Monday, August 7, 2017

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Picture 1993

The Contenders:

The Fugitive
In the Name of the Father
The Piano
The Remains of the Day
Schindler’s List (winner)

What’s Missing

1993 is a great year for film, and while I don’t have serious objections to the nominations, there are some places where I’d want to go. Really, though, based on the sort of movies that Oscar typically nominates, the five nominees are all good and well-made movies. Still, The Age of Innocence and Philadelphia are also the kinds of movies that warrant some Oscar love and I’m a little surprised they’re not here. I feel like Searching for Bobby Fischer was a film that was sadly ignored and is underknown. Bigger stretches for Oscar would include films like True Romance, Tombstone, and even Jurassic Park, which may have deserved some attention. Cronos, My Neighbor Totoro, Groundhog Day, Dave, and Addams Family Values are serious longshots, and while I love all of these movies, I can’t say that I’d seriously put any of them up for Best Picture consideration. I’d say the same for The Sandlot, but I might get some pushback on that. If I could add a single movie, my choice would be Three Colors: Blue, my favorite of the trilogy.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. This is surprisingly difficult because I don’t really want to put any of these movies in fifth place. I have a certain amount of respect for all of them. Of them, In the Name of the Father is a film that, in my review I said was merely good with some great performances. I think I stand by that. It’s a pretty straightforward case of wrongful imprisonment with a lot of politics behind it. But aside from some great performances, the film itself isn’t really that different from what you expect it to be. It’s good, but I’d rather have Three Colors: Blue here.

4. I think I could probably say the same thing about The Piano. This is a fascinating story, but it fails for me on one of the levels it desperately wants to succeed in: I don’t buy the romance at all. That’s a problem in a movie that bills itself at least in part as a romance. Anna Paquin is by far the best part of the film and she was rewarded at the Oscars. I don’t really hate that it was nominated, but it’s not a movie I plan on watching again any time soon. I may be giving it short shrift, but again, I think it’s good with great performances.

3. The Remains of the Day, aside from The Great British Baking Show, might well be the absolutely most British thing in existence, and I appreciate it on that level. It’s again a film that trades on monster performances from its stars, in this case those stars being some of the most highly acclaimed actors of their generation. It’s a hard film not to appreciate, but I did find it a hard film to enjoy. I get the nomination and I don’t entirely disagree with it, but it would have to be a weaker year for me to want to see it win.

My Choices

2. I freely admit that putting The Fugitive as a possible winner is something of a cheat for me. I happen to really like this movie a lot because it gets just about everything right. It’s smart, it gives us smart characters in just about every aspect of the film. We root for the fugitive himself, but we also end up rooting for the people who are chasing him. This comes from a dynamite screenplay and a lot of really good roles filled by really good people. The action is good, and the plot is great as well. It would never win, but I love that it was nominated, and I wouldn’t complain had it won.

1. But Schindler’s List is what it is. It was almost guaranteed to win, and I don’t entirely object to it. I actually prefer The Fugitive as something to watch, but I don’t have a problem suggesting that Schindler’s List is an objectively great film in many respects. Spielberg does go for the emotional digs here and there (he can’t help himself), but he doesn’t overwhelm with them. And, for what it’s worth, it’s important. It is a film that will be discussed for about as long as film (or history) gets talked about. It was going to win the minute the nominations were announced and, well, it did.

Final Analysis


  1. Yes, Oscar got it right. The Fugitive is imminently more watchable, but Schindler's List is a masterpiece and, as you said, important.

    1. Yeah, that's it exactly. The Fugitive is a tremendous popcorn movie that is far better than it should be, but Schindler's List is objectively great and objectively important.

  2. Remains of the Day is such a strange case for me, it has everything I love Emma Thompson, Hopkins, English lit porn, Merchant/Ivory and yet I hated it utterly. It was slow to the point of somnambulism and for the life of me I still can't understand the praise for it. So it would be dead last in my runoff.

    I admired the passion behind In the Name of the Father without really caring much for the film but I thought more of it than The Piano which I couldn't get into.

    I can't honestly say I see The Fugitive as a Best Picture winner but it is a terrifically entertaining film and I'm likewise amazed that it made the final five and out of this batch it would be my runner-up as well.

    But it has to be Schindler's List that takes it. If I had to choose from all the films this year it wouldn't be my choice but it definitely should have been nominated and in this field is the rightful winner.

    So glad you mentioned Dave as a potential, LOVE that movie. Aside from the amazing cast and performances it makes some real points. On the other hand I couldn't be more delighted that pile of cow plop that is Philadelphia finished out of the money.

    For other alternatives that could or should have been in the running I'd add Much Ado About Nothing, The Joy Luck Club and the film that would have gotten my vote-The Wedding Banquet. A beautiful film that came along just before Ang Lee became an awards magnet.

    1. I really like Dave a lot. I think it does a lot of things right and has its heart in the right place. It's also one of my favorite Frank Langella performances.

      I missed The Wedding Banquet in my run-down at the top. That's a miss on my part. It really is a beautiful film.

      That said, had Three Colors: Blue been nominated, it would seriously contend for me. There are moments in that film that I find literally breathtaking every time I see them.