Forrest Gump (winner)
The Madness of King George
The Shawshank Redemption
I find myself in the position I often do with an award like this one. Virtually all of the movies that I would like to bring up as being worthwhile as nominations are either already nominated or are original screenplays and thus not eligible. There are a couple worth bringing up though. Both Interview with the Vampire and Clear and Present Danger might wrangle a nomination in some years, but I’m fine with them not appearing here. Two movies do jump out at me, though. The first is the excellent Once Were Warriors that gets a great deal of its excellence from the starting point of a solid script. Second, and the one that I would push for the hardest, is Ed Wood. I love Ed Wood and I’m not shy about it, and it belongs here more than at least one of the nominees.
Weeding through the Nominees
4. I’ve never been shy about my dislike of eventual winner Forrest Gump, so in that respect it’s not a huge surprise that it would end up in fourth place for me. Actually, it’s mildly surprising that I didn’t put it fifth. My issue with Forrest Gump is simply that I don’t like the story. I find the story depressing. It’s hard to put something high on the list when you dislike it not because it’s poorly written but for what it is. That’s Forrest Gump for me. It’s not a good idea badly realized but an idea I don’t like realized brilliantly.
3: Nobody’s Fool is a different situation. I really enjoyed this movie a lot. Almost all of my enjoyment from this movie came from the relationships between the various characters. And so I’m put in a difficult position with assessing the screenplay. How much of that comes from the words on the page and how much comes from the people in the roles is difficult to determine. Ultimately, I think I credit a very deep cast more than the screenplay. The screenplay is obviously a good one, but at least for me, the film’s success comes from the people in the roles, particularly Paul Newman.
2: Quiz Show is a film that I always like a lot more than I think I will. Like Nobody’s Fool, this is a film with a very deep cast, which naturally helps. This is a screenplay helped hugely by the real-world events that created the story. However, with anything like this, there’s a certain amount of creative license taken with any story like this, and with Quiz Show, all of that license was taken very well. This is a film that I wish more people knew, and while pat of that is the cast, much more of it is the story being told.
1: In my perfect world, four of the nominations would be Quiz Show, Nobody’s Fool, Ed Wood, and Once Were Warriors. Even in that ideal situation, those would be 2-5 in some order because the winner is and always will be The Shawshank Redemption. This comes from a very strong place initially and makes every choice correctly. It stays true to the original story, strips away nothing that is necessary, and becomes something that enhances the story being told. It’s a nearly perfect thing, and that should be rewarded. The Academy was bowled over by the Forrest Gump freight train and missed rewarding the most deserving film of the year.