Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum give their choices for the 1998 Academy Awards
BEST ACTOR Robert Duvall
He attains a level of performance you may see once or twice a decade (if you’re lucky). As the hot-spiel Pentecostal preacher of The Apostle, Duvall reveals so many dimensions at once — murderousness and grace, a faith nearly physical in its intensity yet laced with self-love — that he turns one man into an entire galaxy.
BEST ACTRESS Helena Bonham Carter
It took playing a scoundrel to reveal the great actress beneath her china-doll facade. In The Wings of the Dove, Bonham Carter’s eyebrows dance with nuance as her ruthlessly romantic Kate uses a dying heiress to attain her ends, an act of treachery made startlingly sympathetic.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Burt Reynolds
In Boogie Nights, Reynolds ages like fine wine as he nudges his suave self-mockery into wry resignation. As porn director Jack Horner, he comes on like a triple-X Ed Wood, heroic in the very blindness of his belief in trash.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Julianne Moore
Whacked out on coke, strung out on sorrow, Moore’s maternal porn queen is the quiet soul of Boogie Nights, sealing the film’s lush ironies with her woeful final gaze into the mirror.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Boogie Nights
It’s not just the flamboyant gutter spark with which writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson verbalizes the cock-of-the-walk bravado of L.A.’s porn underworld (”Seventeen-year-old piece o’ gold!” ”That’s not an MP, that’s a YP — your problem!”). It’s the way his script teases out the mystery of his characters’ inner lives, leaving unstated every bit as much as it says.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY L.A. Confidential
It revives the great lost art of the crime-thriller labyrinth, with screenwriters Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland streamlining James Ellroy’s teeming-jungle prose into a densely artful maze of corruption.
BEST DIRECTOR Atom Egoyan
He crafts The Sweet Hereafter like a metaphysical Hitchcock, interweaving mysticism and suspense as a school-bus accident is revealed to be the cosmic culmination of a town’s secret sin.
BEST PICTURE Titanic
It has been so celebrated as a heartthrobbing five-hankie weeper that you may forget that James Cameron’s splendid film hinges on something no studio-system epic ever had: a sense of live, you-are-there terror and dread that transforms Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s puppy love into a sublime Hollywood passion play.