The Crying Game
A Few Good Men
Scent of a Woman
This is a strange collection of films this year. Given the five listed here, I’d dump two of them without a second thought, because there are plenty of good films from 1992 that deserve to be here more. Right off the top, Glengarry Glen Ross is one of the best films of this point of the decade. The Player is one of the great skewerings of Hollywood in general, which might actually be why it was skipped over. I love Strictly Ballroom, but it’s probably too formulaic. I’d also be remiss without bringing up Reservoir Dogs. Malcolm X, maybe? On the horror front, this is also the year of the mildly overrated Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the sadly underrated Candyman
Weeding through the Nominees
5: The hardest choice I had for this entry was between fourth and fifth place. In truth, between Howards End and the next film, I think Howards End is probably the better movie in objective terms, but it interested me less. Everything seems to take so long in Merchant Ivory films. Everything is overblown and needlessly emotional. This is a well-made film, but it’s a well-made film that doesn’t interest me at all. I can’t imagine wanting to ever watch it again.
4: What pulled Scent of a Woman above Howards End for me is that there are some truly memorable scenes in it. Frankly, while the film toes the line of maudlin and frequently jumps across that line with abandon, I remember it much more positively than I do Howards End in general. But this is also not a film that deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, not with the films that were left off. Scent of a Woman is decent, but hardly great, and certainly nothing close to a must-watch film.
3: With The Crying Game, we’re getting the first film that I’m satisfied really earned a nomination. This is in many ways a traditional romance, but it’s also a romance with a massive curveball thrown into the middle of it. What makes it all work is that the shock/surprise moment doesn’t come at the end, but in the middle. The film works completely even if you know the big twist that’s coming, and that says a lot for the story and the performances. I wouldn’t give it the win, but I like it being nominated, because its edgy in its own way, but it’s also a lot better than it is edgy.
2: Had I the power to affect change, I would campaign for A Few Good Men to be entered onto the 1001 Movies list. Few films add their dialogue to the language of the world or at least their country of origin, but “You can’t handle the truth” has become a part of everyone’s lexicon. Better, this is a smart script and it’s well acted all the way through. Toss in a tremendous performance from Jack Nicholson and a stellar cast top to bottom, and it would take something very special to knock it off the top spot. The Academy did right by giving this a nomination.
1: But the Academy did better by awarding the statue to the right movie in 1992. Unforgiven was Clint Eastwood’s mature and real love letter to the Western genre that made him a star. The Western has had its death knell rung many a time in the past, but Unforgiven revitalized a genre that was easily seen as being passé and without any artistic or entertainment merit. It’s gritty, it’s smart, and it’s real. It also happens to be one of the five best Western films ever made. The Academy did right with the nomination and the award. It’s nice when they get one right.