Thursday, September 5, 2013

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Surprises in Store: Picture, 1993

As Barbra herself once said, "The moment has come."

For three white guys to finally get their due!
Well. It all comes down to this. The five nominees for Best Picture of the Year, 1993. And what a varied bunch it is. You have The Crowdpleaser, The Drama with a Conscious, The Arthouse Darling, The Movie for Grown-Ups, and The Historical Drama, which won. It has often been thus. The Departed was a Crowdpleaser, while Crash had a Conscious, The Hurt Locker was an Arthouse Darling, No Country for Old Men was for Grown-Ups, and Argo was a Historical Crowdpleaser for Grown-Ups with a Conscious. It is the way of things.

1993 just happened to be one of those superior years where many of the nominees were deserving, and the ones that weren't were still worth watching. Like 2008, I feel. And what could better represent this year than the joyous visage of Harrison Ford?:

Aw, crap. I hated the actor in that.
The Fugitive
Great fun, but Best Picture? Well, why not? It's tight, it's entertaining, and it attempts to set the alarm bells ringing regarding corruption in the pharmaceuticals industry. Probably not the deepest, nor the most sensible story -- why would the villain intentionally give his adversary so many clues to catch him? -- but a ripping good yarn.

Just get through this....just three more to go
In the Name of the Father
I can see someone taking it to task for being too earnest, too sincere. That someone is a monster. It's fairly straightforward, but who needs flash and distraction when the story is this powerful? It's an important film, not just about injustice, but desperation, redemption, and the love between a father and son. Thanks to its energy, performances, and -- thank the Lord -- occasional humor, it's easily rewatchable.

The Piano
While I think Andrew makes a good argument in its favor -- including pointing out the empathy given to all sides in a key scene -- I'm afraid it still leaves me a bit cold. That's fine; that's life. Surely it's not a complete failure, though: it's quite unforgettable, and I think about it often, and I have the soundtrack. I do admire Jane Campion, so that certainly helps.

Hm. The title's familiar, but I'm not sure I remember...
The Remains of the Day
Of course, it's the ones I love I find the hardest to write about. How to express the sense of loss, the beautiful sadness that is The Remains of the Day? It is Truth, anchored by two exquisite performances. I love its exploration of class division, and how that not only informs one's politics and political awareness, but also how one conducts himself in matters of the heart. Stephens is the Perfect Butler; it's who he is, what he's treasured for. And yet it is this that will render him irrelevant in a post-War world. It is this that keeps him from truly engaging, losing both his father and the woman he loves. I could watch this again and again.

I love Steven. I'll throw him my biggest smile.
Schindler's List
But this is also a masterpiece! Schindler's List is one of the most moving, human films I've witnessed. It is not misery porn, it does not wag its finger, nor does it get pedantic. Its characters are not victims and monsters, but people, who laugh and fuck and shit and play piano and gossip and smoke cigarettes. I even love that a film that could be an Inspirational Flick of the Triumph of the Human Spirit ends so bittersweetly, with a guilt-ridden hero on the run. Even when we see the footage of the real life survivors and their descendants, there's that last monologue ringing in our heads -- "I could have saved more". It's heartbreaking, and it's fascinating in a movie like this.


Schindler's List won the Oscar for Best Picture -- unfortunately for Kathleen Kennedy, it's the one Spielberg film she didn't produce -- but I really adore  the other five-starrer. Oh, to choose between Stephens and Schindler! Again! Ok, time to just leave in it up to the fingers. Don't think. Just type with your heart:

spittake. did walter just choose this over a merchant-ivory film?

And that completes our Oscar Coverage of the 1993 Retrospective! To recap, my votes went as follows:

Picture - Schindler's List
Director - Steven Spielberg, Schindler's List
Actor - Anthony Hopkins, The Remains of the Day
Actress - Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation
Supporting Actor - Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father
Supporting Actress - Holly Hunter, The Firm
Original Screenplay - Jeff Arch/Nora Ephron/David S. Ward, Sleepless in Seattle
Adapted Screenplay - Steven Zaillian, Schindler's List
Cinematography - Gu Changwei, Farewell My Concubine
Art Direction-Set Decoration - Dante Ferretti/Robert J. Franco, The Age of Innocence
Original Score - Richard Robbins, The Remains of the Day
Song - "Streets of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia

Next week: the Hollmann Awards! Complete with Eligible Titles (Monday), Semi-Finalists (Tuesday), and Three Days of the Retro Hollmann Awards of 1993 (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)!

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