Sunday, August 20, 2023

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1984: Best Picture

After winning seven of its other ten nominations, it was inevitable that Amadeus would end up the night's winner for Best Picture:

Do we feel the same way? Read on...

produced by Saul Zaentz
past winner, second of three nominations; Golden Globe winner for Best Picture - Drama, LAFCA Awards winner for Best Picture; BAFTA Award nominee for Best Film

How much of my love is just the fact that I grew up with it and have been watching and rewatching it since I was in fourth grade? Well, honey, if it was bad, I wouldn't be watching it that often! Great performances, phenomenal editing, great makeup, perfect costumes, and oh! that writing! It makes you think about art, celebrity, relationships, God - and it allows you room to interrogate your ideas of all those, simply by presenting this undeniably juicy tale from over 200 years ago! The rare perfect film.

The Killing Fields
produced by David Puttnam
past winner, third of four nominations; BAFTA Award winner for Best Film; Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture - Drama, National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1984, NYFCC Awards runner-up for Best Film

Belongs to that long line of well-made, noble-minded films that do not quite excite me, but whose individual elements I quite admire. I can say, "Oh, this is great writing, this is fine acting, this is the work of a skilled director," without wanting to ever watch the movie again. It happens. And it happened here.

A Passage to India
produced by John Brabourne / Richard Goodwin
Brabourne's second and final nomination, Goodwin's only nomination; Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film [!], National Board of Review's Best Film of 1984, NYFCC Awards winner for Best Film; BAFTA Award nominee for Best Film

Both times I've seen it - at home, on PLUTO TV of all things - I cannot look away. This is a great film, a quietly difficult film, dealing with topics - race, colonialism, sex - maturely, complexly, without any easy answers. And yet it manages to end on a note of hope and humanity and mutual appreciation - one that can hopefully be borne out of not assimilating or valuing someone's ability to assimilate. I hope that makes sense, I love this movie.

Places in the Heart
produced by Arlene Donovan
only nomination; Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture - Drama, National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1984

No hysterics, no huge speeches, just people in a difficult situation trying to make it all work. A moving final scene, several sequences - like the cotton-picking - that fill you with nerves, that warm your heart, that make you appreciate what people are capable of when they are determined enough, what we are able to do together

A Soldier's Story
produced by Norman Jewison / Ronald L. Schwary / Patrick J. Palmer
third of four nominations in this category for Jewison, second and final nomination for past winner Schwary, first of three nominations for Palmer; Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture - Drama, National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1984

It's a murder mystery, which stands alongside the movie musical and the historical epic as the greatest of all genres. It's also concerned with race and American contradictions - a country where any man can rise above his station...but not beyond the color of his skin. Where Black men are American enough to serve in the military, but still need separate accommodations away from the whites (and where even Black officers are at the mercy of white privates). And where a man can be taught the only people who would have his back. Chilling movie. One I keep thinking about.


My pick:

produced by

Tomorrow: we've heard from the Academy, now it's time for my Top Ten of 1984.

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