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The 72nd Academy Awards Memorable Moments

72nd Oscars

Best Picture: American Beauty

American Beauty also won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Cinematography (Conrad L. Hall), Directing (Sam Mendes), and Writing – Screenplay written directly for the screen (Alan Ball). 

Kevin Spacey became the 10th performer to win Oscars in both the lead and supporting categories, following Helen Hayes, Jack Lemmon, Ingrid Bergman, Maggie Smith, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and Jessica Lange.

Kevin Spacey dedicated his Oscar to Jack Lemmon with whom he’d worked in 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Lemmon, said Spacey, was “the man who inspired my performance. A man who has been my friend and my mentor and, since my father died, a little bit like my father…. Wherever you are, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Angelina Jolie won Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted. It was her first nomination and award. Her father, Jon Voight, won Best Actor for 1978’s Coming Home. The only previous father-daughter pair of acting Oscar winners had been the Fondas – daughter Jane in 1971 and 1978, and father Henry in 1981. 

Billy Crystal was the host for the seventh time.

Richard D. Zanuck and his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, produced the show. Lili Fini Zanuck was the first woman to produce the event.

On January 7, 1999, the second ever impeachment trial of a U.S. president began when President Bill Clinton faced charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The proceedings, which took place over five weeks, ended when the Senate voted on February 12 to acquit the president of both charges. Afterward, President Clinton stated that he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions and words.

On February 20, 1999, film critic Gene Siskel died from a delayed reaction to a May 1998 surgery for a cancerous brain tumor.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold used homemade explosives and numerous firearms in an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The teenaged gunmen killed 12 students and one teacher and wounded at least two dozen others before committing suicide in a rampage that remains one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The incident provoked heated nationwide debates about gun control, school safety, and the attackers’ possible motivations.

In May 1999, Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” was once again made available for unobstructed public viewing in Milan after 20 years of restoration.

On July 10, 1999, after playing for 120 minutes with neither side scoring, the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated China 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout. Defender Brandi Chastain scored the game-winning goal, which netted the American team their second Women’s World Cup, at the Rose Bowl in front of the largest ever crowd to watch a women’s sporting event.

On July 16, 1999, the small plane piloted by novice flyer John F. Kennedy Jr. crashed in the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, killing Kennedy, his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette.

On July 25, 1999, Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, becoming only the second American to win the race.

In November 1999, Exxon and Mobil completed their $81 billion merger to form the ExxonMobil Corporation.

On December 31, 1999, the U.S. turned over administration of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian government. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who signed the 1977 treaty transferring eventual control of the canal, attended a December 14 symbolic ceremony on behalf of the American government.

Honorary Award

To Andrzej Wajda in recognition of five decades of extraordinary film direction.

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

To Warren Beatty.