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'Sense,' 'Babe' Take Home Top Golden Globes

January 22, 1996|ELAINE DUTKA and CLAUDIA PUIG | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The Jane Austen costume romance "Sense and Sensibility" and "Babe," a fable about a pig who fancies itself a sheep dog, won best drama and best comedy honors Sunday night at the 53rd annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills.

Both films buck the trend in Hollywood toward big budget, star-driven movies, instead emphasizing the importance of storytelling over action in filmmaking.

In the major acting categories, Sharon Stone in "Casino" and Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas" won for their work in dramatic films, while Nicole Kidman in "To Die For" and John Travolta in "Get Shorty" walked away with Golden Globes for their roles in the category for musicals or comedies.

Mel Gibson, long one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, captured the award for best director for his medieval battlefield epic "Braveheart."

The results portend a wide-open Oscar race, in contrast to the past two years, when "Schindler's List" and "Forrest Gump" swept major categories in both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. "Sense and Sensibility," "Babe" and "Braveheart" now probably will get a boost going into the Oscar season.

In recent years, the Golden Globes, given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., have served as a predictor of winners in the major Oscar categories. Promotion-minded stars and studios have put their clout behind the awards in order to court Oscar nominations, for which balloting closes Feb. 1.

"Sense and Sensibility," which had received six nominations, also won a Golden Globe for best screenplay. It was adapted from the 19th century Jane Austen novel by Emma Thompson, who starred in the film.

Lindsay Doran, a producer of "Sense and Sensibility," said, "If there is a resurgence of Jane Austen, it's because the public is tired of having bad taste."

In a clever acceptance speech, Thompson read her thank-yous as if they had been penned by Austen herself. When she got around to naming Columbia-TriStar studio chief Mark Canton, the Oscar-winning actress observed that the author felt she was owed money--a remark that drew laughs from the industry-heavy audience.

Stone, accepting her award, said, "No one is more surprised than me."

"OK," she added, placing her hand on her hip, "It's a miracle."

Backstage, Stone met reporters and quipped: "This reminds me of the '70s. I feel high again. I'm so glad. I did all the B movies I could get my hands on to pay the rent. I finally got to do these great roles."

Cage, who has been a favorite of critics for months, won best actor in a motion picture drama for "Leaving Las Vegas," beating out Richard Dreyfuss, Anthony Hopkins, Ian McKellen and Sean Penn.

"To be included with these actors is a storybook dream come true," Cage said. "This award encourages me to stay true to myself."

To nearly everyone's surprise, "Babe" beat out "Get Shorty," "The American President," "Sabrina" and "Toy Story."

A great roar went up from the audience when "Babe" was selected. Producers George Miller and Don Mitchell thanked the crowd, with Miller putting on a fake pig snout and saying: "A lot of people helped bring this little pig to life. Universal said, 'A talking pig? Sure, why not?' "

Miller added backstage: "It seems a little story, but it's about the big things in life--mortality and having an unprejudiced heart."

One of the evening's strongest categories was best director in a motion picture. In four of the last five years, the director winning the Golden Globe has gone on to capture the Oscar.

The announcement of Gibson's Golden Globe for directing the medieval battlefield epic "Braveheart" was loudly cheered. Gibson also starred in and co-produced the film.

Long one of Hollywood's biggest stars, he joins Kevin Costner ("Dances With Wolves") and Clint Eastwood ("Unforgiven") as actors who in recent years have won Golden Globes for directing.

"I'm kind of tongue-tied," Gibson said. Referring to his competition, which included Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Mike Figgis and Ron Howard, the Australian-American actor said, "And to all whose company I was in, I'm glad to be included among you."

Gibson then joked that he had better not forget to thank his wife. "Otherwise, I'll have a Golden Globe mark on my head," he said.

Mira Sorvino, a Harvard graduate, won best supporting actress in a drama for her role as a ditzy blonde prostitute in the Woody Allen film "Mighty Aphrodite."

"Woody told me about my character--not only is she cheap but she's stupid. But I wanted her to be kind of awkward about being a call girl. . . . I really just tried to make her a whole person."

In something of a surprise, heartthrob Brad Pitt won best supporting actor in a drama for his role as a crazed animal-rights activist in the Terry Gilliam film "12 Monkeys."

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