Academy Award nominations sport usual shoo-ins, surprises

By Doug Cummings

Arizona Daily Wildcat

According to Valentine's Day tradition, the nominations for the year's Academy Awards ceremony were announced on Feb. 14.

This year, there were the usual surprises as well as the predictable shoo-ins. "Forrest Gump" received 13 nominations, "Pulp Fiction" and "Bullets Over Broadway" received eight, "The Shawshank Redemption" garnered seven, and "Quiz Show," four.

The Best Picture nominees are "Forrest Gump," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "The Shawshank Redemption." The inclusion of "Four Weddings" is surprising especially because it only received one other nomination for best screenplay. But the Oscars traditionally reward high-grossing independent films ("The Crying Game," "The Piano"), and "Four Weddings'" box office success ensured its inclusion.

In addition, "Shawshank's" strong showing is exciting because its poor performance at the box office threatened to keep it overlooked. "Shawshank" was a definite dark horse contender.

The Best Actor nominees are Morgan Freeman ("The Shawshank Redemption"), Tom Hanks ("Forrest Gump"), Nigel Hawthorne ("The Madness of King George"), Paul Newman ("Nobody's Fool"), and John Travolta ("Pulp Fiction"). Hanks is favored to win, and if he does, he will be the first actor since Spencer Tracy to win the Oscar two years in a row.

The Best Actress nominees are Jodie Foster ("Nell"), Jessica Lange ("Blue Sky"), Miranda Richardson ("Tom & Viv"), Winona Ryder ("Little Women"), and Susan Sarandon ("The Client"). While Sarandon's popularity with the Academy is secure (she's previously received three nominations for Best Actress), "The Client" is surprising because it hardly seems Academy-caliber material.

Another surprise includes the Academy's snubbing of "Hoop Dreams," the critically-praised documentary about two inner city youths and their five-year journey towards the NBA. "Hoop Dreams'" filmmakers hoped for a Best Picture nomination, but the academy didn't even give it a Best Documentary nod.

One of the year's enjoyable trends is the fact that Miramax Films, the independent distributor of "Bullets Over Broadway," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," and "The Madness of King George," received more nominations than larger Hollywood studios like Universal or Columbia. Hopefully the increased attention will encourage a greater interest in independent, cinematic diversity.

The Oscars telecast will air March 27, and will be hosted by David Letterman.

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