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

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
The RBS Six Nations trophy at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland vs England
rugby
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
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
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
music
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
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

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

    £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

    Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?