What a year 1999 was
The 72nd Academy Awards, held in February 2000, looked back on one of the strongest years in cinema in recent memory. From American Beauty and The Hurricane to Buena Vista Social Club and South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, 1999 was packed with great films, making it one of the toughest yet in which to walk away with the biggest prizes. Every genre seemed to be teeming with real contenders and there were many heavyweight producers, directors, actors and actresses left frustrated in their efforts to take home a golden statuette. Here’s the rundown in full…
Who were the winners?
Against some very stiff competition that included Denzel Washington’s performance in Rubin Carter biopic The Hurricane and Sean Penn’s outstanding turn in Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown, it was Kevin Spacey who eventually took home the Best Actor gong for his role in American Beauty. The nominees for Best Supporting Actor were equally strong, with Michael Clarke Duncan, Jude Law and Tom Cruise all narrowly losing out to a career-rejuvenating turn from Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules.
In a year when American Beauty took home a number of awards, including Best Picture and Best Director award for Sam Mendes, Annette Benning was considered almost nailed-on for the Best Actress award, but missed out thanks to Hilary Swank pulling a blinder in Kimberley Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry. The Best Supporting Actress category was perhaps tighter still - Chloë Sevigny, Samantha Morton and Catherine Keener all had strong claims – eventually missing out when Angelina Jolie bagged what is so far her only Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted.
Elewhere there were wins in the Best Sound, Sound Effects and Visual Effects for The Matrix, while Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvey took home awards for Best Costume Design and Best Make-Up.
Who were the losers?
Despite picking up three nominations, including Best Supporting Actor for Tom Cruise, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia ended up with nothing. The highest profile film to walk away empty handed that year however has to be Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, receiving only two nominations, both in the Sound / Sound Effects categories. Another film which almost certainly deserved to walk away with something is Being John Malkovich, for which Charlie Kaufmann could feel a little aggrieved not to win the award for Best Original Screenplay, while director Spike Jonze also missed out on a Best Director gong, with the award going to Sam Mendes.
As if to illustrate just how strong the list of contenders from 1999 was, other films to walk away empty-handed after being nominated included The Sixth Sense, The Green Mile, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Fight Club.
Missing in action?
Being such a strong year overall, there were several casualties who didn’t even receive a nomination. Perhaps the most surprising of thes,e given the amount of press coverage it received at the time, was The Blair Witch Project. Other box office hits to be entirely snubbed included American Pie, The Mummy and Stuart Little, with many more films that, in weaker years, might have expected at least a nomination, including 8mm, Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai, Man on the Moon and Any Given Sunday.
Meanwhile, British films faired particularly badly, with Notting Hill and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels both receiving nothing but the cold shoulder from the Academy.