Winner: The English Patient
If only Fargo had come out in Oscar season instead of 8-9 months earlier. I have no doubt that the Coen brothers would have Oscars already. Oh...wait. They do. Well, for Best Picture then. I am a fan of The English Patient. Although I do agree to a point that the title can substitute as a description of a Brit who likes this film. But Fargo was such a unique experience. Funny and even chilling at times. It's not likely the Coens' will do any better than this.
Oh, God, where do I start? Braveheart had no business winning ANY award, much less the top prizes. It's crap. It has one or two decent moments, but it's crap. And that was such a good year too. Dead Man Walking missed the cut. So did Leaving Las Vegas. And if you want to look at lasting impact, how about Toy Story and The Usual Suspects? Not to mention the other films that DID get nominated, Apollo 13, Sense and Sensibility and, of course, Babe. Unusual does not begin to describe it. But saying it's an ordinary film told in an extraordinary way does. Wonderous is the first word that comes to mind and if the Academy would have opened its eyes that a universal message picture about a talking pig shouldn't be written off as a kiddie movie, it could've won against films like Il Postino.
Winner: Forrest Gump
Deserver: Toss up
Who would have thunk it? A little more than ten years later and the most beloved film of the nominees from 1994 is....The Shawshank Redemption? I saw Shawshank opening day, first showing. I couldn't wait and I loved every moment of that film. And then sat in utter shock after seeing it open in TENTH place at the box office. Duds don't win Best Picture, usually. Which is why could've ruled out Quiz Show as well. A dynamite film, but just missed that extra added who-knows. Four Weddings? You can wipe my butt with that movie. Which leaves probably the most influential film since Star Wars. Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. So influential that it has lost a ton of its impact from being copied so often.
Winner: Schindler's List
Deserver: Schindler's List
It's odd to look back and think about what year that was for Spielberg. People tend not to remember where his career was at that point. He hadn't had a non-Indian Jones hit since E.T. And then came Jurassic Park. And Steven was back on top of the box office. Little did we know what would hit later that year. Certainly not something as gut-wrenching and powerful as Schindler.
Deserver: The Crying Game
I will always argue, probably because I'm a writer, that the Best Picture is usually won in the Original Screenplay category. This year was a perfect example. Unforgiven is tremendous. My favorite Western of all-time. But The Crying Game was something special. On a personal note, it has the distinction of being the film I have seen the most times in the theater. Even knowing "the surprise", I just loved that film. So, rather than make the logical argument, let me just chalk this up as a personal preference rather than make the futile argument why I feel it's better. At least Scent of a Woman did not win, as it had at the Golden Globes.
Winner: The Silence of the Lambs
Deserver: The Silence of the Lambs
No twist endings. Nothing really that exceptional, from a story standpoint, about the film. And yet, there is something really remarkable about it. Everything is so matter-of-fact. It lays it out there and we just suck it right in. Deserving of every Oscar it won, although Anthony Hopkins had no business being in the lead category. But if he had been, Nick Nolte might have an Oscar and we never would've seen Jack Palance and the one arm pushups.
Winner: Dances with Wolves
Yeah. I was kidding in the previous blog. But only only the merits of the release versions. Both films run too long. Goodfellas is more painful because of how strong it is earlier in the film. Where as, Dances with Wolves works better when it's longer. The four-hour extended edition is even better than the original. So many of the side stories are fleshed out, whereas in the origunal version, they just felt like little asides. Goodfellas on the other had, it brilliant right up until they kill off Joe Pesci.
Winner: Driving Miss Daisy
Deserver: Driving Miss Daisy
I'm really not sure what the beef exactly is with Daisy's win over Born on the Fourth of July. Is it the lack of a directing nomination for Bruce Beresford? The lack of "epic" quality? The fact that it's a comedy? I don't know. But if seriousness is an issues, how about Daisy's Pulitzer Prize win? How about the fact that the film greatly expands on a 3-person play? Or how about the fact that it is just one terrific character study? Driving Miss Daisy is about good as it gets and totally deserved its win.
Winner: Rain Man
Deserver: Rain Man
I'll tell you right up front my own personal bias towards this film. Two children with autism. Before then, I didn't care much for the film. I just didn't buy it. But seeing what a autistic person is like on a daily basis, it became shocking to me the attention to detail in it. And then I started to believe it. Whereas before, I didn't quite believe Hoffman's performance, now I see him completely disappear. The other films nominated that year were okay. Working Girl is fluff. Mississippi Burning should work, but doesn't. If it did, it would've won over Rain Man. The Accidental Tourist didn't belong in this group. A Fish Called Wanda was more deserving. I'll admit, I've never seen the film Dangerous Liaisons, mainly because I didn't like the play. Although seeing Donna Mills in the Glenn Close role might've had something to do with it.
Winner: The Last Emperor
Deserver: The Last Emperor
I didn't see Bertolucci's masterpiece until about 5 years ago. It just didn't seem like the kind of film I just had to see. So I plopped down on the couch one afternoon and watched it. Completely blown away. The very critic-like phrase of "masterful epic" comes immediately to mind. I sat there transfixed for 3 hours, losing all my bitterness and certainty that Broadcast News was the real Best Picture of that year. Just a superb film.
Up next: 1977-1986
Why couldn't the Academy get ANYTHING right for most of the 80s? Woody Allen or Oliver Stone? Was 1985 the single worst year for Best Picture nominees? Amadeus vs. 4 Salieris. Man in diaper or cuddly alien? How about neither? Man running for his country or man running from 2 ton boulder? Raging Bull or raging menopausal mother? How on earth do you choose from the 1979 slate? Soldiers in Vietnam or out of Vietnam and why the hell is Beatty nominated? Woody Allen or George Lucas?