The 90s to me, Oscar-wise, are the opposite of the 80s. The 80s had two legitimately great Best Picture decisions, and the rest were either okay based on the categories, acceptable because they’re big epics, or just outright terrible. The 90s, however, really only have two out and out bad decisions. Most of the choices they made in the 90s are either great, acceptable, or we just disagree with the choice, even though we agree they were good films. This, to me, is one of the two terrible decisions (the other being The English Patient).
Dances with Wolves simply should not have beaten Goodfellas. Kevin Costner should not have won Best Director over Martin Scorsese (talked about here). It’s a universally accepted fact. Outside of that, the rest of the year is also pretty weak. Jeremy Irons wins Best Actor for Reversal of Fortune (talked about here). It was one of the weakest Best Actor categories of all time, and most acknowledge he won for a performance he gave two years earlier (in Dead Ringers, which he wasn’t nominated for). Best Actress was Kathy Bates for Misery (talked about here), which was a good decision based on the category. Not particularly strong historically, though. Best Supporting Actor was Joe Pesci for Goodfellas (talked about here), which, as we all know, is perfect. And Best Supporting Actress was Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost (talked about here), in which she played a literal magical negro. The fact that she won for this and not The Color Purple is laughable.
So that’s 1990 — terrible, ain’t it?
BEST PICTURE – 1990
And the nominees were…
Dances with Wolves (Orion)
The Godfather Part III (Paramount)
Goodfellas (Warner Bros.) (more…)