1989 Oscars 61st Academy Awards

1989 Oscars 61st Academy Awards

  • Winners Announced: Wednesday, March 29, 1989
  • Held at: Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California
  • Host: no one
  • Eligibility Year: 1988


  • No Host, No Problem: This was one of the rare occasions where the Oscars had no host. Instead, the ceremony opened with an infamous musical number featuring Rob Lowe and Snow White.
  • Rain Man Rains Supreme: Rain Man dominated the awards, scooping up Best Picture, Best Director for Barry Levinson, and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman.
  • Wacky Wednesday: Unlike the traditional Sunday ceremony, the 61st Oscars took place on a Wednesday, breaking with tradition.
  • Firsts for Animation: Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit won three technical Oscars and also received a Special Achievement Award, marking an impressive year for animation.
  • Best Actress Upset: Jodie Foster won Best Actress for her role in The Accused, surprising many who had thought that Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons was a shoo-in.
  • Historic Cinematography: Peter Biziou won Best Cinematography for Mississippi Burning, a film focusing on racial tensions in the American South.
  • Musical Notes: Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” from Working Girl won Best Original Song, making it the first and only Oscar-winning song to also win a Grammy and a Golden Globe for Best Song.
  • Documentary Excellence: The French documentary Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie won Best Documentary Feature, spotlighting the life of the infamous Nazi war criminal.
  • This broadcast is noted for being the final public appearance of actress Lucille Ball, who died a few weeks later.

1989 Oscar Nominees and Winners

Best Picture:
Rain Man – Mark Johnson, producer (WINNER)
The Accidental Tourist – Lawrence Kasdan, Charles Okun and Michael Grillo, producers
Dangerous Liaisons – Norma Heyman and Hank Moonjean, producers
Mississippi Burning – Frederick Zollo and Robert F. Colesberry, producers
Working Girl – Douglas Wick, producer
Best Director:
Barry Levinson – Rain Man (WINNER)
Charles Crichton – A Fish Called Wanda
Martin Scorsese – The Last Temptation of Christ
Alan Parker – Mississippi Burning
Mike Nichols – Working Girl
Best Actor:
Dustin Hoffman – Rain Man as Raymond Babbit (WINNER)
Gene Hackman – Mississippi Burning as Agent Rupert Anderson
Tom Hanks – Big as Josh Baskin
Edward James Olmos – Stand and Deliver as Jaime Escalante
Max von Sydow – Pelle the Conqueror as Lassefar
Best Actress:
Jodie Foster – The Accused as Sarah Tobias (WINNER)
Glenn Close – Dangerous Liaisons as Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil
Melanie Griffith – Working Girl as Tess McGill
Meryl Streep – A Cry in the Dark as Lindy Chamberlain
Sigourney Weaver – Gorillas in the Mist as Dian Fossey
Best Supporting Actor:
Kevin Kline – A Fish Called Wanda as Otto West (WINNER)
Alec Guinness – Little Dorrit as William Dorrit
Martin Landau-Tucker: The Man and His Dream as Abe Karatz
River Phoenix – Running on Empty as Danny Pope
Dean Stockwell – Married to the Mob as Tony “The Tiger” Russo
Best Supporting Actress:
Geena Davis – The Accidental Tourist as Muriel Pritchett (WINNER)
Joan Cusack – Working Girl as Cyn
Frances McDormand – Mississippi Burning as Mrs. Pell
Michelle Pfeiffer – Dangerous Liaisons as Madame Marie de Tourvel
Sigourney Weaver – Working Girl as Katharine Parker
Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen:
Rain Man – Screenplay by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow; Story by Barry Morrow (WINNER)
Big – Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg
Bull Durham – Ron Shelton
A Fish Called Wanda – Screenplay by John Cleese; Story by John Cleese and Charles Crichton
Running on Empty – Naomi Foner
Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium:
Dangerous Liaisons – Christopher Hampton based on the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton and the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (WINNER)
The Accidental Tourist – Frank Galati and Lawrence Kasdan based on the novel by Anne Tyler
Gorillas in the Mist – Screenplay by Anna Hamilton Phelan; Story by Anna Hamilton Phelan and Tab Murphy based on articles by Harold T.P. Hayes and Alex Shoumatoff
Little Dorrit – Christine Edzard based on the novel by Charles Dickens
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Jean-Claude Carrière and Philip Kaufman based on the novel by Milan Kundera
Best Foreign Language Film:
Pelle the Conqueror (Denmark) in Danish – Bille August (WINNER)
Hanussen (Hungary) in Hungarian – István Szabó
The Music Teacher (Belgium) in French – Gérard Corbiau
Salaam Bombay! (India) Hindi – Mira Nair
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Spain) in Spanish – Pedro Almodóvar
Best Documentary Feature:
Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie – Marcel Ophuls (WINNER)
The Cry of Reason: Beyers Naude – An Afrikaner Speaks Out – Robert Bilheimer and Ronald Mix
Let’s Get Lost – Bruce Weber and Nan Bush
Promises to Keep – Ginny Durrin
Who Killed Vincent Chin? – Renee Tajima and Christine Choy
Best Documentary Short Subject:
You Don’t Have to Die – William Guttentag and Malcolm Clarke (WINNER)
The Children’s Storefront – Karen Goodman
Family Gathering – Lise Yasui and Ann Tegnell
Gang Cops – Thomas B. Fleming and Daniel J. Marks
Portrait of Imogen – Nancy Hale and Meg Partridge
Best Live Action Short Film:
The Appointments of Dennis Jennings – Dean Parisot and Steven Wright (WINNER)
Cadillac Dreams – Matia Karrell and Abbee Goldstein
Gullah Tales – George deGolian and Gary Moss
Best Animated Short Film:
Tin Toy – John Lasseter and William Reeves (WINNER)
The Cat Came Back – Cordell Barker
Technological Threat – Bill Kroyer and Brian Jennings
Best Original Score:
The Milagro Beanfield War – Dave Grusin (WINNER)
The Accidental Tourist – John Williams
Dangerous Liaisons – George Fenton
Gorillas in the Mist – Maurice Jarre
Rain Man – Hans Zimmer
Best Original Song:
“Let the River Run” from Working Girl – Music and Lyrics by Carly Simon (WINNER)
“Calling You” from Bagdad Cafe – Music and Lyrics by Bob Telson
“Two Hearts” from Buster – Music by Lamont Dozier; Lyrics by Phil Collins
Best Sound:
Bird – Les Fresholtz, Dick Alexander, Vern Poore, and Willie D. Burton (WINNER)
Die Hard – Don Bassman, Kevin F. Cleary, Richard Overton, and Al Overton Jr.
Gorillas in the Mist – Andy Nelson, Brian Saunders, and Peter Handford
Mississippi Burning – Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Rick Kline, and Danny Michael
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Robert Knudson, John Boyd, Don Digirolamo, and Tony Dawe
Best Sound Effects Editing:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Charles L. Campbell and Louis Edemann (WINNER)
Die Hard – Stephen Hunter Flick and Richard Shorr
Willow – Ben Burtt and Richard Hymns
Best Art Direction:
Dangerous Liaisons – Art Direction: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Gérard James (WINNER)
Beaches – Art Direction: Albert Brenner; Set Decoration: Garrett Lewis
Rain Man – Art Direction: Ida Random; Set Decoration: Linda DeScenna
Tucker: The Man and His Dream – Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis; Set Decoration: Armin Ganz
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Art Direction: Elliot Scott; Set Decoration: Peter Howitt
Best Makeup:
Beetlejuice – Ve Neill, Steve La Porte, and Robert Short (WINNER)
Coming to America – Rick Baker
Scrooged – Tom Burman and Bari Dreiband-Burman
Best Costume Design:
Dangerous Liaisons – James Acheson (WINNER)
Coming to America – Deborah Nadoolman Landis
A Handful of Dust – Jane Robinson
Sunset – Patricia Norris
Tucker: The Man and His Dream – Milena Canonero
Best Cinematography:
Mississippi Burning – Peter Biziou (WINNER)
Rain Man – John Seale
Tequila Sunrise – Conrad Hall
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Sven Nykvist
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Dean Cundey
Best Film Editing:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Arthur Schmidt (WINNER)
Die Hard – Frank J. Urioste and John F. Link
Gorillas in the Mist – Stuart Baird
Mississippi Burning – Gerry Hambling
Rain Man – Stu Linder
Best Visual Effects:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Ken Ralston, Richard Williams, Ed Jones, and George Gibbs (WINNER)
Die Hard – Richard Edlund, Al DiSarro, Brent Boates, and Thaine Morris
Willow – Dennis Muren, Michael J. McAlister, Phil Tippett, and Chris Evans
Academy Honorary Awards::
National Film Board of Canada
Eastman Kodak Company
Special Achievement Award:
Richard Williams “For the animation direction of Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.