The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1990
Hate me some 1990 real good. Dances with Wolves is one of the worst films to ever win Best Picture. It’s seriously just not a very good film at all. Goodfellas should have destroyed this year. Kevin Costner beating Martin Scorsese for Best Director (as I talked about here), is just laughable.
Then, the rest of the year isn’t that great either. Jeremy Irons wins Best Actor for Reversal of Fortune in one of the weakest Best Actor categories of all time. It was really bad. Then Kathy Bates won Best Actress for Misery, which I like as a decision (as I said here), especially considering the category. Then Whoopi Goldberg wins Best Supporting Actress for Ghost (which I talked about here), which is kind of a backhanded Oscar, since she really should have won for The Color Purple in 1985, and that fact is the only reason she got this Oscar. (It’s backhanded because she plays a (literal) magical negro in the film. The Academy are such dicks sometimes.)
Then, there’s this category, which for me is cut and dry and taken care of pretty easily. And I like that I can say that about one category in this god forsaken year. This is like the Desert of the Real in The Matrix — you look around like, “What happened?” And this category is that awesome red chair Morpheus sits in. That was a great chair.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1990
And the nominees were…
Bruce Davison, Longtime Companion
Andy Garcia, The Godfather Part III
Graham Greene, Dances with Wolves
Al Pacino, Dick Tracy
Joe Pesci, Goodfellas
Davison — Longtime Companion is one of those topical films that gets nominated because it’s topical. It’s about the whole AIDs outbreak that happened in the late 80s. The film is mostly an ensemble, dealing with a bunch of different gay men who are dealing with this disease. Some have it, some don’t, some try not to get it, some don’t believe in it. And we just follow them over the course of like two years and see what happens to them. And it’s not a bad film. I wasn’t particularly interested in it, but that’s just me. I’m not into this sort of stuff. This feels like gay melodrama. I’m always turned off by the all the way gay films, just because, I’m of the opinion that when you need to overly point out that the characters are gay (The Kids are All Right), and that itself becomes a big deal, you’ve already done something wrong. I feel like movies with gay characters need to be done exactly like movies with non-gay characters. Just because it’s an action movie or a superhero movie does not (from a non-studio perspective) preclude the characters from being gay. If Jason Bourne is gay, does it really change what happens in those films? James Bond — okay, maybe. Just because he’s a walking STD in and of himself. What I’m getting at is, I watch a film for the film and the fact that they’re all gay is irrelevant. I’m not gonna watch the movie differently because of it. And this film was a straight indie movie, with nothing happening. I know the AIDs and all, but — this was kind of tedious for me.
Anyway, Bruce Davison (aka the dude who played the Senator in the first X-Men) plays one of the gay men, and he’s basically there for the film, comes and goes, and has to watch his lover (and friends) die of AIDs. He doesn’t really do much, but I get why they needed to pick someone out for an award. So, that’s cool, I guess. He’s clearly my #5 here, though. I saw nothing in the performance that even merits consideration for a vote.
Garcia — It’s weird to believe this was Andy Garcia’s only Oscar nomination. And yet — not really. The dude doesn’t really do that many high profile films or take that many high profile roles. He is great here, though. And I like that, sort of, the memory of Santino Corleone lives on.
This — for those who haven’t seen it (and I suspect many haven’t. They just know it’s “the worst” of the three and haven’t seen it and just bash it anyway) — is actually the weakest of the Godfather films, but that’s precisely because it’s not a Godfather film. It’s main intent was to be “The Death of Michael Corleoene.” That’s what Coppola wanted to call it. Obviously the studio was like, “What are you, fucking high? But, the film isn’t about the crime as much as it is about Michael Corleone.
The film starts with him getting knighted or something by the pope, and there’s a big party (they all start with big parties). And there, he meets Andy Garcia, who is the illegitimate son of James Caan, Santino, from that woman he banged at the wedding in the first film. The one he was sleeping with on the side. And he’s trying to be a part of the family, and Pacino agrees to take him in. And then there’s this whole thing about Garcia falling for Pacino’s daughter (played by Sofia Coppola, who took a lot of heat for that performance), and there’s that weird incest thing going on, and then he’s also seeing Bridget Fonda, and then Pacino gets dragged back into the criminal thing because Joe Mantegna wants him involved in this thing. And basically, the film is about Pacino dealing with spiritually killing himself back when he had his brother killed, and sort of going through the motions.
He has that line, midway through, that’s like, “Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.” But he’s not really back in, here. Talia Shire is the one pulling most of the strings, and eventually Garcia takes over as Don of the family. And Pacino just sort of tries to redeem himself in the eyes of god. And then there’s the big killing montage, where Garcia has a bunch of people killed like Pacino did in the first film. But, the real climax of the film is where Pacino’s daughter is killed outside the opera at the end, which is where his world really comes crumbling down. And then we fast forward to him dying in a lawn chair outside, as an old man.
It’s not a bad film. Just, don’t compare it to the first two. It’s a different film. On its own, and as sort of a later sequel to the first two, it’s a really solid film. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, and it’s almost unfairly judged against those other two. Anyway, Garcia is solid here, and does a good job. He’s got that James Caan volatility (he bites Joe Mantegna’s ear in his first scene), and then does the Pacino thing where he takes over as head of the family. Solid role, but, not voting for him. Come on, now. Joe Pesci is up this year.
Greene — Yeah … this film…
Dances with Wolves is literally this: Kevin Costner gets hurt in battle. He rides in front of the enemy to get himself killed. He lives. They award him for bravery. They sent him out west to a cushy post. Out there, he meets Indians. He gets to know them. He makes friends with them. He becomes one of them. He fucks a woman who is white and was raised by the Indians. (Because, fucking a non-white woman? Oh no. What are we, savages?) He becomes one of them. Talks to them a lot. They go on a buffalo hunt. The white men come. They attack. They get Costner and are like, “Dude, you’re white. Go back home.” He goes back home, is sad that the Indians are gonna die out. The end. I shit you not, that’s the ENTIRE FILM!
Grahame Greene is the leader of the Indians. He’s the wise chief. He has things to say and says them in a calm and relaxed manner that evokes wisdom. He doesn’t have much to do here. Nobody does. The best two performances I can point out in this movie are Mary McDonnell and Maury Chaykin (him mostly because he shoots himself in the head early on, thereby saving himself the boredom of the next two hours). Greene — he’s there. Come on. Who you gonna vote for? Him or Joe Pesci?
Pacino — Al Pacino took a decade off from making films, had never won an Oscar (thereby making giving him a very high priority on the Academy’s to-do list, because they don’t know (theoretically) when he’s gonna stop for good), and this was the first nomination you give him? This is the “welcome back” nomination? Okay.
It’s not that the film is bad — it’s actually really great. The art direction and the color palette here are incredible and are likely to never be repeated (mostly because of CGI). the film is also very entertaining and is the closest anyone’s ever come (without CGI. And maybe even with) to creating a comic book on screen. Pacino plays Big Boy Caprice — a very over the top gangster and the antagonist of the film. Pacino really gets to have fun with this, and it shows. And that alone makes it awesome that he got on here. I, personally, refuse to vote for him because — here’s a dude that was Michael Corleone — twice (though, three times, this year) — Frank Serpico, Sonny Wortzik — and you’re gonna give the man his first Oscar for playing Big Boy Caprice? You see what I mean? He does a great job and all, but — you can’t vote for him for this.
Also, honorable mention to Dustin Hoffman. Him as Mumbles in this film is amazing and almost no one will recognize him.
Pesci — Is there anyone that will disagree with this one?
Also, it’s Goodfellas. You should have seen it by now. And if you need me to talk about it here, it’s your own damn fault. Just watch this scene (which Pesci directed himself) and know that this is one of the best decisions of all time in this category (if you’ve seen the film there’s no way you disagree with that):
My Thoughts: Is there any dispute here? It’s Pesci all the way.
My Vote: Pesci
Should Have Won: Pesci
Is the result acceptable?: Probably a top five decision of all time in this category. Plus, it’s Joe Pesci. Of course it’s acceptable.
Performances I suggest you see: Goodfellas. You need to have seen that film like, a year ago. This was a prerequisite to get into the class. If you somehow made it in and haven’t seen it, you need to do so now, because we do kick people out here. All the films I label as essential are only essential if you’ve seen films like this. You’re not allowed to see the other films without this one. See it. Or there might be a riot.
The Godfather Part III. You kind of need to see this. You can’t complain about it if you don’t. Plus, it’s not that bad. as a Godfather film, you’re required to see it. You’ve seen the first two, you’re in for the course. As long as you don’t expect to get the quality of the first two, or hold it to any standards, you won’t be that disappointed. It’s a fine film. It’s a solid film. It’s just not the first two. That’s it’s major flaw. Other than that, it’s a fine film. See it.
Dick Tracy. You really should see this movie. This movie is the definition of fun. Show this to any child, age 10, and they’ll love it. Because it’s just so fun. Even as a fan of film, you’ll marvel at the color palette and art direction. Plus the rest of the film is just so much fun. Really, it’s an amazing film that gets overlooked because it’s Dick Tracy (and because Madonna is — well, let’s not get into that). It comes highly, highly, recommended.
Dances with Wolves — I mean, I guess. Maybe you should see it just because then you can complain about why it won. But, otherwise, why would you want to? It’s long. And boring. And nothing happens. And — yeah, the only reason you should see this is so you can see just how badly the Academy fucked up this year and can complain about it legitimately.