THE VERDICT – Best Motion Picture: 1990

So, here it is! After viewing, and reviewing the five nominees for best picture that year, here is the verdict, served by yours truly!

You can just click on the titles for their profiles.

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5. Awakenings

Though it was emotionally affecting and doesn’t set itself into a wrong foot, it played safe by just doing the basics and it never really tried to something new or special, therefore giving a well-done yet undeniably forgettable product.

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Best Scene: Leonard, newly awakened, spreads his arms to mother
Best Performance: Robert DeNiro as Leonard Lowe

 

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4. Goodfellas

The film lack in subtlety, but it is overwhelmingly fierce and wild. It’s master Scorsese in his top form. It’s one of those films that tried to dig the roots of a gangster. And it succeeds on all it aimed to be. Maybe hard to fully love, but it’s ferocious filmmaking.

Best Scene: Henry taking Karen inside the Copacabana through the kitchen
Best Performances: Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco

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3. Ghost

It’s Hollywood pop movie done very well. It has the qualities of a very good movie – technically accomplished, heartbraking, entertaining. It never was an Oscar movie, but it’s lovely, and most importantly, watchable.

Best Scene: Sam explaining to Molly through Oda Mae his presence

Best Performance: Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown.

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 2. Dances With Wolves

Filmed on a grand scale but told in such a personal way, Dances With Wolves is a surprisingly majestic journey with high production values. The characters are fully rounded, and the direction is masterful.

Best Scene: The breathtaking buffalo stampede
Best Performance: Mary McDonell

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1. The Godfather Part III

It hits all those notes right. Nostalgia doesn’t get better than this. Although this works better as a real continuation to the series, it’s an epic microcosm of the slow downfall of the family due to violence. And even though it’s lengthy, it doesn’t set its foot on dragging, albeit profoundly entertaining and beautifully made. Flawless.

Best Scene: The opera/massive murder sequence
Best Performance: Al Pacino

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Frankly, I have been quite generous with the top 3. But considering their respective achievements, I didn’t hesitate.

So, here’s my personal picks in my ballot for Best Picture:

Dances With Wolves
Ghost
The Godfather Part III
Goodfellas
Reversal of Fortune

I guess Dances With Wolves winning was a not total landslide. I see it as first, followed very closely by Goodfellas, then The Godfather Part II, then Ghost, due to the popularity, then last is Awakenings. But the real fight’s just between Dances With Wolves and Goodfellas.

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What’s you pick? Do you agree with the Academy, or with me, or you have a different choice?

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Note: The next year is still undergoing studying.

Best Picture Profile: Ghost

Directed by: Jerry Zucker

Company: Paramount Pictures

Runtime: 127 minutes

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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?

INTRODUCTION – Best Motion Picture: 1990

So, this is my first year for the Best Picture Project!

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This is not my first choice in this category for my blog-a-thon. But since I accidentally met my long-lost Dances With Wolves, I can now do it.  I haven’t seen it, but let’s see. So, the nominees are:

Awakenings

Dances With Wolves

Ghost

The Godfather Part III

Goodfellas

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Who would be my pick?

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Would it be the hospital drama? Or the western epic? Or the mystery-thriller-drama-romance-comedy-horror? Or the final installment of the epic gangster trilogy? Or the violent gangster drama?

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I’ll start with a random nominee, then the last would be the Best Picture Winner, Dances With Wolves.

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So, dear viewer, would I go with the Academy? Or would I go with an another nominee?

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Because of this project, I decided to go away with the norm of having stars. And because Meryl Streep is my all time favorite actress (I mean it, all time), I decided to use her as my rating system, the MERYLS!

5 MERYLS would be the highest.

1 MERYL would be the lowest.

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I’m quite sure I won’t give zero ratings because that’s impossible. Even if the film itself is not fully deserving of the nomination, I’m sure there’s something that gave the Academy the will to give a movie a nomination (The Blind Side of last year as an example, though I haven’t seen it yet).