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‘Titanic’ Could Make Oscars History

March 23, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The makers of ``Titanic″ looked for a night to remember at the Academy Awards on Monday, with the $200 million disaster epic a contender to replace ``Ben Hur″ as the biggest Oscar winner ever.

The three-hour romance set on the doomed luxury liner has already smashed box office records, overtaking ``Jurassic Park″ as the biggest moneymaker in movie history, with more than $1.1 billion. It has also been No. 1 at the U.S. box office for an unprecedented 14th weekend in a row.

``Ben Hur″ won 11 Oscars in 1959. ``Titanic″ went into the evening with 14 nominations, tying the record set by 1950′s ``All About Eve.″

The other contenders for best picture at the 70th Academy Awards were:

_ ``L.A. Confidential,″ a film noir starring Kevin Spacey as a cop in 1950s Los Angeles.

_ ``As Good as It Gets,″ a romance between a misanthrope, played by Jack Nicholson, and a working mother, played by Helen Hunt.

_ ``Good Will Hunting,″ starring Matt Damon as a working-class genius.

_ ``The Full Monty,″ a comedy about laid-off British factory workers who form a male stripper act. The film was made for a mere $3.5 million with a cast unknown to American audiences.

Individual favorites included Nicholson for best actor; Helena Bonham Carter of ``The Wings of the Dove,″ for best actress; Burt Reynolds of ``Boogie Nights,″ for best supporting actor; and Gloria Stuart of ``Titanic″ for best supporting actress.

Billy Crystal had the duty of keeping the three-hour-plus show on course. After a three-year absence, he resumed as emcee last year with terrific results.

This year’s Oscar pageant was a celebration of comebacks, with a batch of nominees who had been largely forgotten, including Peter Fonda, Julie Christie, Robert Forster and the 87-year-old Miss Stuart.

The nostalgia theme extended to the ceremony’s invitation list. The Academy invited every living winner of the supporting and lead acting awards.

The worldwide TV audience was projected at 1 billion. The ratings were expected to be up over last year’s disappointing numbers, largely because of the monster draw of ``Titanic,″ which has made nearly $500 million in North America.

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