Monday, June 8, 2020

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Adapted Screenplay 1995

The Contenders:

Apollo 13
Leaving Las Vegas
Il Postino
Sense and Sensibility (winner)

What’s Missing

The nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for 1995 are a mixed bag of virtual guaranteed nominations along with some surprises. There are some places where I think the Academy fell short, of course, since that’s par for the course. I’m a little surprised at the lack of nomination for The Bridges of Madison County, which seems like it should be right up Oscar’s alley. Twelve Monkeys, being science fiction and a Terry Gilliam film is more easily understood as a snub. The same could be said of a comedy actioner like Get Shorty, despite how entertaining it is. I genuinely like the remake of Sabrina, and while it might be a hard case to make, I do want to mention it. Based at least on its reputation, Casino feels like a miss. The biggest miss, though, is Dead Man Walking, which would seem to tick every one of Oscar’s boxes, and yet here we are.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. It’s perhaps a shock to see a film as acclaimed as Leaving Las Vegas sitting at the bottom of the list. It’s a genuinely great film and genuinely one where the performances are about as good as you’re going to find. The issue that puts Leaving Las Vegas on the bottom of the list for me is that there really isn’t a great deal of plot here. Since it also contains a vicious and brutal rape scene near the end of the film, it has another reason to drop to the bottom of the list. Good as it is, it’s the one I’d most readily lose for different nominations.

4. Il Postino is a very small film, and one that I rather liked. But it’s also a film where the story behind it is more compelling than the actual film. There’s a great deal to like about Il Postino, but almost everything I like about it is something other than the screenplay. It’s a gorgeous film, for instance, and there’s a particular tragic beauty to the performance of Massimo Troisi. While I think it deserves a lot of praise, it’s perhaps a bit too simple and straightforward for me to take it too seriously here.

3. Babe is a very sweet little movie and impossible to dislike, but I have a genuinely difficult time seeing it as a terribly serious contender. The problem isn’t so much with Babe, but with what we tend to expect from Oscar films. Babe is sweet, and dare I say it, innocent. It’s impossible to dislike the film and while it would easy to be a bit jaded by it, anyone who approaches it honestly and without any particular preconception will find it a true delight. I’m actually quite pleased it was nominated.

My Choices

2. No one could have been more surprised at how much I enjoyed Sense and Sensibility than I was. I expected a slog through a drippy romance and walked out the other side a true believer in the story, the characters, and perhaps even Jane Austen. Rather than young women alternatively pining for and being angry with men, this is a story of sisters and their relationship with each other. Anyone giving this the win will get only minor disagreement from me. It’s not my choice, but it’s a solid winner, and Oscar should be rightly proud and justified in choosing it.

1. As should be very little surprise for anyone who has read my Oscar posts for 1995, I’m giving this to Apollo 13, which is absolutely my favorite movie form 1995. The reason for this is a simple one: I knew the outcome of the story before I went into the film and I was still very much invested in everything that happened. It’s not easy to do that—to stick very much to the real story. Sure, there was some license, but surprisingly little. Apollo 13 is a film about what can truly be achieved when things are at their worst. It’s not just a great film, it’s the definition of inspiration.

Final Analysis


  1. I'm going to say that the Oscars got it right though I have no problem with Apollo 13 winning that prize. I'm totally with you on Twelve Monkeys being overlooked as I would like to make the case for A Little Princess that was directed by Alfonso Cuaron as it's a damn good children's film.

    1. I really don't object at all to the win for Sense and Sensibility. It's a very good screenplay and a very good film, and while Apollo 13 is my default 1995 choice, I can't say I'm upset for this category.

  2. I'm in more or less the same place as you are the difference being I was relatively sure when I walked into Sense and Sensibility I would love it.

    I'm a sucker for that kind of film but like all things they can be variable. I felt a bit more secure with this one considering the cast and director though that thinking can bite you as it did when I went to see Ang Lee's The Ice Storm (Good Lord how I hated that movie!!!!)

    Anyway S&S is top flight across the board but I'm also a huge fan of Apollo 13. Like you even though I knew the outcome I was totally involved and on the edge of my seat when I saw it in the theatre. Now some of that is the screenplay but I think that's more thanks to Ron Howard's presentation and the acting.

    So with all that said I think I'd go with Sense and Sensibility's screenplay and Apollo 13 for Best Picture.

    1. Honestly, I can't object to that analysis even if I'm in a different direction. Both of them would have been very worthy winners for this.

      I do agree that Apollo 13 is the right choice for Best Picture.