71st Annual Academy Awards Results and Commentary (1999)

  • Date of Ceremony: Sunday, March 21, 1999
  • For films released in: 1998
  • Host(s): Whoopi Goldberg (video)
Other years:

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The 71st Annual Academy Awards were hosted by Whoopi Goldberg on March 21, 1999. It was the first time that the ceremony took place on a Sunday and the last time they were presented at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This was the first year that DigitalHit.com attended the ceremonies. Here’s our coverage:

The big day is finally here. We’ve spent the last few hours in the arrivals line at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion taking photos.

We’re now in the TV/Online Interview room. From here we’ll be watching the telecast on monitors. As the winners accept their trophies, they’ll slowly make their way back here to answer questions.

The show started off with Whoopi Goldberg dressed as Queen Elizabeth I, a nod to the fact that two of the night’s films, Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth, take place in that era. She introduced Academy president Robert Rehme, who in turn introduced a segment of favorite film moments chosen by members of the Academy.

While we’re watching this segment, let me tell you the red carpet was completely nuts near the end, as everyone seemed to arrive in the last half hour. It was quite funny hearing a PA speaker blaring: “Mr. Nolte the doors are closing, please enter the theater.”

Whoopi made a crack that the Oscars are the biggest party in Hollywood. Next to the Democrats that is. She then did a rap to get the whole Monica Lewinsky thing out of her system.

She also wondered if anyone would be making a scene-by-scene remake of There’s Something About Mary, a nod to the remake of Psycho.

Whoopi’s stand up intro was fast and furious. At one point, she quipped that everyone was missing Billy Crystal by this point.

The first award was handed out by Kim Basinger, winner of last year’s Best Supporting Actress. She handed out the Best Supporting Actor Award to James Coburn for Affliction.

.bq(speech) “My my my. Wow. You know, I’ve been around here — I’ve been working and doing this work for like over half my life. And I finally got one right, I guess. See, some of them you do for money, some of them you do for love. This is a love child.” – James Coburn

Gwyneth Paltrow came up to hand out the award for Best Art Direction. It was good that they chose her as Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar.

Patrick Stewart came out to introduce clips for both Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love.

Mike Myers introduced the nominees for Best Makeup. The winner was Elizabeth.

Christina Ricci introduced the evening’s first musical number, “When You Believe”, performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

James Coburn has just stepped into the press room. He was very gracious and completely thrilled to get the award.

Whoopi then started the next segment in a color/black and white dress as she discussed the costume design of Pleasantville. After making a sexual reference about Leave it to Beaver, she quipped that she would never host again.

Brendan Fraser then handed out the trophy for Best Live Action Short to Election Night.

A Bug’s Life animated stars Flik and Heimlich introduced the nominees for Best Animated Short. The winner was Bunny.

The next presenter was Whoopi’s friend and last year’s Best Supporting Actor, Robin Williams. He handed the Best Supporting Actress award to Dame Judi Dench, for her role in Shakespeare in Love.

I feel for eight minutes on the screen I should only get a little bit of him. I do thank the Academy very much indeed. I do think also that the best bit about the Academy Awards is being nominated. You live in a kind of haze for several weeks, and the terrible thing is that somebody’s got to win. My heart goes out to all the other four who didn’t. And also, my admiration.” – Dame Judi Dench

As the show came back from commercial, Whoopi poked fun at Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell who were on their feet coming back from the washroom. After asking Roberto Benigni if he got her jokes, she introduced Chris Rock.

Rock made a pointed joke about upcoming Honorary Award recipient Elia Kazan being a rat. The audience didn’t react too well to that and Chris asked what they expected from him. He then gave the award for Best Sound Effects editing to Saving Private Ryan.

Beautiful Liv Tyler then had a chance to introduce her dad’s band Aerosmith for their performance of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from Armageddon.

Academy Award-winner Angelica Houston then handed out the Oscar® for Best Sound to Saving Private Ryan.

Nominee Tom Hanks then introduced celebrated astronaut Senator John Glenn. Glenn made a presentation about films power to inspire and the historical characters that have been portrayed.

Dame Judi joined us in the press room during the presentation. She said she honestly did not believe that she had a chance to win. She said that the best part of acting was trying to deliver the author’s words to the audience in the best way possible. She said that director John Madden is an actor’s director and she loved working with him.

Whoopi then came out in a dress from Beloved, another one of the costume design nominees. She introduced Sophia Loren who presented a clip from Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful. The legendary Loren then handed out the Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film to Life Is Beautiful. Benigni went nuts, climbing on the backs of people’s seats, running around and jumping. He said he was full of joy and wanted to kiss everyone in the audience. The audience seemed genuinely moved by Roberto’s speech.

And this is wonderful to be here. Wonderful! I feel like, now really, to dive in this ocean of generosity, this is too much. Your generosity, this is, uh, how do you say when the rain, the hailstorm, it’s a hailstorm of kindness, of gratitude for you.” – Roberto Benigni

Andie MacDowell and Andy Garcia handed out the award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score to Stephen Warbeck of Shakespeare in Love.

Geena Davis then introduced a dance segment based on the five nominated dramatic scores. She then handed out the Best Dramatic Score award to Life is Beautiful’s Nicola Piovani.

John Travolta then introduced a cinematic tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Whoopi then returned to the stage in male Shakespearean garb to show the costume design for Elizabeth. She then introduced Anne Heche, who had hosted last month’s Academy Awards® for Scientific and Technical Achievement. After a little microphone trouble, she discussed these special awards for the ideas and techniques that make film-making possible. Jim Carrey then came out to hand out the Film Editing award. He cracked that that was all he was there to do, as of course he was not nominated for his role in The Truman Show. The award went to Saving Private Ryan.

Renee Zellweger then introduced the next musical number “A Soft Place to Fall” from The Horse Whisperer.

Nicolas Cage then came out to honor Norman Jewison, winner of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Jewison’s speech was brief, but moving, and included advice for those coming up in the business.

And my one real regret about winning this prize is that, you know, it’s not like the Nobel or the Pulitzer. I mean, the Thalberg Award comes with no money attached. If it did, if it did, I would share it with the Canadian Film Centre and the AFI where the next generation of filmmakers are preparing to entertain the world in the new millennium. And my parting thought to all those young filmmakers is this: Just find some good stories. Never mind the gross, the top ten, bottom ten, what’s the rating, what’s the demographic. You know something, the biggest grossing picture is not necessarily the best picture, I want to tell you something. So just tell stories that move us to laughter and tears, and perhaps reveal a little truth about ourselves. And as for myself, I hope to see you again next year!” – Norman Jewison

The award for Best Visual Effects was then handed out by Star Wars: Episode One star, Liam Neeson. The award went to What Dreams May Come.

Val Kilmer, who did a little cha-cha for us on the red carpet, came out with a horse to introduce a tribute to Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

Helen Hunt, last year’s Best Actress, came out to hand out the award for Best Actor. The winner of the award was Life is Beautiful’s Roberto Benigni. He said the award was a big mistake because he had already used up all his English on the last award.

I am not able to express all my gratitude, because now, my body is in tumult because it is a colossal moment of joy so everything is really in a way that I cannot express. I would like to be Jupiter! And kidnap everybody and lie down in the firmament making love to everybody, because I don’t know how to express. It’s a question of love. You are really — this is a mountain of snow, so delicate, the suavity and the kindness, it is something I cannot forget, from the bottom of my heart.” – Roberto Benigni

Whoopi then came out in a psychedelic outfit from costume nominee Velvet Goldmine. She then introduced Lisa Kudrow who, in turn, introduced the song “That’ll Do” from Babe: Pig in the City. The song was performed Peter Gabriel and Randy Newman.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck came out to introduce the winners for documentaries. The winner for Feature Length was The Last Days and the winner for Short Subject was The Personals.

The most controversial part of the awards was next as Robert De Niro and Martin Scorcese came out to introduce the tribute to Elia Kazan. The segment was controversial because Kazan had once named fellow filmmakers he thought were Communists in front of the McCarthy hearings. Before the awards many filmmakers had said they would refuse to clap or stand for the director. The cameras did show shots of audience members not clapping, like Ed Harris, or those who clapped but did not stand, like Steven Spielberg. Kazan supporter Warren Beatty was one of the people who did give Kazan an ovation.

Whoopi then came out in the final nominated costume design from Shakespeare in Love, which was fitting (no pun intended), since they were the winners.

The final nominated best song performance was “The Prayer” from Quest for Camelot. Jennifer Lopez then handed the award to “When You Believe” from Prince of Egypt.

Annette Bening came out to introduce the yearly segment of filmmakers who had died in the past year.

MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti was out next to introduce General Colin Powell. The general introduced the clips from The Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan.

Whoopi then paid tribute to the late Gene Siskel. She gave him a thumbs up saying he was a critic who really loved movies.

Uma Thurman gave out the award for Best Cinematography to Saving Private Ryan.

Jack Nicholson then presented Best Actress award to Gwyneth Paltrow. As everyone predicted Gwyneth’s speech was a tearful one. She said she didn’t feel deserving winning the award in front of Meryl Streep, “the greatest ever”. She got even more tearful as she thanked her mother, Blythe Danner, and her father, Bruce Paltrow.

Steven Spielberg then came out to pay tribute to Stanley Kubrick.

Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn then presented the writing awards. The award for Best Screenplay Adaptation went to Bill Condon for Gods and Monsters. The movie’s stars, Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave and Brendan Fraser were delighted to see him win. The winner of the Best Original Screenplay was Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard for Shakespeare in Love.

Kevin Costner then came out to hand out the Best Director Oscar. The Best Director was Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan.

This has just been an amazing experience and what I’d like to do is just thank very, very sincerely the families who lost sons in World War II. I want to thank the Niland family and the Sullivan families, and I want to thank all the families who incurred these tremendous losses. In this war we tried to show a story of one such family, and it turned up there were many such families, unfortunately. And Dad, you’re the greatest. Thank you for showing me that there is honor in looking back and respecting the past. I love you very much. This is for you.” – Steven Spielberg

Harrison Ford then had the honor of handing out the last award of the night. The winner for Best Picture was Shakespeare in Love. The producers and cast in the audience seemed genuinely surprised to win the award, which last summer seemed destined to leave in the hands of Steven Spielberg.

The telecast then concluded with Whoopi saying that the movies, as evidenced by tonight’s winners, truly were a universal language.

We at Digital Hit Entertainment would like to thank the thousands of you who clicked over to us for your awards info and we’d also like to thank the Academy for honoring us with press credentials this year.

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