Warehouse man makes Oscar history

American Beauty by first-time director Sam Mendes wins eight nominations, as Brits give strong showing in shortlists
in Los Angeles and
Tue 15 Feb 2000 20.43 EST

With a stack of Golden Globes already on the mantelpiece, and his trophy cabinet filling fast, Sam Mendes made yet more Hollywood history yesterday when American Beauty was nominated for eight Oscars - the most by a first time foreign director and more than any other film this year.

But the wunderkind, who runs the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London, was anything but blasé last night about the success of his dark satire on suburbia. "I know, there's been so many awards ceremonies you almost get inured to them," he said.

"But when you get a load of Oscar nominations, and you look down the list of great directors who have won in the past, it's really humbling. I know it sounds naff, but it's true. I'll wear my lucky suit, the one Prada gave me to wear at the Golden Globes."

Mendes, 34, is in no hurry to do another film and wants to direct a play at the Donmar first. "I feel I need to come back down to earth. I don't know what I'm going to do, and maybe it's a mistake to decide now when I am in a euphoric state."

Although there was disappointment that neither Mike Leigh's much-fancied Topsy-Turvy, Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley, nor Neil Jordan's The End of the Affair made it into the frame for best picture, the Brits did well overall. Leigh and Minghella were nominated for best screenplay, with Leigh an early favourite for his story about the comically strained relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan.

Janet McTeer won a nomination for best actress for her role in the low-budget American comedy Tumbleweeds, Nottingham-born Samantha Morton is in the running for best supporting actress, while Jude Law and Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules) both appear on the list for best supporting actor. Though Caine is a previous winner, Law is already thought to be a surefire bet for his performance as a wastrel American shipping heir in The Talented Mr Ripley.

The biggest surprise was the inclusion of the Welsh film, Solomon and Gaenor, in the shortlist for best foreign language film. Directed and written by Paul Morrison, it is the story of a Jewish door-to-door salesman who falls in love with a good chapel girl, and is told in Welsh, Yiddish and English.

Eleven-year-old Haley Joel Osment's nomination for The Sixth Sense showed that the academy's weakness for child actors is alive and kicking, though he is far from the youngest ever. Justin Henry was eight when he was nominated for the 1979 film Kramer vs Kramer, and Anna Paquin won one for The Piano when she too was 11.

Two films received seven nominations: The Insider, the true story of a whistle-blower in the tobacco industry, and The Cider House Rules, an adaptation of the John Irving novel set in a New England orphanage. The Green Mile and The Sixth Sense also made the best film nominations.

The failure of The Hurricane to win a best picture nomination was a surprise. Based on the true story of the wrongful conviction of black boxer Rubin Carter, the film has been criticised for bending the facts, which may have damaged its chances, but its star, Denzel Washington, appears in the best actor category.

Richard Farnsworth, 78, becomes the oldest actor ever to be nominated, for his part in David Lynch's The Straight Story. Even so, the favourites for that category remain Kevin Spacey in American Beauty and Russell Crowe in The Insider. Sean Penn, who plays a jazz guitarist in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown, is also nominated.

Hilary Swank, who has already won a Golden Globe for her role in Boys Don't Cry, is one of the favourites for the best actress Oscar, a category that sees Meryl Streep win a record 12th nomination for Music of the Heart. Annette Bening in American Beauty and Julianne Moore in Neil Jordan's adaptation of Graham Greene's novel The End of the Affair are also nominated.

Samantha Morton, much praised for her performance as the mute lover of Sean Penn in Sweet and Lowdown, was also nominated in the Golden Globes and faces competition from Chloe Sevingy who won the Globe for her part in Boys Don't Cry. Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) and Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich) were also nominated.

Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother is the favourite for best foreign film, having cleaned up on the festival circuit and won a Golden Globe to boot.

The academy dismissed claims that its announcement had been scooped by the Aint-It-Cool-News website which ran an early list of supposed nominees. A spokesperson described as "a fake" the "long list" of nominations. The supposedly leaked list contained the names of Kate Winslet (Holy Smoke) and Gwyneth Paltrow (The Talented Mr Ripley) as nominees but neither appeared in the final lists.

The votes of the 6,000 members of the invitation-only Academy of Motion Pictures have to be in by March 21. The Oscars ceremony is on March 26.

Best Picture

American Beauty, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

Best Director

Sam Mendes American Beauty, Spike Jonze Being John Malkovich, Lasse Hallstrom The Cider House Rules, Michael Mann The Insider, M Night Shyamalan The Sixth Sense

Best Actor

Russell Crowe The Insider, Richard Farnsworth The Straight Story, Sean Penn Sweet and Lowdown, Kevin Spacey American Beauty, Denzel Washington The Hurricane

Best Actress

Annette Bening American Beauty, Janet McTeer Tumbleweeds, Julianne Moore The End of the Affair, Meryl Streep Music of the Heart, Hilary Swank Boys Don't Cry

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Caine The Cider House Rules, Tom Cruise Magnolia, Michael Clarke Duncan The Green Mile, Jude Law The Talented Mr Ripley, Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense

Best Supporting Actress

Toni Collette The Sixth Sense, Angelina Jolie Girl Interrupted, Catherine Keener Being John Malkovich, Samantha Morton Sweet and Lowdown, Chloe Sevigny Boys Don't Cry

Best Foreign Film

All About My Mother Spain, Caravan Nepal, East-West France, Solomon and Gaenor UK, Under the Sun Sweden

Best Adapted Screenplay

John Irving The Cider House Rules, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor Election, Frank Darabont The Green Mile, Eric Roth and Michael Mann The Insider, Anthony Minghella The Talented Mr Ripley

Best Original Screenplay

Alan Ball American Beauty, Charlie Kaufman Being John Malkovich, Paul Thomas Anderson Magnolia, M Night Shyamalan The Sixth Sense, Mike Leigh Topsy-Turvy

Best Art Direction

Anna and the King, The Cider House Rules, Sleepy Hollow, The Talented Mr Ripley, Topsy-Turvy

Best Cinematography

American Beauty, The End of the Affair, The Insider, Sleepy Hollow, Snow Falling on Cedars

Best Sound

The Green Mile, The Insider, The Matrix, The Mummy, Star Wars - Episode I The Phantom Menace

Best Sound Effects Editing

Fight Club, The Matrix, Star Wars - Episode I The Phantom Menace

Best Original Score

American Beauty Thomas Newman, Angela's Ashes John Williams, The Cider House Rules Rachel Portman, The Red Violin John Corigliano, The Talented Mr Ripley Gabriel Yared

Best Original Song

Blame Canada from South Park Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman Music of My Heart from Music of the Heart, Diane Warren Save Me from Magnolia, Aimee Mann When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2, Randy Newman You'll be in My Heart from Tarzan, Phil Collins

Best Costume

Anna and the King, Sleepy Hollow, The Talented Mr Ripley, Titus, Topsy-Turvy

Best Documentary Feature

Buena Vista Social Club, Genghis Blues, On the Ropes, One Day in September, Speaking in Strings

Best Documentary Short

Eyewitness, King Gimp, The Wildest Show in the South, The Angola Prison Rodeo

Best Film Editing

American Beauty, The Cider House Rules, The Insider, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense

Best Make-up

Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me, Bicentennial Man, Life, Topsy-Turvy

Best Animated Short Film

Humdrum, My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts, The Old Man and the Sea, 3 Misses, When the Day Breaks

Best Live Action Short Film

Bror - Min Bror, Killing Joe, Kleingeld, Major and Minor Miracles, My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples In New York

Best Visual Effects

The Matrix, Star Wars - Episode I The Phantom Menace, Stuart Little