70th Annual Academy Awards Results and Commentary (1998)

  • Date of Ceremony: Monday, March 23, 1998
  • For films released in: 1997
  • Host(s): Billy Crystal (video)
Other years:

< 69th

71st >

Interviews with nominees in every magazine. Discussions about nominations at every water cooler. Will Titanic take everything?

The 70th Annual Academy Awards were hosted by Billy Crystal from the Shrine Auditorium on Monday, March 23rd, 1998. Here’s our coverage:

Turn on your TV, grab your chips, and sit back and check with us throughout the night.

What a night! There’s a ton of past Oscar® winners at the show tonight, so everyone is turning up about an hour earlier than they used to. Everyone from Steve Gutenberg to Peter Fonda have walked down the famous red carpet, and it’s only 7:48 p.m. EST.

8:06 EST

54 minutes to go and the red carpet is still glittering with Hollywood stars. The big question isn’t will Titanic win, but will the show go over three hours? Will the liver pate be fresh? Will anyone fall out of their dress? And if they do, would that make them the Worst Supported Actress? (Speaking of dresses, Minnie Driver just came down the carpet and vavavoom, great dress.)

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck looked great in their Armani tuxes, but they’re so darn young I’m sure some people asked them to park their limos.

8:53 EST

Billy Crystal’s getting ready to come on for yet another stint as host and we’re all anxious to see if he can top last year’s opening. That one was simply superb, so he’s got his work cut out for him.

9:02 EST

…and the excitement is at a peak as we head into the 70th Annual Academy Awards®. Well, Billy did the perfect thing. He didn’t try to out do last year, but rather make fun of it. And what a video opening it was. As usual, his Oscar nominees song was a great laugh.

9:15 EST

Cuba Gooding Jr., remembered for his enthusiastic speech last year, came out to present the award for Best Supporting Actress, urging them to take their time with their speech. And the winner is: Kim Basinger for L.A. Confidential. Just like her speech at the Golden Globes, Kim was shaking with disbelief at her good fortune.

Elisabeth Shue the presented the award for Best Costume Design. And the winner is:Titanic

Dustin Hoffman (all 5’6” of him) introduced a short film with clips of the previous 69 Best Picture Winners. He wondered aloud if the number 69 had the same significance internationally as it did in North America. Jack Nicholson, of course, smiled.

Dustin was followed by Neve Campbell, whose quick rocket to fame made her sound a little nervous as she announced the performance of several of the nominated songs.

Well, we’re 42 minutes into the show and it doesn’t feel too sluggish this year. Of curse, we do have over 2 hours to go, but hell, that’s still shorter than Titanic. Arnold Schwarzenegger then came out to show a clip of that film, joking that it would soon gross so much that no studio accountant would be able to hide the profits. He also quipped that he worked with James Cameron back in his “low budget art house days.” Juliette Binoche broke her foot and was unable to give out the Best Supporting Actor award, so Mira Sorvino pinch hit for her. And the winner is…: Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting. Robin’s speech was quick, touching, and full of some tears.

This might be the one time I’m speechless. Thank you so much for this incredible honor. Thank you for putting me in a category with these four extraordinary men. Thank you, Ben and Matt — I still want to see some ID. Thank you, Gus Van Sant, for being so subtle you’re almost subliminal. I want to thank the cast and crew, especially the people of South Boston — you’re a can of corn, you’re the best.” – Robin Williams

Cameron Diaz then came out to present the Best Sound Award. And the winner is: Titanic. The ol’ ship is now 2 for 3.

Mike Myers then presented Best Sound Effects. He did some schtick about animal actors being overlooked. A bear then presented the envelope to Mike so we could learn that the winner for Sound Effects is: Titanic The ship is now 3 for 4.

10:03 EST

Helen Hunt, a nominee for Best Actress, tripped over her intro about Visual Effects. After a clip showing some old visual effects styles, she announced the winner: Titanic The ship’s now 4 for 5.

As part of the Academy salute to Hollywood legends, Billy had Fay Wray introduce Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who presented the award for Live Action Short. And the winner is: Visas and Virtue.

They also hung around to give out the award for Best Animated Short. And the winner is: Geri’s Game.

Last year’s Best Actor, Geoffrey Rush, came out to present Best Actress. Is it just me or are they handing that one out earlier this year. And the winner is: Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets. Helen made a great speech, spending the first little while listing all the people she felt gave Oscar worthy performances this year.

The first time I saw ‘Mrs. Brown’ — saw it three times. The first time I saw it, I leaned over to my beloved and said, ‘She’s going to win an Academy Award.’ And in my mind tonight she has. And so has Julie Christie, and so has Helena Bonham Carter, and so has Kate Winslet. And for that matter so has Billy Connolly, and so has Ben Affleck, and so has Joan Allen. And I am honored to work in a year when there were so many magnificent performances.” – Helen Hunt


Antonio Banderas came out to introduce Bill Conti and the orchestra, who played through the Best Original Dramatic Score nominees. And the winner is: James Horner for Titanic. Ok, the ship’s now 5 for 7.

Introduced as “talented and exiting”, Jennifer Lopez introduced the nominees for Musical or Comedy Score, which were accompanied by some great dance routines. And the winner is: Anne Dudley for The Full Monty.

Drew Barrymore, very stylish in black, with flowers in her hair, came out to present the award for Best Makeup. And the winner is: Rick Baker and David Leroy Anderson for Men in Black.

Alec Baldwin, husband of winner Kim Basinger, showed a scene from L.A. Confidential.

Samuel L. Jackson, a really great actor with better things ahead, came out to present the Editing Award. And the winner is: Titanic. The ship is now 6 for 9.

In a fantastic dress, Ashley Judd announced some of the winners for Scientific and Technical Achievement.

Martin Scorcese was then introduced to handle the special presentation to directing genius Stanley Donen, creator of such classics as Singin’ in the Rain and On the Town. He then introduced Mr. Donen, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Oscar, which he felt should have gone to Marty. As befitting his past he did a lil’ song and dance to show how happy he was. The crowd went wild. His speech was absolutely fantastic and he was very gracious to the people he has worked with over the years.

I’m going to let you in on the secret of being a good director. For the script you get Larry Gelbart, or Peter Stone, or Huyck and Katz, or Frederic Raphael — like that. If it’s a musical, for the songs you get George and Ira Gershwin, or Arthur Freed and Herb Brown, or Leonard Bernstein and Comden and Green, or Alan Lerner and Fritz Loewe — like that. Then you cast Cary Grant, or Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman or Frank Sinatra — like that. When filming starts you show up and you stay the hell out of the way. But you’ve got to show up, you’ve got to show up. Otherwise you can’t take the credit and get one of these fellas.” – Stanley Donen

Matt Dillon introduced the clip for Best Picture nominee Good Will Hunting. Billy Crystal joked Matt Damon was so young that results in his category were tabulated by Fisher Price-Waterhouse

Madonna, who keeps putting lil’ reflective things near her eyes, introduced the final three nominees for Best Original Song. Will Celine win? Madonna came back out to hand out the award. And the winner is: “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic by James Horner and Will Jenning. That makes the boat 7 for 10.

Djimon Hounsou gave out the award for Documentary Short Subject. And the winner is: A Story of Healing.

Robert De Niro gave out the Feature Documentary award to The Long Way Home.

Billy Crystal then introduced friend and Comic Relief co-host, Whoopi Goldberg, who presented the annual tribute to those who have passed away in the previous year.

11:30 EST

Almost midnight…will we go over three hours?

Billy Crystal’s costar in When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan, presents the award for Art Direction. And the winner is: Titanic For those still counting that’s 8 for 11.

Best Supporting Actor winner Robin Williams introduced clips of the best moments of the past 69 years.

Last year’s Best Actress, Frances McDormand, then presented the Best Actor award to Jack Nicholson for As Good As It Gets. Jack’s speech mentioned feeling a “sinking feeling” all night. Gee, we’re all making Titanic cracks. Anyway, Jack’s speech was quite light-hearted and he even made jokes that producer Gil Cates must be sweating as we hit the 11:45 EST mark.

The presenter for Best Foreign Language Film was Sharon Stone. The award went to Holland’s Character. The winner almost did a “Cuba Gooding Jr.”, hopping up and down.

Next we had Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau handing out the Best Adapted Screenplay award. The winners were Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson for L.A. Confidential. They also handed out the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay to, surprise surprise, childhood friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting. Their acceptance was full of crazed energy as they felt they had so many to thank for all this good will.

Geena Davis then presented the clip for The Full Monty.

Denzel Washington had the task of presenting the award for Cinematography to Titanic. That’s 9 for 12.

Susan Sarandon then came out for the tribute to all the past winners, especially the actors, who they had grouped on a large bleacher. Okay, at the speed they’re announcing them, we’re definitely going way over time! Anyway, back to Titanic for a second. At 9 for 12 and only two more nominations to go for them, they best they can hope to do is tie the old Ben Hur record of 11.

12:21 EST

Ooowee, this baby’s going longgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg.

Sigourney Weaver presented the clip for Best Picture nominee As Good As It Gets.

Warren Beatty was tasked with presenting the Best Director award. And the winner is…James Cameron for Titanic. The ship is now 10 for 13. And according to himself he is the “King of the World.”

And my original producers, my parents, who are here tonight, Phillip and Shirley Cameron. Mom, Dad, there is no way that I can express to you what I’m feeling right now, my heart is full to bursting, except to say, ‘I’m the king of the world!’” – James Cameron

12:35 a.m. EST

…and we’re ready to hand out the Best Picture Award. The presenter is Sean Connery. AND THE WINNER IS: Titanic. The ship sails away with 11 Oscars, tying the old Ben Hur record. One of the film’s producers, Jon Landau, went through a laundry list of thanks. In a moving speech, James Cameron said that the message of Titanic was that the unthinkable was possible and we only have today. He asked for a few seconds of silence to remember the over 1500 people who died on the Titanic.

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