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"Bugsy,' "JFK' lead Oscar pack; Streisand snubbed

Aside from Barbra Streisand's snubbing as best director for The Prince of Tides, Robert Duvall's omission in the supporting actor category for Rambling Rose and some oversights in the documentary and foreign-language categories, the Academy Awards nominations were delivered without surprise.

Wednesday's dearth of unexpected nominations reflects the lackluster films that precipitated last year's decline in movie attendance as viewerswaited at home for quality to return to the theaters.

Bugsy, the glamorized account of a gangster's founding of modern-day Las Vegas, led the 64th Oscar race with 10 nominations. JFK, a controversial hypothetical view of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, followed with eight. Both were nominated for best picture.

Their strong showings were anticipated, as were the seven nominations _ including best picture _ for both Silence of the Lambs and The Prince of Tides.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast captured six nominations and became the first animated movie in history to be nominated for best picture. Thelma & Louise also received six nominations.

Industry observers predicted Streisand _ already nominated for best director by the Director's Guild of America _ would become the first American woman ever nominated for an Oscar for direction.

But in a year that had several nomination-worthy directorial efforts by women _ including Europa Europa by Agnieszka Holland and Rambling Rose by Martha Coolidge _ the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reiterated its longstanding male bias in the directing category.

"It is truly shocking Barbra Streisand was overlooked as a best director nominee," Columbia Pictures chairman Mark Canton said in a statement Wednesday. "A film cannot be so distinguished in so many areas unless it directly reflects the vision of its director."

Canton's remarks overlook Streisand's unpopularity in Hollywood for her reign over projects as leading actress, director and producer. Canton's ire also neglects that her ostracism set the stage for another Columbia Pictures' director's nomination.

Unexpected was John Singleton's nomination for best director for his first film, Boyz N the Hood, a gritty account of gang violence in south-central Los Angeles. Singleton was just 23 when his picture was released by Columbia. He replaces Orson Welles as the youngest person ever nominated in the category. (Welles was 26 when he directed Citizen Kane.) Singleton also is the first African-American ever nominated in the category and was nominated for best original screenplay.

The other directorial nominees _ Jonathan Demme for Silence of the Lambs, Barry Levinson for Bugsy, Ridley Scott for Thelma & Louise and Oliver Stone for JFK _ had been anticipated.

As with recent years, the acting category nominations proved less interesting than the supporting categories.

Warren Beatty (Bugsy), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides) and Robin Williams (The Fisher King) were predictable nominees. Robert De Niro's inclusion for his malevolent convict in Cape Fear was considered a long shot because the film is so disliked on the West Coast. The traditionally conservative Academy overlooked Kevin Costner for his overzealous New Orleans prosecutor in JFK and River Phoenix's narcoleptic prostitute in My Own Private Idaho.

As expected, the gun-toting team of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis was nominated for Thelma & Louise and Jodie Foster was named for her FBI trainee in Silence of the Lambs. Bette Midler's nomination for her long-suffering hoofer in For the Boys was expected after her Golden Globes win. Laura Dern was considered a long shot as the promiscuous housekeeper in Rambling Rose because the film fared poorly at the box office.

Dern became the first actress to be nominated the same year as her mother, Diane Ladd, whose supporting actress nomination was also for Rambling Rose. Other nominees included 18-year-old Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear), Kate Nelligan (The Prince of Tides), Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King) and Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatoes). Tandy's co-stars Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker, were not nominated, perhaps because voters couldn't decide whether they belonged in the best actress or supporting categories.

Two gangsters from Bugsy, Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley, were nominated for best supporting actor, as was Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw in JFK and Michael Lerner for his megalomaniac Louis B. Mayer clone in Barton Fink. The category's front-runner is Jack Palance, playing a grizzled cowpoke in City Slickers. Palance's last nomination was for Shane in 1953.

The abundance of fine supporting roles and performances meant Samuel Jackson's crack addict in Jungle Fever, Joe Pesci's mercenary pilot in JFK and Duvall's sweet-talking Southern patriarch in Rambling Rose went unheralded.

Europa Europa, the outstanding comic drama about a Jewish boy who hides from the Nazis by posing as an Aryan in a Hitler youth school, was not nominated for best foreign-language film because the German film committee would not submit it. Europa Europa was nominated, however, for best screenplay based on previously published material. The movie is currently playing the Movies at Largo.

The superb Paris Is Burning and Hearts of Darkness were unaccountably overlooked in documentary category. This is perhaps because Paris' view of New York's gay drag community is too sexually frank and because Hearts' unflinching account of Francis Coppola's excesses on Apocalypse Now is too messy for image-minded Academy members.

The Academy nominated Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's original score and three of their songs for Academy Awards. (Ashman died of AIDS last year.) Beauty and the Beast also was named for best sound quality, giving it four, the most musical nominations ever for a single film.

"With the nominations, particularly best picture, we're walking on three feet of air," Beauty and the Beast supervising animator Mark Henn said Wednesday when reached at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando. "We're starting to be recognized as a viable film medium; that we can have the same impact as any live-action film."

The Academy Awards ceremony will be broadcast live March 30 on ABC-TV from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

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