Mike’s Top Ten of 1996
1996 feels like the peak year of “these are the movies of my childhood.” And that’s not just because of Space Jam. But a lot of it is because of Space Jam.
This year… maybe it’s because I was 7, going on 8 and this is the year stuff tends to stick with you more, maybe it’s because we moved this year to a place that was much closer to a movie theater and started going more (mainly because my sister was now old enough to go consistently and we could all go to basically the same movies and enjoy ourselves), or maybe it’s because this is the year we first got our illegal cable hookup and got all the PPV movie channels for free. More than likely it’s a combination of all of those things.
But on top of all of that, there’s a lot of really awesome stuff this year. It feels like the year that’s more “stuff I like” more than “a lot of this stuff is some of the best ever made.” This is the year I’m most willing to say is closer to my sensibility than objectively what most people would say are the best movies. That said, a lot of this stuff is really great and we all probably really like it.
And there’s Space Jam too. Never count out Space Jam. (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1996
1996 is one of the years I hate most in Academy history. To me, almost every major decision they made was a bad one. It’s one of those years where you can’t really do anything, because the Academy is always going to be the Academy, so we have to live with it. But at least here, we can all agree that they made a terrible decision, even if it was the one they were always going to make.
Outside of this category, The English Patient wins Best Director for Anthony Minghella (talked about here), a foregone conclusion and Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche (talked about here), a decision I actually really like. I think that even though Lauren Bacall was a very deserving veteran, her performance was decent at best and her film was beyond terrible (and Barbara Hershey’s film/performance was way too on-the-nose). Best Actor this year was Geoffrey Rush for Shine (talked about here), which I hate as a decision. I love Geoffrey Rush, I think he deserves an Oscar (Supporting would be better), but I felt his performance was clearly a supporting one in the film, and that Billy Bob Thornton was so good in Sling Blade (and even Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient) that Rush is one of the most inexplicable winners I’ve ever seen. Best Actress was Frances McDormand for Fargo (talked about here), which I love, because the film’s great and she’s great in it, but she’s really a supporting character, and Emily Watson’s performance in Breaking the Waves is so good that I’m shocked she didn’t win (Brenda Blethyn was also amazing in Secrets & Lies). And then Best Supporting Actor was Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry Maguire (talked about here), which, while I love the performance — William H. Macy really should have won. He really should have.
So that’s 1996. I like two categories. And one of them — ehh, maybe it’s not the best decision. So overall, I think this is a pretty terrible year. One of my least favorites. And, like most bad years, it all starts at Best Picture.
BEST PICTURE – 1996
And the nominees were…
The English Patient (Miramax)
Fargo (Gramercy Pictures)
Jerry Maguire (TriStar)
Shine (October Films)
Secrets & Lies (Fine Line Features) (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1996
I cringe when I see 1996. The English Patient is such a terrible movie to have won Best Picture. Fargo was so much better. Anthony Minghella winning Best Director for it, though, (talked about here) is understandable. Usually with one comes the other. But it still doesn’t make it a good decision.
Best Actor was Geoffrey Rush for Shine, which, as I said here, is a decision I consider one of the worst of all time. Not because of the actor, because of the performance. Read the article if you want to find out why. Then Best Actress was Frances McDormand for Fargo, which I love as a decision (as I said here), even though it wasn’t the best performance in the category (it was my favorite, though). And Best Supporting Actor was Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire, which is just troublesome. I talked about it here, but basically, William H. Macy should have won for Fargo, yet Cuba Gooding is so likable in the movie, it swayed a lot of people to vote for him (even I did in when I wrote up the article!), and then after the fact we all realized, “Yeah…we should have given it to Bill Macy. That was dumb.”
So that’s 1996. Bad Best Picture and Best Director choice, terrible Best Actor choice, great Best Actress choice, but one that’s shaky because there was a better (or two) performance in the category, and a Best Supporting Actor choice that feels okay, but then you realize it probably shouldn’t have won. Then, there’s this category. It’s by far the weakest of the bunch (though that’s always been the case, historically), but they did made the right decision. Most people assumed Lauren Bacall was the odds-on favorite here (because she’s Lauren Bacall), but no one takes into account just how much an Oscar-winning performance actually requires a halfway decent film in order to be taken seriously.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1996
And the nominees were…
Joan Allen, The Crucible
Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces
Juliette Binoche, The English Patient
Barbara Hershey, The Portrait of a Lady
Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets & Lies (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1996
I’m well on the record about how much I hate 1996. I mean, The English Patient beats Fargo for Best Picture. And it’s not even a good movie. Anthony Minghella wins Best Director for it (talked about here), and Juliette Binoche wins Best Supporting Actress for it. That’s really the only one of its awards I agree with. Otherwise — seriously, what the fuck, Academy?
Then, Geoffrey Rush wins Best Actor for Shine, in what I consider one of the worst Best Actor decisions of all time (explained here) and Cuba Gooding Jr. wins Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire. Which, funny thing about that (and that article, which is here) — I’m currently in the situation that a lot of Academy voters are probably in now. When I wrote the article, I was like, “I know Bill Macy should really win this, I know he was the better choice, he’s had the better career, he should have the Oscar — gaah, I’m going with Cuba Gooding. He’s just so charming in the role!” And now, I’m like, “Fuck, I totally should have taken Bill Macy.” It’s kind of fitting, actually.
And then, we have this category, which, for me, is one of the toughest things in the world. Because, you have three amazing performances. All for different reasons. And the one that won, while it was great, and it was my favorite, isn’t really the best performance of the bunch. And yet — it’s Marge. It’s, “dont’cha know” and “oh yah, you betcha.” It’s so difficult, because, I love the performance and I know that there were better choices. This category is tearing me apart! (Note: That counts as both a Room reference and a Rebel Without a Cause reference.)
BEST ACTRESS – 1996
And the nominees were…
Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies
Diane Keaton, Marvin’s Room
Frances McDormand, Fargo
Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient
Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1996
Hey, look at that, it’s our example category. Way back when, back when I first introduced this Oscar Quest, I was explaining how these articles were gonna work, and I picked a random category by typing in two random numbers after “19–” and one of the categories at random. And I came out with Best Supporting Actor 1996. Who’d’ve thought it would take six months to get to it?
Anyway, 1996 is a year that’s fresh in most people’s minds. The English Patient, a film that most people can say probably didn’t deserve to win, won Best Picture over the superior Fargo and even the superior Jerry Maguire. Anthony Minghella wins Best Director for it as well (talked about here), but with one goes the other. Juliette Binoche wins Best Supporting Actress for it, which I’m cool with, since I like her very much. Best Actress this year went to Frances McDorman for Fargo, which is awesome, don’t cha know. And Best Actor — yeah. Geoffrey Rush wins for Shine. I believe I had quite a few words to say about that one here. So in all, I think this is a pretty terrible year. Next to 1990, probably the worst of the decade. Great. Work’s cut out.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1996
And the nominees were…
Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire
William H. Macy, Fargo
Armin Mueller-Stahl, Shine
Edward Norton, Primal Fear
James Woods, Ghosts of Mississippi (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1996
1996 is one of the few dark spots of the 90s. After the terrible decision that was Dances With Wolves, we got a somewhat poor decision with Forrest Gump (based on the competition. I love the film, but, there were better choices), The English Patient here, and then the Shakespeare in Love choice (which is also kind of a competition choice). The two insanely glaring errors to me are Patient and Wolves, because, not only should they not have won, they aren’t even good films. Maybe it’s okay that Anthony Minghella won Best Director for The English Patient as well, but, it was still up against Fargo.
I guess what sort of saves 1996 from completely going under were the rest of the major categories. Or it might have made it worse, depending on where you fall. Frances McDormand as Best Actress is a good decision, since I’m glad they gave Fargo something, though there might have been (and probably were) better choices in the category. Juliette Binoche as Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient is a decision I haven’t fully made up my mind on, but I’m okay with it as far as, I like Juliette Binoche. Cuba Gooding Jr. as Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire is a decision I like a lot, mostly because I liked the character, but William H. Macy was also nominated for Fargo, so, there is a bit of complication there.
Oh, and to get it out of the way, I consider this category one of the worst decisions the Academy has made in the Best Actor category, ever. The reason for this is not because of who won, it’s what he won for and whether or not that performance was worthy of winning. And just to tell you — dude’s only on screen for like, fifteen minutes, so, he totally didn’t deserve it. And what makes it worse is the caliber of performances he did beat. That’s why, no matter how much I like Geoffrey Rush, this was a terrible decision. (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1996
1996 was a good year punctuated by shitty decisions. So many good films came out, and yet — does anyone even think The English Patient is a great movie? Good? Fine. The minimum allowable to be considered good. But better than Fargo, it is not. Hell, better than Jerry Maguire it is not. These are the kind of years that really upset me. Because it’s like the Academy is striving to meet the standard of what they think their reputation is, and yet, they’re perpetuating this reputation by picking such shitty films.
And don’t think this poor decision-making ends at Best Picture. Best Actor went to Geoffrey Rush for Shine, a performance that lasts for about, oh, fifteen minutes. The rest of the time the character is played by two different actors. This wouldn’t be a big deal except, here’s who he beat: Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient), Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt) and Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade). Every single one of them would have been a better choice. I mean, have they seen Sling Blade?
Best Actress went to Frances McDormand for Fargo. They threw at least one bone. Best Supporting Actor was Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire, an okay decision, though some people would probably prefer William H. Macy for Fargo. Best Supporting Actress was Juliette Binoche for The English Patient. Most people, including herself, were not expecting her to win. That’s 1996 in a nutshell. Even the good decisions are questionable, and the bad ones are terrible.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1996
And the nominees are…
Joel & Ethan Coen, Fargo
Miloš Forman, The People vs. Larry Flynt
Scott Hicks, Shine
Mike Leigh, Secrets & Lies
Anthony Minghella, The English Patient (more…)