And, in a stunning upset, 11-year-old Anna Paquin won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as the daughter of a mail-order bride in Jane Campion's "The Piano."
Ms. Paquin's eyes lit up with amazement when she heard her name. The actress, who said earlier she had not prepared a speech because she doubted she would win, gasped for breath and stood trembling for a few seconds after being handed her statuette, then rushed through a series of "thank yous." She is the youngest Oscar winner since 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal won in the same category for "Paper Moon" 20 years ago.
Jones appeared under a gleaming dome and then announced to a stunned world: "I am not bald. I am working." He went on to thank star Harrison Ford as a man who "needs no support" and director Andy Davis, who was not nominated, despite the fact the film was a Best Picture contender.
The Supporting Actor category was one of the few in which a non-"Schindler's List" employee was given a chance at winning. Jones defeated Ralph Fiennes, who played the evil German SS officer Amon Goeth in the Steven Spielberg Holocaust epic. But the win was by no means an upset.
Earlier, "Schindler's List" won the first of many anticipated Oscars when Allan Starski and Ewa Braun were given the Academy Award for Art Direction.
Meanwhile, "Jurassic Park" began a mini-sweep of technical awards; the eerily convincing dinosaur epic, which was also directed by Spielberg and has gone on to become the most successful movie ever made, won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for its prancing, terrifying thunder lizards. In a novelty acceptance, the four recipients comically yakked over each other in an orgy of thank yous; it was funnier than most of host Whoopi Goldberg's tired jokes. The dinosaur picture also won for Best Sound Effects and for Best Sound. One of the evening's most sentimental moments arrived when Glenn Close presented honorary Oscar to Deborah Kerr, the classy British actress who defined good taste in the '50s and '60s.
Following a montage of her most memorable scenes, Miss Kerr strolled majestically on stage and seemed to stumble through three thank yous.
Then she said, honestly, "I've never been so frightened in all my life. But I feel better now because I know I'm among friends."
Her past Academy nominations have included "From Here to Eternity," "The King and I," "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" and "The Sundowners," but Monday night's honor was her first Oscar.
Three makeup artists who transformed Robin Williams into "Mrs. Doubtfire" won for that astonishing transformation; the category was another where the winners triumphed over the Spielberg epic of the Holocaust.
"Schindler's List" was the heavy favorite to bring him honors for best picture and as top director. Those prizes have eluded him over the years, although he was nominated for directing "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," and for producing "E.T." and "The Color Purple."
Holly Hunter, the mute mail-order bride of "The Piano," appeared the favorite for best actress.
Tom Hanks, a lawyer with AIDS in "Philadelphia," was considered the front-runner for best actor. But a landslide for "Schindler's List" could place the Oscar in the hands of Liam Neeson, who portrayed the savior of more than 1,000 Polish Jews during World War II.
The ceremonies were being held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a day after a strong aftershock to the Jan. 17 Northridge quake shook the auditorium, but leaving no apparent damage.
Whoopi Goldberg was host, succeeding Billy Crystal, who declined to return after four years.
The list of presenters could fulfill the needs for any studio's annual product. They included past winners Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Geena Davis, Goldie Hawn, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, as well as Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Glenn Close, Elijah Wood, Johnny Depp, Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin.
This year's theme was the people behind the camera. A special feature was a ballet to music from the nominated scores.
Two stellar awards already have been announced: Paul Newman, whose salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other food products benefit a variety of charities, is the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Long overlooked for the best actor Oscar, Newman received an honorary award in 1986 for a career that included such films as TTC "Hud," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "The Hustler." The following year, he was named best actor for "The Color of Money," the
sequel to "The Hustler."
Three technical Oscars were presented in earlier ceremonies to Panavision Inc. for lens development, Manfred G. Michelson of Technical Film Systems Inc. for film processor development and Petro Vlahos for his technical contributions to the motion picture industry.