1999 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®
"AMERICAN BEAUTY", "The Cider House Rules", "The Green Mile", "The Insider", "The Sixth Sense"
KEVIN SPACEY in "American Beauty," Russell Crowe in "The Insider," Richard Farnsworth in "The Straight Story," Sean Penn in "Sweet and Lowdown," Denzel Washington in "The Hurricane"
HILARY SWANK in "Boys Don't Cry", Annette Bening in "American Beauty", Janet McTeer in "Tumbleweeds", Julianne Moore in "The End of the Affair", Meryl Streep in "Music of the Heart"
MICHAEL CAINE in "The Cider House Rules", Tom Cruise in "Magnolia", Michael Clarke Duncan in "The Green Mile", Jude Law in "The Talented Mr. Ripley", Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense"
ANGELINA JOLIE in "Girl, Interrupted", Toni Collette in "The Sixth Sense", Catherine Keener in "Being John Malkovich", Samantha Morton in "Sweet and Lowdown", Chloe Sevigny in "Boys Don't Cry"
SAM MENDES for "American Beauty", Spike Jonze for "Being John Malkovich", Lasse Hallstrom for "The Cider House Rules", Michael Mann for "The Insider", M. Night Shyamalan for "The Sixth Sense"
Among this year's varied Oscar contenders, British-London theatrical-stage director Sam Mendes' debut feature film American Beauty, a quirky, grim dark comedy/drama about the contemporary American family from DreamWorks, was the top Oscar-winning film (with eight significant nominations and five wins). With an ensemble cast, the low-budget film viewed a dysfunctional family's angst and crisis in suburbia. It was shot for roughly $12.5 million in 55 days. Significant images included symbolically-used, computer-generated rose petals, and the sight of a wind-tossed plastic garbage bag.
It was the first non-historical epic (or non-period film) to win the top honor since Silence of the Lambs (1991). Its five Oscars included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography (Conrad L. Hall with his second Oscar following a previous win for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)) and Best Original Screenplay (Alan Ball).
This was the fourth instance (in the past five years) that the Best Picture-winning film was based on an original screenplay. American Beauty lost its three nominations for Best Actress, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score (Thomas Newman). Hilary Swank's win as Best Actress for Boys Don't Cry (over Annette Bening) kept American Beauty from sweeping the 'Big Five' honors.
The first of the other heavily-nominated Best Picture nominees (below) was the only one that won Oscars:
- director Lasse Hallstrom's and Miramax's coming of age story The Cider House Rules (with seven nominations and two wins), set within a New England orphanage/abortion clinic, with two Oscars, Best Adapted Screenplay (by John Irving for his own 1985 novel) and Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine). Its other nominations included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score, Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction
- director Michael Mann's scathing and compelling The Insider (with seven nominations and no wins), a serious, based-on-a-true-story film about tobacco-industry controversies (Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Sound)
- India-born, 29 year-old director M. Night Shyamalan's dark-horse favorite and most successful of the nominees, the plot-twisting The Sixth Sense (with six nominations and no wins), the immensely-popular, psychological horror-thriller about a precocious young boy named Cole (Haley Joel Osment) who saw visions of ghosts ("I see dead people") and sought help from a child psychologist (Bruce Willis) (Best Supporting Actor, two for M. Night Shyamalan for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Film Editing)
- writer/director Frank Darabont's The Green Mile (with four nominations and no wins), a lengthy film about a magical death-row inmate and his pet mouse (Mr. Jingles) - the second of Darabont's versions of a Stephen King adaptation set in a prison (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Sound)
Except for Lasse Hallstrom, who had a previous Best Director nomination for My Life as a Dog (1988), the other four Best Director nominees were all first-time contenders. The Green Mile was the sole Best Picture-nominated film to not have its director, Frank Darabont, nominated - he was replaced by Spike Jonze for Being John Malkovich.
Four other films received fewer than expected nominations and meager awards:
- Topsy-Turvy (with four nominations and two wins), about Gilbert and Sullivan, lacked Best Director and Best Picture nominations but scored two Oscar wins: Best Costume Design and Best Makeup. Its other two nominations were for director Mike Leigh's Best Original Screenplay and Best Art Direction
- The Talented Mr. Ripley (with five nominations and no wins) - Best Supporting Actor (Jude Law), Best Adapted Screenplay (by writer/director Anthony Minghella), Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design
- the peculiarly weird and original Being John Malkovich (with three nominations and no wins) - Best Director (Spike Jonze), Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener), and Best Original Screenplay (Charlie Kaufman)
- Magnolia (with three nominations and no wins) - Best Supporting Actor (Tom Cruise), Best Original Screenplay (Paul Thomas Anderson), and Best Original Song ("Save Me" by Aimee Mann)
Kevin Spacey won the Best Actor Academy Award for an inspiring performance in American Beauty (his second career nomination and second Oscar win) - as rebellious, beleaguered and doomed Lester Burnham, a casualty of suburban family life who faced a mid-career crisis, dropped out from his job for the advertising magazine Media Monthly, worked at a fast-food joint called Mr. Smiley's, and lusted after his daughter's best high-school friend and temptress Angela (Mena Suvari). Spacey previously won the Best Supporting Actor award for The Usual Suspects (1995). [Spacey became the 10th performer to win Oscars in both the lead and supporting categories, following after Helen Hayes, Jack Lemmon, Ingrid Bergman, Maggie Smith, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and Jessica Lange.]
The other nominees in the Best Actor category included:
- 79 year-old "Grey Fox" Richard Farnsworth (with his second and last career nomination, and first Best Actor nomination) became the oldest lead actor nominee ever for his moving role as ailing, 73 year-old Iowan widower Alvin Straight, who journeyed from Laurens, IA to Mount Zion, WI on a riding lawn-mower for a reunion with his sick brother in director David Lynch's low-key true story The Straight Story
[Farnsworth's first nomination was as Best Supporting Actor for Comes a Horsemen (1978)]
- Denzel Washington (with his fourth nomination), the only nominee in director Norman Jewison's The Hurricane as the falsely-accused middleweight boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. This was a widely-praised film that had been a leading contender for Best Picture honors. Washington's fourth nomination established a record for an African-American actor.
[Previous nominations and wins: Best Actor nomination for Malcolm X (1992), Best Supporting Actor nomination for Cry Freedom (1987), and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Glory (1989).]
- Sean Penn (with his second nomination) as a womanizing, unreliable, but talented 1930s jazz guitarist Emmet Ray in Woody Allen's minor semi-biographical Sweet and Lowdown.
[His previous nomination was for Best Actor in Dead Man Walking (1995)]
- New Zealand-born 35 year-old Russell Crowe (with his first nomination) for playing a tortured 53-year old tobacco company executive turned whistle-blowing crusader Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider
In the Best Actress category, newcomer first-time nominee (and ex-Beverly Hills 90210 star) Hilary Swank won the Oscar for her audacious, gender-reversed role as doomed, real-life Nebraskan 20 year-old Brandon Teena (nee Teena Brandon), who was raped and murdered for cross-dressing in director Kimberly Peirce's debut independent film Boys Don't Cry. She played a member of the opposite sex, although she was a pre-operative transsexual, biological female. [Note: Linda Hunt won Best Supporting Actress for The Year of Living Dangerously (1983) for playing a man - she was the first female actress to win an Oscar for playing a gender-switched character role - a character of the opposite sex.]
The other Best Actress nominees were:
- Meryl Streep (with her twelfth career nomination, 20 years after her first Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress) and 17 years after her second Oscar (for Best Actress), and 21 years after her first nomination, and tying Katharine Hepburn's record of 12 for the most acting nominations), as East Harlem elementary school music-violin teacher Roberta Tsavaras in director Wes Craven's critically-disparaged Music of the Heart
[Note: This was Streep's 10th Best Actress nomination, and fourth Best Actress nomination in the 90s.]
- Annette Bening (with her second career nomination) as the 'perfect' bitchy suburban, real-estate agent wife Caroline Burnham in American Beauty
[Bening's first nomination was Best Supporting Actress for The Grifters (1990)]
- British actress Janet McTeer (with her first nomination) as the saucy, single mother/divorcee Mary Jo Walker in Gavin O'Connor's mother-daughter drama Tumbleweeds
- Julianne Moore (with her second career nomination) as the obsessed, philandering mistress-lover Sarah Miles in the film adaptation of Graham Greene's WWII romantic drama The End of the Affair
[Note: Moore's first nomination was Best Supporting Actress for Boogie Nights (1997)]
The Best Supporting Actor category was won by Michael Caine (with his fifth career nomination and his second Oscar win in the category - he never won a Best Actor Oscar!) as the St. Cloud Orphanage's kind, ether-addicted abortion-gynecologist Dr. Wilbur Larch in The Cider House Rules. In his performance, he was noted for his encouraging farewell words, in a New England accent, to the children at bedtime each night: "Good night, you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England." Caine won the same award for Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). [Four Britons were nominated for acting in this year: Caine, Law, Morton, and McTeer.]
The other Best Supporting Actor nominees included:
- Michael Clarke Duncan (with his first nomination) for his role as the giant, simple-minded, miracle-working healer, and wrongly-convicted rapist/killer prison inmate John Coffey in a 1935 Louisiana prison in the fantasy-drama The Green Mile
- Tom Cruise (with his third career nomination and no previous Oscars) for his uninhibited role as crass, misogynistic, self-help sex promoter/speaker-guru and co-star Jason Robards' estranged son Frank "T.J." Mackey in writer/director/producer Paul Thomas Anderson's character study of lives intertwined one day in San Fernando Valley, California - Magnolia
- Jude Law (with his first nomination) for his performance as Dickie Greenleaf, the wealthy, carefree, decadent and victimized boyfriend/playboy of co-star Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley
- 11 year-old Haley Joel Osment, the youngest of the nominees for his precocious performance as Cole Sear - a nine year-old boy with secretive psychic powers who can see spirits of dead people ("I see dead people"), in the surprise blockbuster The Sixth Sense
All were first-time nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category:
Angelina Jolie won her first Oscar for her stunning performance as Lisa, a disturbed and rebellious mental hospital patient in director James Mangold's Girl, Interrupted (the film's only Oscar). [Her father, Jon Voight had won the Best Actor Oscar a generation ago as a crippled Vietnam veteran in Coming Home (1978). They joined the only other father-daughter Oscar winners from the past: Henry Fonda (for On Golden Pond (1981)) and Jane Fonda (for Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978)).]
The other first-time Best Supporting Actress nominees were:
- Australian actress Toni Collette for her role as struggling, single working mother Lynn Sear with a troubled child in The Sixth Sense
- Catherine Keener as John Malkovich's aloof, bewitching office co-worker Maxine Lund in the under-nominated Being John Malkovich
- Samantha Morton for her role as the shy, waifish, mute laundress Hattie - abandoned by her boyfriend and befriended by a disillusioned jazz guitarist (co-star Sean Penn), in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown
- Chloe Sevigny as co-star transvestite Hilary Swank's love-struck, teenaged romantic partner Lana in the dramatic, low-budget independent film Boys Don't Cry
[Note: Four other actresses were previously nominated and won an Oscar (both lead and supporting) for mute roles, including: Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda (1948), Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker (1962), Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God (1986), and Holly Hunter in The Piano (1993).]
The Matrix won four Oscars in all its nominated categories (all technical-achievement areas) - Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. In the three technical categories it was nominated in, the year's biggest box-office blockbuster and most vacuous film - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace lost to The Matrix. Sleepy Hollow won Best Art Direction (its other two nominations were Best Cinematography and Best Sound Effects Editing).
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
Best Director nominee Spike Jonze was denied a Best Picture nomination for his first feature-length film Being John Malkovich, while director Frank Darabont's Best Picture nominee The Green Mile was denied a Best Director nomination. Directors Mike Leigh, Anthony Minghella and Paul Thomas Anderson - for Topsy-Turvy, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Magnolia respectively, were also lacking Best Director nods. The End of the Affair, Magnolia, and Being John Malkovich were all deprived of a Best Picture nomination.
The most notable oversight of the year was for Jim Carrey who impersonated the late comic Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon - he was a Golden-Globe winner for the role but was snubbed by the Academy for the second year in a row in a lead acting role - the previous year the insult revolved around his performance in The Truman Show. [Even the smutty cartoonish South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut edged out Man on the Moon with its sole nomination For Best Original Song.]
Other omissions include:
- perennial Oscar favorite Tom Hanks for his role as head guard Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile
- Emily Watson for her role as an Irish mother in Angela's Ashes
- Thora Birch as Kevin Spacey's sullen daughter Jane and Mena Suvari as seductive cheerleader (and Spacey's love interest) Angela in American Beauty
- Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore for performances in Magnolia
- Natalie Portman as a sensitive teenager in Anywhere But Here
- Bruce Willis for his role as psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe in The Sixth Sense
- Reese Witherspoon as overachieving high-school student Tracy Enid Flick, and Matthew Broderick as an underpaid, resentful HS teacher in Election - a film that received a sole Best Adapted Screenplay nomination
- Liev Schreiber for his role as a dull but decent husband named Marty, with a straying, unfaithful wife (Diane Lane) in A Walk on the Moon
Six films were completely denied nominations: the late Stanley Kubrick's last movie Eyes Wide Shut, Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock, the Internet-hyped The Blair Witch Project, Three Kings, Spike Lee's Summer of Sam, and Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge's comedic satire Office Space (with an unnominated performance by Gary Cole as the office boss).
The Talented Mr. Ripley was shut out of many categories: Best Picture, Matt Damon (as jealous and then treacherous Tom Ripley) and Gwyneth Paltrow (as Jude Law's girlfriend Marge Sherwood) for acting nominations, and Best Director. The Insider's Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer (as CBS newsman Mike Wallace) were also denied nominations. Being John Malkovich's John Cusack (as puppeteer Craig Schwartz), Cameron Diaz (as Cusack's dowdy, pet-obsessed wife Lotte) and John Malkovich (as Himself) were equally ignored. Toy Story 2, a beautifully-crafted computer-animated film was only able to secure a Best Original Song nomination ("When She Loved Me" by Randy Newman), and the animated adventure fantasy The Iron Giant went completely unnominated.
Another major omission was the intriguing, bewildering, trend-setting and plot-twisting Spanish psychological drama Open Your Eyes (1997, Sp.) (aka Abre Los Ojos), released in the USA in 1999, with nominations lacking for Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro Amenábar), Best Actor (Eduardo Noriega), Best Supporting Actress (Penelope Cruz), and Best Original Screenplay (Amenábar and Mateo Gil). (The possible years for the film to be submitted as Spain's Foreign Language Film nominee were taken by Secrets of the Heart (1997, Sp.) (aka Secretos del corazón) in 1997, The Grandfather (1998, Sp.) (aka El Abuelo) in 1998, and this year's Best Foreign Language Film Winner, Pedro Almodóvar's superb All About My Mother (1999, Sp.) (aka Todo sobre mi madre)).