Best Picture Profile: Ghost

Directed by: Jerry Zucker

Company: Paramount Pictures

Runtime: 127 minutes


I guess this is one of the biggest shocks EVER in this category. Ever.

The movie starts with a young couple, Sam and Molly, and their friend,  Carl, renovating the apartment unit that they have recently occupied. They’re happy, as every young American couple should be. Their only problem: the guy can’t directly say I love you to the girl. Unfortunately, after one night, he was killed in a supposedly one random hold-up. He still walks around, but now, as a ghost. He visits one psychic/con artist, Oda Mae, who never believed that she have the gift even though she makes her living in it. He wants her to help him save his girl.

First of all, I myself am a bit skeptical at the first place whether it was really Oscar best picture quality or not. But now, I’ve already decided. After several viewings.

The movie is quite hard to make a profile on because it’s a genre movie – lots of genres. It’s to be blamed to the director and the writers. But they had it so well that it looked very seamless, even of repeated viewings.

But one fact is totally undeniable: this is one timeless romance classic. It’s the perfect movie for the thing called “undying love.” The romance really works. It’s because of the chemistry between the two leads.

The comedy works so well, but even if it’s the most enjoyable part of the movie, it somewhat threw the movie off-balance due to the fact that the director set a very dark mood at the start of the film. So, I understand if someone would say, “okay, it’s getting quite weird here.” It’s effective but it’s undeniably inconsistent with the mood.

But even if it happened that way, it’s just so well-executed. I could say is that the director is to be praised. To deliver this lotsa’ genre movie so well is just fascinating. Jerry Zucker, with his experience as a comedy director, uses slapstick to move the plot. Surely, the romance is the one that dominates the whole film, but the screenplay uses the comedy to develop the scenario.

It’s really a movie that constantly shifts moods in order to make the plot progress and for the whole thing to build up in its thrilling climax. The climax is the director’s masterpiece. This is where the direction either succeeds or fails, because this is such a sequence filled with enormous tension, but at the same time, it should still be noted that there is the romance and the supernatural things going with it.

But it’s far from perfect: the rules are not made clear, something that, even entertaining to watch, is considerably a necessary question of quality. The “walking ghosts” genre have been there for quite some time, having The Sixth Sense as the best example. All I can say is that it’s the screenplay’s fault. I mean, what can he really hold and what’s not. He can’t push the rubber shoe, but he can hold to the arm rest of the chair. The Subway Ghost pushed him to the train, he kept passing through the poles and doors, but he stops on a door. It’s somewhat forgivable, but if you’re going to make rules, please make it consistent.

But it’s also the screenplay who gave it such an entertaining ride. The genius of the screenplay really comes of in the dialogue scenes with the dead guy and the psychic. Who would ever think of those hilarious lines? And those romantic lines to cherish – “The love inside – you take it with you.” (insert cringe here) I know it’s somewhat cheesy, but you don’t get more romantic than that!

Also, take note of that small piece of dialogue the screenplay used to subtly emphasize the motives of the characters – here is an excerpt:

MOLLY It's gorgeous.

CARL You guys lucked out. Hell, I bet you 
could sell it tomorrow and double 
your investment.

MOLLY Sell it? Carl, we just bought it.

Maybe it’s to small to be noticed, but it’s a brilliant hint of the character’s inside feelings and priorities.

Well that brings us to the acting. All i could say is that the actors were all FIT for their roles. Patrick Swayze is perfect as the guy, Demi Moore is lovely as the girl, and Whoopi Goldberg was fantastic, Tony Goldwyn was effective as the friend.

But they also had problems: Swayze made some faces that are somewhat unexplained or just unintentionally funny, Moore was stuck in a paper-thin role, Goldberg, who was utterly the movie’s best acting triumph, was also stuck in a stereotype, and Goldwyn made me somewhat sick.

The technical side ranges from good to great to pretty dated. The cinematography, editing, and sound were pretty good. The music was great, captivating the “longing for love” feeling of the movie. And the song was a great choice! But the visual effects and some parts of the music were pretty dated, but it’s fun to watch, though.

But in the end, it still is a shining glory of being an effective Hollywood entertainment. But is this really an Oscar-quality movie? Think about it, the film was really Hollywood-ish. These kind of populist movies only sneak in the Best Picture race if the year was undeniably weak. But if you have Reversal of Fortune and The Grifters, more of those Oscar-ish movies, it’s really ind of weird. This is really more of a crowd-pleasing tearjerker than, we should say, an Oscar bait. So, was it because of the campaign of the production company, or is it that they loved it so much? It’s a mystery.

But I can’t deny that it’s so much fun to watch this. The best picture nomination is somewhat dubious from one’s point of view. I myself am having problems defining the real thing about this movie: was it really that good or was it just one of my guilty pleasure movies? I guess both. The shortcomings are really there, but they turn invisible when you are already watching it. It’s endlessly watchable, especially Whoopi’ parts.

Removing my own pleasures in this film, I do think it’s one interesting choice from the Academy,

For this, the movie gets :

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

2 thoughts on “Best Picture Profile: Ghost

  1. Sometimes, they nominate something for Best Picture out of pure, unexplainable love. I’m one of those who sobs every time I see this movie. SOBS. OUT LOUD. Which made the last Ghost party I went to really awkward. But, yeah, amazing movie.


    • The Academy does that most of the time, especially when they’re so popular. (I think it’s in the same league with Four Weddings and a Funeral, Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets, Chocolat) But these loved films mostly don’t really have the chance in winning, especially in most cases when they are not granted Best Director.

      But I agree with you, amazing movie. Though mostly just crowd pleasing.


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