56th Academy Awards

56th Academy Awards
Date April 9, 1984
Site Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles
Hosted by Johnny Carson
Produced by Jack Haley, Jr.
Directed by Marty Pasetta
Best Picture Terms of Endearment
Most awards Terms of Endearment (5)
Most nominations Terms of Endearment (11)
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Duration 3 hours, 42 minutes
Ratings 38.0 (Nielsen ratings)

The 56th Academy Awards were presented April 9, 1984 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Johnny Carson.

The Best Supporting Actress winner this year was unique. 4’9” Linda Hunt won the award for her role as Billy Kwan a male Chinese-Australian photographer in Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously, making her the first actor to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex.

Gordon Willis, a respected cinematographer most famous for his un-nominated work on The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, and Woody Allen's Manhattan, received his first Best Cinematography nomination for Zelig.

Joe I. Tompkins becomes the first African-American to be nominated in Best Costume Design.

James L. Brooks won three Academy Awards this year, winning as producer, director and writer of Best Picture winner Terms of Endearment. Of its other eight nominations (the movie led all nominees with 11), two were for Best Actress; Shirley MacLaine won over Debra Winger in that category. The movie won five Oscars, the fifth being Jack Nicholson's second career Oscar (he won for Best Supporting Actor).

This ceremony ended with Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli leading the crowd in "There's No Business Like Show Business" in tribute to Ethel Merman, who had died a month and a half before this Oscar ceremony. The performance occurred over the closing credits to the broadcast.

The Award for Best Makeup was not given this year.

While this year's ceremony was the first without the recitation of the Academy's voting procedure at the beginning of the telecast — it was moved to the end credits — those of the accounting firm Price Waterhouse who were responsible for tabulating the results and guarding their secrecy were still introduced.[1]


James L. Brooks, Best Director winner
Robert Duvall, Best Actor winner
Shirley MacLaine, Best Actress winner
Jack Nicholson, Best Supporting Actor winner

Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface and indicated with a double dagger (double-dagger).[2]

Best Picture Best Director
Best Actor Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor Best Supporting Actress
Best Original Screenplay Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film Best Film Editing
Best Documentary Feature Best Documentary Short
Best Live Action Short Best Animated Short
Best Original Score Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score
Best Original Song Best Costume Design
Best Sound Mixing Best Sound Editing
Best Art Direction Best Cinematography

Honorary Academy Award

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Special Achievement Academy Award

Nomination announcements

The filmmakers and studio executives were very surprised by the five Academy Award nominations for Tender Mercies, which was released ten months before the nominations were announced and had received little campaigning; the film had been exhibited in only three theaters after its release. Universal Studios had already previously sold the video rights for Tender Mercies based on their lack of confidence in the film following poor test screenings; the studio was therefore unable to redistribute Tender Mercies after the Oscar nominations were announced, and cable companies ran the film on television one week before the Academy Award ceremony.[3]


When screenwriter Horton Foote won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird, he was not present at the 1963 ceremony to collect it because he did not believe he was going to win and did not attend. As a result, Foote made sure he was present for the ceremony when he was nominated for Tender Mercies; he won that Oscar as well, this time for Best Original Screenplay.[3]

Presenters and performers

The following individuals, listed in order of appearance, presented awards or performed musical numbers.


Name Role
Simms, HankHank Simms Announcer of the 56th Academy Awards
Allen, GeneGene Allen (AMPAS President) Gave opening remarks welcoming guests to the awards ceremony
Hutton, TimothyTimothy Hutton
Mary Tyler Moore
Presenters of the award for Best Supporting Actor
Bacon, KevinKevin Bacon
Daryl Hannah
Presenters of the award for Best Sound Editing
Alexander, JaneJane Alexander
Michael Caine
Presenters of the Short Subjects Awards
Collins, JoanJoan Collins
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Presenters of the Technical Achievement Awards
Wise, RobertRobert Wise Presenter of the award for Best Film Editing
Brinkley, ChristieChristie Brinkley
Michael Keaton
Presenters of the award for Best Sound Mixing
Franciosa, AnthonyAnthony Franciosa
Joanna Pacula
Presenters of the award for Best Cinematography
Gavin, JohnJohn Gavin
Jack Valenti
Presenters of the award for Best Foreign Language Film
Palance, HollyHolly Palance
Jack Palance
Presenters of the Documentary Awards
Cheech and Chong, Cheech and Chong Presenters of the award for Best Visual Effects
Tune, TommyTommy Tune
Presenters of the award for Best Costume Design
Montalban, RicardoRicardo Montalban
Jane Powell
Presenters of the award for Best Art Direction
Beals, JenniferJennifer Beals
Matthew Broderick
Presenters of the award for Best Original Song
Bolger, RayRay Bolger
Gene Kelly
Presenters of the award for Best Original Score
Diamond, NeilNeil Diamond Presenter of the award for Best Adapted Score
Cannon, DyanDyan Cannon
Gene Hackman
Presenters of the award for Best Supporting Actress
Gibson, MelMel Gibson
Sissy Spacek
Presenters of the Writing Awards
Sinatra, FrankFrank Sinatra Presenter of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to M. J. Frankovich
Attenborough, RichardRichard Attenborough Presenter of the award for Best Director
Cooper, JackieJackie Cooper
George McFarland
Presenters of the Honorary Award to Hal Roach
Parton, DollyDolly Parton
Sylvester Stallone
Presenters of the award for Best Actor
Hudson, RockRock Hudson
Liza Minnelli
Presenters of the award for Best Actress
Capra, FrankFrank Capra Presenter of the award for Best Picture


Name Role Performed
Jones, QuincyQuincy Jones Musical arranger
Cara, IreneIrene Cara
The National Dance Institute
Performers "Flashdance... What a Feeling" from Flashdance
Alpert, HerbHerb Alpert
Lani Hall
Performers "Maniac" from Flashdance
Davis, MacMac Davis Performer "Over You" from Tender Mercies
Summer, DonnaDonna Summer Performer "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl
Holliday, JenniferJennifer Holliday Performer "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl
Davis Jr., SammySammy Davis Jr.
Liza Minnelli
Performers "There's No Business Like Show Business"

Multiple nominations and awards

These films had multiple nominations:

  • 11 nominations: Terms of Endearment
  • 8 nominations: The Right Stuff
  • 6 nominations: Fanny and Alexander
  • 5 nominations: The Dresser, Return of the Jedi, Silkwood, Tender Mercies, Yentl
  • 4 nominations: Cross Creek, Flashdance
  • 3 nominations: The Big Chill, Educating Rita, WarGames
  • 2 nominations: Reuben, Reuben; Zelig

The following films received multiple awards.

  • 5 wins: Terms of Endearment
  • 4 wins: Fanny and Alexander, The Right Stuff
  • 2 wins: Tender Mercies

See also


External links

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