The blogathon masters Paula, Kellee, and Aurora are at it again. They’ve come up with the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Their blogging goal is to get down in writing any and everything on the subject of film and Oscar for those wishing to participate. The following is my blathering contribution.
We’re less than a week to Oscar’s big night. And it’s building. Don’t you feel it? What’s going to come out of those envelopes? Who’s going to make everyone watching stand up and cheer with the result? Pulses everywhere spike just hearing,
“and the oscar goes to…“
Then it goes to what’s-her-name. Or him (also thunderstruck with the news), sitting right over there. And we all have to live with it. Some of us not quietly…
With that, this is the next part in my series for the run-up to Oscar Night. What I’d righteously overturn within each of the decades I’ve been watching movies. Oscar’s misjudgments. We’ll turn it back to the laden 90s’ today. Drum roll, please:
1990 Best Director
For the second decade in a row, Oscar had to go right off the rails with a biggie for the start of it all. And by coincidence they once again snatched the statuette from the same filmmaker. Why is it ten years later the mighty Academy had another actor-turned-director beating Martin Scorsese for this award? I’m not going to put down Kevin Costner for the film he directed here. But just because Dances With Wolves was nowhere near the vicinity of Waterworld or The Postman, means I’m not lauding it either. Not by a long shot. Every evaluation since that fateful night by moviegoers, fans, and critics, Goodfellas has only grown in admiration. It was an exceptional film by one at the height of his prowess, and Scorsese really deserved this. Unfortunately, this and the next pick echoed throughout the decade.
1990 Best Picture
Re-read the above paragraph. It really came down to only two pictures that year. As a longtime Western fan, it was great to see the genre represented here with Dances With Wolves. But this really should have gone to Goodfellas.
1992 Best Actor
You may recall that I thought Al Pacino should have won this for his Godfather Part II performance, or the handful of his earlier roles. But this was the classic make-up call by The Academy for selecting his role in Scent of a Woman. The outcome of which only encouraged Al’s bad tendencies and excesses. Who really earned this? Denzel Washington for Malcolm X. It was a singular, significant performance that should have been recognized at this moment. Then things could have been different… but I’m getting ahead of myself. In a word, making award amends merely perpetuates bad choices, folks.
1993 Best Actor
I like Tom Hanks. I really do. He was very good in Philadelphia. However, I daresay Liam Neeson was the better actor that year in his role as Oskar Schindler. In a much stronger movie, too, which Schindler’s List surely was. For me, Liam’s was the key contribution in the most substantial, powerful film in this span. And he still managed to stand out in a production filled with great acting efforts all around. I’ll stand by this reversal to my dying day.
1994 Best Picture
“I want that trophy, so dance good.”
I’ve enjoyed a number of films by director Zemeckis, Forrest Gump among them (some of his later work is a bit iffy, though). However, again, I feel the members of the Academy played it too safe and ignored the true best picture for ’94. I hate the cop-out, but it’s a tie. I can’t pick between them. Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Tarantino’s second film was unexpectedly edgy, trippy, absolutely provocative and bloody good fun. Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s wonderful novella was sheer perfection, in my mind. Gump had some good aspects, don’t get me wrong. Having said that, both of these were better.
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.“
1996 Best Picture
I can’t tell you how much The English Patient frustrated the Hell out of me. Still drives me crazy. The film had far too many ‘why are the characters doing that?’ moments for my taste. Without question, it was this decade’s Out of Africa for me. So, I would have awarded what should have been their first Best Picture trophy to the quirky Coen Brothers and their unconventional film, Fargo.
1996 Best Director
Should be no surprise that I’d pick Fargo‘s Joel Coen for this award over Anthony Minghella. God, The English Patient movie grates on me. Move on, people. Nothing to see here.
1997 Best Actress
Remember Art upsetting Al back in the 70s? Similar happened here. Helen Hunt over Judi Dench? Helen Hunt?!? The only thing I appreciated was what her As Good as It Gets character said about HMOs. But, come on! Yeah, yeah the Academy made up for this the very next year with the 1998 Best Supporting Actress to Dame Judi. Typical. Regardless, the Best Actress award this year should have gone to Skyfall‘s M for Mrs. Brown.
1997 Best Picture
Funny thing, though. Still and all, I’d award James Cameron the director’s award for what he achieved with his film. I know, I know.
I’ll admit it, here and now, at the time I wanted Titanic to win. But, Curtis Hanson’s film adaptation of L.A. Confidential remained much-loved. Alas, the romance couldn’t last with the former. Over the years, I can count the instances on one hand I’ve re-watched Titanic since. And L.A. Confidential? I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve re-screened the most outstanding neo-noir of the era — it’s annual viewing in my house. Sometimes more than once in a year. I’d rectify the mistake for the Academy and myself. Bud, Jack, Edmund and company without a doubt should have won this award that year. Oh, and by the way, “Hush, hush.”
1998 Best Picture
Great marketing by the Weinsteins’ should not trump good filmmaking. Period. While it may have had a formidable Judi Dench for supporting, and some clever writing and dialogue, Shakespeare in Love was not this. That honor belonged to Saving Private Ryan. Though, the film was not without its faults. The bookends being the weakest of the film — but that Normandy landing sequence alone made up for that, in spades. I’d still pick this today.
Now we’ll put the 90s out of its misery by setting the last slip-ups right…
1999 Best Supporting Actor
I love Michael Caine. Versatile. Talented. British. He may have even been the best part of that annoying Cider House movie. Just don’t get me started on that New England accent of his. I don’t even live in the area, but even I knew it was crap. For all that, the best supporting actor that year, bar none, was an extraordinary 9-year old. Haley Joel Osment of The Sixth Sense. Too many forget the kid was pretty damn remarkable in this role that year. No question.
1999 Best Actor
Crowe was also robbed of a ’97 acting nomination for L.A. Confidential.
Kevin Spacey’s unique acting talents were justly rewarded in 1995 for The Usual Suspects. Wouldn’t change a thing there. But making him a double Oscar winner for American Beauty was not only mistaken, but wrong. Doubly so. Russell Crowe’s performance was head and shoulders above them all in 1999 for Michael Mann’s The Insider.
1999 Best Picture
One could say both are unique films. Still, American Beauty remains in ‘the love it or hate it’ category. I’m guessing you already know where it lands for me. I even re-screened the film last weekend to give it another appraisal for this series. Nothing changed. The Academy historically loathes giving its highest to popular films, or even those outside the realm of dramas. But the best that year was the totally unexpected, unusually touching, and decidedly super-natural, The Sixth Sense.
1999 Best Director
No shock then for this. M. Night Shyamalan deserved the directing honors for his work with The Sixth Sense. It may have spoilt his and our expectations going forward, however. Regardless, he deserved it (but let’s not speak of what he’s done lately). Sorry, Sam Mendes. You were really and royally robbed by the Academy this year. Best Director and Picture nominations should have happened for Skyfall. No doubt whatsoever. Yet, this unfortunate result may well have roots back to this decade. An odd make up call in the negative for the last of the 90s sad selections. Told you these never work out. American Beauty continues to be a tiresome film. History has not be kind to this winner, either. The film simply was not as smart as fans claimed it to be. There, I said it.