Where did that one come from? Unsuspectingly, from Australia.
There were a number of brilliant comedies released during the year, but once Babe showed up it was game over. Not only did the film capture the hearts of the Foreign Press and the public, but even the snooty National Society of Film Critics gave it its Best Film award.
Unfortunately it was a one-trick wonder for its director Chris Noonan; but on the other hand, it became a calling card for James Cromwell who for years had toiled in guest roles on TV. Before Babe, he was known as the son of John Cromwell, Selznick’s go-to director in the 30s. After Babe, he became one of Hollywood’s most respected actors.
The plot of the film was simple. Babe, an orphaned talking pig, lives a bucolic existence on Farmer Hoggett's farm but her aspirations are higher and she ends up winning a sheepherding contest. So what was so magical about the film? It’s humanity. As one critic put it, “It's a delight from start to finish, which will captivate children and melt the heart of even the grumpiest adult.”
Ironically the film, produced by George Miller of Mad Max fame, didn’t happen overnight. It was in development seven years. Made at a cost of $30 million, it eventually grossed $250 million worldwide. A sequel, Babe: Pig in the City , was not as successful.
Other nominees for Best Musical or Comedy that year were The American President, Get Shorty, Sabrina and Toy Story, all well received. Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy was John Travolta in Get Shorty. Competing against him were Michael Douglas in The American President, Harrison Ford in Sabrina, Steve Martin in Father of the Bride Part II and Patrick Swayze in To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy was Nicole Kidman for To Die For. Her competition: Annette Bening, The American President, Sandra Bullock, While You Were Sleeping, Toni Collette, Muriel’s Wedding and Vanessa Redgrave, A Month by the Lake. Two comedy performances were nominated in the supporting category, John Leguizamo for To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and Mira Sorvino for Mighty Aphrodite.
Sorvino was the winner, and she went on to win the Oscar as well.