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Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 120

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Academy Awards show drags but retains usual prestige

By Tanya Hirsch
Daily Cougar Staff

"And the Oscar goes to (drum roll please) … American Beauty."

Producer/director Steven Spielberg presented the most coveted award of the evening (Best Picture) at Sunday night's 72nd Annual Academy Awards. 


Lorey Sebastian/Dreamworks Pictures


Kevin Spacey took home the Best Actor award at this year's Oscars, solidifying his position as one of the top actors in the business.

It's just a pity that it took four hours to reach that point. But after all, when has Hollywood's most prestigious award show ever finished on time?

The acceptance speeches were monotonous and horribly repetitious. Show producers should learn that the billion people watching don't want to listen to some foreign film winner rattle off a bunch of names they don't know.

Billy Crystal's opening medley about the nominated movies was the show's highlight … His ability to combine comedy with dance and song is a gift. 

Crystal's quips about the missing Oscars, Isaac Hayes disappearing act and Annette Bening's pregnancy helped a very long awards show stay afloat.

It was a night for Dreamworks to celebrate yet again. American Beauty won five Oscars out of its eight nominations (Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography). Cider House Rules took only two (Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay) of seven nominations.

The Matrix fared surprisingly well, receiving four awards for Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects.

The Sixth Sense walked away empty handed.

Angelina Jolie (daughter of actor Jon Voight) won Best Actress in a Supporting Role, which was expected after she recently won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as the troubled youth "Lisa" in Girl, Interrupted.

The most gracious speech of the night was by Michael Cain. Best Supporting Actor Cain, who has performed in more than 80 movies, received a standing ovation upon collecting his award.

Hillary Swank, Best Actress winner, delivered the most powerful speech. She commented on her strong belief in the role she played in Boys Don't Cry, reiterated the need to accept people's diversity and told her mom out in the audience that sleeping out of their car definitely paid off!

‘Chairman of the Board' Jack Nicholson (who seemed strangely out of place) presented Warren Beatty with the Thalberg Award. Beatty then gave another speech that should have been cut by about five minutes.

Cynicism aside, what made this year's Academy Awards so highly anticipated was the close race between the nominees. Also, this past year has seen a groundbreaking shift toward movies that confront controversial material. Whether it was as a satirical look at American suburbia, racism, the abortion movement, "seeing dead people" or the taboo of sexual identity, these films made audiences around the world perk up and take notice.

The Wall Street Journal's attempt at spoiling the entertainment industry's most anticipated night was in poor form. Surveying 6% of the 5000 members of the electorate, The Journal was wrong in predicting Denzel Washington would win an Oscar for Best Actor (Kevin Spacey came out on top).

Upon accepting his Oscar, the stunned and emotional Spacey recited his famous line from American Beauty, "This is the highlight of my day, I hope it's not all downhill from here."

The Academy Awards give recipients something more than honor and prestige. Receiving that eight-and-a-half pound, 24 carat gold statuette usually means doors open and an increase in the paycheck is forthcoming.
 

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