Kevin Costner's "Dances With Wolves" led all comers for the 63rd annual Academy Awards yesterday with 12 shots at the coveted statue, including a nomination for Best Picture, plus Best Actor and Best Director chances for Costner himself, who could become the first to win in both categories. It also collected nominations for Graham Greene as Best Supporting Actor and Mary McDonnell for Best Supporting Actress.
The other pictures in competition for Best Picture are Penny Marshall's "Awakenings"; two contrasting views of mobster life, Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather Part III" and Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas"; and, in a complete surprise, the slight but crowd-pleasing afterlife romance "Ghost."
At this stage, the three-hour Costner epic -- dubbed "Kevin's Gate" during production -- has to be considered the front-runner for the awards, to be announced March 25 in Los Angeles. The record for most nominations is the 14 received by "All About Eve." (It ended up claiming six prizes in 1950.)
The films with the most nominations after "Dances With Wolves" are "Godfather III" and "Dick Tracy" with seven apiece. Most of the acknowledgments for "Dick Tracy" came in the technical categories. "GoodFellas" had the third-highest number of nominations with six, including Best Picture, a Best Director nomination for Scorsese, a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Lorraine Bracco and a Best Supporting Actor pick for Joe Pesci.
Also making an impressive showing was the hard-boiled thriller "The Grifters" -- produced by Scorsese -- which won nominations for Briton Stephen Frears for Best Director, Angelica Huston for Best Actress and Annette Bening for Best Supporting Actress. Both "GoodFellas" and "The Grifters" received nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Joining Costner in the Best Actor race were Robert De Niro for "Awakenings," Gerard Depardieu for "Cyrano de Bergerac," Richard Harris for "The Field" and Jeremy Irons for "Reversal of Fortune."
The biggest surprise here is Harris's nomination for "Field," his first film in more than 10 years, and that makes him the instant sentimental favorite. There are some who believe that Depardieu rode into Oscar contention this year largely on the strength of Disney's publicity barrage for the highly successful romantic comedy "Green Card." But, in a historical footnote, if he were to win he would be the second actor to score the top prize with the Rostand hero. Jose Ferrer's performance as Cyrano won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1950. The most shocking omission in this category is Robin Williams, who made the Best Actor field two years running for "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Dead Poets Society" and was thought to be a shoo-in with his portrayal of the visionary doctor in "Awakenings."
It seemed logical too that Al Pacino, who was nominated in the Best Actor category for "Godfathers I and II," would make it again for "Godfather III." Instead, he has to content himself with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in "Dick Tracy."
Sean Connery's much-lauded performance in "The Russia House" was also overlooked, as was Denzel Washington's in "Mo' Better Blues." (The only black actor or actress to receive a major nomination was Whoopi Goldberg, for "Ghost.") Mel Gibson's generally praised performance as "Hamlet" was thought to have a good chance of making the list, but didn't.
Nothing for "Home Alone's" Macaulay Culkin either, which seems the unkindest cut. Doesn't lovability count for anything? What does he have to do, wake up from a 40-year sleep? Wear an Indian headdress and dance around a campfire? "Home Alone," in fact, took just two nominations, for Best Score and Best Song. The film opened in November and so far its box office total is $222.2 million.
The other big omission was Penny Marshall in the director's category for "Awakenings." Marshall had been considered a good shot at being the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar. Those nominated were Costner, Scorsese, Frears, Francis Ford Coppola for "Godfather III" and Barbet Schroeder for "Reversal of Fortune."
It was an off year for actresses in leading roles and a plum one for supporting performances. Both lists, though, contained their share of oddities. In addition to Huston for "The Grifters," slots went to Meryl Streep for "Postcards From the Edge," Joanne Woodward for "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge," Kathy Bates for "Misery" and Julia Roberts for "Pretty Woman." The nomination for Roberts, one of the contenders for Best Supporting Actress last year for "Steel Magnolias," has to be considered a surprise, though a popular one. As for Streep, her presence is rarely unexpected, though this year her character seemed less "nominate-able" than in the past.
The most surprising name missing from this list would have to be Mia Farrow, who had been widely praised for her performance in Woody Allen's "Alice." (Allen was honored with a Best Original Screenplay nomination for the film.)
Michelle Pfeiffer also failed to place for "The Russia House." (Hollywood just didn't seem to get this movie.) Despite the early release of Paul Brickman's "Men Don't Leave" -- Oscar has a short attention span -- Jessica Lange was thought to have had at least some hope of scoring a nomination, as was Glenn Close for her role in "Hamlet." Close also missed out on a nomination for Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the mostly comatose Sunny Von Bulow in "Reversal of Fortune."
Joan Cusack, who costarred with Lange in "Men Don't Leave," was also missing from the slate of supporting actresses. Joining Bening from "The Grifters," Bracco from "GoodFellas," and McDonnell from "Dances With Wolves," were -- in a tribute to the bizarre -- Diane Ladd from David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" and Goldberg.
Perhaps the fewest surprises occurred in the Supporting Actor category, where Greene, Pacino and Pesci were joined by Bruce Davison for his moving portrayal of an AIDS victim's lover in "Longtime Companion" and Andy Garcia for "The Godfather Part III."
Last year's Best Supporting Actor winner Denzel Washington was on hand to make the early morning nominations announcement yesterday with Karl Malden, the Academy's president. The Academy is made up of 4,000 members who made their selections out of 223 eligible features.
All in all, the nominations contain the usual amount of Hollywood craziness. The more you think about it, though, the more this Macaulay Culkin thing sticks in the craw. True greatness comes along so rarely. Oscar, snap out of it!
The Oscar Nominees
PICTURE: "Awakenings," "Dances With Wolves," "Ghost," "The Godfather Part III," "GoodFellas."
ACTOR: Kevin Costner, "Dances With Wolves"; Robert De Niro, "Awakenings"; Gerard Depardieu, "Cyrano de Bergerac"; Richard Harris, "The Field"; Jeremy Irons, "Reversal of Fortune."
ACTRESS: Kathy Bates, "Misery"; Anjelica Huston, "The Grifters"; Julia Roberts, "Pretty Woman"; Meryl Streep, "Postcards From the Edge"; Joanne Woodward, "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge."
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Bruce Davison, "Longtime Companion"; Andy Garcia, "The Godfather Part III"; Graham Greene, "Dances With Wolves"; Al Pacino, "Dick Tracy"; Joe Pesci, "GoodFellas."
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Annette Bening, "The Grifters"; Lorraine Bracco, "GoodFellas"; Whoopi Goldberg, "Ghost"; Diane Ladd, "Wild at Heart"; Mary McDonnell, "Dances With Wolves."
DIRECTOR: Kevin Costner, "Dances With Wolves"; Francis Ford Coppola, "The Godfather Part III"; Martin Scorsese, "GoodFellas"; Stephen Frears, "The Grifters"; Barbet Schroeder, "Reversal of Fortune."
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Woody Allen, "Alice"; Barry Levinson, "Avalon"; Bruce Joel Rubin, "Ghost"; Peter Weir, "Green Card"; Whit Stillman, "Metropolitan."
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Steven Zaillian, "Awakenings"; Michael Blake, "Dances With Wolves"; Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese, "GoodFellas"; Donald E. Westlake, "The Grifters"; Nicholas Kazan, "Reversal of Fortune."
FOREIGN FILM: "Cyrano de Bergerac," France; "Journey of Hope," Switzerland; "Ju Dou," People's Republic of China; "The Nasty Girl," Germany; "Open Doors," Italy.
ART DIRECTION: "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Dances With Wolves," "Dick Tracy," "The Godfather Part III," "Hamlet."
CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Avalon," "Dances With Wolves," "Dick Tracy," "The Godfather Part III," "Henry & June."
COSTUME DESIGN: "Avalon," "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Dances With Wolves," "Dick Tracy," "Hamlet."
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "American Dream," "Berkeley in the Sixties," "Building Bombs," "Forever Activists: Stories From the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade," "Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey."
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: "Burning Down Tomorrow," "Chimps: So Like Us," "Days of Waiting," "Journey Into Life: The World of the Unborn," "Rose Kennedy: A Life to Remember."
FILM EDITING: "Dances With Wolves," "Ghost," "The Godfather Part III," "GoodFellas," "The Hunt for Red October."
MAKEUP: "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Dick Tracy," "Edward Scissorhands."
ORIGINAL SCORE: Randy Newman, "Avalon"; John Barry, "Dances With Wolves"; Maurice Jarre, "Ghost"; David Grusin, "Havana"; John Williams, "Home Alone."
ORIGINAL SONG: "Blaze of Glory" from "Young Guns II"; "I'm Checkin' Out" from "Postcards From the Edge"; "Promise Me You'll Remember" from "The Godfather Part III"; "Somewhere in My Memory" from "Home Alone"; "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" from "Dick Tracy."
ANIMATED SHORT FILM: "Creature Comforts," "A Grand Day Out," "Grasshoppers (Cavallette)."
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: "Bronx Cheers," "Dear Rosie," "The Lunch Date," "Senzeni Na? (What Have We Done?)"; "12:01 p.m."
SOUND: "Dances With Wolves," "Days of Thunder," "Dick Tracy," "The Hunt for Red October," "Total Recall."
SOUND EFFECTS EDITING: "Flatliners," "The Hunt for Red October," "Total Recall."