The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1986
1986 is a breath of fresh air in the hell hole that is the 80s. Platoon is one of the sole good decisions the Academy made in the 80s.
Oliver Stone won Best Director for the film (talked about here), which was a great decision. Best Actor was Paul Newman for The Color of Money (talked about here), which was twenty-five years overdue. Best Actress was Marlee Matlin for Children of a Lesser God (talked about here), which was really the only decision in the category (no, not Sigourney Weaver). Good choice. Best Supporting Actor was Michael Caine in Hannah and Her Sisters (talked about here), and Dianne Wiest also won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here). I don’t particularly like either decision. The Wiest one — okay, category was weak, so it’s okay. The Caine one — sure he deserved one, but Tom Berenger and Dennis Hopper were so damn good this year. So — don’t like it.
But, overall — good year. I like it a lot. Amazing what a good decision can do to a category (because this one is not good).
BEST PICTURE – 1986
And the nominees were…
Children of a Lesser God (Paramount)
Hannah and Her Sisters (Orion)
The Mission (Warner Bros.)
A Room With a View (Cinecom)
Children of a Lesser God — I was surprised by how good this film was.
William Hurt is a dedicated young teacher at a school for the deaf. He meets Marlee Matlin, a former student who now works as a janitor there. They begin a relationship. And the rest of the film is basically that relationship. It’s hard to explain, but it’s really, really good. There’s not really a set story, since it’s kind of a romance, but on the whole, him teaching the kids and then being with her — it’s really great. It definitely helps bolster this list, which, on the whole, is rather weak.
Hannah and Her Sisters — One of the Woody Allen movies I do not like. Many of them I just don’t care about, but this one I just don’t like. I respect the performances in it, so I don’t hate it, but I really just don’t like this movie at all.
The film is about a year in the life of these three sisters. They are Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest. Mia Farrow is married to Michael Caine, but he starts having an affair with Barbara Hershey. Barbara Hershey was living with Max von Sydow, but is now sleeping with Caine and not telling her sister. And then Woody Allen used to be married to Mia Farrow, but is now dating Dianne Wiest. Dianne Wiest is a recovering cocaine addict with a fickle nature. And we see these people go through a year and how they change.
Like many of Woody Allen’s most highly regarded works (Manhattan being the other major one), I just don’t see the appeal of this one. At all.
The Mission — Here’s a film with great cinematography, a great score, and no story to speak of whatsoever.
Jeremy Irons is a Jesuit priest sent to South America to build a mission. He does so. The natives, who aren’t religious, come to the mission because it is safe. The Portuguese, despite knowing the mission is protected and looking to enslave the natives, pretty much come and kill everybody. That’s pretty much the movie. It’s very religious. Not my cup of tea at all.
The film is okay, but — again, it’s just weird how these films made it on. What a weak year this is.
Platoon — Oh man, I love this movie.
Charlie Sheen is a young man who enlisted to fight in Vietnam. He gets there, has no idea what he’s doing, and the film is basically about him learning to be a soldier and becoming disillusioned with war. We see the platoon split into two different factions. There’s the side of Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), which is mostly comprised of blacks, and they smoke weed and listen to Hnerdix and are laid back and groovy. And then there’s Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), who is a hardass, and his side is uptight, beer drinkers, listening to country music — you can see the difference in the two sides. And Barnes hates those other guys. And we see them going about being soldiers, and eventually things come to a head with Barnes leaving Elias for dead after shooting him (which leads to that very famous image of Dafoe with his arms up in the air). And then Sheen, knowing what Barnes did, has to struggle with whether or not to take revenge. It’s a great film. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. It’s one of the best Vietnam movies ever made. This, Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now are like, the trilogy. And throw in Coming Home and Born on the Fourth of July for good measure, and you’ve pretty much covered the entire spectrum.
A Room with a View — Oh boy, Merchant-Ivory!
God, I hate these movies.
Helena Bonham Carter goes on vacation Italy with her chaperone, Maggie Smith. While there, she meets a dude and falls in love. That’s basically the film. It’s really boring. There’s a little bit of life here, but on the whole, very boring. These Merchant-Ivory films are so not my thing at all.
My Thoughts: Platoon is the only film that should come even remotely close to winning here. Thank god it’s on this list. Otherwise — man would this year have just been awful.
My Vote: Platoon
Should Have Won: Platoon
Is the result acceptable?: Yup. Nothing else comes close in this field.
Ones I suggest you see: If you haven’t seen Platoon, you don’t love movies
You should really see Children of a Lesser God. It’s incredible. Hurt and Matlin are so good here. Highly recommended. One of my favorites of the 80s.
The Mission is okay. Not good, okay. It’s nice-looking. Story’s really weak. Oh, and Morricone’s score is amazing. Otherwise — meh, take it or leave it.
Hannah and Her Sisters — you know me and Woody Allen. I don’t particularly like this film. Performances are good, but I don’t like the film. So there’s that.
A Room with a View is a Merchant-Ivory films. I hate those. Like watching paint dry.
5) A Room with a View
4) Hannah and Her Sisters
3) The Mission
2) Children of a Lesser God