|69th Academy Awards|
|Date||March 24, 1997|
|Site||Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Hosted by||Billy Crystal|
|Produced by||Gil Cates|
|Directed by||Louis J. Horvitz|
|Best Picture||The English Patient|
|Most awards||The English Patient (9)|
|Most nominations||The English Patient (12)|
|TV in the United States|
|Duration||3 hours, 35 minutes|
27.49% (Nielsen ratings)
The 69th Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) took place on March 24, 1997, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles beginning at 6:00 p.m. PST / 9:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented the Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories honoring films released in 1996. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Gil Cates, and directed by Louis J. Horvitz. Actor Billy Crystal hosted the show for the fifth time. He first presided over the 62nd ceremony held in 1990 and had last hosted the 65th ceremony held in 1993. Three weeks earlier, in a ceremony held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on March 1, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Helen Hunt.
The English Patient won nine awards, including Best Picture. Other winners included Fargo with two awards and Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien, Dear Diary, Emma, Evita, The Ghost and the Darkness, Independence Day, Jerry Maguire, Kolya, The Nutty Professor, Quest, Shine, Sling Blade, and When We Were Kings with one.
The nominees for the 69th Academy Awards were announced on February 11, 1997, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by Arthur Hiller, president of the Academy, and actress Mira Sorvino. The English Patient received the most nominations with twelve; Fargo and Shine came in second with seven apiece.
The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on March 24, 1997. Saul Zaentz became the third person to produce three Best Picture winners, having previously produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus. He also became the seventh individual to receive an Oscar and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in the same year. Best Actress winner Frances McDormand was the first person to win for a role in a film directed by their spouse. Best Original Musical or Comedy Score winner Rachel Portman became the first female winner for composing a musical score.
Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double-dagger (‡).
The following seventeen films received multiple nominations:
The following two films received multiple awards:
The following individuals, in order of appearance, presented awards or performed musical numbers.
|Randy Thomas||Announcer for the 69th annual Academy Awards|
|Arthur Hiller (AMPAS president)||Gave opening remarks welcoming guests to the awards ceremony|
|Mira Sorvino||Presenter of the award for Best Supporting Actor|
|Sandra Bullock||Presenter of the award for Best Art Direction|
|Steve Martin||Presenter of the film Jerry Maguire on the Best Picture segment|
|Juliette Binoche||Presenter of the award for Best Costume Design|
|Presenters of the award Best Sound Effects Editing|
|Courtney Love||Presenter of the award for Best Makeup|
|Winona Ryder||Presenter of the "Togetherness and the Movies" montage|
|Kevin Spacey||Presenter of the award for Best Supporting Actress|
|Claire Danes||Introducer of the performance of Best Original Song nominee "That Thing You Do!"|
|Holly Hunter||Presenter of the film Fargo on the Best Picture segment|
|Presenters of the awards for Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film|
|Julie Andrews||Presenter of the Academy Honorary Award to Michael Kidd|
|Helen Hunt||Presenter of the segment of the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement|
|Tommy Lee Jones
|Presenters of the award Best Documentary Short Subject and Best Documentary Feature|
|Jim Carrey||Presenter of the award for Best Visual Effects|
|Chris O'Donnell||Presenter of the award for Best Sound|
|Nicole Kidman||Presenter of the Best Film editing montage and dance number and the award for Best Film Editing|
|Debbie Reynolds||Presenter of the award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score|
|Gregory Hines||Presenter of the award for Best Original Dramatic Score|
|Glenn Close||Presenter of the film Shine on the Best Picture segment and introducer of the musical performance by David Helfgott|
|Tim Robbins||Presenter of the award for Best Cinematography|
|Salma Hayek||Introducer of the performance of Best Original Song nominee "For the First Time"|
|Michael Douglas||Presenter of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to Saul Zaentz|
|Sigourney Weaver||Presenter of the film The English Patient on the Best Picture segment|
|Kristin Scott Thomas
|Presenter of the award Best Foreign Language Film|
|Jennifer Lopez||Introducer of the performance of Best Original Song nominee "Because You Loved Me"|
|Angela Bassett||Presenter of the In Memoriam tribute|
|Presenters of the award for Best Original Song|
|Kenneth Branagh||Presenter of the "Shakespeare and the Movies" montage|
|Jodie Foster||Presenter of the award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen|
|Andie MacDowell||Presenter of the film Secrets & Lies on the Best Picture segment|
|Nicolas Cage||Presenter of the award for Best Actress|
|Susan Sarandon||Presenter of the award for Best Actor|
|Mel Gibson||Presenter of the award for Best Director|
|Al Pacino||Presenter of the award for Best Picture|
|Bill Conti||Musical arranger and conductor||Orchestral|
|Billy Crystal||Performer||Opening number: |
Secrets & Lies (to the tune of The Brady Bunch theme song),
The English Patient (to the tune of "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady),
Jerry Maguire (to the tune of "Victory March"),
Shine (to the tune of "Flight of the Bumblebee"), and
Fargo (to the tune of "My Kind of Town" from Robin and the 7 Hoods)
|Madonna||Performer||"You Must Love Me" from Evita|
|The Wonders||Performers||"That Thing You Do!" from That Thing You Do!|
|Performers||"I Finally Found Someone" from The Mirror Has Two Faces|
Cast of Lord of the Dance
|Performers||Best Film Editing montage|
|David Helfgott||Performer||"Flight of the Bumblebee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov|
|Kenny Loggins||Performer||"For the First Time" from One Fine Day|
|Celine Dion||Performer||"Because You Loved Me" from Up Close & Personal|
After taking a year off, Gil Cates was selected by AMPAS in November 1996 to oversee production of the ceremony for the seventh time. Immediately, he chose actor and comedian Billy Crystal to host the 1997 telecast, stating, "Billy is quick and agile and bright, and he plays the unexpected events of the live telecast like a Stradivarius. He's become the standard against which all other hosting performances are measured." Crystal expressed his excitement on hosting the ceremony for the fifth time joking, "Once Barry Scheck turned it down, I had a feeling they'd come to me." Furthermore, he set up a website with the address www.whyistheshowsolong.com asking the public to send in jokes that would eventually be used during the gala.
As with previous ceremonies he produced, Cates centered the show around a theme. This year, he christened the show with the theme "Togetherness of Moviegoing" commenting, "The thing that's kind of wonderful about movies is that you watch them with other people. The only other areas where you do that, when you think about it, are religion and sports." He concluded by noting that the movie theater is "a wonderful place where you come together to laugh, to cry." In tandem with the theme, actress Winona Ryder presented a montage featuring film clips from Casablanca (1942), Matinee (1993), and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) depicting audiences inside a movie theater.
Several other people and elements were also involved with the production of the ceremony. Documentary filmmaker Arnold Schwartzman designed the official ceremony poster featuring the titles of the previous 68 Best Picture winners superimposed in the shape of an Oscar statuette. Film composer and musician Bill Conti served as musical director of the ceremony. Choreographer Otis Sallid supervised the "That Thing You Do!" musical number. Michael Flatley and the cast of the musical Lord of the Dance performed a dance number during a montage saluting the art of Film Editors. Pianist David Helfgott, whom Best Actor winner Geoffrey Rush portrayed in the film Shine, played a rendition of "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov during the telecast.
Natalie Cole was initially scheduled to sing the nominated song "I Finally Found Someone" from The Mirror Has Two Faces on the show after its songwriter and original performer Barbra Streisand declined to do so. However, after Cole contracted the flu, she withdrew for her performance duties and was eventually replaced by Celine Dion who also sang "Because You Loved Me" later in the broadcast.
At the time of the nominations announcement on February 11, the combined gross of the five Best Picture nominees at the US box office was $209 million, with an average of $41.9 million per film. Jerry Maguire was the highest earner among the Best Picture nominees with $121.5 million in domestic box office receipts. The film was followed by The English Patient ($42.3 million), Shine ($16.1 million), Fargo ($24 million) and finally Secrets & Lies ($5.9 million).
Of the top 50 grossing movies of the year, 37 nominations went to 17 films on the list. Only Jerry Maguire (9th), Primal Fear (27th) and The English Patient (35th) were nominated for directing, acting, screenwriting or Best Picture. The other top 50 box office hits that earned nominations were Independence Day (1st), Twister (2nd), The Rock (4th), The Nutty Professor (7th), The Birdcage (8th), Eraser (13th), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (14th), Star Trek: First Contact (15th), Sleepers (29th), Dragonheart (30th), The Preacher's Wife (32nd), Evita (36th), The Ghost and the Darkness (39th), and Daylight (48th).
The show received a mixed reception from media publications. Some media outlets were more critical of the show. Television critic Joanne Ostrow of The Denver Post commented "Billy Crystal had a smashing first 10 minutes at the Oscars last night," but she later went on to say that inevitable sweep by The English Patient created a dull atmosphere that even sucked the energy out of Crystal's performance. Columnist Brian Lowry wrote in Los Angeles Times, "This year the mystery far outweighed the magic, in a telecast that proved less compelling--indeed, during stretches more downright dull--than recent predecessors." He also quipped that even though Crystal was mildly entertaining, some of his jokes "felt a bit forced and stale." The Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall noted, "Crystal was a bundle of energy, but his jokes had less zing than in the past." He also observed that the Film Editing dance number and "That Thing You Do" musical performance were hideously bloated.
Other media outlets received the broadcast more positively. Film critic Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, "Crystal sparkled as the host of the annual awards at the Shrine Auditorium." She also noted, "The mood of the evening was elegant and gracious." Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Johnson commented, "Billy Crystal returned as host of the Academy Awards on Monday night and proved that even if mainline Hollywood is nearly shut out in the trophy dispensing, one of its representatives can at least make a television broadcast entertaining." Television critic Kinney Littlefield of the Orange County Register quipped, "In his fifth stint as host, Crystal served up the sense of inclusive, insider movie community that had been missing during his three-year absence." In addition, she observed, "For most of the evening, Oscar seemed newly energized, upbeat and full of splashy fun."
The American telecast on ABC drew in an average of 40.08 million people over its length, which was a 9% decrease from the previous year's ceremony. An estimated 73.83 million total viewers watched all or part of the awards. The show also drew lower Nielsen ratings compared to the previous ceremony with 27.49% of households watching over a 46.31 share. In addition, it also drew a lower 18–49 demo rating with a 16.55 rating over a 34.32 share among viewers in that demographic. It was the least watched ceremony in a decade and the lowest rated telecast since the 58th awards gala held in 1986.
In July 1997, the ceremony presentation received seven nominations at the 49th Primetime Emmy Awards. Two months later, the ceremony won one of those nominations for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or Special (Edward J. Greene, Tom Vicari, Robert Douglass).
The annual In Memoriam tribute, presented by actress Angela Bassett, honored the following people to the score of Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (1995):