1991 is a near perfect year, Oscar-wise. Were it not for one tiny shitty decision (and one upsetting one), the entire year would be flawless.
The Silence of the Lambs became only the third picture (after Cuckoo’s Nest and It Happened One Night, in not that order) to win the Big Five, i.e. Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Director (Jonathan Demme), and Best Screenplay (Ted Tally, in case you were interested). Rightfully so, too. It’s a perfect film. No one seemed to see it coming, since Bugsy was winning most of the awards that season, but, now, twenty years later, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Best Supporting Actress this year went to Mercedes Ruehl in one of those “best choice in a weak category” kind of deals. And Best Supporting Actor went to Jack Palance, which I talked about, in a decision that’s upsetting, but cool, since it’s Jack Palance. That’s the decision that’s upsetting, but the one I can live with.
The shitty decision I mentioned earlier was The Prince of Tides being the fifth Best Picture nominee. It’s clearly a terrible film, and the only reason it got on the list seems to be the fact that it’s a Barbra Streisand movie, and the Academy loves Babs about as much as the Hollywood Foreign Press loves Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. If the Academy had picked a better film as the fifth Best Picture nominee, like, say, Barton Fink, The Fisher King, Boyz N the Hood, or the most obvious choice (since it was nominated for Best Director in the Babs spot), Thelma and Louise, we’d have had that film, along with The Silence of the Lambs, Bugsy, JFK and Beauty and the Beast as the five nominees. How fucking great would that lineup have been? (Ooh, I kind of want to rank the Best Picture years now, based on how strong I think their nominees are. That’s getting done at the end of this Quest. Write that shit down.) So, in all a perfect year, since, they made all good decisions. But it’s like the little pockmark at the end of it that’s annoying because, one little fix and it would be perfect. (more…)
Let’s not waste time here. The Godfather won Best Picture, it was a great decision. A top three decision of all time. Coppola lost Best Director to Bob Fosse and Cabaret. Unacceptable for this year, acceptable for all time. No need to waste space on something we can all agree on. (We can agree, can’t we?)
Marlon Brando won Best Actor. Nuff said. Best Actress went to Liza Minnelli for Cabaret. Nuff said. Great decision. Best Supporting Actor — which I talked about very recently — was Joel Grey, also for Cabaret. To echo my sentiments in the article, unacceptable, but understandable how it happened. And Best Supporting Actress went to Eileen Heckart for Butterflies are Free. That was a very weak category, and is what it is. So, now, this one.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1972
And the nominees were…
John Boorman, Deliverance
Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather
Bob Fosse, Cabaret
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Sleuth
Jan Troell, The Emigrants (more…)
The thing I remember best about 1966 is that it’s one of, if not the only — double checking on this right now. Yes it is — it’s the only year in the history of the Academy (with five Best Picture nominees) where the Best Actor category matched up exactly with the Best Picture category. That is — all the Best Actor nominees were all the male leads of the five Best Picture nominees. No other category can boast that. There are a couple of fours, and 1964 has four matches and one repeat, but, the other nominee didn’t really have a male lead, so, 1966 will always be the only year (unless they go back to five nominees) where Best Actor matched Best Picture.
It also was a pretty good year overall, with A Man For All Seasons winning Best Picture, Paul Scofield winning Best Actor for it and Fred Zinnemann winning Best Director for it, and then every other award going to the other film that was just as great that year, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with Elizabeth Taylor winning Best Actress and Sandy Dennis winning Best Supporting Actress. The only other category that wasn’t won by either of those two films (but not for lack of trying), was this category, which is a pleasant little change up. Because who doesn’t love Walter Matthau?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1966
And the nominees were…
Mako, The Sand Pebbles
James Mason, Georgy Girl
Walter Matthau, The Fortune Cookie
George Segal, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Robert Shaw, A Man for All Seasons (more…)
Oh, 1982. A good year capped off by a boring Best Picture winner. Gandhi is many things — a great film, a terrific biopic on one of the most important men of the 20th century — but an interesting film it is not. It didn’t need to win Best Picture. It’s just too on-the-nose. Which, kind of what the 80s were for the Oscars — a boring decade. Think about it. How many interesting decisions did the Academy make in the 80s? Amadeus? Platoon? Rain Man? Terms of Endearment? Even the ones that won weren’t great decisions. At best they’d be strong films in other decades. So, I just count this as one in a long line of boring 80s choices.
Richard Attenborough winning Best Director this year was — well, I talked about it already. Recently too. Meryl Streep winning Best Actress was — well, I talked about that too. Jessica Lange winning Best Supporting Actress was a fine decision, and Lou Gossett Jr. winning Best Supporting Actor was — well, it was. Which leaves this category. The most interesting of all the categories this year. It’s tough talking about it. Because on the one hand, he played Gandhi. But on the other hand — well, is the other hand. It’s kind of a lose-lose.
BEST ACTOR – 1982
And the nominees were…
Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie
Ben Kingsley, Gandhi
Jack Lemmon, Missing
Paul Newman, The Verdict
Peter O’Toole, My Favorite Year (more…)
Still don’t know what to do with 1983. Or rather, how do you solve a problem like 1983? For the most part, 1983 is a boring year. Two of the five Best Picture nominees are pretty meh — The Dresser and Tender Mercies — one of them is amazing but was never going to win — The Big Chill — and then the other two…which do you pick? — Terms of Endearment and The Right Stuff. I love The Right Stuff, but, I don’t love it enough to call it a slam dunk Best Picture winner. And I love Terms of Endearment, but it’s also not quite a Best Picture winner even though it is. James L. Brooks also winning Best Director is kind of okay, and yet at the same time — I don’t know. I just don’t know what to do with this year.
Best Actor this year went to Robert Duvall, which — thank fucking god. The man was part of the biggest upset ever recorded in the Best Supporting Actor category in 1979 when he lost for Apocalypse Now. Interesting bit of fact about that whenever I get to it. But for now, even though the performance isn’t incredible (I actually compare it to Jeff Bridges’s Crazy Heart performance), the man deserved to win, so, we live with it. Best Actress this year went to Shirley MacLaine, which, also, fucking finally. That woman should have won 23 years before this. And I think she said that in her acceptance speech as well. Best Supporting Actor this year was Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment, because, why not? I think that was their reasoning. Why the fuck not? He was the big name in pretty weak category.
But, this year is very much a dead year for me because, the winners are clear cut, they’re not very interesting past — it’s about time — and the Best Picture choice is weak in terms of Best Picture choices, but, probably not a bad choice in terms of the nominees for this year. I’m pretty sure when the time comes it’ll be my vote, then again maybe not. I don’t know. It’s just — what do you do with a year like this? (more…)
1958 is a year — I think this is my first time talking about it since I’ve been writing these articles. I never really decided my feelings on the year as a whole. I agree with a lot of the decisions, but, for some reason this year just kind of feels like a blank to me.
Gigi won Best Picture, which is why it feels like a blank to most people. It wasn’t a terrible decision, mostly because the year itself didn’t really have a standout nominee. The Defiant Ones was also nominated, and that’s really the film that people can point to the best out of the other nominees and say it should have won, but both that and Gigi feel like films that, in most years, would be solid #2s. You know? I like them but, I just don’t see either of them as being winners. The other three nominees this year were Auntie Mame, which is a good film but kind of a bloated entry in the Best Picture nominees, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which is a great film but is very stagy and feels more like an “actors'” film more than a Best Picture winner, and Separate Tables, which is a solid film and a classy film, but not a Best Picture winner. So, this year is kind of a year of all fours without a solid five. That’s why I think it this year doesn’t really stand out among the really good ones.
As for the rest of the year, Best Actor went to David Niven for Separate Tables, which is more of a career achievement than anything. Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier probably split the vote for The Defiant Ones, Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — I don’t know, maybe he was too new to the industry to win over a veteran — and Spencer Tracy for The Old Man and the Sea, which is a Spencer Tracy nomination. So I guess that makes sense. Best Supporting Actor went to Burl Ives for The Big Country, which makes perfect sense, as he was great in that and great also in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this year (kind of strange he didn’t win for that, but, hey, a win’s a win). Best Supporting Actress went to Wendy Hiller for Separate Tables, which was a great opportunity to give a veteran an Oscar in a relatively weak category. And Best Director was Vincente Minnelli for Gigi, which was a perfect decision, since Minnelli deserved an Oscar and didn’t get one the other time he was nominated in 1951. So, that’s 1958. A good year but not a great year. One that might be unfairly swept under the rug because of an unflashy Best Picture decision. (more…)
1972 was The Godfather. So I think we all know just how good a year this was. (Note: Totally a coincidence with the Pic of the Day today.) Best Actor went to Brando. Simple and easy choice. Best Director went to Bob Fosse, which, is strange, yet, acceptable. The reason being, Coppola won for Part II, and, since the Academy really fucked up and awarded neither in 1979 (for whatever reason), they ended up both having one. So, even though Coppola lost for directing what many consider one of the top five or ten greatest movies ever made, it’s kind of acceptable if you don’t think about it too much.
Best Actress this year was Liza Minnelli for Cabaret, which is awesome, because she’s awesome and did a great job in the film (plus she was the only good choice. The others were way less interesting. Which leaves us with two categories — this one, which, well, I’ll get to that in a second, and Best Supporting Actress, which went to Eileen Heckart for Butterflies are Free. Personally, I think that category sucked, and there wasn’t really a clear cut winner, so, I count that as a blank. But, this category is a strange one, because, there are clearly three better choices, yet, they were all from the same film, which lead to a vote split. So, even if it’s upsetting that someone from The Godfather didn’t win, I do kind of get it. Because, look who the three were.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1972
And the nominees were…
Eddie Albert, The Heartbreak Kid
James Caan, The Godfather
Robert Duvall, The Godfather
Joel Grey, Cabaret
Al Pacino, The Godfather (more…)
1996 is one of the few dark spots of the 90s. After the terrible decision that was Dances With Wolves, we got a somewhat poor decision with Forrest Gump (based on the competition. I love the film, but, there were better choices), The English Patient here, and then the Shakespeare in Love choice (which is also kind of a competition choice). The two insanely glaring errors to me are Patient and Wolves, because, not only should they not have won, they aren’t even good films. Maybe it’s okay that Anthony Minghella won Best Director for The English Patient as well, but, it was still up against Fargo.
I guess what sort of saves 1996 from completely going under were the rest of the major categories. Or it might have made it worse, depending on where you fall. Frances McDormand as Best Actress is a good decision, since I’m glad they gave Fargo something, though there might have been (and probably were) better choices in the category. Juliette Binoche as Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient is a decision I haven’t fully made up my mind on, but I’m okay with it as far as, I like Juliette Binoche. Cuba Gooding Jr. as Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire is a decision I like a lot, mostly because I liked the character, but William H. Macy was also nominated for Fargo, so, there is a bit of complication there.
Oh, and to get it out of the way, I consider this category one of the worst decisions the Academy has made in the Best Actor category, ever. The reason for this is not because of who won, it’s what he won for and whether or not that performance was worthy of winning. And just to tell you — dude’s only on screen for like, fifteen minutes, so, he totally didn’t deserve it. And what makes it worse is the caliber of performances he did beat. That’s why, no matter how much I like Geoffrey Rush, this was a terrible decision. (more…)
I love 1956. This is a great year for Oscar films disguised under a bad cloud of what actually won. Around the World in 80 Days is considered (somewhat unfairly) as one of the worst Best Picture choices of all time. It’s a bad choice, but not that terrible. Yul Brynner as Best Actor for The King and I is a really bad choice, mostly because he’s nothing more than a supporting actor in the film. Ingrid Bergman as Best Actress for Anastasia (as I’ve talked about here) was a terrible decision. Anthony Quinn as Best Actor for Lust for Life was a mostly poor decision, but I haven’t yet fully decided my feelings on that one. And George Stevens as Best Director for Giant was the lone good decision this year. That’s about it. I love 1956. Back up in that other article, I listed all the great films that came out that year. That list about covers it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1956
And the nominees were…
Mildred Dunnock, Baby Doll
Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed
Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind
Mercedes McCambridge, Giant
Patty McCormack, The Bad Seed (more…)
We’re back at 1982. A boring year, for my money. I mean, Gandhi is Gandhi, but, also nominated this year were The Verdict, Tootsie and E.T. (and Missing, which — whatever). Those would have been way more interesting choices. Ben Kingsley for Best Actor for Gandhi was also good, but — Paul Newman was up for The Verdict. He hadn’t won one yet. But, whatever. This isn’t Best Actor. Best Actress, however, was Meryl Streep for Sophie’s Choice, which is one of the best choices they’ve ever made. I mean, come on. (I talked about that one here.) And then Best Supporting Actor was Lou Gossett Jr., for An Officer and a Gentleman, a category I haven’t decided how I feel about yet, and Best Supporting Actress was Jessica Lange for Tootsie, which, I also haven’t full decided upon yet. But I’ll probably get to it soon.
And that’s 1982, really. Mostly good decisions punctuated by a boring choice for Best Picture. Which then makes me feel pretty “meh” about this year as a whole, since, a year is summed up by its Best Picture winner in Oscar Town.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1982
And the nominees were…
Richard Attenborough, Gandhi
Sidney Lumet, The Verdict
Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot
Sydney Pollack, Tootsie
Steven Spielberg, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (more…)
1999. This is the last category from this year, right? I feel like I’ve done them all. Supporting Actress, yes — that was Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted. Director, yes — that was Sam Mendes for American Beauty. American Beauty also won Best Picture. Actor is here. Which leaves, Best Actress. I haven’t covered that yet. That was Hilary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry. And then Best Supporting Actor, which, I haven’t covered either. Really? It feels like this year is always coming up. Well, Supporting Actor was Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules.
What else do we need to cover here? Can we just get into it? Actually, let’s break this category down. I like how it’s structured. First, we have the veteran nomination. That’s Richard Farnsworth. Never really was one for the Academy, but is old and gives a fairly poignant performance. That’s all they need to nominate you. Then we have “actor’s” performance. Which is Sean Penn. That’s one where, he’s a dude who they know is completely dedicated to his work, and they saw what he could do in Dead Man Walking, and now have him on the radar. I feel like it’s, they makes them bridesmaids a few times until it’s their turn to be a bride. I really think that’s what it is. The Academy Awards are like marriage. Then the second time they win is either a marriage after a nasty divorce (the comeback) or the renewal of the vows. Oh, plus the Sean Penn one was a Woody Allen film. They’re just looking to nominate an actor in a Woody Allen film. Anyway, so there’s the veteran and then the actor who they’re sort of gearing up to win one one of these days. Then we have the other three. Here’s where I find it gets really interesting. (more…)
And now for one of my personal favorite years and individual categories of the entire Oscar Quest — Best Actress 1953. I posted a list the last time I covered 1953, of all the great films that came out this year. That list is why it’s one of my favorite years for movies. As for this category, there are three films on this list that I love dearly, two extremely so, with the other two being particularly strong as well, leading to a category that, while easy to separate in terms of how I’d rank them, is still one of the strongest I’ve personally seen.
As for the rest of the year, From Here to Eternity pretty much swept everything. While it might not have been my personal choice as Best Picture of the year, it’s still a very good film, and it’s understandable why it won. Fred Zinnemann also winning Best Director HAD TO happen. The reason for that is, one, he directed the hell out of the picture. Two, he didn’t win the year before this for High Noon, which is kind of a shame. Though, John Ford won for The Quiet Man instead, which was a good decision, but everyone acknowledges that High Noon lost all its awards (except the Gary Cooper one, because who’s gonna dispute Gary Cooper?) because it’s clearly an anti-HUAC film and it was a weird time in their lives. So him winning this year was virtually assured. Frank Sinatra won Best Supporting Actor for the film, which I’ve talked about, and Donna Reed won Best Supporting Actress for it as well. Which only leaves two categories: Best Actor, which was William Holden for Stalag 17 (most likely due to a vote split from dueling From Here to Eternity nominations), and this one, which I’ll get into forthwith.
BEST ACTRESS – 1953
And the nominees were…
Leslie Caron, Lili
Ava Gardner, Mogambo
Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday
Deborah Kerr, From Here to Eternity
Maggie McNamara, The Moon is Blue (more…)