Monday, March 27, 2017

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Adapted Screenplay 1993

The Contenders:

The Age of Innocence
In the Name of the Father
The Remains of the Day
Schindler’s List (winner)

What’s Missing

This is another one of those great years in film, although a lot of the films that I really like from 1993, like Groundhog Day, are original screenplays and thus not available for this particular Oscar. I think The Fugitive is a massive miss. If nothing else, it demonstrated once again that with good characters and a real plot that a television show could be turned into a movie effectively. Jurassic Park seems like a miss as well, although less of one, since it’s not really a typical Oscar film. To my shame, I haven’t seen What’s Love Got to Do with It? yet—it’s the only 1993 film on my Oscar lists I’m missing at the moment, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t mentioned in the comments below. As a final nod, how about Addams Family Values?

Weeding through the Nominees

5. It’s odd just how British drama-heavy this award is for this year. It’s another one of those years where I want to put just about everything in third place. I’m going to put Shadowlands here for no other reason than that it hammers on the religion a lot more than makes me comfortable. Debra Winger is the best thing in the movie. I remember that, but I don’t really recall a lot of the details of the story itself. That can’t be a good sign, can it? Ultimately, there are other movies I’d rather see nominated.

4. There was a lot to like about The Age of Innocence, but I can’t get over the fact that I don’t like the story that much. It’s a beautiful film masterfully made and exquisitely cast, but I find all of the characters amazingly frustrating. This is honestly the nomination of this set that I’m the most likely to watch again, but it wouldn’t be for the story or the screenplay. It would be for everything else that the film contains. It may be a fabulous adaptation, but it’s just a story that doesn’t work for me, so it’s hard to move it above fourth place.

3. In the Name of the Father is one of those films that seems designed to elicit outrage in the audience, something it does very well. Like pretty much everything else in this collection of nominations it is cast beautifully. I think it fails at being anything more than just a pretty good movie, though. It also takes a great deal of license with the action story that happened. I liked it well enough, but again, I have some real problems with the story it tells.

2. Schindler’s List is one of those films that guilts you into appreciating it. If you don’t like it, then there’s something wrong and heartless about you. My problem with Schindler’s List is the problem I have with a lot of Spielberg films. Often, Spielberg goes for as much emotional manipulation as he can whether he needs to or not. This is not a film that needed him to be emotionally manipulative, but he did it anyway. With a little more restraint on his part we’d still have an important film about an important event, but I’d fell less like I had a gun to my head when I was watching it.

1. That leaves me with The Remains of the Day, which is another movie that is absolutely exquisitely cast. Nothing in it feels out of place. It is ultimately a sad and frustrating romance, and I appreciate my romances when they run a little darker. It’s a socially claustrophobic film, and that comes through beautifully in the screenplay and the way that the story is told. Given the five nominations, it would be my choice, but it would be what I’d pick in an open field. That said, you could do a lot worse, even if this one is a little slow.

My Choice

My problem with picking any of the five nominees is that none of them are films that I genuinely love or would often choose to watch a second time. I’d much rather watch Jurassic Park or The Fugitive. I’m going to give this to The Fugitive specifically because it does action really well. The film makes sense and gives us characters who are opposed to each other through much of the film who are worth rooting for. We want Richard Kimble to be exonerated of a crime he didn’t commit, but we learn to like Sam Gerard and his crew just as much. That’s good writing, and that’s worth rewarding.

Final Analysis


  1. I have a hard time commenting on this one since I have never been able to track down Shadowlands despite repeated efforts. Also even though I love Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, period pieces and Merchant/Ivory films I detested The Remains of the Day. I found it beyond boring and had a hard time even making through to the end.

    Schindler's List is a fine film but I like your suggestion of The Fugitive which I enjoyed far more.

    1. I really like The Fugitive. I find all of the characters compelling, and that's often rare. I also like how fully realized the characters are. It would be easy to make Gerard and his team one-dimensional, but they really aren't.

      Remains of the Day, I think, is one of those movies that you either like or don't. I found parts of it frustrating, but I do like how it was put together.

  2. I haven't yet seen The Fugitive or The Remains of the Day, but I have seen all the others, and agree with your comments. Schindler's List is very good, but more restraint would have made it even more harrowing. I have read The Age of Innocence, and thought the screenplay was a good intrepretation of Wharton's book, but I mostly remember the visuals from the movie. And In the Name of the Father and Shadowlands are both solid, but not outstanding.

    I am going to add The Fugitive to my watch-list - love a good character-driven action film!

    1. Oh, please watch The Fugitive as soon as you can. It's a great story and beautifully made. Even better, it's an action/thriller with characters who aren't photocopies. This is evidenced by Tommy Lee Jones winning for Supporting Actor.