1995 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 major Oscar winner of the year was the Best Picture award winner, producer / star / director Mel Gibson's and Paramount's stirring and violent historical action-epic tale Braveheart, about 13th century Scottish folk rebel hero and warrior Sir William Wallace, who led a vengeful, bloody revolt composed of guerrilla strikes against the treachery of villainous King Edward I.
The three-hour, rousing action tale (Australian Gibson's second feature as director after his work in The Man Without a Face (1993)), with unforgettable battle scenes, romance, and sacrifice, was nominated for ten awards (including Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound). It triumphantly won five Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, and Best Sound Effects. Braveheart was the only Best Picture nominee that didn't have an acting nomination (Gibson was denied a nomination in the performing category).
The only Best Picture nominee that could be considered a traditional Hollywood offering was director Ron Howard's blockbuster hit Apollo 13 (with nine nominations and two wins - Best Sound and Best Editing) - a chronicle of the real-life adventures of the ill-fated, heroic astronauts (Jim Lovell and his crew) of the 1970s Apollo-13 mission to the moon, who averted tragedy with the persistent help of the Houston NASA team.
The other three Best Picture nominees included:
With his Best Director win, actor/director/producer Mel Gibson became the sixth actor-turned director to win a Best Director Oscar. He joined five other actors-turned-filmmakers with Best Director Oscars:
Two of the five directors of Best Picture nominees were not nominated as Best Director:
In their places, writer/director Mike Figgis was nominated for his adaptation of John O'Brien's semi-autobiographical novel - the low-budget indie Leaving Las Vegas (with four nominations and one win - Best Actor), a depressing, film-noirish acting tour de force about two down-and-outers in flashy Las Vegas. And producer/writer/director Tim Robbins was nominated for Dead Man Walking (with four nominations and one win - Best Actress), an adaptation of Sister Helen Prejean's best-selling account of her work among condemned-to-die prisoners on death row at New Orleans' Angola Prison. Both films - Leaving Las Vegas and Dead Man Walking were nominated in the Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress categories, but were snubbed in the Best Picture category!
All four of the year's acting winners were first-time Academy Award winners.
The Best Actor Oscar went to Nicolas Cage (with his first nomination and first Oscar) for his performance as failed, Hollywood scriptwriter and fatally-destructive, genial, but suicidal alcoholic Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas.
The other four Best Actor nominees in the category were:
Two of the nominees for Best Actress and the winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, played the role of prostitutes. Ironically, the role of a nun was the winner in the Best Actress category - this was the first time a person won for being a nun in Oscar history.
Susan Sarandon (with her fifth Best Actress nomination and first Oscar win) won the Best Actress award for her powerful role as anti-death penalty, real-life Catholic nun - Sister Helen Prejean, who spiritually advised a condemned, death-row murderer (Sean Penn) in Dead Man Walking. She became the first star to win Best Actress in a film directed by her nominated director-husband (unofficial but live-in husband Tim Robbins). [Note: Some argue that Frances McDormand was the first in the following year, winning Best Actress for Fargo (1996), directed by nominated director-husband Joel Coen.] She was only the 2nd nun-playing actress in Academy history to win an Oscar for her performance, following Jennifer Jones who won the Best Actress Oscar for The Song of Bernadette (1943). Others who have been nominated (both lead and supporting) for their nun-characters include Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in Doubt (2008), Anne Bancroft and Meg Tilly in Agnes of God (1985), Peggy Wood in The Sound of Music (1965) (P.S. technically, Julie Andrews hadn't taken her vows yet), Lilia Skalia in Lilies of the Field (1963), Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story (1959), Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), Loretta Young and Celeste Holm in Come to the Stable (1949), Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), and Gladys Cooper in The Song of Bernadette (1943).
The competing Best Actress nominees included:
All ten of the Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominees were first-time contenders.
Kevin Spacey (with his first nomination and Oscar win!) won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as evil, crippled con-man/loser Roger "Verbal" Kint - who was grilled about a San Pedro tanker explosion and confesses in producer/director Bryan Singer's feature film debut, a delightfully-twisted, brilliant film-noirish The Usual Suspects (with only two nominations and two wins - including Best Original Screenplay for Christopher McQuarrie). This low-budget independent film, made for $6 million, introduced the world to the elusive character of Keyser Soze, known for the saying: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
The other four nominees in the Best Supporting Actor category were:
For her lead role as naive prostitute/porno star Linda Ash ('Judy Cum'), the wayward birth mother of divorced sportswriter Woody Allen's adopted son in actor/writer/director Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (with two nominations and one win), Mira Sorvino (with her first nomination and Oscar win) won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar award. She followed in a long-line of other actresses who won Oscars for playing streetwalkers and hookers.
Her competitors in the Best Supporting Actress category included:
This year's Honorary Oscar award was presented to Kirk Douglas, with a film career of almost 50 years, "as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community." He was nominated three times for Best Actor: for Champion (1949), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Lust For Life (1956) - but never won. He had appeared in many other great films, including The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Out of the Past (1947), The Big Carnival (1951), Detective Story (1951), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Paths of Glory (1957), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), and Seven Days in May (1964).
Another Honorary Oscar award recipient was famed animator Chuck Jones, often known as "The Father of Contemporary Animation," for "the creation of classic cartoons and cartoon characters whose animated lives have brought joy to our real ones for more than half a century. He directed animation at Warner Bros. (famous for Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck), and created such characters as Wile E. Coyote, Henery Hawk, Pepe Le Pew, Marvin Martian, Ralph Wolf, the Road Runner, Sam Sheepdog, and Sniffles.
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Leaving Las Vegas and Dead Man Walking were nominated in the Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress categories, but were snubbed in the Best Picture category. Scorsese's Casino, a tale of greed and glittering Las Vegas decadence in the 1970s, with a sole unsuccessful nomination for Sharon Stone, lacked awards-nominations in a number of other categories (Best Director, Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay), and Robert DeNiro was un-nominated for his role as ill-fated Jewish bookmaking gangster Sam "Ace" Rothstein. Director Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County (with only one unsuccessful nomination for Meryl Streep as Best Actress) lacked a Best Director nomination and a Best Acting nomination for his role as photographer Robert Kincaid.
One of the biggest omissions was Before Sunrise (Best Picture, Best Director (Richard Linklater), Best Actor (Ethan Hawke as Jesse), Best Actress (Julie Delpy as Celine), and Best Original Screenplay) - an all-time great romance film about two strangers spontaneously engaging in an overnight conversation in Vienna that changed their lives.
Director Ang Lee failed to win a Best Director nomination for Sense and Sensibility, and director Ron Howard was denied a similar nomination for Apollo 13. Tom Hanks was unnominated for Apollo 13 as astronaut and mission leader Jim Lovell ("Houston, we have a problem"), denying him a chance at an unprecedented three consecutive Oscar wins for Best Actor.
There were only two (unsuccessful) nominations for Terry Gilliam's sci-fi time-travel film 12 Monkeys - Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Costume Design. Spike Lee's Clockers, a grim film about crack drug trade, was also denied nominations, as was David Fincher's gruesome crime thriller and box-office hit Se7en (with only one nomination - Best Film Editing). Female director Kathryn Bigelow's futuristic thriller Strange Days received zero recognition -- for acting honors to Juliette Lewis, Angela Bassett, or for Ralph Fiennes, or for producer James Cameron's script. The CGI-enhanced visual-special effects by Stan Parks were unrecognized for Jumanji.
The following were additional acting nominations - denied or unacknowledged: