After two weeks of watching and rewatching and analyzing and writing, here it is!
***** EDIT *****
Jesue of FILM MUSIC ART just submitted his analysis so I’d make some changes, but the results hardly changed and the rankings are still the same.
***** EDIT *****
Welcome to the
SMACKDOWN: 1995 Best Picture
The nominees this year are…..
Il Postino (The Postman)
Sense and Sensibility
And now, for the second time around, I’m very pleased to announce the…….
Members of the 2nd Smackdown Jury
(in alphabetical order of the name of the blogger)
Aaron of Cinema Funk
Andrew of Encore’s World of Film and TV
Dan of Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews
Douglas of RacsO Ledger
Jesue of FILM MUSIC ART
Jonathan of The Film Brief
Julian of Movies and Other Things
Landen of This Guy Over Here
Louis of Best Actor
Ross of Eternal Sunshine of Ross’ Mind
Sage of Sage Slowdive
SamuraiFrog of Electronic Cerebrectomy
Simon of Four of Them
Steve of The Film Cynics
Yojimbo Five of Let’s Not Talk About Movies
Malcolm of The Final Oscar
To see the results, just scroll down to the page. Names are arranged according to the rating they’ve given. It’s in an ascending pattern. The analysis of the bloggers sent to me were unaltered and are seen here as it was sent to me to protect their right of speech. However, in any of the words that were repeated, it is informed by yours truly beforehand. Still, the star ratings are the same. Half star ratings are rounded up.
Jesue – For a film that centers on such an exciting and significant global event I found it to be painfully dull. There were some scenes that had the potential to be memorable or, at the very least, tolerable. But the problem was the constant lack of suspense, tension or drama. It never reached the level I expected it to reach, it was like watching someone eager continuously fail at winning the bell and hammer game. It’s almost there – but we never hear the ting! I think the problem is with the editing, it never maintained the tension long enough for me to care or be excited about what was happening. The other flaw lies with the writing, the script was too bogged down by all the technical NASA talk and the compulsion to be accurate that the drama started to fade away in the background. On the other hand, I thought the actors did a fine job. They played their characters well, so much so I started to believe they were the actual astronauts. This could have been great if all the elements worked together, unfortunately it never managed to and I was left feeling underwhelmed.
Douglas – Ron Howard sure does know how to evoke emotion well, but sometimes it could get too wet sentimental and schmaltzy. Apollo 13 is a good movie but it got busy trying to tug hearts rather than working on the characterization.
SamuraiFrog – One of Ron Howard’s stronger works, but despite some good performances (Tom Hanks, Ed Harris) and a gripping premise, the film still falls prey to Howard’s usual narrative problems. This feels like a five-act play that’s been awkwardly stuffed into a three-act structure, so at some point the film just feels like it’s dragging on and on for far too long, ending up as something of an endurance test.
Steve – Those who seek to create Americana that will survive for generations need only combine the talents of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. Add in Ed Harris, Kevin Bacon and Gary Sinise and you’ve got yourself an heir to The Right Stuff. Perhaps its strength was telling such a big story in such an intimate way, but what it failed to do was make me care about the characters. All of the players in this film have portrayed far more compelling characters elsewhere, and that’s where the film falls apart. It did everything so much better than Armageddon, but is that really the film it should be in the company of?
Alex – Apollo delivers few surprises and there’s a bit too much by the book for my taste. But, like some other nominees, because it’s so damn well done technically, it becomes an enjoyable flick. It’s believable, it has heart and some very inspired casting. Talking Best Picture potential, it’s the film that should’ve, but killed by the lack of a Director nod.
Ryan – *insert Houston we have a problem pun here*. To be fair, I’m probably not the best of judges when it comes to Apollo 13. By the time I was 13, I had seen this movie so many times I could quote it blindfolded (not anymore though). The incurably dynamic presence of Tom Hanks, backed by the ever lovable Kevin Bacon, with all the awesomeness of Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and the ever dedicated Bill Paxton, you just can’t touch this lineup. Unfortunately what I most remember about it these days is a lady my mother knew who thought this was a sequel to Forrest Gump, not realizing it was based on real events. For such an amazing, thrilling, and personal journey in cinema, it’s a shame to write it off so idiotically.
Louis – Apollo 13 is a very by the books historical retelling of an event. It keeps to the facts, and stays on the main even throughout. It is not a great film, but it works well enough. It interesting to follow the story as it proceeds. It never becomes a great film but it always remains a good one.
Simon – I don’t get the big deal, okay? Standard biopic, sure, with a lovely cast including my boy Tom Hanks, but it’s just not very interesting. What is it, with America patting itself on the back all the time? I mean its history, et cetera.
Julian – Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 is everything that an American classic should be: timely, terrific, and authentic. The film also boasts a great cast. There isn’t technically a whole lot to work within the realm of acting, but everyone brings his/her A-game to his/her respective role. Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan fully deserved their Oscar nominations. Apollo 13 is a great film that captures an age in American history and represents triumph.
Aaron – With incredible character depth and acute details, Ron Howard tells one of the more horrifying moments of American space exploration. Apollo 13 perfectly alienates the Apollo space craft from the world, as we watch narrative connections from both below and above. The moment Mrs. Lovell accidentally loses her wedding ring down the drain, a beautifully timed narrative device that ensures the viewers of impending doom. If the film Apollo 13 tells us anything, its that American has fallen behind on searching and exploring the skies. One of my favorite scenes is where the crew members look out the window to see the moon pass by ever so closely. They had reached their destination, yet so far away from ever completing their mission. They were kicked by coincidence while they were down on the ground.
Malcolm – A thrilling and totally involving race for survival. Meticulously intertwining genuine emotions and sophisticated development of action, it captures the real experience of being in the happening. Even though it dragged a bit in the last half, it’s still superbly acted, it’s technically flawless, it has a resonating message of hope on life, and it has an ultimately breathtaking atmosphere that totally pays of in one of cinema’s most inspiring endings.
Jonathan – Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 succeeds in the same way its predecessor The Right Stuff succeeded, in elevating the deeds of a few good men to a place of transcendental awe. This movie makes you remember just how amazing it is that humans managed to get into space. Apollo 13 plays as a thriller of sorts, featuring a slew of strong performances from Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton and Gary Sinise. Apollo 13 was accused of being overly manipulative upon its release, but for my money Ron Howard is just about the best exponent of mainstream Hollywood entertainment masquerading as high-brow art. I love his films, but agree that often they are flashy and sometimes superficial – after all, this is the guy that directed The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. At his best, he is a director that knows just how to tug an audience. Some of his films are too hot (Far and Away), some are too cold (The Da Vinci Code), but this one is just right.
Landen – There are few films that can be instantly classified as a ‘classic’ upon its release; Apollo 13 is one of them. Basing the film on the distressed NASA mission had inherent drama in it, and Ron Howard utilized it to a T. A perfect cast who put in perfect performances, stunning visual effects, and one hell of an attention to detail makes this film absolutely awe-inspiring and unforgettable.
Yojimbo Five – That story is known, but what the production excels at is showing the travails that any flight in space contains—the violent buffeting of launch, the creepy stress noises the capsules make even in the best of times, the difficulty of navigating in space during a propellant burn (complicated by having to fly backwards, and track stars amidst a stream of ice crystals). These are details left out of the history books and make the trips look far more hair-raising than the cool demeanor of the astronauts show. And even though the outcome of the mission is known, Howard manages to make it a nail-biting experience. An all-star cast does a superb job of displaying grace and determination under pressure, while the film also makes plain, in its quieter moments, the daunting isolation and lonely vastness of space—even in the astral neighborhood. As far as space movies go, it truly is “its finest hour.”
Ross – Apollo 13 does something that I have rarely seen in a movie. It makes you nervous that these three astronauts might never get back home, yet also disappointed. Not in the movie, which is by all accounts is director Ron Howard’s best, but that you know these men will never get to land on the moon, something they have all always wanted. Howard puts you in the shuttle with these men, back with their families and into the control room, never relenting to show the fear and the stakes that will either make them end as heroes or lost in space. Tom Hanks proves once again that the 90’s were his and that he is the modern day James Stewart, while a supporting cast including Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Kevin Bacon rounds out this close to perfect ensemble. Apollo 13 hits every note right in what can easily be called a modern day classic.
Jesue – I think I’m a bit biased because I remember Babe being one of the few films I absolutely adored when I was 6 or 7. Just hearing the squeaky voices of the three rats instantly takes me back to childhood memories. I’ve never been the one to enjoy watching films about animals, let alone talking ones. But there’s something about Babe that makes me squeal in delight and laugh at the silliest of things. It lets me be a little kid again.
Ryan – As a kid growing up in the 90’s, Babe was childhood equivalent of cocaine. If more than a week went by without watching it, children everywhere developed a twitch, and began making shady deals for 5 more minutes of talking sheep. Undeniably cheesy, Babe is the rare sort of cheese we could use more of. Pure hearted, and unflichingly loyal to its characters, Babe creates a world unto itself. For all its charm and kindness, Babe’s legacy has been forever tarnished by that abysmal sequel.
Jonathan – Punching above its weight as one of the few family films in Oscar history to be nominated for the top prize, Babe was already used to over-achieving by the time the red carpet rolled out. Who would have thought that a film made by an independent Australian director about a humble talking pig would transform pop culture in the fashion that it did? Babe is a piece of sturdy, heart-warming family entertainment. It’s interesting to note that at the time, Babe was praised for the revolutionary technology it had on show. How far the industry has come in just 15 years, from lip-syncing animatronics in Babe to 3-dimensional living, breathing creatures in Avatar. Babe won a lot of hearts in 1995. I was nine years old when it was released, and it won my heart. Hell, I’m 24 years old now, and it still wins my heart. A timeless classic that deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast, Babe deserved its Oscar nomination.
Douglas – A family film that is very hard to not love. It was charming, heartfelt and honest story telling that could turn any moviegoer to become a vegetarian. This should be the blue print in talking animals movies.
Louis – Babe is a very enjoyable family film about a talking pig. I enjoyed Babe from beginning to end. It had a really nice fantastical look to the film, with the farm and all the different animals. I thought he created a lot of likable characters, and it was just an enjoyable family friendly film.
Aaron – Back when CGI was in its infancy, Babe fluidly incorporated the craft into the live-action animals with patience. Rather than promoting this new technology and splattering the film with filth, the computer animators must have been as patient as the director and animal trainers. The animated mouthing of the animals looks as good today as any Na’vi. The warm and deep ominous narration and the chapter breaks continually remind you of the bookish nature of the film, as if your parents were reading it to you just prior to bedtime. The fluid nature of the animals’ actions and the blocking of the animals proves that Babe is a technical achievement that has been lost in the minds of most. The weakest point of Babe is the American voice-overs to hide the I’m glad I had a chance to revisit this gorgeously fun film, it reminds me of a time when films were filmed to be magical, and computer effects were added to merely support the scene and story.
Alex – It deserves special recognition for creativity. It’s a brave move from Oscar and it’s a successful one. Babe is a satisfying experience, especially the first time and the second. Look at it: it’s fun, enjoyable, light, but with a lot of unexpected emotions coming from unexpected, sweet situations. A great, special film.
Ross – I defy you to name more than 5 live-action children’s films since 1995 to have the heart and ambition of Babe. At its core, Babe is a simple tale about not allowing others to pigeonhole you and to just do what you love, great lessons to be taught to all ages. The voice acting is great all around, while James Cromwell as the simple farmer who sees something more in the little pig is a revelation, even while being quieter than most of the animals. While the special effects might seem dated by today’s standards, the subject matter and well-rounded characters completely make up for the fact that you know that you’re not really watching a talking dog. Babe is as heartwarming and endearing and as timeless as films come.
Landen – This is a wholly unique film experience that transcends the genre in which it was created. What was cut from the cloth of family friendly films, Babe instills so much humor, creativity and more heart than most films in the history of cinema. It’s not hard to see beyond the talking animals to find a wonderful story about a character struggling to find his place in life. Not to mention its unflinching approach to its content – (death in a children’s film? Really? Yes.) And the set direction! Oh the set direction…
Malcolm – A totally fascinating fantasy that is childish enough for it to fit for the younger audience and mature enough for it to be also watchable for older audience. In other words, it’s got the universal appeal. The script gives a lot of intelligently crafted mixture of drama and comedy, the visuals made a very believable world of talking animals, and it has characters that are very accessible without being too sympathetic. It’s a rousing story of destiny and life.
Yojimbo Five – Far more sophisticated than a simple “talking animals” movie, Babe gives its creatures distinctive functions and personalities invisible to the human farmers who see them as mere workers or food. It’s a more humanistic (if I can use the speciest term) and apolitical version of “Animal Farm.” As a film, it runs contrary to formula by providing a climax done in quiet silence and comically distant long-shots. It is a “family film” that does not limit itself to the family of Man. “That’ll do, pig.”
Julian – Babe is a simply delightful film unlike any other. It tells a whimsical, fun story of triumph that can be enjoyed by anyone. The Oscar-winning visual effects still hold up today. With its unique charm, it encourages all who watch it and emphasizes importance on never giving up.
Steve – The biggest crime of 1995 was calling this film “the other talking pig movie”. Babe ranks among one of the few perfect films in my collection, one that I can show anyone of any age. It’s also one that continues to provoke an emotional response to this day. As a parable on morality and truth, this fable is more than it seems, but I’ll admit that the Academy would have been at pains explain how it could have won, but the application form says “name of entry” not “name of film not about talking pigs”. That Charlotte’s Web with all of its star power and special effects couldn’t achieve even a nomination is a testament to Babe’s quality. I still feel this is some of James Cromwell’s best work.
Dan – Don’t be fooled, Babe is one of the best family fun adventures featuring, great performances and voicing, a screenplay that touches on the themes it wants to very well, and pulls a lot of heart string, while providing enough fun for the whole family.
Andrew – It perseveres with a sense of cheerfulness that’s most unrealistic, but it also perseveres with a sense of heart that’s most thrilling. Adept voicework and a charming story make for a lovely piece of cinema. They don’t make them like this anymore…
SamuraiFrog – One of only a handful of live action films that gets the storybook/fairy tale tone right, without ever once talking down to the audience or making its message too obvious. In 2010, it also serves as a great reminder that physical puppets will always have a greater impact than CGI creations. This is a movie I’ve seen countless times, and it never fails to draw tears from deep inside of me. And it earns those tears, too.
Douglas – Probably the best Mel Gibson directed film but that is really not saying much because I loathed most of his works. The battle scenes were mind blowing but the movie to me was just pure hokum and cheese.
Jesue – It took me so long to finish this. I had to keep stopping it because 1) I was so bored it started to hurt and 2) I thought of better things to do. Maybe it’s just me. Apart from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I find any war movie where they have to fight with swords and shields incredibly dull. I didn’t care about any of the characters or what was going to happen next. I just wanted it to end. On a positive note, I did find the cinematography to be sublime. That was the only thing that held my interest.
Simon – First off, calm down, Mel Gibson. It’s just your freedom. Frankly, I despise this film, and have no idea why it won anything. A bloated, self-congratulatory period piece, maybe, sure, Mel Gibson is alright, but he’s a bit below Sandra Bullock in my ‘What the f***?’ wins. Although, why am I surprised? Typical Oscar fare, sorry.
Malcolm – This is a film I have a very mixed view. beautifully shot and scored, it’s undeniably atmospheric, but suffers from a poorly written screenplay. The drama was questionably distant for be connected to it and the romance was so uninvolving that it feels unnecessary. The action sequences that, though extremely violent, are undoubtedly well-executed. And its big battle scenes are remarkable enough for this movie to be stapled in the history of film making excellence. Still, quite unconvincing as a “best picture winner.”
Landen – Over the last fifteen years since Braveheart was released, cinema has been wrought with epic battle films – some that do it better than Braveheart and some that don’t. Either way, it makes visiting this film in retrospect a bit underwhelming as most of its proudest moments have been played to death over the years. It’s unfortunate, but Braveheart’s glorified values and melodrama don’t quite hold up as they should. This once been a powerful film has lost its shine under the dust of redundancy and an overlong runtime.
Louis – Braveheart really lacks a lot of depth, or insight into the true nature of the time. But the film is enjoyable as just an epic battle movie. It has some very good action scenes. Barely any of the acting is anything special, except I think Patrick McGoohan. Nor is anything in the story that special. But the film has good battles and it cries for freedom!!!!
Julian – Mel Gibson’s Braveheart is one of the few Best Picture winners of the 1990s to have a huge connection with the general public. Not only did Gibson brilliantly direct the dramatic historical drama: he also played the leading role convincingly, Scottish accent and all. Besides him there are no standouts in the cast, but as a whole the actors are terrific. The action sequences are thrilling, and the theme of triumph is obviously conveyed, but better writing could have made the film much more interesting.
Andrew – I may be prejudiced, but it does little for me even though it has much technical aspects that are thrilling. It comes off as just a little too sure of itself despite it’s obvious superficiality, but it’s not a completely unworthy nominee (though I’d call it an unworthy winner).
Alex – Screw historical accuracy! Mel Gibson is in the house and ready to americanize even those damn Scots! Considering the bullshit of the story, it should all be a gigantic flop. However: memorable fighting scenes, beautiful original score and superb cinematography save the day. If superficial fun is what you want, this is the action-packed one.
Aaron – Mel Gibson tackles the story of William Wallace like a medieval ode. This film is a mythical vision and highly stylized re-imagining of the Blind Harry medieval poem. As an epic medieval war film, Braveheart is both captivating and engaging, and the Scottish battle for freedom relates easily with the audience. There is no doubt that Gibson is an effective storyteller, but compared the glorious imagery of Sense and Sensibility, he is merely a storyteller, and not a master director. With Gibson’s blatant use of religious symbols and imagery appears to be his stepping stone to producing The Passion of Christ. Much like Christ’ torment, Wallace endures similar violent torture and beatings, even refusing pain management – symbolic evidence of a martyr.
Ross – Much like William Wallace, Braveheart has become somewhat of an over hyped legend. But Mel Gibson does present Wallace excellently, both in front of and behind the camera. Gibson’s camera lives in the filth, cold and grime that these battles for freedom take place in and Gibson as Wallace truly brings this epic character to life with incredible battle sequences and moving rally cries. However the script, by Randall Wallace, at times becomes a sort of Hollywood-ified version of events that occurred seven hundred years ago, leaving many questionable decisions throughout the film. But thanks to Gibson’s hand in the project, Braveheart becomes an almost cruel fable for what some must do for the freedom of others.
Steve – As a brash 20 year old with Scottish ancestors I couldn’t have been happier with the Academy’s decision to give this movie the nod. As I revisit it, with its continuity errors, sloppy extras, stuffed horse and historical inaccuracies, I’m baffled by its victory. I still get really pumped when I watch it, but a best picture it is not. That kind of distinction calls for real craftsmanship, and Mel Gibson had a long way to go before getting the hang of things.
Ryan – When watching Braveheart, let’s be honest you’re not watching it for the historical accuracy, or the Scottish accents (ladies, and some gents, excluded). What you’re really watching it for is THE HAIR. Those long flowing natty locks, admit it, they get you every time! It’s ok, I understand, we aren’t all so blessed. Oh yes, right, the movie. Well, Braveheart is without a doubt one of my all time favorite movies. Powerfully epic, laying out the framework for your modern historical epic. While managing to delve in a bit, and look harshly at many of the prevailing characters of the time (even if they are a bit glorified/villianified). Never shying away from the violence, and blasting the magnificent James Horner tune, it’s a movie I can get behind every single time.
Dan – Though it’s not completley accurate, Braveheart is still one of the best epics, with its great action sequences, influential gritty style, as well as a great directing job and acting job from one of the greats, Mel Gibson.
SamuraiFrog – I’ve heard the many complaints leveled at this film regarding the violence, the homophobia, the historical inaccuracies: none of them bother me. This movie is an impossible blend of popcorn action, sweeping romance, comedy, and the best of the Shakespearean history plays. That it’s not at all self-conscious about those things is pretty amazing in its own right.
Jonathan – Mel Gibson’s drama/action/romance epic was both a piece of visionary melodramatic film-making, and a marketing phenomenon. Braveheart won five Oscars, including Best Picture, and was a triumph for Mel Gibson, producer Bruce Beresford, and for the studio, Gibson’s own Icon Entertainment. Braveheart gains most of its capital on simple concepts like love and patriotism. Sure, it simplifies history, and some of the early love scenes border on parody, but what do we know about William Wallace anyway? Cinema is one of the ultimate outlets of fantasy, and Braveheart is fantasy all the way. It also reminds of a time when Mel Gibson wasn’t the punch-line of a bad joke (two words: ‘sugar tits’). This is a guy who can act, who can direct, who can look at a $200 million project like Braveheart and keep his cool. This guy is a born story-teller.
Yojimbo Five – Braveheart is a gritty, stirring story given to hyper-theatrics and a kinetic presentation style during the bloody battle scenes that has been emulated (but rarely matched) by every subsequent historic sword-and-sandal film. It provides a great starring role for Gibson that neatly ties in with his martyr screen persona (whether he is “Mad” Max or Detective Riggs), and his final fate—publicly drawn and quartered (which may be a screen first)—is discretely accomplished inches off-screen. The film boasts other great performances by Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, McGoohan, Angus MacFadyen and Sophie Marceau. It may be out of place to mention it in an article that includes a talking pig movie, but The Times declared “Braveheart” second in it’s “10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies” (for instance, the “primae noctis” decree that is made so much of wasn’t used, if it even existed). Gibson defends the credibility gaps, saying they made more “cinematically compelling.” Can’t argue with that.
Il Postino (The Postman)
Douglas – Arguably one of the most overrated movies nominated for best picture in the 90’s. It felt too long, it dragged, sometimes abrupt. Calling this movie poetry is overreaching, it is a movie medicine for insomniacs.
Jesue – This film feels like one of those horrible Christmas gifts. Two-dollar socks wrapped in beautiful expensive paper. Looks good at first but once opened, one feels such a heavy feeling of disappointment. The cinematography was breathtaking and the actors were too. But the story was just. Blerghh. It felt like I wasted my time but it also felt like it was worth watching. I think a second viewing might just change my opinion. It might be brilliant. But I probably just missed it.
Julian – – To be completely honest, I didn’t care for 1995’s sole foreign-language Picture nominee, Il Postino. It felt heavy handed, and there was nothing remarkable about it. How did Massimo Troisi get an Oscar nomination? He did nothing special in the film whatsoever. There wasn’t much of a role to sink into, no real-life figure to perfectly emulate, and not much emotion to convey. In addition, the story. Looking at the awards it had been nominated for and received that season, the film was probably an upset nominee anyway.
Louis – Il Postino is a once again a fine film, although this film really failed to earn my interest as the others films did. I still found it to be a nice enough film, even though it never became that interesting.
Ryan – The kind of movie critics and the like just eat up. Riddled with political presence, humanist impression, and poetic beauty, IL Postino has all the markings of a great film. The kind of film that would just never fly in the US, despite its grandeur, and relatable characters. Mostly because it’s just not very exciting. Relying mostly on a series of small events in between life changing ones, it’s not the kind of film that can hold an action based societies attention. For better or for worse.
Dan – Though slow, Il Postino features great writing , about love, poetry, and the things that inspire us to write, as well as two great performances from the cast, as well as to a perfect farewell to an actor that never got his shot.
Alex – Any Oscar buzzer’s first reaction is how the hell did this get there? It’s seriously hard to explain, either sympathy for the leading actor’s tragic story, some fierce Miramax campaigning, who knows… What I can say is that I’ve seen better foreign language films which were eligible, but completely ignored. Il postino is ok, good at times and with a terrific ending. The ending is what saves it from the slooooow seas it swims in.
Ross – Il Postino works as a sweet, understated look at the power of words and poetry, but falters in the many different directions it tries to reach. The romantic relationship, as well as the friendship between poet and letter carrier, only moderately work, while the rarely hinted at revolution seems to work itself into the story only as a means to a closing point. The understated performances of Philippe Noiret and Massimo Troisi and their admiration for the beauty of words help make Il Postino something special.
Simon – I thought this was that crap Kevin Costner movie until, like, last week, when I Youtubed that sh*t, and found this. It never really resonated with me as I think it should’ve, but it was fine all the same.
Yojimbo Five – A sunny, affectionate film—reminiscent of “Cyrano de Bergerac”—it tells the tale of the upheaval the Italian island of Salina experiences when the poet Pablo Neruda temporarily settle there, a political exile. Very popular at the time, Il Postino has faded from memory somewhat, its influence in the culture less than the other nominees, although it garnered five Oscar nominations—Picture, Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay—winning the Award for score (As the Academy appears to be tone-deaf, they can be counted on to vote for the composer with the most exotic name). A pleasant-enough film experience, its presence on the “Best Picture” nominations is a bit inexplicable.
SamuraiFrog – Seeing this movie for the first time, I’m surprised by how low key it is. At the time, it seemed everyone was talking about this whimsical romantic comedy that sounded utterly insipid. Instead, it turns out to be a film about an unexpected friendship elevated by performances that are never showy, but simply observant. A sentimental film, to be sure, but never cloying.
Landen – It’s rare for a foreign film to be honored with a Best Picture nomination. It’s equally puzzling why this film, though quaint and wholly enjoyable, was received as well as it was. Aside from the astonishing story behind how the film was made, it’s a very touching story of a simple man finding beauty in the world through poetry and love. It has solid direction and very touching performances. Il Postino isn’t flashy and doesn’t wallow in its drama like big Hollywood productions. It keeps a brisk pace while maintaining a very insightful look into personal discovery.
Aaron – Where Sense and Sensibility had the ability to adapt a grand work of literature, Il Postino captures the love, passion and politics of poetry. It is not often that the common person has the chance to meet an icon, or given the chance to express their appreciation for their work. Mario in the fictitious Il Postino learns and lives from the work of real-life poet Pablo Neruda. Mario gains the pains of love, but learns the means to express it to his love, Beatrice. The charming touch of the soundtrack, the cinematic beauty of the setting, the gorgeousness of Maria Grazia Cucinotta as Beatrice; Il Postino is as much of poetry as it is a film. This delicate film tells Mario’s story on how he learned to love poetry, and in turn, the viewer is subjected to love it too.
Jonathan – Notable for the unfortunate death of its star Massimo Troisi (who died of a heart attack age 44 just twelve hours after filming was complete, having delayed surgery to be in the film), Il Postino is a quiet, understated and moving parable about friendship and art. Troisi himself is wonderful in the main role of Mario, and he became one of only a handful of actors (the late Heath Ledger included) to be nominated for an Academy Award posthumously. Il Postino was, at the time, a big surprise as a Best Picture nominee. Time seems to have unfortunately forgotten this movie – of all the nominees, chances are this is the one that you’ve never heard of. Seek it out – it tells a powerful story with modesty and intrigue, and casts the shadow of another hidden talent, taken from his art too soon.
Malcolm – The whole film is nothing short of a poetic masterpiece. This small Italian gem creates catchy Italian mood and places emotionally resonant characters that became memorable to me. It has a very subtle direction, a smart screenplay, an emotionally meaningful and rich music, and a breathtaking ending that still gives me the chills even after repeated viewings. The whole movie thrills me every time I see it. It is one small piece of movie miracle.
Sense and Sensibility
Dan – Though it looks good, with some credible acting, Sense and Sensibility is not a very entertaining film, mostly due to its bleak screenplay, as well as its uninteresting twists it tries to put on its viewers.
SamuraiFrog – Emma Thompson is the saving grace of this film, which is not really a mess, but not anything substantial, either. Most of the performances are annoyingly contemporary (Hugh Grant is especially grating), and I just can’t work up any emotions regarding the meat of the story. It’s not a bad movie. It’s just there.
Louis – Not a great film by any measure, but certainly enjoyable enough. A fairly standard adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, and it is just a pleasant film to watch. It is not particularly thought provoking or a truly great period piece film but it is good.
Jonathan – A prim, proper, and workmanlike period drama, Sense and Sensibility is perhaps the most indistinct of the 1995 nominees. It’s not a bad movie, and it rolls along at an enjoyable pace, with crisp writing (thanks to Emma Thompson’s screenplay) and fine acting. But something about it feels rather soulless. So much of the magic of Jane Austen’s novels lie in the intangible genius of their creator, and many are classic exponents of the concept that the genius lies in the writing, not the narrative. Sense and Sensbility know the words of Austen’s book, but not the music.
Julian – 1995 marked the year that Jane Austen’s classic novel Sense and Sensibility was brought to the silver screen by director Ang Lee. Emma Thompson wrote the script based on the novel, for which she won her second Oscar (her first for writing). She also played Elinor, the sensible sister of the Dashwood family, and received a Best Actress nomination for her role. Sense also marked the first Academy Award nomination for a young Kate Winslet. Winslet is probably at her most natural in this film as Marianne, the whimsical sister of the Dashwood family. It was a pretty typical decision for the Academy, given their then obsession with prestige period pieces.
Steve – A whole bunch of people have kinds of important things to say to each other, but they don’t, because they’re British – and it’s 200 years ago. The intolerable pace at which events unfold would have made this movie excruciating, were it not for the fact that Ang Lee really knows how to make a movie. The craftsmanship that Braveheart lacks is clearly manifested in this film, but unfortunately it only amounts to drinking stale beer from a handcrafted stein. It’s odd that a film can actually make me crave the more shlocky rom-coms that dispense with all the formalities. What was my exercise in restraint? Not fast-forwarding through the wordier scenes. Regardless, Alan Rickman was clearly the sh*t in this movie – his cool delivery has never been sharper. One has to wonder, why exactly is it that Hugh Grant hasn’t done a Harry Potter film, practically everyone else in this film has.
Ross – Sense and Sensibility plays exactly like you would expect. Anyone who has read the works of Jane Austen could assume that this is as close as an accurate adaptation as anyone, including Austen herself, could imagine. The script by Emma Thompson, who also stars as the oldest of the Dashwood daughters, Elinor, shows a true love and knowledge of the source material and the characters are elegantly handles through all performances. Yet Ang Lee’s direction leaves much to be desired. While Lee is a master auteur, his adaptation is visually, typical. But it is in the words where Sense and Sensibility comes alive, as incorrect assumptions and choice words can blow the Dashwood family into a veritable disaster. But with Thompson behind the script and an incredible who’s who of British talent, Austen would be proud, even if it’s not groundbreaking.
Ryan – There’s a certain charm, and beauty, to the narrative tellings of Emma Thompson, and the visually diverse Ang Lee. They create a generic period romance film without forcing the issue. In spite of over the top clothing, they concentrate on the characters, each struggling in their own way. The disconnected narrative is intriguing, if not a bit long winded. Dedicated to observation, and not, intrusion, it’s a rare romance that’s romantic, without forcing the issue.
Aaron – Ang Lee is truly a painter and is a perfect pairing for this film. Certain master shots are as if they were illustrated by a Romantic period painter, and features the lush backgrounds, all which visually describe the idealistic nature of the time and the novel. The overall production value is so solid and believable that the film, all though set in the early 19th century, has a timelessness that prevents it from being a dated adaptation from the novel, as most Romance period adaptations are. The actual story appears to be slow and it does not help with Hugh Grant stumbling over his lines, but most of the ensemble cast appears to stumble through the subtle ironic comedy in general. Emma Thomson’s casting appears to be mismatched especially opposite of Grant. The slow pacing of Sense and Sensibility should help elevate the plot line of the film to the intellectual level of the novel, but it just misses the slam dunk on adapting the written word.
Landen – Period pieces aren’t for everyone. But quite often they aren’t as prim and proper and inaccessible as they are made out to be. Sense and Sensibility is one of those basic human dramas that transcends time and isn’t a prisoner to its time and place. Sure, it’s crafted around conservative values, honor, and doing right by society, but at its heart it’s a poignant romance story the likes of which have been repeated countless times through history. And it’s so invigorating to see an actor come at writing a script of such great heights as Emma Thompson did here.
Jesue – There was a moment in the film when an important detail is revealed; Emma Thompson’s character suddenly bursts into tears in front of her family and her lover. It was a release for her and it was a release for me. Because of society, romance and love is cruelly suppressed. So much so, I start to literally feel the heavy emotional weight these women have to carry. The complexities of their relationships and the situations they find themselves in, whether it be illness or rejection, adds to this weight and after a while it becomes unbearable. Then the aforementioned scene plays and Emma Thompson gives a brilliant performance showing us what happens when that weight finally gets lifted. I’ve never read a Jane Austen book but I’m pretty sure Ang Lee’s film is a worthy adaptation of her book.
Alex – I love some Jane Austen flick. Sense and Sensibility reminded us how cool can such an English romance be. I am subjective about such films filled with great acting and great writing AND… well, such a nice era to set a film it. S & S is delicately directed, it moves with passion and easiness and I just love the final result. Like we needed more proof that Emma Thompson is so damn smart: that screenplay rocks in beauty, grace and balance.
Douglas – My favorite of the bunch. It was everything that 3 of the other nominated films were not. Characters are expertly developed, it has the right amount of sentimentality, it was elaborate and expertly told.
Malcolm – This is splendid filmmaking. It has what it takes to be a great movie – smart and believable performances, sharp and witty screenplay, atmospheric production and visuals, and the romance that is arguably one of the most charming. The direction is very subtle and the play of words is just so fun to listen to. It’s a kind of a movie that is as fresh as the first viewing, but it grows and grows until you become a part of it. A justified contemporary classic.
Simon – To me, this is, above all else, a showcase of Ang Lee’s range. If he can do this one year, and the very next, The Ice Storm, then alright. Lovely, sweeping, terrifically acted, I’d have voted this my win for the year.
Andrew – A brilliantly written, superbly directed and well acted masterpiece. Too many superlatives? I don’t think so… even Hugh Grant’s worse performance can’t mar the beauty of this film when Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman are doing beautiful work.
Yojimbo Five – The almost hysterical imperative to marry informs and dominates the lives of the three girls in the Dashwood family, and the circumstances and complications that surround their interactions with potential suitors runs the gamut of emotions, all presented by an impeccable cast of actors, who would dominate cinema for the next decade. That it is the first English-language film of Chinese director Ang Lee makes it astonishing, but it really shouldn’t be—the lives of the Dashwoods are as foreign to modern audiences as they were to Lee. But everyone understands love and heart-break. And Lee’s first big-budget film benefits from his keen eye for detail and landscape—not only of the rural English countryside, but also of the human heart. Any film that can take its source material and improve it while showing proper respect for that source is one that all films should aspire to. To make it “cinematically compelling” in that transition makes it the best a film can be.
So, no film received a score lower than 50.
And the winner is………………..
Before I announce the winner, any last words from the members of the jury?
Aaron – Taking a look at the nominations and the films that were not nominated for Best Picture, I certainly see why the Academy recently increased the amount of nominations for Best Picture in 2010 to ten. There were many great films that were released in 1995, many of which deserved nominations alongside the nominated five. The mid-90s was the pinnacle of traditional Hollywood decadence, and the films nominated show the truth within that statement.
All the films nominated that year were adaptations from other sources. You have the early CGI-based Babe (and its non-nominated counterpart Toy Story) that showed a gentle implementation of the craft into live-action gentleness of Babe’s character. Both Sense and Sensibility and Apollo 13 were designed to be accurate representations of the time, and succeed so well with Il Postino following close behind. But then you have Braveheart which threw out historically accurate representations for entertainment purposes.
I have to attest for the year, Braveheart’s win was well deserved as it is one of many films that truly became a classic staple in cinema history. For its time, Braveheart was the clear winner. However, the film has not aged nearly as well as it should have, and I only give the film 3 stars.
Alex – 1995 was a good year. I was mostly generous with these 5, but I don’t hate any of them. Two stand out, but due to very different reasons: both quality, but there’s a long way from the English countryside to the barn Babe lived in. Of course, Casino should’ve been there, as I think it’s an alltime best. The Bridges of Madison County should’ve been there. But there’s no such thing as a perfect (rarely a great one) Best Picture line-up. My winner from the 5: Sense and Sensibility.
Dan – The year of 1995 was a good one for films. I think that this out of all of the 90s was a weak year for the Best Picture race, however, it still had its great highlights. I was passionate about two of the films, the other ones I enjoyed, and sadly that last one for me, sucked. But hey, we learn some and we lose some.
Douglas – It was a generic line up, it could have been better but then they had to settle for a blah list. They could have shaken that year if they had “Se7en”, “Before Sunrise” and “Dead Man Walking” in the list. I could easily think of 10 movies to replace the three in the bunch. But I would retain “Sense and Sensibility” in the top 5.
Jesue – I thought half of the nominees were strong but none of them stood out as being great or iconic. Sense and Sensibility was fantastic and Babe was fun but Oscar material? I’m not sure. There are other movies that deserved to be on the list but this shows that the Academy never seem to get it right do they?
Jonathan – A pretty solid crew, although strangely predictable when one looks at the movies on paper – a studio heart-tugger (Apollo 13), an historical action epic (Braveheart), the little foreign movie that could (Il Postino), and a period piece (Sense and Sensibility). The only real surprise nominee is Babe, one of the few family movies to be considered (and dismissed just as quickly, I’d wager) for the award.
Saying that the Academy Awards is predictable is like calling a dog stupid. The least we can ask for is that the Academy, within their narrow scope of nomination-worthy films, at least chooses good examples of each genre. I think this was the case in 1995, although it’s curious to note that only two of the films on the list are still talked about (Braveheart and Babe, although Apollo 13 still stirs fond memories when brought up in conversation). Makes you wonder – will anyone still be talking about District 9 or Little Miss Sunshine in 15 years, or will they be the also-rans that Sense and Sensbility and Il Postino have become?
Julian – While this group of Best Picture nominees varies in quality, they all have something in common: they all tell tales of triumph. Apollo 13 told the tale of an American triumph, Babe showed that the impossible could be possible, Braveheart proved that courage and determination are not to be scoffed at, Il Postino (The Postman) conveyed that one can receive his/her heart’s desire, and Sense and Sensibility proved that true love conquers all. With one of the great American films Forrest Gump winning Best Picture the year before, the Academy voters showed that they still loved a good (or in the case of Il Postino, bad) story of triumph.
Out of these five films, Apollo 13 and Braveheart will be regarded as film classics. Babe might be considered a classic as well, but not in the same league as the other two films. As far as I’m concerned, Babe is the best film of this lineup. It is not only a quality film with excellent writing; it conveys conquering obstacles in a unique way that these other films simply cannot. It may not be the most recognized of the bunch, but to me the Best Picture in this lineup is Babe.
Landen – 1995 marks an interesting year for the Academy Awards. Despite one’s personal feelings about the films nominated, the selections no doubt say something about the time in which they were made. With that in mind, it’s interesting to mention that all five of these films exist in another place and time. Four of the films are set in another country and the one film that is set in America is set thirty years before 1995. Perhaps this is because our economic climate was starting to rise and we could indulge in a few flights of fancy. It’s a shame that films like Casino, Seven, and Toy Story were overlooked for Best Picture (though were nominated in other categories.) Out of the five nominees, it’s interesting to see what has stood the test of time and what might’ve been a product of the year it was released. Braveheart winning feels appropriate for the sensibilities of the nineties as it feels related to The English Patient, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, and the other sweeping epic films that dominated the decade. Is the question did it deserve it, or does it still?
Louis – The year overall was just good as none of the films were great. I actually do not mind selecting Babe as my choice because it certainly was an enjoyable film. It was not a great line up but I did not mind watching a single film.
Malcolm – It’s a really great year for movies. A lot of movies have been ignored in the categories, and I could have filled this list with other movies and it would still be a wonderful list. About the line-up, it has four movies that are all classics. Those four are already part of my all-time favorites, because they hold up enough for them to be still watchable even after repeated viewings. Those four excites me always because those four are all near-perfect. Sadly enough, the Academy chose the movie that, though undoubtedly well-executed, can’t justify the fact that it was the movie that beat the other four. Don’t get me started with the screenplay nomination. Well, beside from that, it’s a wonderful line-up.
Ross – Most years at the Oscar’s, the films chosen as Best Picture nominees are focused on the worst sides of the human condition. Yet with 1995, we see many sides of one of the greatest emotions: hope. Hope for acceptance, love, freedom, notoriety and individualism permeate all five films, which makes it possibly one of the most optimistic of Oscar years. While there were better films that could have been nominated in ’95 (Toy Story, Seven, Nixon), these five give a great idea of the diversity of this great film year.
Ryan – 1995 was definitely not a bad year for film one bit. The return of James Bond (Goldeneye), the rise of Pixar (Toy Story), and the coming out party for David Fincher (Se7en). Then again it was also the year where Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Batman Forever both managed to top the highest grossing films in the US, so let’s not get carried away. A diverse year that brought us everything from Braveheart to Clueless, and quite literally everything in between. A fond year from my childhood, with the likes of Toy Story, Pocahontas, and Casper. So, while it may not win points for perfection, it wasn’t all that bad.
SamuraiFrog – 15 years removed, it’s interesting to go back to what feels like a bygone era of filmmaking. There seemed to be much more room then for movies that were small and pleasant, as well as movies that were ambitious but simple. I don’t want to romanticize it as a more genuine time, but everything seems so much louder and more “high concept” now. I would put four of these films up against anything that was nominated for Best Picture last year.
Simon – Overall, this Oscar year was rather dismal…almost all stuffy period pieces, a rather poor follow up to the year of Forest Gump vs. Pulp Fiction. Not unwatchable, but nothing to write Ebert about.
Steve – I recall that the big deal in 1995 was about Mel Gibson doing the star and directing thing, but this wasn’t the level of artistic mastery that someone like Clint Eastwood has exemplified. I am surprised that Sense and Sensibility didn’t win, in that it seems to be exactly the kind of film that members of the Academy would like, but I suppose it was really just as foreign a film as Il Postino. By comparison to the films of today, the crop of 1995 nominees seem to lack a certain kind of polish and spectacle, the films are fairly unambitious, with the exception of Babe that might seem simple at first glance, but took a delicate hand to pull off all it’s many elements and drawing the audience into its world. Overall, I consider 1995 to be a forgettable year where one of my favourite films won best picture, yet I can’t help but feel it didn’t deserve it.
Yojimbo Five – Generally, the 1995 Best Picture list is a good crop of films that have had staying power, and, frankly, it’s a bit tough to choose between the Apples and Oranges to determine which one is the Best Film. The one that’s a bit of a stretch is “Il Postino,” but you can attribute that to the “Miramax effect” of aggressive Oscar campaigning. (Here’s a list of the films that could have been nominated: Before Sunrise, The Bridges of Madison County, The City of Lost Children, Clockers, Dead Man Walking, Get Shorty, Heat, Leaving Las Vegas, A Little Princess, Twelve Monkeys, Toy Story, and The Usual Suspects—you be the judge). But for me, of the five, Sense and Sensibility is the winner this time. A “woman’s picture” butch enough to have the sense and sensibility to question the romantic tropes, and even the sanity, of its flawed but all-too-human soldiers of love, Ang Lee and Emma Thompson’s film is one of those costume dramas more concerned with the people inside the costumes trapped inside their times and mores. They are not extraordinary people. They are all too ordinary and completely relatable in their gifts and flaws. And the gentle way that the film-makers communicate the absurdities of the romantic rondelets while giving the participants the respect they are due sets it apart from the other films in the list.
Of the nominees, I own two on DVD, Babe and Sense and Sensibility.
So, I now have to say it. The winner, Garnering the highest score is……….
By 16 points, it beat the runner up, Sense and Sensibility!
Apollo 13 – 64 stars
Babe – 83 stars
Braveheart – 58 stars
Il Postino (The Postman) – 56 stars
Sense and Sensibility – 67 stars
The movie with the most 1′s: Braveheart (3)
The movie with the most 2′s: Il Postino (6)
The movie with the most 3′s: Sense and Sensibility (7)
The movie with the most 4′s: Babe (7)
The movie with the most 5′s: Babe (11)
The movie with no 1′s: Babe, Il Postino, and Sense and Sensibility
The movie with no 2′s: Babe
The movie with no 3′s: Babe
The movie with no4′s: none
The movie with no 5′s: none
……………………….. ……1 star ….. 2 stars….. 3 stars ….. 4 stars ….. 5 stars
Apollo 13…………………. 1 ………….2…………….5………………6……………4.
Il Postino……………….. n/a…………6……………5………………6……………1
Sense & Sensibility…..n/a…………2……………7………………3……………6
Honestly, I was expecting to see Apollo 13 or Sense and Sensibility to win when I drafted this. Now, here’s what I found out. (This is my analysis of their analysis).
Apollo 13: It’s OK, but put down by the too much American in it.
Babe: Nothing but praises!
Braveheart: The movie with the most varied consensus. Complaints mostly come from its historical inaccuracy and its screenplay (mostly on the drama and romance). Praises is from the battle scenes and from their defense about its inaccuracy.
Il Postino: It’s OK, mostly lukewarm, due to its pacing – slow.
Sense and Sensibility: It’s great, criticisms mostly come from the pacing and casting. Praises comes from screenplay and the film itself.
Praises from Babe are on varying degrees, mostly because it was a staple from the childhood memories. Minimal criticisms were given to the movie. I haven’t seen the movie when I was a kid, but seeing this as a young teen, it’s a kind of a movie that will really stick onto a child’s mind and imagination.
So, win deserved.
Personal Note to the Jury:
Thank you so, so much for joining! This would have never been successful without your support and cooperation. I hope you’ll join me in an another smackdown, if God will allow. And to the readers, I hope that next time, you’ll be able to join in the next smackdown. Again, thanks to all. Thanks be to God!
Feel free to comment about the recently concluded smackdown. Comments, suggestions, and criticisms are extremely welcome. Adios!