Steve James's Hoop Dreams (1994) was widely considered to be a foregone conclusion to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. But despite the astonishing critical and box office success, the movie didn't receive a nomination for Best Documentary Feature; it received only one for Best Editing. The outcry over the snub led to an investigation by the Academy into the screening practices by the documentary branch and it was discovered that the voters were taking a show of hands to see who wanted to turn the film off after a few minutes. It was also discovered that those at the screening turned Hoop Dreams (1994) off after 15 minutes. The following year, the Academy instituted a rule that those attending screenings had to sit through the entire film or have their right to vote revoked.

Host David Letterman pre-recorded a sequence in which he talked to New York cab drivers about the movies, and another which featured gag auditions by various celebrities for his recent cameo in the film Cabin Boy (1994).

Of the 20 actor nominated, Paul Scofield and Rosemary Harris were the only ones not in attendance.

Tom Hanks became the second male actor to win back to back Oscars with Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994). The first one was Spencer Tracy in 1938. Luise Rainer and Jason Robards have achieved the same record in the Best Actress and in the Best Supporting Actor categories respectively.