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ACADEMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS : 'Bugsy' and 'The Beast' : Nominations for Best Picture . . . : Beatty Film Up for 10 Oscars; 'Beauty' Scores a First : Nominees: Disney film becomes the first animated feature tapped for best picture. 'Boyz N the Hood's' John Singleton enters the record books twice, and a mother-daughter duo is nominated.

February 20, 1992|DAVID J. FOX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Bugsy" almost stole the show Wednesday when the 64th annual Academy Awards nominations were announced. While the stylish gangster drama received the most nominations with 10, it had to share the spotlight with "Beauty and the Beast," the first animated movie to be nominated for best picture.

The 10 nominations for "Bugsy" included best picture, best director (Barry Levinson), actor (Warren Beatty) and screenwriter (James Toback).

"JFK," the controversial Oliver Stone examination of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, came in second with eight nominations, followed by the romantic psychodrama thriller "The Prince of Tides" and the suspense thriller "The Silence of the Lambs" with seven. All three were best-picture nominees.

But despite "Prince of Tides' " best-picture nomination, director Barbra Streisand was not among those nominated for best director. (See related story, F8.)

"Beauty and the Beast" producer Don Hahn called the film's best-picture nomination "validation of animation as a legitimate way to tell a story," and the studio has hailed it as a tribute to the legacy of the late Walt Disney.

Besides "Beauty and the Beast," there were some notable firsts in the nominations announced early Wednesday by academy president Karl Malden and actress Kathleen Turner at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters in Beverly Hills.

John Singleton, the 24-year-old director of "Boyz N the Hood," became both the first African-American and the youngest nominee for best director. Diane Ladd and Laura Dern were the first mother and daughter to be nominated--Dern for best actress and Ladd for best supporting actress in "Rambling Rose."

Singleton was also nominated for his original screenplay for "Boyz N the Hood," which is set in the South-Central Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up. Singleton, who was 23 at the time "Boyz" was released last July, replaced Orson Welles, who formerly held the distinction, having been nominated at age 26 for 1941's "Citizen Kane."

"I'm the first person in my neighborhood to get an Oscar nomination," Singleton joked. "I'm just in awe," he said, speaking by phone from Las Vegas, where on Tuesday he had been honored as "debut director of the year" at a convention of the nation's theater owners.

For weeks before Wednesday's nominations, campaigns were waged on behalf of many contenders in direct-mailings to academy voters and in ads purchased in the film industry newspapers--especially for "Bugsy" and "JFK."

Now the Hollywood-style campaigning will begin all over again in preparation for the Academy Awards ceremony, when winners will be announced. The program will be held in Los Angeles on March 30 and will be seen on television by an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

Oliver Stone, whose "JFK" has received much criticism and stirred a national debate and about the Kennedy assassination, said the film's eight nominations "feel wonderful."

"Considering what this movie has been through, it's very nice to be recognized by my colleagues," Stone said.

In the directing category, besides Stone, Levinson and Singleton, Jonathan Demme was nominated for "The Silence of the Lambs" and Ridley Scott for "Thelma & Louise."

The 10 nominations for "Bugsy" gave its distributor, TriStar Pictures, the most nominations of any major studio, and Beatty what some say is a near record in Oscar nominations during his career. Between five of his films--"Bonnie & Clyde," "Shampoo," "Reds," "Heaven Can Wait" and "Bugsy," the actor/writer/producer/director has received 13 Oscar nominations.

Beatty's nomination for his performance as mobster Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel was his fourth for best actor.

Beatty told The Times that "when you make a movie in which the leading character is unsavory and, secondly, he dies in the end, you know you have your work cut out for you. So when you get the critical attention and peer recognition, it gives all of us more ability to make more movies that are not simply escapist movies."

While he said the film's nominations "feel good," he was disappointed that Annette Bening, his co-star and the mother of his baby daughter, was not a best-actress nominee. "I think she is what makes the picture work," he said.

Best-actor nominee Nick Nolte, reached in Madrid, where "Prince of Tides" is having a premiere Friday, described his reaction as "balanced." "I've been working 20 years to tell stories, not necessarily to gather awards," he said. "If this is recognition for good work, and I'm one of the actors doing good work--that's the way I accept it."

Asked about the failure of director and co-star Streisand to garner a directing nomination, Nolte said: "She's going to be elated that the film received seven nominations. That's quite a bit of recognition."

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