March 28, 1997
Ah, the Oscars: the pageantry, the pomp, the goofy over*thc-topness of it all. This yearâ€™s 69th Academy Awards didnâ€™t disappoint â€” though some carp that the 3V*-hour show didnâ€™t have as many of the show-stopping, deliciously embarrassing moments of years past.Â Still, here are a few of the more piquant moments:
Most Authentic Surprise (tie): Lauren Bacall, the heavy favorite for best supporting actress, who didnâ€™t win it, andÂ Juliette Binoche, who did. â€œI thought Lauren was going to get it and I think she deserves it,â€ said a wonderfully shocked Binoche. â€œThis is a dream. It must be a French dream, I think. Bye.” (Tip for those who taped the show: Catch the moment when the Binocheâ€™s name is announced and watch the faces of Bacall and Binoche.)
Worst Dance Production: Both of them. (Ah, just what did Michael Flatley and the Irish step dancers in Lord o f theÂ Dance have to do with the Oscars, anyway?)
Best Dance Production: Cuba Gooding Jr., who did a really snappy midair kick and a few high steps across the stage after winning best supporting actor.
Most Exuberant Moment: Gooding â€” hands down He exclaimed â€œI love you!â€ 14 times during his acceptance speech,Â which was interrupted by the orchestra. Gooding kept going. He started with his wife, moved on to God, next singled out co-star Tom Cruise and finished with, â€œEverybody who was involved in this, I love you! I love you! I love you!â€
Best Acceptance Quip: Andrew Lloyd Webber, accepting the Oscar for best original song for Evita. â€œWell, thankÂ heavens there wasnâ€™t a song in The English Patient, is all I can say.”
Worst Staged Moment: Debbie Reynolds, stopping amid her scripted remarks introducing an award, to gripe â€œwho wrote this drivel?â€ Her daughter, Carrie Fisher, then appeared sheepishly from the wings â€” on cue â€” to confess that this was her first year writing for the show.
Best Trouper: Celine Dion, who stepped in for an ailing Natalie Cole on one dayâ€™s notice to sing I Finally FoundÂ Someone, music and lyrics by one Barbra Streisand. La Streisand initially had sent her regrets to the ceremony, with more catty observers speculating it was because she felt her film, The Mirror Has Two Faces, had been snubbed. She unexpectedly showed up, however, and the camera helpfully honed in on her carefully composed face when host Billy Crystal praised Madonnaâ€™s class in showing
up to sing despite not being nominated for her star turn in Evita.
Most Prophetic Statement: From Bette Midler, presenting the Oscar for best original song with The First Wives ClubÂ co-stars Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton. â€œI voted for you, darling,â€ Midler told Keaton, referring to her best actress nomination for Marvinâ€™s Room. â€œBut you do already have one, so it wonâ€™t be the end of the world if you donâ€™t get one.â€
Biggest Tear-jerking Moment: When Muhammed Ali, afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, appeared quietly dignified on stage with George Foreman and the makers of When We Were Kings, the documentary on the boxersâ€™ 1974 fight in Zaire.
Most Practical Presenter: Susan Sarandon, who ordered the TelePrompTer to whirl past her introductory remarks. â€œLetâ€™s just cut to the chase here and give this lucky guy an extra ll seconds,â€ she said, before naming Shineâ€™s Geoffrey Rush as winner of the best actor award.