We’re approaching peak 80s. The thing about this list is that you can look at most of them and go, “That’s an 80s movie.” It just feels like the decade. Also… it’s a great list. It’s just, boom, boom, boom, one after another.
The one thing I note about this year is that it has a proliferation of mainstream movies. All the best stuff are things that were not nominated for awards. In fact, this Oscar crop is one of the weakest of all time, in my mind. It shows that occasional disconnect where all the best stuff is ignored by the voting body in favor of the stodgy “Oscar” kind of movie.
I don’t have a whole lot to add about the year other than that. HOWEVER… there is a historical piece of information to relay about this one that makes it different from other 80s years. This is the year where the PG-13 rating was introduced. And we can thank Temple of Doom for that. And also Gremlins. These were movies with content above that young kids could handle that otherwise weren’t extreme enough for an R rating. So Spielberg suggested a rating in between, and then the PG-13 was introduced. Red Dawn was the first film to officially get the rating. (more…)
1984 is the other bright spot of the 80s. As you can tell from all the films that won in the 80s, the decade was a complete rejection of the 70s by the Academy (and Hollywood). Everything became standard and mainstream again. Fortunately, though, sometimes standard and mainstream does yield amazing films. Like Amadeus.
Outside of Best Picture, Amadeus also wins Best Director for Milos Forman (talked about here), which makes sense, and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham (talked about here), which was terrific. Best Actress this year was Sally Field for Places in the Heart (talked about here). She didn’t give the best performance in the category, but she was probably the best choice, since — the category was so bad. Best Supporting Actor was Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields (talked about here), which I don’t like purely because he wasn’t an actor. It felt like awarding a dude an Oscar for what he had to live through. Which I can’t fault, it’s just — I’d rather have it be about the performance. And Best Supporting Actress was Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India (talked about here). Yawn… veteran Oscar. Terrible category, too.
The 80s are by far the weakest Academy decade in terms of nominees and winners, and this year might be the overall weakest of the bunch. But fortunately, as we learned with 1986, good decisions can really help save a year. And alongside 1986, this is really one of the sole good years the Academy had.
BEST PICTURE – 1984
And the nominees were…
The Killing Fields (Warner Bros.)
A Passage to India (Columbia)
Places in the Heart (TriStar)
A Soldier’s Story (Columbia) (more…)
Okay, let’s quickly recap 1984. I got some stuff to talk about.
First, Amadeus wins Best Picture, Best Director for Milos Forman (taked about here) and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham (talked about here). All perfect decisions, and, on a side note, the fact that it won Best Picture, for me, is one of the very few bright spots the 80s have. Which I am grateful for. Best Actress this year was Sally Field for Places in the Heart (talked about here), which, to put it simply, I understand. And Best Supporting Actor was Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields (talked about here), which, while I wouldn’t have voted for it, I also understand. Fortunately, I’ve covered all these categories, so we can mercifully be done with this year after this category. Which —
This might be the single worst Best Supporting Actress category of all time. Might be — I know it is. You know why? Because none of these performances would rate higher than 4th for a vote in any other year. That’s how weak it is. It’s really, really bad. As for alternate nominees — I don’t really see anyone. I was mostly looking for someone who I could vote for. I don’t have anyone I can vote for. God, I hate this category.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1984
And the nominees were…
Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India
Glenn Close, The Natural
Lindsay Crouse, Places in the Heart
Christine Lahti, Swing Shift
Geraldine Page, The Pope of Greenwich Village (more…)
Amadeus, Amadeus … Amadeus, Amadeus … Amadeus, Amadeus … oh, Amadeus.
Guess what won Best Picture this year, Falco? And Best Director for Milos Forman (talked about here)? This year, to me, was the best year of the 80s, Oscar-wise. As an Oscar decade, I despise the 80s. The only decisions from it I love are this one and Platoon. And I like Rain Man and Terms of Endearment, even though I think both were kind of weak choices for Best Picture (more so the latter, since The Right Stuff so should have beaten it), and respect The Last Emperor. But, for me, there are only three decisions I really like. Out of a decade. And of that decade, there are four decisions I outright loathe. Contrast that to the 90s, where there are only two decisions I outright loathe, and the rest I love, respect or understand. So this year to me is the diamond in the rough that is the shitty 80s.
Best Actress this year was Sally Field for Places in the Heart (talked about here). I don’t love it, but I understand it, because it was seriously the weakest Best Actress category of all time. It was really bad. Best Supporting Actor was Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields (talked about here), which I sort of understand, but don’t like as a decision at all. And Best Supporting Actress was Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India, which, despite the film sucking, is understandable as a decision because the category is one of the weakest of all time and she’s a veteran.
Which brings us to this category, which is just wonderful.
BEST ACTOR – 1984
And the nominees were…
F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus
Jeff Bridges, Starman
Albert Finney, Under the Volcano
Tom Hulce, Amadeus
Sam Waterston, The Killing Fields (more…)
I hate 1984. It’s just so boring. And so weak. Not that they didn’t make a good decision. Amadeus was clearly the best film of the year and should have won Best Picture. Milos Forman also winning Best Director (talked about here) was the only good choice they could have made, and F. Murray Abraham totally deserved Best Actor for the film (as did Tom Hulce. Too bad they didn’t tie. That would have been awesome).
But outside of those awards, Best Supporting Actor going to Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields I don’t like (explained why here), and Best Supporting Actress going to Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India makes a little sense, but it’s just boring. The film and the decision. And then there’s this category. I don’t know what it is about this year, but they really liked “strong woman helps keep farm afloat” stories. Three of them got nominated in this category. Three. And the one that won had the woman doing it without a husband. She had a black man and a blind man instead. Technically I guess that does make it a “stronger” performance.
But, wow, do I disagree with three nominees here. At least three. Possibly even all five. But I can accept two. I can accept the Sally Field and Judy Davis nominations. The others just felt like filler. Stature noms. “Who are we going to nominate?” “Well, we like Sissy Spacek and Jessica Lange. Let’s go with them.” (Don’t even get me started on the Redgrave nomination.) So, let’s see if we can find any alternatives.
I’d say the actress who played Mozart’s wife in Amadeus, but that’s supporting at best. Would the Academy nominate Frances McDormand for Blood Simple? I doubt it. I liked Micki + Maude a lot, but that’s a comedy. Most people would say The Terminator, but I know the Academy. That would never happen. Uhh — Apollonia in Purple Rain? Wow, what the fuck, 1984? You sucked for good female performances.
BEST ACTRESS – 1984
And the nominees were…
Judy Davis, A Passage to India
Sally Field, Places in the Heart
Jessica Lange, Country
Vanessa Redgrave, The Bostonians
Sissy Spacek, The River (more…)
Just like the rest of the 80s, 1984 would be a hugely forgettable year if not for a good decision on Best Picture. Seriously, looking at the nominees they had to choose from, you almost have to sigh and go, “Thank god they didn’t screw that up.” Because they really did fuck up the 80s. I think America did as a country. You just have to be grateful when something good came out of it.
Just so we’re on the same page, Best Picture for 1984 was Amadeus, and F. Murray Abraham won Best Actor for it as well. Best Actress was Sally Field for Places in the Heart — yeah, we’ll get to that at some point. Best Supporting Actor was Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields, one of the categories I’ve actually done already, and Best Supporting Actress was Peggy Ashcroft in A Passage to India. Notice what I mean about a boring year aside from Best Picture? Yeah… the 80s are all about that.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1984
And the nominees were…
Woody Allen, Broadway Danny Rose
Robert Benton, Places in the Heart
Miloš Forman, Amadeus
Roland Joffé, The Killing Fields
David Lean, A Passage to India (more…)
The 80s, I feel, are a pretty ho-hum Oscar decade. The 70s were all about auteurs and gritty innovation. Then the 80s were like, “Fuck that, the blockbuster is back!” and everything went all studio. Which meant the Oscars went back to all these boring, epic “Oscar films.” Actually, I’m pretty sure the 80s is the decade where the “Oscar” film really came into being. 1980 – family drama. 1981 – well, Chariots of Fire. 1982 – historical epic about Gandhi. 1983 – family drama. 1984 – historical epic about Mozart. 1985 – historical epic romance set in Africa. 1986 – Vietnam movie. 1987 – historical epic about a Chinese emperor. 1988 – family drama about a savant and his brother. 1989 – historical, I guess, epic (if we’re counting time span), about a woman and her chauffeur. More of a drama, I guess. Still, you can see where a specific type of movie started getting voted in.
1984, though, might be the best Best Picture choice of the 80s. Amadeus is an amazing movie. And Milos Forman definitely deserved Best Director. That movie is incredible. F. Murray Abraham was great as Salieri and deserved his Best Actor win. Though, Sally Field, for Best Actress, no matter how much they “really liked” her, did not deserve that win by a long shot. Oh, and Best Supporting Actress was Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India. See what I mean? Aside from Amadeus, a lot of the choices in the 80s are boring. This one is no different. (more…)