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Oscar smiles on favorites // 'Daisy' tops nominee list; controversial films avoided

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the high road this year, nominating films about race relations, the horrors of war and the handicapped for a substantial share of its 62nd annual Academy Awards. But the Oscar electorate wasn't bold enough to give a single nomination to Michael Moore's controversial Roger & Me, a scathing account of the fall of Flint, Mich., after General Motors closed plants there. Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, a picture that advocates open revolt against white tyranny, received only two nominations despite critical raves, and Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies and videotape received only one.

The front-runners were as expected on Wednesday with Driving Miss Daisy garnering nine nominations, Born on the Fourth of July earning eight and Glory and My Left Foot receiving five apiece.

Driving Miss Daisy, the story of the bond that develops over a quarter century between a Jewish matron and her black chauffeur, received nominations in such coveted categories as best picture, actor, actress and supporting actor. Yet the picture failed to win a nomination for director Bruce Beresford.

Born on the Fourth of July received nominations for best picture, director, screenwriter and actor. Oliver Stone, who won Oscars for the Vietnam saga Platoon, co-wrote and directed Born on the Fourth of July. Tom Cruise portrays crippled Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, who became a major figure in the anti-war movement.

In addition to Born on the Fourth of July and Driving Miss Daisy, the nominees for best picture are Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams and My Left Foot.

My Left Foot is the story of Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, who was born crippled with cerebral palsy. The British actor playing Christy, Daniel Day-Lewis, was nominated for best actor. In addition to Cruise and Christy, the other nominees are Morgan Freeman for his portrayal of the even-tempered chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy, Robin Williams for his unorthodox teacher in Dead Poets Society and Kenneth Branagh for his lead in Henry V. Best actress nominees are 80-year-old Jessica Tandy for Driving

Miss Daisy, Isabelle Adjani for Camille Claudel, Pauline Collins for Shirley Valentine, Jessica Lange for Music Box and Michelle Pfeiffer for The Fabulous Baker Boys. Tandy's cantankerous widow and Pfeiffer's sultry nightclub singer are considered front-runners by most Hollywood handicappers. Adjani, a surprise nominee, plays a protege of sculptor Auguste Rodin who goes mad. Collins reprises her stage role as a frustrated Liverpool housewife. Lange plays a lawyer defending her father against war-crime charges.

Glory, the story of the first black regiment to fight in the Civil War, received only one nomination in the prominent acting-directing-best picture categories. Denzel Washington was nominated for his portrayal of a runaway slave who becomes a Union soldier. Glory's other nominations are in technical categories: art direction, cinematography, editing and sound.

Other nominees for best supporting actor include Danny Aiello for his searing performance as a pizzeria owner whose restaurant becomes the focal point for a race riot in Do the Right Thing and Martin Landau's ophthalmologist who kills his lover in Crimes and

Misdemeanors. Marlon Brando appeared as a liberal South African lawyer in only two brief, but exceptionally powerful, segments of A Dry White Season. Dan Aykroyd was a surprise nominee as Tandy's ineffectual son in Driving Miss Daisy.

Lena Olin and Anjelica Huston, playing women married to the same man in Enemies, A Love Story, were both nominated for best supporting actress. Their nominations will probably handicap Enemies in the category and will leave the field open for Brenda Fricker as Daniel Day-Lewis' mother in My Left Foot, Julia Roberts as a fatally ill southern belle in Steel Magnolias and Dianne Wiest as the distraught mother of two teens in Parenthood.

Best director nominees are Oliver Stone (Born on the Fourth of

July), Woody Allen (Crimes and Misdemeanors), Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society), Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) and Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot).

Branagh and Sheridan were nominated for their directorial debuts.

Tampa film makers Alan Deegan and Neal Norton were ecstatic about the nomination of Amazon Diary in the live-action short category.

Deegan was the director of photography and Norton ran second camera for the 16-minute featurette about the destruction of Brazilian rain forests.

"We'll be toasting with champagne tonight," said Deegan, who was filming a Honda commercial in Tampa when word reached him on Wednesday.

Conspicuously absent are nominations for 1989's biggest moneymakers. Batman grossed $251-million but garnered only one nomination for art direction. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade chalked up $196-million but received nominations for only sound, sound effects and original score.

The 62nd Academy Awards ceremony will be televised live by ABC-TV on March 26.