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Hollywood Honors Eastwood, Unforgiven with Top Oscars

By David J. Fox
Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD

Hollywood honored international film legend Clint Eastwood and his movie Unforgiven with Oscars for best direction and best picture of 1992 during the 65th annual Academy Awards Monday night.

But, in contrast to the last two Oscars shows, which were virtually overwhelmed by Dances With Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs, no single film dominated the ceremonies at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Unforgiven won four awards, while Howards End and Bram Stoker's Dracula won three each.

"I feel lucky, especially when you are able to make a living in a field you enjoy," said the soft-spoken Eastwood as he accepted the director's prize. Critics said Eastwood's film in many ways attempted to demystify the image of the American West that he had helped to solidify in many of his earlier films. In Unforgiven, Eastwood plays a retired gunslinger, still fighting the demons of his past, even as he had become a family man.

The key acting honors were awarded to Emma Thompson for Howards End and Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman.

Thompson, a British actress, received her Oscar for Howards End after having swept virtually the Los Angeles, New York and national critics prizes, and winning a Golden Globe prize handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In accepting, Thompson acknowledged the Oscar show's theme, "The Year of the Woman," and the role she played of a strong-willed, unmarried elder sister in the adaptation of the E. M.. Forster novel of two families in Edwardian England.

Pacino's Oscar came for his role as a blind and bitter retired Army officer in Scent of a Woman.

It was the first time Pacino has ever won an Academy Award despite nominations in other years, dating back to 1972's The Godfather. He also was nominated in the supporting actor category this year for his role as a ruthless real estate salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross. Raising the Oscar in his hand, Pacino declared: "You broke my streak."

Early in the evening, the Oscar for an actress in a supporting role went to Marisa Tomei, for her performance as the tough-talking fiance to Joe Pesci in the comedy My Cousin Vinny. In February, when the nominations were announced, her nomination seemed to surprise many in the industry, since she was a relative newcomer and the film had been all but forgotten -- having opened in spring of 1992. As her name was read, there was a wave of shock.

One of the evening's biggest question marks had been the supporting actor category in which a mysterious, unknown British actor, Jaye Davidson, 24, had been nominated. Davidson played a role in The Crying Game that is pivotal in the story about tolerance of human nature, set against a backdrop of political terrorism. The film's distributor, Miramax Films, turned the exact nature of Davidson's character into a secret, asking the news media to cooperate and not give it away. And up until the last minute on Sunday, it was not known if Davidson would travel from London to the Oscar ceremonies.

In the end, Davidson did attend, but his presence seemed fleeting as the academy gave the award to veteran actor Gene Hackman, a previous Oscar-winning best actor for 1971's The French Connection. Hackman won the supporting actor Oscar for his performance in Unforgiven as a congenial but sadistic sheriff.

Regis Wargnier, the French director of Indochine, a film that stars Catherine Deneuve, thanked the American film industry that fed his dreams of movie making as a child. Indochine was named best foreign language film.

ABC-TV said the telecast ran 3 hours and 32 minutes, 8 minutes longer than the previous record set in 1990 and 1992.

Film score honors went to a Walt Disney animated musical film for the third time in four years. In all three instances, for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and this time Aladdin, the composer was Alan Menken.

Menken also picked up the award for best song written directly for a movie, the ballad "A Whole New World," which he wrote with lyricist Tim Rice.

The only prize for The Crying Game, in the end, turned out to be to its director Neil Jordan for his original screenplay. Despite its "unappealing characters," he said he is heartened that "audiences have it in their hearts to accept a broad range of characters."

The award for screenplay adaptation went to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for her work based on E. M. Forster's Howards End.