If there ever was a year that epitomizes the entire history of the Academy Awards in a nutshell — this is that year. You could use 1985 as a singular example for everything that has come before and after it. Let me explain:
Out of Africa wins Best Picture. A classical Oscar film if there ever was one. Big, sweeping, epic, a romance. And it epitomizes the Academy because they vote for this things blindly. Out of Africa is not a good film. It’s just a compiling of things the Academy loves. I bet if there’s one film Harvey Weinstein has learned from the most, it’s this one. Not to mention the added bonus of racism, since the vastly superior The Color Purple was deliberately shut out this year. It also wins Best Director for Sydney Pollack (talked about here). This marks one of the six times the DGA winner (Steven Spielberg) did not win the Oscar (hell, he wasn’t even nominated). Best Actor this year was William Hurt for Kiss of the Spider Woman (talked about here). Not a particularly strong performance, but he played gay (and in a very weak category). They love that. Best Actress was Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful (talked about here). One of the single worst Best Actress decisions ever. Whoopi Goldberg was better in every way, and the Academy went with a veteran just because she was old. Okay. Best Supporting Actor was Don Ameche for Cocoon (talked about here), which — veteran Oscar, but also a terribly weak category (kinda like 2011). And Best Supporting Actress was Anjelica Huston for Prizzi’s Honor (talked about here). She was good in the movie, but how she beat Oprah Winfrey for The Color Purple or Meg Tilly for Agnes of God is beyond me.
But, when you boil down all of these decisions, you get what the Academy likes in each one — Best Actor, man playing gay. Best Actress — a white woman (either a star whose “time” it is, or in this case, a veteran they want to reward). Best Supporting Actor — a veteran. Best Supporting Actress — an up-and-comer. And Best Picture — just watch Out of Africa, you’ll see what I mean. I truly think this might be the lowest point of the 80s, this year. It’s so bad.
BEST PICTURE – 1985
And the nominees were…
The Color Purple (Warner Bros.)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (Island Alive)
Out of Africa (Universal)
Prizzi’s Honor (20th Century Fox, ABC Motion Pictures)
Witness (Paramount) (more…)