The Oscars: Night when Titanic, not Britannia, ruled the waves

Tim Cornwell reports from Los Angeles on a disappointing night for Britain

A TERSELY worded diplomatic note to the Academy may be in order after this year's Oscars - perhaps delivered from culture minister Chris Smith, via his promised new British film office in Los Angeles. The collective snub handed to Britain's best actresses was surely a display of the cheapest American chauvinism. And The Full Monty's drowning by Titanic, with only an Oscar for best score, was clearly less than satisfactory.

A major crisis was only narrowly averted by Helen Hunt, the American who took the best actress Oscar from under the nose of the four British nominees. The first time she saw Her Majesty Mrs Brown, she insisted, she was convinced Dame Judi Dench would get the Academy Award. "And in my mind tonight she has," she said. "And so has Julie Christie, and so has Helena Bonham Carter, and so has Kate Winslet."

The full strangeness of the Oscars was on display on Monday night, when stretch limos, with their televisions aglow but occupants otherwise invisible, crowd the streets of South Central around the Shrine Auditorium. It is the night, after all, when people who dress up and pretend for a living do their best to persuade a world audience that they are, by turns, tearful, ecstatic and lost for words.

In the end, Titanic's night of triumph fell strangely flat, though the film dominated the evening from the moment presenter Billy Crystal sank to the stage on a giant prow. "What a shock," said Madonna, drily, summing up the mood as she announced that "My Heart Will Go On", the theme tune sung by Celine Dion which has been virtually inescapable in America this spring, had won best original song.

Titanic scooped 11 of 17 possible Oscars, tying Ben Hur's record, and including one for Briton Peter Lamont, for art direction. As predicted, it cleaned up the production and technical awards and delivered two statuettes to director James Cameron, for best director and best editing and one for producer Jon Landau for best film, while its acting and writing were ignored. Notable by his absence was the male lead Leonardo DiCaprio, who is rapidly emerging as Hollywood's biggest heart-throb but failed to be even nominated for best actor.

Cameron, initially ridiculed for running the film hugely over-budget, now celebrated as one of the great Hollywood directors, asked for a moment's silence for a film based "on a real event where real people died". Then he borrowed a line from his own script, crowing: "I am the king of the world! This is a night to remember. Let's party till dawn."

If it was any consolation to the British crowd, the ceremony seemed one of the dullest of recent years, devoid of much real excitement or drama. For an event that celebrates the young and the beautiful, it was curiously heavy with faces of the past,

including a line-up of ancient Oscar winners that included Luise Rainer, 88, who won in 1936 for The Great Ziegfield.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two rising young actors who won for jointly writing the screenplay for Good Will Hunting, attended with their mothers. The best impromptu performance of the night came from Mike Van Diem, whose film Character won the Oscar for best foreign film, four days before it opens in the US. Drunk with delight, he introduced himself to Sharon Stone as "just another crazy Dutch director". "This ought to tell you that it probably has, you know, like damn stunning subtitles," he said from the stage.

Helen Hunt, a celebrated US TV comedienne, took her first major film role starring opposite tornadoes in Twister. She had emerged late in the game as the favourite for the comedy As Good as It Gets opposite Jack Nicholson, who took the Best Actor award.

British losers were gracious in defeat. Kate Winslet declared she was "not in the slightest" disappointed, though it is the second time - after her nomination for Sense and Sensibility - that Oscar has escaped her. "I'm just thrilled to be here," said Dame Judi, who had won the Golden Globe that often signals Oscar success. "I have seen people I have only ever seen on the screen."

The Full Monty, with four nominations, was never favourite for best picture or best director, while a plagiarism suit, whatever its merits, may have hurt the chances of Simon Beaufoy for winning best screenplay. Only Anne Dudley, the composer, won an Oscar. "I think Hollywood really liked this movie, but they couldn't bring themselves to give it best picture with Titanic in the ring," she said. "I think they wanted to give it something and I was there."

Winners of the 70th Academy Awards

Best picture:

"Titanic" (20th Century Fox/Paramount)

Best performance by an actor in a leading role:

Jack Nicholson in "As Good as It Gets" (TriStar)

Best performance by an actress in a leading role:

Helen Hunt in "As Good as It Gets" (TriStar)

Best director:

James Cameron, "Titanic" (20th Century Fox/Paramount)

Best performance by an actor in a supporting role:

Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting" (Miramax)

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role:

Kim Basinger in "L.A. Confidential" (Warner Bros.)

Best achievement in art direction:

"Titanic" Art direction Peter Lamont, Set direction Michael Ford

Best achievement in costume design:

"Titanic." Deborah L. Scott

Best make-up:

"Men In Black." Rick Baker and David LeRoy Anderson

Best live action short film:

"Visas And Virtue." Chris Tashima and Chris Donahue

Best animated short film:

"Geri's Game" Jan Pinkava

Best documentary short subject:

"A Story Of Healing." Donna Dewey and Carol Pasternak

Best documentary feature:

"The Long Way Home." Rabbi Marvin Hier and Richard Trank

Best achievement in visual effects:

"Titanic." Robert Legato, Mark Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher and Michael Kanfer

Best achievement in sound:

"Titanic." Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers and Mark Ulano

Best achievement in sound effects editing:

"Titanic." Tom Bellfort and Christopher Boyes

Best film editing:

"Titanic." Conrad Buff, James Cameron and Richard A. Harris

Best original dramatic score:

"Titanic." James Horner

Best original musical or comedy score:

"The Full Monty." Anne Dudley

Best original song:

"My Heart Will Go On" from "Titanic." James Horner and Will Jennings.

Best foreign language film:

"Character." the Netherlands (A First Floor Features production)

Best adapted screenplay:

"L.A. Confidential." Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson

Best screenplay:

"Good Will Hunting." Ben Affleck and Matt Damon

Best achievement in cinematography:

"Titanic." Russell Carpenter

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
football
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us