nominations (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Cinematography (win)) for A River Runs Through It did not include Robert Redford as a Best Director nominee.
Armand Assante was unrecognized for his role as Cuban emigrant/band musician Cesar Castillo in The Mambo Kings, and even though Michelle Pfieffer was nominated for her role in Love Fields, she might have been honored further for her sexy, exotically-dangerous Catwoman in Tim Burton's Batman Returns. Black actress Alfre Woodard was overlooked for her role as quiet live-in nurse Chantelle for Best Actress-nominated Mary McDonnell in director John Sayles' Passion Fish. Jack Lemmon was omitted from the nominees for his supporting role as elderly Shelley Levene, and David Mamet's screenplay was un-nominated in Glengarry Glen Ross. Gary Oldman was missing from the nominees for his role as Count Vlad Dracul/Dracula in Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (with four nominations and three wins - Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, and Best Sound Effects Editing). Jeff Goldblum was bypassed for his role as a smooth-talking, drug-dealing lawyer named David Jason in Deep Cover. Fred Gwynne was definitely ignored as the Southern judge in the comedy My Cousin Vinny. And Madeleine Stowe gave a stirring, romantically-tinged performance as the 18th century love interest of Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye in Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans.
And Tim Robbins was neglected for his performance as a smooth Hollywood studio executive in Robert Altman's The Player (with three unsuccessful nominations, and snubbed for a Best Picture nomination) and for his role as a Pennsylvania senatorial candidate in his own directorial effort for the political mockumentary Bob Roberts (with no nominations). James Caan as gambler Tommy Korman and Nicolas Cage as detective Jack Singer were not nominated for their roles in the romantic comedy Honeymoon in Vegas. And Joe Pesci was overlooked as 1940s NYC freelance photographer Leonard "The Great Bernzini" Bernstein in The Public Eye. Robin Williams was considered - but bypassed for a supporting nomination for his voiceover performance as the blue-skinned Genie of the lamp in Disney's animated blockbuster Aladdin.