Plain as B&W: ‘List’ tops list

While dinosaurs brought riches to Steven Spielberg in 1993, it was a lone German businessman who delivered the possibility of an Oscar sweep. “Schindler’s List,” the director’s haunting story of the Nazi Holocaust, racked up a remarkable 12 Academy Award nominations Wednesday, including nods for picture, director, actor and adapted screenplay.

Joining “Schindler’s List” in the best picture category were “The Fugitive,””In the Name of the Father, “”The Piano” and “The Remains of the Day.”

“The Piano,” director Jane Campion’s story of a mute woman’s sexual awakening in frontier New Zealand, and “The Remains of the Day,” the drama about an English butler coming to grips with the choices in his life, tied for second with eight nominations apiece. The action-thriller “The Fugitive” and “In the Name of the Father,” Jim Sheridan’s IRA drama, both racked up seven nominations.

Other highlights of Wednesday’s announcement include: A strong showing by films produced outside the studio system,two actresses with double nominations, a preponderance of Asian films in the foreign-language arena, and the usual abundance of the British and Irish in the top categories.

In addition, the two Japanese-owned film companies — Universal and Sony Pictures Entertainment — were the big winners in the studio Oscar derby. U topped the individual studio scorecard with 23 noms. Sony’s combined companies raked in 31 nominations.

Spielberg’s day

But perhaps the most notable achievement of the day was Spielberg’s. His black-and-white Holocaust epic becomes the 11th film to receive 12 nominations, putting it in the select company of such landmark movies as 1942’s “Mrs. Miniver,” 1954’s “On the Waterfront,” 1959’s “Ben-Hur,” 1964’s “My Fair Lady,” and more recently, 1981’s “Reds” and 1990’s “Dances With Wolves.”

Only three films have ever received more nominations –“Mary Poppins” (1964) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) both had 13 noms, while “All About Eve” in 1950 holds the record with 14 nominations.

The all-time award winner is “Ben-Hur” with 11.

“The news of 12 nominations was overwhelming,” Spielberg said in a statement. “This is a very special moment for all of us who have dedicated ourselves to this subject. We are sharing this together and want to thank the members of the Academy and each of the branches that made this such an unforgettable day.”

Walk in the ‘Park’

Making Spielberg’s day even more impressive is that his “Jurassic Park,” the biggest money-maker of all time, scored three nominations, giving the filmmaker 15 nods for the day.

Spielberg’s combination of one film dominating the Oscar nominations and another dominating the box office in the same year is unprecedented.

The strong showing for “Schindler’s List,” which also racked up nominations for supporting actor, art direction, cinematography, costume design, editing, makeup, original score and sound, seems to make Spielberg the odds-on favorite to collect a best director Oscar, an award that has eluded the filmmaker for almost two decades.

He was nominated for 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,””Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1982 and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” the following year. In 1986, Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” received 11 Oscar noms, including one for best picture, but he wasn’t nominated as director.

A year later, he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, an honorary award given for merit as a producer only when the majority of the Academy’s board agrees upon a selection. He was honored as “a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.”

Meanwhile, the impressive Oscar nomination haul for “The Piano,””The Remains of the Day” and “In the Name of the Father” once again highlights the success of films made outside the studio system.

In addition to its best picture nominations, Miramax’s “The Piano” also received a nom for director Campion — only the second time a woman has been nominated, the other being Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” in 1976 — in addition to nominations for leading actress Holly Hunter, supporting actress Anna Paquin, original screenplay, costume design, editing and cinematography. Seven of the film’s eight nominations went to women, including two for Campion’s script and direction.

“I am so thrilled to have been honored with these nominations,” Campion said in a statement. “This is very exciting for everyone involved with ‘The Piano.’ I feel privileged to be in the company of such incredible, important filmmakers.”

And while some Oscar handicappers were ready to start engraving Spielberg’s name onto several statuettes, Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein insisted he wasn’t ready to concede to “Schindler’s List.”

“I really sense something in the wind,” Weinstein said Wednesday. “I predict there will be an upset in one of the two categories, either picture or the director. The race is far from over.”

“The Remains of the Day” earned its eight nominations for picture, director James Ivory, leading actor Anthony Hopkins and leading actress Emma Thompson in addition to art direction, costume design, original score and adapted screenplay.

“In the Name of the Father,” also a best picture nominee, followed with nominations for Jim Sheridan — as director and co-screenwriter — as well as leading actor Daniel Day-Lewis, supporting actor Pete Postlethwaite, supporting actress Emma Thompson and editing.

“The Fugitive” was the lone mainstream studio entry in the best picture category, also picking up nominations for supporting actor Tommy Lee Jones, cinematography, editing, original score, sound and sound effects editing. Among the best picture nominees, it’s also the only blockbuster — which are often snubbed by Academy voters. (“Schindler” has yet to open wide.)

“It’s a reaffirmation that Academy members just look at quality and are not motivated by box office consideration,” said Arnold Kopelson, who produced “The Fugitive,” which has grossed close to $ 180 million since its release last summer.

The double nominations for Thompson, in addition to Hunter, who received a best supporting actress nod for her performance in “The Firm,” mark the first time in Academy Awards history that two performers have received dual nominations in the same year.

In the studio race, Universal hit the jackpot with a total take of 23 nominations — 15 of those courtesy of Spielberg, the rest coming from “In the Name of the Father” and “Beethoven’s 2nd.” U’s haul was the best for the studio since 1990, when the company received 17 nominations.

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s 31 nominations came from its three distribution arms — Columbia, TriStar and Sony Pictures Classics.

Lahti fills in

The nominations were announced at 5:35 a.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater by Acad president Arthur Hiller and 1984 supporting actress nominee Christine Lahti, who filled in for the originally announced Marisa Tomei, who was snowbound in New York.

The Oscars will be handed out March 21 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center in a live ABC telecast, to be produced by Gilbert Cates and hosted by actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg.

The foreign-language film nominees were Spain’s “Belle Epoque,” Hong Kong’s “Farewell My Concubine,” the U.K.’s Welsh-lingo “Hedd Wyn,” Vietnam’s “The Scent of Green Papaya” and Taiwan’s “The Wedding Banquet.” The nomination of the films from Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan marks the first time that more than one film from Asia has been nominated in the category in any year.

Interestingly, although the Academy tightened its rules for foreign-language submissions to avoid a repeat of last year’s situation — in which Argentine-Uruguayan co-prod “A Place in the World” was disqualified — the three Asian films seem to fall into the same questionable territory as “World.”

“Papaya” was shot in France with numerous French technicians. “Wedding Banquet” was shot in the United States, while the principals of “Farewell My Concubine” are from China.

In addition to Day-Lewis and Hopkins, the best actor nominees were Liam Neeson for his role as the charismatic Oskar Schindler in “Schindler’s List,” Tom Hanks for “Philadelphia” and Laurence Fishburne for his role as volatile musician Ike Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It”– a selection that was considered something of a surprise.

Neeson and Fishburne are both first-time nominees. Day-Lewis won a leading actor Oscar for his performance in “My Left Foot” in 1989, as did AnthonyHopkins for his role in “Silence of the Lambs” in 1991. Hanks was previously nominated for his performance in “Big” in 1988.

Joining Hunter and Thompson in the leading actress category were Debra Winger for her performance in “Shadowlands,” Stockard Channing in “Six Degrees of Separation” and Angela Bassett for her role as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to do With It.”

Both Bassett and Channing are first-time nominees. In addition to her supporting actress nod, Hunter was nominated previously for “Broadcast News” in 1987. Thompson received her second and third noms this year; she won the Oscar last year for her role in “Howards End.” This is the third nomination in this category for Winger, following 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman” and 1983’s “Terms of Endearment.”

In addition to Postlethwaite and Jones, the supporting actor category featured Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List,” Leonardo DiCaprio for his performance in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and John Malkovich, who played assassin Mitch Leary in “In the Line of Fire.” Postlethwaite,Fiennes and DiCaprio were first-time nominees. Jones was nominated for “JFK” in 1991 and Malkovich for “Places in the Heart” in 1984.

The supporting actress category also features three first-timers: Paquin, “Fearless’s” Rosie Perez and “The Age of Innocence’s” Winona Ryder. The 11 -year-old Paquin is the youngest performer to receive a nomination since 8 -year-old Justin Henry for “Kramer vs. Kramer” in 1979.

Altman makes cut

In addition to Spielberg, Campion and Sheridan, who received nominations in the best directing category, James Ivory was nominated for “The Remains of the Day,” as was surprise nominee Robert Altman, who received a nod for “Short Cuts.” Absent from the list was “The Fugitive’s” Andrew Davis and “The Age of Innocence’s” Martin Scorsese, both of whom are DGA best director nominees along with Spielberg, Campion and Sheridan.

The omission of Davis from the Academy’s list of director nominees is surprising, since “The Fugitive” received a best picture nomination. Last year, Rob Reiner was overlooked for his direction of best picture nominee “A Few Good Men.”

The omission of Scorsese seemed to parallel the fortunes of the critically acclaimed film, which received only two major nominations — adapted screenplay and supporting actress. It received five total noms.

Writ large

The nominations for original screenplay match Tuesday’s announced WGA nominations with nods going to Gary Ross for “Dave,” Jeff Maguire for “In the Line of Fire,” Ron Nyswaner for “Philadelphia,” Campion for “The Piano” and Nora Ephron, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch for “Sleepless in Seattle.”

But the same cannot be said for the adapted screenplay category.

Although Steven Zaillian’s “Schindler’s List,” Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s “The Remains of the Day” and Terry George and Sheridan’s “In the Name of the Father” all received nominations from both the Academy and the WGA, Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence” and William Nicholson’s “Shadowlands,” both of which received Oscar nominations, were not on the WGA’s list. Those spots were filled by “The Fugitive” and “The Joy Luck Club.”

The writing nominations for “Dave” and “Sleepless in Seattle” seemed true to Academy custom of concentrating comedy nominations in the screenplay categories. Comedies are otherwise a genre often overlooked by Oscar; witness the one nod — for makeup — given to comedy smash “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

“I think it’s great that valid work can be done in more than one genre,” said Gary Ross, who scripted “Dave.””That’s a great thing to recognize. It’s nice to say there isn’t just one valid form.”

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