The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1994
1994. Shawshank, Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump. Everyone has their opinion. I won’t give mine. They’re all great films, one of them had to win. To each his own, which they’d vote for.
Forrest Gump wins Best Picture and Best Actor for Tom Hanks (talked about here). This is the one of the two Hanks Oscars I agree with. Best Actress was Jessica Lange for Blue Sky (talked about here), which was more of a career Oscar than anything. She didn’t give the best performance in the category — that was Jodie Foster — but Foster had two Oscars already within the past seven years, and they weren’t about to giver her a third. Plus she went full retard. So the decision makes sense. Best Supporting Actor was Martin Landau for Ed Wood, which is a terrific performance by him. I personally feel bad about Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, but Landau was a good decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Dianne Wiest for Bullets over Broadway (talked about here), which I don’t like too much at all.
Which brings us to this category. You can’t be upset with it. Whatever won Best Picture was gonna win Best Director. That’s just how it works.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1994
And the nominees were…
Woody Allen, Bullets over Broadway
Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three Colors: Red
Robert Redford, Quiz Show
Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction
Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump
Allen — Bullets over Broadway is a Woody Allen film. Hooray, said Mike without the least bit of sarcasm, said Mike, dripping with sarcasm.
I don’t like Woody Allen movies. That’s what this is about. Though this is one I can actually stomach. I don’t love it, but I like it well enough. It’s about John Cusack as a playwright who gets his play bankrolled by a mobster. His big condition is that his girlfriend, an aspiring actress (beautifully played by Jennifer Tilly, who should have won an Oscar for her performance), get a role in the play. And she sucks. Which causes great comedy. Then there’s Jim Broadbent, the leading man, who has a weight issue. He can’t stop eating. Every time no one is looking, he’s stuffing cakes and stuff in his pockets to snack on. Then there’s Dianne Wiest, a major stage actress in the play, who is also a big over-actor and alcoholic. And in order to get better scenes and more stage time, she starts sleeping with Cusack. And the whole time, Cusack is watching this thing go downhill. But Chazz Palminteri, a mob hitman who is tasked with making sure Cusack gives Tilly stage time, turns out to be a closet genius, who secretly helps Cusack make the play better. It’s actually not a bad film. It has some moments that actually made me laugh. So I’m proud to say I don’t hate this film.
Why Woody Allen was nominated for Best Director — ever, for any of his films — is beyond me. I don’t really care so much, since we all agree the year he won Best Director, he shouldn’t have. And that aside, he never won again. So I don’t really care when he gets nominated. I won’t vote for him anyway.
Kieslowski — Red is part of Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy, which were — blue, white and red. I’ll only deal with Red here, but just know, he was nominated for all three of them (and I watched all three for this nomination. Because I do that).
The film is about a model, played by Irene Jacob. We follow her around for a while, and one day she hits a dog with her car. She takes the dog to the vet, finds out the dog is pregnant and takes the dog home. Her boyfriend tells her to get rid of the dog, but the original owner doesn’t want it. The dude also listens to other people’s phone conversations. She tells him he should tell everyone he does this, and eventually does. And they become friends, and he has all these philosophical conversations about the nature of humans and the law, and the film ends with the woman on a ferry, which sinks, and the only survivors are revealed to be the main characters from all the films of the trilogy.
It’s an interesting set of films. Definitely Kieslowski’s masterpieces. But I wouldn’t vote for them, just because I’m not in the habit of voting for foreign directors. It’s a personal bias, but hey — you wanna vote for this over Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump, by all means — go right ahead.
Redford — Quiz Show is a fucking amazing film. It’s so good. It’s about the great quiz show scandal of the 50s.
John Turturro plays a quiz show genius. He’s won so many times in a row that it’s become a national thing. Who will beat him. And eventually, the company that sponsors the show, Geritol (which features a great cameo by Martin Scorsese as the President of Geritol), decide they don’t like him and want him off. So they offer him lots of money to take a dive, which he accepts. And in his place, they get a more likable guy, Charles van Doren, played by Ralph Fiennes. They get him to win and plan on making him the new game show champion by feeding him the answers. He’s against this at first, but eventually starts taking the answers and going along with it. And then Turturro, upset that this guy is winning more money than him, goes and reports the fix. And a big investigation is launched, that eventually leads to a trial, and — it’s so utterly fascinating to watch. This is one of the best movies of the 90s. It’s so, so good.
Redford does a good job directing it. I thought it was funny he got Scorsese to cameo in the film, because he seemed to borrow Scorsese’s Goodfellas technique for the film. Quick scenes, constant moving camera, lots of music — it feels like Redford trying to do Scorsese. Oh, also, Redford won Best Director in 1980, beating Scorsese for Raging Bull. Guess what that means about his chances here?
Yeah, sorry — I’m spiteful like that.
Tarantino — It’s Pulp Fiction, the end. You should know what this is about.
This is clearly Tarantino’s masterpiece, and the vote is between him and Zemeckis. I vote for him, but I get why Zemeckis won. That’s just how it is.
Zemeckis — It’s Forrest Gump. You should know what this is about as well. Come on, now.
Zemeckis did a tremendous job with this film, and honestly, based on what he had to do and all the camera tricks they pulled, he might have actually deserved this more than Quentin did.
I said might. I’m stil voting for Quentin. But I’m totally cool with him winning. It was a fine choice.
My Thoughts: This obviously comes down to Tarantino or Zemeckis. I vote Tarantino, just because, but Zemeckis was also a good choice. Between this, Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Zemeckis earned a statue. So I’m okay with the decision even though I’m not voting for him.
My Vote: Tarantino
Should Have Won: Tarantino, Zemeckis
Is the result acceptable?: Yup. Best Picture winner, Zemeckis earned one of these already — makes perfect sense. Let’s hope Tarantino wins one of these one day to make up for it.
Ones I suggest you see: If you haven’t seen Pulp Fiction or Forrest Gump, you’re dead to both me and the world, and I ask that you stop reading this blog right now, because you’re not doing it right. It being watching movies.
Quiz Show is a terrific, terrific film. A really great film, and one that almost everyone who sees it will enjoy. Highly highly recommended, and I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed with this one. Oh man, is it great.
Bullets over Broadway is actually one of the few Woody Allen films that I can stomach. So that’s something. It’s not bad.
Red — or the entire Three Colors trilogy for that matter, because that’s what he was really nominated for — is a really well-directed film. I find the entire trilogy kind of boring to have to sit through, but they’re all well-made films, and fans of foreign films will probably really enjoy them. So I’ll throw in a recommendation if you think you’re gonna like them.