La Cage aux Folles
Kramer vs. Kramer (winner)
A Little Romance
As usual, the list of nominees for this award has some fine choices and a few that don’t really belong here, so there’s lots of room for improvement. It’s a shame that Salem’s Lot would not be eligible because it was made for television, but it’s a dandy version of one of Stephen King’s better books. As usual, horror movies get overlooked in general, so we get nothing for The Amityville Horror, Dracula (the version starring Frank Langella), and Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. That last one crosses over with Stalker in Oscar’s tendency to ignore foreign language films. Starting Over would have been an interesting choice, as would have been My Brilliant Career. While I probably wouldn’t nominate either The Great Santini or Being There, but I could see someone arguing for either of them. I’d be much more likely to want to see Escape from Alcatraz here. The big miss, though, even though Oscar would never go there, is The Warriors.
Weeding through the Nominees
4. There are a few instances where the remake of a film is better than the original. That’s even more rare when the original is not in English and the remake is. However, I’m of the opinion that The Birdcage is far better than La Cage aux Folles. That being the case, it’s hard to think that La Cage aux Folles belongs as a nomination here, especially considering what was not included. Truthfully, I’ll happily watch the remake whenever, and I’ve never thought to rewatch this original even a single time.
3. A Little Romance is sweet, but it was a hard sell for me to get there. I eventually decided that I liked it, at least a little, but I disliked it quite a bit at the start. Precocious kids aren’t nearly as entertaining as directors and screenwriters seem to think they are. It’s also a film that dives head-first into the realm of magical realism, but it doesn’t want to admit that. I’ve got no problem with that subgenre, but it seems like wanting to have things both ways by not simply admitting that the film in question belongs there.
2. It’s easy to think that the best part of Norma Rae is the engaging performance of Sally Field, and she is a big part of what makes the movie work. That said, she had a great deal of help going into the role, because the screenplay is damn good. The movie that it is most like in a lot of ways is Erin Brockovich (or Silkwood), but unlike the title character of Erin Brockovich, Norma is someone we’re happy to know and happy to spend time with. She’s intense and dedicated and angry without being a stereotypical bitch, and it’s the screenplay that gets us there.
1. I know that there are people who don’t think Apocalypse Now is the Vietnam movie that should always be named first when the topic comes up, but those people are simply wrong. While there are perhaps moments that go too long, you won’t get me to admit to any of them. Much of this certainly comes from the performances that we get, but those performances had a surreal masterpiece of a screenplay to draw from. It doesn’t hurt that this is based on a story penned by one of my favorite authors. There’s no way I’m going anywhere else.