The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1987
1987 is by far one of the most boring years in Academy history (Best Picture-wise).
The Last Emperor wins Best Picture and Best Director for Bernardo Bertolucci (talked about here). Terrific film, just — yawn. Michael Douglas wins Best Actor for Wall Street (talked about here). Great film, great performance, but I don’t see him winning this in many other years. Best Actress was Cher for Moonstruck (talked about here). I dislike that decision so much. (Seriously, no Glenn Close for Fatal Attraction or Holly Hunter for Broadcast News?) Olympia Dukakis also won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here). Which is okay, only because the category is the single weakest Best Supporting Actress category in the history of the Oscars. Ever. And Sean Connery wins Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables (talked about here). Sure, a veteran Oscar. But an awesome one. (Shame though, about Morgan Freeman, Albert Brooks and Denzel.) So, overall — yeah, a pretty boring year.
This Best Picture category is basically a flatliner. Really only one film was ever going to win. Fortunately, though, one of the nominees has become one of my favorite films, so that’s a huge plus. Otherwise — it was pretty obvious what was winning this all the way. Which makes it easier for us to vote for what we want to without worrying about the result. Go nuts, children, there are no consequences.
BEST PICTURE – 1987
And the nominees were…
Broadcast News (20th Century Fox)
Fatal Attraction (Paramount)
Hope and Glory (Columbia)
The Last Emperor (Columbia)
Broadcast News — A lot of people consider this James L. Brooks’s best film. It would be hard to argue that fact.
The film is about the news. Holly Hunter is the young and ambitious news producer who is completely dedicated to her job. For those who are very young and haven’t seen enough good movies, you know that movie Morning Glory with Rachel McAdams? Well, they basically took Holly Hunter’s character from this movie and did it again (only lighter and more rom com-my). So Holly Hunter is neurotic and a workaholic. And Albert Brooks is her best friend. He’s the dedicated reporter who is really good at going out and getting the story. He’s great at what he does. And then William Hurt is the dumb pretty boy, who is great as a news anchor, but otherwise not very bright. And he knows this. He knows he’s not that smart, but he sure as hell can be a great lead anchor. And the film is about these three, and the sort of love triangle that develops. Brooks has always had a thing for Hunter, who never really notices this, because she’s so indebted to her job. And he also doesn’t like Hurt, because he knows nothing about the news and is just good at being a pretty face who reads it. And Hurt starts having a thing for Hunter and starts sleeping with her. And Hunter is trying to be married to her job and have a relationship outside it. It’s a great film. It really is. Just watch it if you haven’t seen it. You’ll see. James L. Brooks is just — when he’s on, he’s on.
Fatal Attraction — The mother of all crazy white bitch movies.
Michael Douglas is a lawyer who is very happy. He has a wife and a daughter. And one weekend, while they’re out of town, he has an affair with Glenn Close. He assumes it’s just a one night stand sort of deal, and will be over once his family comes back. But then Close starts popping up places, and slowly getting a bit more unhinged as it goes along. Like, he breaks it off with her and she slits her wrists. And then she starts stalking him and doing all this crazy shit like boiling his daughter’s pet rabbit. And eventually it comes to the point where she endangers his family. It’s a great film. You’ve seen this film done many times, but this one is the best. Believe me when I say none of the other iterations of this story can hold a candle to this one. Douglas and Close are so, so good. It was never going to win here, and I’m amazed it was even nominated. But whatever. I’m glad it’s here. That’s a win in and of itself.
Hope and Glory — Here’s a film that I went into knowing nothing, and fell so in love with really quickly.
The tagline for this film is “A world at war and a boy at play.” It’s about the director, John Boorman’s recollections of what it was like to be a child growing up during the Blitz of London. And we see the boy and his home life, and it’s these little isolated moments — kind of like A Christmas Story — there’s an overarching story, but the film is mainly comprised of these little vignettes that, together, help make the film into what it is. It’s little moments. And then the war starts, and his father goes off, and we see him and his mother and sister dealing with the constant air raids. And there are little things. The moments that stick out to me are when a German pilot is shot down and parachutes into the town, and everyone comes outside to watch (like when someone’s house is on fire or something and the entire street gathers outside), or when the boy and his friends, while playing, gather all the shells that have fallen from the planes, and use hammers to set them off. They set off live rounds with a hammer! And the bullets are whizzing everywhere and they’re just standing there. Or when the boys (all like, 10) pay an older girl money to look down her pants (just to see what things are like). It just feels like things a boy would experience growing up. And the film is funny, and intimate, and just feels real. I really, really enjoyed this film. It’s one of my favorite films that I found from this Quest, and I’ll be watching this film a lot from now on. I’m so glad it’s here, because now I get to recommend it to people.
The Last Emperor — This film so clearly was gonna win, it’s ridiculous.
The film is about the last emperor of China. We follow him from when he is a boy in the Forbidden City, taking the throne when he is just two or three years old. Here he is, standing in front of an army, meanwhile all he wants to do is go play. And the first half hour is basically showing the emperor of China, as a boy, doing things like — not wanting to take a bath — stuff kids would do. And then he grows up, gets a tutor (Peter O’Toole), who teaches him about stuff. And we see him go through this life, knowing only what he has lived, wanting so badly to escape the city but unable to (since it’s forbidden for the emperor to leave). And this is all intercut with scenes after the revolution, and him being captured and, reeducated basically. Or rather, educated. He is shown exactly what he has inadvertently done to the people simply by ruling. And the film is about the fall of this dynasty system and him coming to terms with the stuff that it has done to the country. It’s a really strong film, and there are such strong images in it. It’s a really great film. Sure, it’s long, and it’s boring at times, but you can’t deny that it’s great. And it was of course gonna win. So what can you do?
Moonstruck — I have a love/hate relationship with this film. It’s good, and Cage is awesome in it, but — it reminds me too much of the people I grew up around. And that, coupled with me feeling that Cher did not deserve to win Best Actress, makes me very ambivalent about this one.
The film is about Cher, an accountant in Brooklyn, who is dating Danny Aiello. He’s older than her, and a bit of a putz, but there’s really no one else who wants to date her, so she stays with him. And he proposes to her, and she accepts. But he then is called to go see his sick mother in Italy and before he goes, asks her to invite his brother (from whom he is estranged) to the wedding. So she calls the brother, who is Cage, who is missing a hand because of a baking accident for which he blames his brother. So he shows up and then eventually starts sleeping with Cher. And meanwhile, Cher’s father (Vincent Gardenia) is also having an affair, and there’s some comedic moments where Cher and Cage run into Gardenia and his mistress at the opera, and they both agree to forget they saw each other. It’s a very enjoyable film. Essentially a romantic comedy, but it’s got character. Again, though, I have a hard time seeing this because I did grow up in Brooklyn with Italians just like this (though of course here they’re much more comedically exaggerated). It is a good film, though.
My Thoughts: Hope and Glory was my favorite film on this list. It’s so damn likable. I’m voting for that. Your favorite film might have been Broadcast News or Fatal Attraction. Maybe even Moonstruck. Go ahead, vote for it. It doesn’t matter. Nothing but The Last Emperor was ever going to win here anyway. Because the Academy will always be the Academy. Especially in the 80s.
My Vote: Hope and Glory
Should Have Won: No choice. Matter of personal preference. There is no “this should have won instead” film here. It’s not what should win, it’s what we want to win, since we know what will win (and did).
Is the result acceptable?: I guess. It is a good film if long and boring at times. I just wish the field had been better. Some film giving it a run for its money. Still, though, acceptable.
Ones I suggest you see: I highly, highly recommend Hope and Glory. I seriously cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s so damn good. And I had no idea it even existed before this Quest. Definitely one of the best films I discovered from it.
I highly recommend Broadcast News. It’s basically essential. Since when Jim Brooks hits one, he really hits one. This Terms of Endearment and As Good as It Gets are his three best movies. Terms is the weepie, and As Good as It Gets is the populist one, but this one might be the all around best of the bunch. So you should probably see it, considering the company and how easily I’m throwing around the word “best” when talking about it.
Fatal Attraction is an essential film. The benchmark in the “fucked up crazy white bitch” genre. Fuck that Beyoncé shit — Obsessed — this is the movie that started it. That other stuff is garbage compared to this one. This is the one.
Also, The Last Emperor — yes, it’s an amazing movie. You should see it. Fuck your attention span, you should see it. It’s an amazing film. And it won Best Picture. You should see it.
Moonstruck — yeah, tough call here. I enjoyed it, and it is a Cage film — it just hits a raw nerve, since I grew up around Italians so much. Plus Cher winning for it — it’s hard for me to be objective here. But people love it, so you should probably see it. Why wouldn’t you see a Nicolas Cage movie?
4) Fatal Attraction
3) The Last Emperor
2) Broadcast News
1) Hope and Glory