For my 2nd segment for the Oscar rundown, we get into the 80's. The 80's truly encompass my beginnings as a huge film buff. While the 80's might not be the best decade of film (the 60's and 70's are probably my two favorites), it's hard to find a decade that was more entertaining. This was also the decade, for better or worse, that the tent pole movies started coming into play. As I said in my previous post, "Jaws" changed the landscape of film, and in the 80's you can start seeing how that landmark of a film really took effect. 1989's "Batman" arguably took the big budget studio extravaganza into a whole new realm, but that's a little bit down the road.
All that being said, the Oscars kind of took a step back in this decade. You can see in the twenty years prior, that while the "Best Picture" winners took some fairly safe routes, there were also quite a few out of left field winners and nominees. Even though there was a lot of potential for the 80's to be the most interesting decade for the Oscars, Big sprawling epics like "Gandhi" and "Out of Africa" along with bio-pics such as "Amadeus" kind of ruled the era; not that they were all bad, but this was the decade where some great genre films (sci-fi, horror, comedy, fantasy) really could have changed the scope of the Oscars for years to come.
But alas, the Academy kind of played it safe. The movies from the 80's that are still talked about today ("Back to the Future," "Ghostbusters," "Blade Runner," etc.) barely got a mention when it came time for the Oscar ballots to go out, but maybe in the end that's a good thing. Here's a look back at what did happen and what should have happened.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Peter O'Toole ("The Stunt Man") for Best Actor - "The Stunt Man" is actually my favorite movie from 1980, and I have a feeling very few people reading this have even heard of it. It's one of those cool mind-fuck movies where reality and fiction create some extremely blurry lines, and it's really one of the few movie-within-a-movie scenarios that works. O'Toole is just brilliant as the twisted director, Eli Cross. It's a film and a performance I don't want to get into too much detail about since I don't think I could do it any justice nor would I want to ruin the surprises in store for those that have never seen it. But trust me, O'Toole deserved the nomination, and could have been one of the coolest winners in Oscar history, but Robert De Niro had to fuck everything up by being brilliant in "Raging Bull." What an asshole.
Honorable Mentions: John Corigliano ("Altered States") for Best Original Score and Akira Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" for Best Foreign Language Film.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "The Blue Lagoon" for Best Cinematography - Nestor Almendros is one of the greats when it comes to cinematography ("Days of Heaven," "Sophie's Choice"), but "The Blue Lagoon" is not a very pretty picture any way you look at it. And with great looking pictures like "Empire Strikes Back," "Altered States," and "The Shining" left out in the cold, there is just no excuse for "Lagoon" being in the mix.
Honorable Mention - "Coal Miner's Daughter" for Best Picture.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - Robert Redford ("Ordinary People") for Best Director - "Ordinary People" shouldn't have won Best Picture either, but that doesn't bother me as much as Redford's victory. Redford is a good director, but to beat out Martin Scorsese ("Raging Bull"), Roman Polanski ("Tess"), Richard Rush ("The Stunt Man"), and David Lynch ("The Elephant Man") is just asinine. Sadly this would not be the only time Scorsese lost to a first time actor turned director.
Honorable Mention: Mary Steenburgen ("Melvin and Howard") for Best Supporting Actress.
MOST DESERVING WIN - Robert De Niro (Raging Bull) for Best Actor - O'Toole would have been a really cool win for Best Actor, but I really can't argue against De Niro in the movie that should have won "Best Picture."
Honorable Mention - "Empire Strikes Back" for Best Sound and Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects - At least it won something.
BIGGEST SNUBS - "Empire Strikes Back" for Best Picture; "The Stunt Man" for Best Picture; "Dressed to Kill" for Best Original Screenplay; "The Long Good Friday" for Best Picture; Walter Matthau ("Hopscotch") for Best Actor; Stanley Kubrick ("The Shining") for Best Director. Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Lloyd Bridges could have all gotten Best Supporting Actor nods for their great work on "Airplane."
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - "The Final Countdown" or "Flash Gordon" for Best Original Song. Just to see Europe or Queen performing at the Academy Awards would be pretty awesome.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - "Fame" for Best Original Screenplay - Apparently, "And then they dance" was just some of the best writing the Academy voters had ever read.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for Best Picture - I don't think this needs much explanation.
Honorable Mention - Susan Sarandon ("Atlantic City") for Best Actress.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Reds" for Best Picture - With movies like "Body Heat," "My Dinner With Andre," and "The French Lieutenant's Woman" not even on the Oscar radar, this overindulgent and boring ass film had no business even being in consideration.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - "Chariots of Fire" for Best Picture - It beat "Raiders;" I don't care how good it is, it beat fucking "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Not to mention, "Raiders" was the hands on favorite to take down the prize, but fucking "Chariots" just had to ruin everything. We would soon learn that Spielberg's kryptonite is the Brits.
Honorable Mention - The "Arthur" theme for Best Original Song - it would have been much cooler to have seen Randy Newman win for his great song, "One More Hour" from "Ragtime" than for that awful "Toy Story 3" song he won for this year. And of course Warren Beatty beating Spielberg in the Best Director category was annoying, but I feel I already talked too much about the awful "Reds."
MOST DESERVING WIN - Rick Baker ("An American Werewolf in London") - there is a reason Baker took home his 9th Oscar in 2011, and "An American Werewolf in London" is some of the best make-up work film has ever had to offer.
Honorable Mention - Henry Fonda ("On Golden Pond") finally getting a Best Actor win; thankfully it was for an honest to god good film and performance.
BIGGEST SNUBS - "Body Heat" for best screenplay or Kathleen Turner for Best Actress; Griffin Dunne ("An American Werewolf in London") for Best Supporting Actor; "My Dinner With Andre" for Best Picture; Harrison Ford ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") for Best Actor; Bill Murray ("Stripes") for Best Actor. "Thief" for Best Picture, Screenplay, or Michael Mann for Best Director.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Kurt Russell ("Escape from New York") as Snake Plissken and Bruce Campbell ("The Evil Dead") as Ash gave two iconic performances that are remembered more today than anyone who was actually nominated in 1981; would have been cool to see either one of them get a nod. Or how about Burt Reynolds best film, "Sharky's Machine," getting a Best Picture or Screenplay nod.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - If you didn't think a low budget fantasy film could get a Best Original Score nominee you would be wrong because "Dragonslayer" did just that in 1981. The score is actually pretty good, but just to see it listed with the likes of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Ragtime," and "Chariots of Fire" is very surreal.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Jerry Goldsmith ("Poltergeist") for Best Original Score - Goldsmith is not only one of the best composers, but he just picks the coolest movies to be involved with ("Gremlins," the original "Planet of the Apes," "The Omen," "Chinatown," "Star Trek" films, etc.), and his score for "Poltergeist" has always been one of my favorites. I guess it's hard for most to argue against him losing to John Williams for "E.T.," but I think he should have won. Honorable Mentions: "Eye of the Tiger" for best song from "Rocky III" and "Tron" for Best Costume Design.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Charles Durning ("Best Little Whorehouse in Texas") for Best Supporting Actor - I love Durning, but come on! "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?" I have no problem with a great performance being recognized even if it's in a bad movie, but Durning is nothing special in this film, and I can guarantee that there was a better supporting performance that deserved to be in his place (Bill Murray in "Tootsie" for instance).
LEAST DESERVING WIN - Ben Kingsley ("Gandhi") for Best Actor - Nothing against Kingsley but 1982 produced three of my favorite acting performances, and they were all nominated: Paul Newman ("The Verdict"), Peter O'Toole ("My Favorite Year"), and Dustin Hoffman ("Tootsie"). Really only Jack Lemmon winning for "Missing" would have made it worse, but it should have gone to Newman (yet another great actor that eventually won for one of his worst roles: "The Color of Money"), and in a close second would be O'Toole and Hoffman. But this was "Gandhi's"year, so it went to Kingsley.
Honorable Mention - A very, very close runner-up is "Gandhi" winning for Best Art Direction; it beat "Blade Runner" for Christ sakes! Like I said, it was "Gandhi's" year.
MOST DESERVING WIN - "Quest for Fire" for Make-Up - Sadly, there was very little that deserved to win an Oscar in 1982, but "Quest for Fire" was one of the few films to beat "Gandhi" in any category, so it gets the mention here by default.
BIGGEST SNUBS - Where do I start? How about Eddie Murphy or Nick Nolte for acting honors in "48 Hrs;" Ricardo Montalban for Best Supporting Actor in "Star Trek II;" "Poltergeist" for Best Original Screenplay; "Blade Runner" for Best Picture. "Deathtrap" for Best Screenplay or Michael Caine for Best Actor; Sean Penn for Best Supporting Actor in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High;" "The Thing" for Best Visual Effects.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - George Romero ("Creepshow") for Best Director or Best Screenplay - still the coolest anthology ever made; talk about a sub-genre that has never gotten any love at the Oscars. And John Carpenter's "The Thing" was one of the best five films of 1982, and yes, I'm a Carpenter fan, but there are a lot of people out there that could care less about him that love this movie. And how cool would it have been to have seen "The Dark Crystal" nominated for Best Film?
STRANGEST NOMINEE - "Gandhi" for Sound - Because when I think of "Gandhi" all I can think of is how great it sounds; it did thankfully lose this award to "E.T." If only it could have lost the "Best Picture" award to "E.T." as well; the world might be a better place.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes ("Wargames") for Best Original Screenplay - "Would you like to play a game?" It's rare that such a high concept type film works, and it's even rarer that the screenplay is this good, and it really is this good, and it's even more rare that Oscar would ever recognize a movie like this. Ingmar Bergman was also nominated in this category for his great screenplay for "Fanny and Alexander;" how many foreign films have been nominated in this category? But they both lost to Horton Foote's screenplay for "Tender Mercies," which is yet another film that works almost solely on a great performance (Robert Duvall), so it winning for Best Original Screenplay makes absolutely no sense.
Honorable Mention: "The Right Stuff" for Best Picture.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Meryl Streep ("Silkwood") for Best Actress - I love Streep as much as the next guy, but this is such an overblown TV Movie of the Week posing as a big screen feature, and Steep is just not very good in it; the screenplay does her no favors; which leads me to my honorable mentions:
Honorable Mentions: "Silkwood" for Best Original Screenplay and Cher for Best Supporting Actress in...wait for it..."Silkwood."
Honorable Mention #2 (aka That Wasn't "Silkwood") - "The Big Chill" for Best Picture - Someone please explain to me the appeal of this damn movie.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - "Terms of Endearment" for Best Picture - Three of the other nominees had no business being nominated: As stated above, I can't stand "The Big Chill," and both "The Dresser" and "Tender Mercies" are more about great performances, but then there's "The Right Stuff." I have some love for "Terms of Endearment;" it's one of only a handful of films that has ever made me cry, but it beat "The Right Stuff," and I just can't figure out a way to forgive it for that.
Honorable Mention: "Flashdance: What A Feeling" for Best Original Song - the other nominees were nothing special (per usual in this category), but I really can't stand this fucking song.
MOST DESERVING WIN - Jack Nicholson ("Terms of Endearment") for Best Supporting Actor - This is one of the few performances from the 80's on where Jack wasn't just being "Jack" if you know what I mean; it's a very stripped down and honest performance It's the 70's Nicholson that we all fell in love with returning for a brief moment. Like I said I have some love for "Terms of Endearment," and I'm glad this was one of Nicholson's wins.
Honorable Mention: "The Right Stuff" for Original Score.
BIGGEST SNUBS - "A Christmas Story" for Best Screenplay; Christopher Walken ("The Dead Zone") for Best Actor; William Hurt ("Gorky Park") for Best Actor; "Fanny and Alexander" for Best Picture; Jaime Lee Curtis ("Trading Places") for Best Supporting Actress; "Zelig" for Best Picture or Woody Allen for Best Director and/or Screenplay; Al Pacino ("Scarface") for Best Actor.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Sure it was a sequel to what was even then considered one of the greatest thrillers (if not films) ever made, but "Psycho II" is not half bad (It actually holds up very well), and Anthony Perkins was top notch in his return as Norman Bates; that would have been a cool Best Actor nominee. Also, David Cronenberg's cult classic "Videodrome" could have made for some interesting nominations: James Woods for Best Actor for instance; it would have been great if his clip would have been him pulling the gun out of his stomach.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - "Flashdance" got nominated for Best Film Editing and Cinematography.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Pat Morita ("The Karate Kid") for Best Supporting Actor - The Mr. Miyagi character and stuff like "Wax On, Wax Off" has just become borderline parody at this point, so very few people seem to remember how really fucking good Morita was in this film. The film itself holds up nicely as well I might add (especially the hotness of Elisabeth Shue). But Morita deserved the nomination and in a world where the Oscars are fun and have some sort of meaning, he would have won. Yeah! I'm looking at you Mr. Haing S. Ngor ("The Killing Fields"); what have you done since you won your Oscar? I never saw you training Hilary Swank in "The Next Killing Fields" or popping up on the late night skin flick favorite, "Picasso Trigger."
Honorable Mentions: "Beverly Hills Cop" for Best Original Screenplay, Jeff Bridges ("Starman") for Best Actor, and "Ghostbusters" by Ray "Fucking" Parker Jr. for Best Original Song.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Splash" for Best Original Screenplay - the fact that "Splash" ever got made is amazing; the fact that "Splash" was actually a box office smash is unthinkable; and the fact that the screenplay would then get nominated is just flat out unforgivable.
Honorable Mention - Glenn Close ("The Natural") for Best Supporting Actress; in fairness, if there was a category for most ridiculous use of lighting of a character I think "The Natural" would be a slam dunk.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - Sally Field ("Places in the Heart") - I'm now starting to think that I just don't care much for Sally Field (she's the first repeat in this category), but either way, Judy Davis ("A Passage to India") and Vanessa Redgrave ("The Bostonians") should have been the two nominees duking it out for this award, and Field shouldn't have even been on the radar.
MOST DESERVING WIN - "Amadeus" for Best Picture - I say this loosely because all I have to base it on is what it was up against ("The Killing Fields," "A Soldier's Story," "A Passage to India," and "Places in the Heart"), and therefore it deserved the prize. That being said, 1984 could have been a really fun year for the fanboys and girls out there at the Oscars, but the Academy did not see fit to reward us. But still, "Amadeus" is a great film, and most likely the best film that won Best Picture in the 80's so it deserves a mention.
Honorable Mention - "Amadeus" for Best Costume Design.
BIGGEST SNUBS - So "Ghostbusters" doesn't get nominated for Best Picture? Fine; the Academy has never shown much love for big budget comedies, and then you throw ghosts into the picture and you're really fucked. But what I can't forgive is that it didn't get a Best Screenplay nod; this is arguably the most quoted film of all time (My personal favorite line being "Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown"), and yes, even then it was being quoted all over the damn place. So no "Ghostbusters" for Best Screenplay, but fucking "Splash" gets some love? Give me a break. Also, M. Emmett Walsh ("Blood Simple") for Best Supporting Actor, or the Coen brothers for Best Director; Eddie Murphy ("Beverly Hills Cop") for Best Actor; Francis Ford Coppola ("The Cotton Club") for Best Director; "Gremlins" for Best Visual Effects; Michael Douglas ("Romancing the Stone") for Best Actor; "This is Spinal Tap" for Best Picture or Screenplay and Christopher Guest for Best Supporting Actor.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - If all of those fucking Hobbit movies can get nominated for Best Picture then why no love for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?" Seriously, would you rather watch "The Two Towers" or "Temple of Doom?" (F.Y.I. - If your answer is "Two Towers" then you're an idiot.)
STRANGEST NOMINEE - To be honest, all of the nominees were pretty typical for the Academy, so the only thing that really stands out is how much more they could have brought to the Oscars in 84 with all of the stuff I mentioned above.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale ("Back to the Future") for Best Original Screenplay - "Back to the Future" probably deserved to be nominated for Best Picture in 1985, but there is no way in hell it was going to be, so it's pretty cool that the great screenplay got a nod. This might actually be one of the strongest years in this particular category, it was up against "Purple Rose Of Cairo," "Brazil," and the eventual winner, "Witness." I still think it should have won, but a great nomination either way. Honorable Mentions: Harrison Ford ("Witness"), after being looked over for stellar work in two "Star Wars" and two "Indiana Jones" films, finally got a deserving nod, and Jon Voight ("Runaway Train") was a pretty cool nomination in the Best Actor category as well. It does make you wonder why they decided it was okay to nominate a great performance in an action adventure film three years after "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but that is no offense to Voight. He was great and deserved the nomination.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Out of Africa" for Costume Design - Costume design has never been the most interesting category to anyone that really doesn't care at all about what people are wearing in a film (count me in that crowd of the non caring), so maybe someone who does follow this category religiously can explain to me what was so special about what they wore in "Out of Africa." There were some natives wearing what natives almost always wear in films, and Robert Redford and Meryl Streep look and dress like most people did in the early part of the 20th Century. I don't know why I care, but this just seems to me to be a throw in nomination since "Out of Africa" was in just about every other category, so why not for Costume Design as well? How about getting a little creative with a movie like "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" (Big and Colorful costuming) or something even more offbeat like "Brazil."
Honorable Mention - "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" for Best Make-Up - They made Joel Grey look old and Asian, and you thought Robert Downey's character in "Tropic Thunder" could never possibly happen in real life? Oh you would be wrong. Mickey Rooney got so much shit (and deservedly so) for portraying an Asian in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but there is no mention ever of Grey's ridiculous casting. Admittedly, he is pretty good in the role, but that still doesn't make it understandable as to why they didn't just cast an Asian actor in the role, and then for the Academy to nominate it? Oh, I give up.
MOST DESERVING WIN - Don Ameche ("Cocoon") for Best Supporting Actor - "Cocoon" is fairly typical for: A) A Ron Howard film and B) A schmaltzy and relentless Hollywood tear jerker. Still, that doesn't take away from the fact that Ameche is really good in the film, and as I've said before the Best Supporting category usually has some of the cooler nominations, and occasionally some of them actually win. This was one of those cases.
Honorable Mention - William Hurt ("Kiss of the Spider Woman") for Best Actor - It would have been cool to see Ford or Voight win, but Hurt was great as well, so no complaints.
BIGGEST SNUBS - Spielberg, it seems early on, would either lose to or get overlooked for a foreign director (when his film was nominated for Best Picture) and in this case Akira Kurosawa got nominated for "Ran," and while "The Color Purple" was nominated for Best Film, Spielberg failed to get a nod. Kurosawa was a great choice to include, but someone else could have been left out; "To Live and Die in L.A." deserved noms for both William Friedkin as director and William Petersen for Best Actor; and yet another great comedic performance got overlooked, and this time it was Chevy Chase in "Fletch" (Come on, naysayers, you know he deserved at least a mention.) And speaking of Kurosawa, "Ran" would have been a great Best Picture nomination.
THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX - How cool would it have been to see Paul Reubens get a nomination for "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure;" I've also always found it strange how horror movies don't even get a mention usually in the special effects category, but 1985's "Re-Animator" would have been a great film to buck the trend; for the detached head performing oral sex scene alone would have made it well worth the nomination. Also, Chris Sarandon, might be the coolest effeminate male vampire in the history of cinema ("Fright Night"); his character's sweater collection alone deserved a nomination (That's some "Best Costuming" people!).
STRANGEST NOMINEE - Robert Loggia is one of the greatest character actors, so I'm not upset he got nominated in the Supporting Actor category, but for an 80's legal/sex thriller like "Jagged Edge" is very odd.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - David Lynch ("Blue Velvet") - This might actually be the coolest nominee ever; "Blue Velvet" was far and away my favorite film of 1986, and Lynch is the main reason why. Sure, standard Hollywood crap got nominated in the Best Picture category over it ("Children of a Lesser God" and "The Mission"), but at least they felt fit to give Lynch the directing nod (Randa Haines got left out for "Children"). His trippy model of suburban life involving a crazed Pabst Blue Ribbon drinker sucking on Oxygen (Dennis Hopper) and a naive dork (played brilliantly by Kyle MacLachlan) getting his world turned upside down by the very sexy and bug nuts Isabella Rossellini is a treasure to behold. And Lynch directs it as if these are the sanest surroundings ever to exist, and it makes the film that much better.
Honorable Mentions - Dennis Hopper ("Hoosiers") for Best Supporting Actor. He really could have been nominated twice in this category (See Above), but he's great in "Hoosiers" as well. He might have actually had his two best performances in '86. And I also have to give props to Sigourney Weaver getting a Best Actress nomination for "Aliens;" very cool.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Jane Fonda ("The Morning After") for Best Actress - You know after finding out Loggia was nominated for "Jagged Edge," and now this, I guess I didn't realize the Academy showed a decent amount of love for these 80's psychological thrillers, but "The Morning After" (with a by the numbers directing job by the great Sidney Lumet) is just silly, and Fonda's performance (not to mention her hair) doesn't help matters. It's just a stupid nomination especially when you consider Bette Midler was overlooked for two great performances ("Down and Out in Beverly Hills" and "Ruthless People") and Mia Farrow's Best Performance ("Hannah and Her Sisters") didn't get a nod even though the film was nominated all over the place in other categories.
Honorable Mentions - I already mentioned "The Mission" and "Children of a Lesser God" getting nominated for Best Picture was awful, but it deserves another round; these are just two very average, very boring films with some good performances thrown in the mix. Two of the worst nominees in this category in the history of the awards. Oh, and "Crocodile Dundee" was nominated for Best Screenplay, but remember, "Ghostbusters" wasn't two years before. So this was the comedy script they decided to go with? Disgusting.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - Paul Newman ("The Color of Money") for Best Actor - I love, love Newman; I can't stress that enough, but his second portrayal of "Fast Eddie" Felson (This was a semi-sequel to the classic 1959 film, "The Hustler") is just so lifeless. This is by far the worst Newman performance I've ever seen, and it's the one he won the award for? Was the Academy that terrified that he would never do anything good again?
Honorable Mentions - "Room With a View" for Best Adapted Screenplay - just for the fact that it beat out the brilliant adaptation of Stephen King's "Stand By Me." This was a really cool year for nominations. And fucking "Take My Breath Away" from "Top Gun" winning for Best Original Song; "Mean Green Mother (From Outer Space)" from "Little Shop of Horrors" should have easily taken this trophy home.
MOST DESERVING WIN - "Platoon" for Best Picture - When I said "Amadeus was the best film to win this award in the 80's, I kind of forgot about "Platoon," so I will now change my opinion. "Platoon" was my 2nd favorite film of 1986 after "Blue Velvet," and it wasn't nominated, so I was perfectly fine with "Platoon" taking down the award. I really miss this younger and more focused Oliver Stone. Nowadays he just seems pissed about everything and that is really damaging his filmmaking abilities. Interesting side note, "Hannah and Her Sisters" would probably be my 3rd favorite film of '86 and it was also nominated for Best Picture; like I said, pretty cool year for nominations.
Honorable Mentions - "Aliens" for Visual Effects and "The Fly" for Make-up.
BIGGEST SNUBS - David Cronenberg ("The Fly") for Best Director; Rutger Hauer ("The Hitcher") for Best Supporting Actor; "Mona Lisa" for Best Picture and Neil Jordan for Best Director; "Ruthless People" for Best Original Screenplay; "Stand by Me" for Best Film; Christopher Walken and Sean Penn both deserved acting nods for the highly underrated (and shot in Franklin, TN) "At Close Range."
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - The character of Jack Burton from "Big Trouble in Little China" (I swear this is probably my last Carpenter shout out) has always been one of my favorites, and Kurt Russell embodies every essence of that coolness factor; would have been a sweet Best Actor Nominee. I would also have loved to have seen "Little Shop of Horrors" get nominated for Best Picture; that would have made my year.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - "Poltergeist II: The Other Side" for Best Visual Effects - In some ways its' kind of cool that a pointless horror sequel got any kind of love from the Academy, but it had to be "Poltergeist II?" And from what I remember the effects are actually kind of terrible; especially that scene with the braces attacking the kid.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Albert Brooks ("Broadcast News") for Best Supporting Actor - The comedic performance Brooks gives in "Broadcast News" is right up there with just about anyone else you can come up with. The scene where he has to fill in as news anchor is one of my all time favorite comedy scenes; the sweating alone got him the nomination I'm sure. As much as I love Sean Connery's winning turn in "The Untouchables," Brooks should have won this by a landslide. Honorable Mentions - Anne Ramsey got nominated for her hilarious turn in the underrated "Throw Momma From the Train."
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Full Metal Jacket" for Best Adapted Screenplay - The first twenty to thirty minutes of "Full Metal Jacket" is very strong and gutwrenching in a good way, and then the film turns into something that is the exact opposite of that. It's as if Kubrick had this great short film in his mind, but then just didn't know where to go from there; and I would assume knowing Kubrick's takes on "2001," "The Shining," and "A Clockwork Orange" this is very "loosely" adapted.
Honorable Mention - Robin Williams ("Good Morning Vietnam") for Best Actor - I just don't get the appeal of the movie or Williams's performance in it.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - "The Last Emperor" for Best Picture - "Hope and Glory," "Moonstruck," "Broadcast News," and "Fatal Attraction" made up 4/5 of one of the coolest and most versatile lists of Best Picture nominees in the show's history, but then the 5th film has to be a fine, if unoriginal, big sweeping epic and then goes on to win the whole damn thing.
Honorable Mention: "The Last Emperor" for Art Direction - The movie looks great (don't get me wrong), but it's a look that had been done so many times before. The Academy would have been better served to honor one of the other nominees like the intense gangster setting of the "Untouchables" or the fun slice of life on display in Woody Allen's "Radio Days."
MOST DESERVING WIN - Michael Douglas ("Wall Street") for Best Actor - What has always interested me most about this performance is that Michael Douglas is just not that intimidating of a person, so to cast him in this kind of larger than life role of a money hungry, blood-sucking leech was a bit of a stretch on Oliver Stone's part, but it worked out beautifully. Douglas walks the finest of lines with the character; he knows exactly how far to take it and when to pull it back. It's just genius all the way around; he deserved the win 100%.
BIGGEST SNUBS - Even though all three leads of "Broadcast News" got nominated as well as the script and it got a Best Cinematography nod, but James L. Brooks didn't get a nomination for Best Director? Mickey Rourke ("Angel Heart" or "Barfly") for Best Actor; Jack Nicholson ("Witches of Eastwick") for Best Suppoting Actor; David Mamet ("House of Games") for Best Screenplay; Robert Downey Jr. ("Less than Zero") for Best Supporting Actor; Chris Cooper ("Matewan") for Best Actor; Charlie Sheen ("Wall Street") for Best Supporting Actor and the film for Best Picture.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - I realize it just wasn't understood in it's time, but "Throw Momma From the Train" is a brilliant dark comedic take on Hitchcock's Best Film (IMO), "Strangers on a Train." While Ramsey getting nominated was cool, both Billy Crystal, Danny DeVito, and the film itself all could have been nominated and I would have loved every second of it. And most people just think of it as a dumb action movie from the 80's, but "Robocop" is borderline brilliant satire, and a screenplay nomination would have been well deserved.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - The awful, and I mean awful, Bob Seger song, "Shakedown," from "Beverly Hills Cop II" was nominated for Best Original Song. God, I really hate that category.
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Glenn Close ("Dangerous Liaisons") for Best Actress - Glenn Close's scenery chewing performance in the great "Dangerous Liaisons" is just a thing of beauty; the simple fact that she steals a lot of the picture away from the brilliant John Malkovich is reason enough to understand how great she is in this film.
Honorable Mentions - "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" for Best Cinematography; Charles Crichton ("A Fish Called Wanda") for Best Director; "Dangerous Liaisons" for Best Picture.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Joan Cusack ("Working Girl") for Best Supporting Actress - Best hair maybe, but supporting actress? I don't know; I've never been a huge fan of Cusack, but I'll admit she's given some memorable performances in the past but this wasn't one of them, and they also nominated Sigourney Weaver in this same category for her work in the film which was well deserved; I think Cusack's nom could have gone to someone more deserving from another movie.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - "Rain Man" for Best Picture - Out of all the Best Picture winners in the 1980's, I can't think of one that deserved it less than Barry Levinson's overwrought and just flat out ignorant film. This is one of those films that I've gone back and watched a couple of times since to see if my feelings towards it have changed, and the damn thing just gets worse every time. I will go ahead and include Dustin Hoffman's win for Best Actor in this rant if for no other reason than Tom Cruise (the one bright side to the film) acts circles around him at every turn. And I still can't figure out how this is supposed to be a "Feel Good" movie on any level when it's borderline depressing the whole tedious way through. God, I hate this movie!
MOST DESERVING WIN - Kevin Kline ("A Fish Called Wanda") for Best Supporting Actor -Since he really doesn't do much anymore, I forget just how great of an actor Kline is, and this is his tour de force performance, and he actually won for it. Amazing! When you look at all of the great actors in the 1980's, Kline never seems to be on anyone's radar, and he damn well should be.
Honorable Mention - Peter Biziou ("Mississippi Burning") for Best Cinematography - I don't have a whole lot of love for this movie, but it's a beautiful picture to look at and Biziou, like Kline, really doesn't get enough credit. The problem is most of the movies he does work on are not all that great, but you can always say that it was a great looking film (i.e., "Derailed," "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," and "9 1/2 Weeks"). The man did do "The Truman Show," "Damage," and "Time Bandits," so they are not all bad.
BIGGEST SNUBS - John Malkovich ("Dangerous Liaisons") for Best Actor (this one peeves me off almost as much as "Ghostbusters" not getting a screenplay nom); Eddie Murphy ("Coming to America") for Best Actor; Tim Robbins ("Bull Durham") for Best Supporting Actor; Stephen Frears ("Dangerous Liaisons") for Best Director; Robert De Niro or Charles Grodin ("Midnight Run") for Acting; Michael Caine ("Without a Clue") for Best Supporting Actor.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Just like a broken record, I will say again that comedies get noticed rarely enough at the Academy Awards, and parodies are just flat out toxic, but how fucking cool would it have been to see Leslie Nielsen get nominated for Best Actor for his brilliant work in "Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad?" He would have deserved it.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - The tear jerker, "Beaches," got nominated for Best Art Direction. Of what? Fucking beaches?
COOLEST NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - Woody Allen ("Crimes and Misdemeanors") for Best Director - This was one of the strangest years ever at the Academy Awards; Allen got nominated for his best film (imo), but the film didn't. He bumped out Bruce Beresford, who's "Driving Miss Daisy" would take home Best Picture. Who cares? It's great Allen got nominated because like I said, they don't get any better than this in the Woody Allen library, and he should have won too. Oliver Stone would take home the prize for "Born on the Fourth of July." Stone did a fine job, but Allen deserved it.
Honorable Mention - Danny Aiello ("Do the Right Thing") for Best Supporting Actor.
LEAST DESERVING NOMINEE THAT DIDN'T WIN - "Dead Poet's Society" for Best Picture - If there is a beloved 80's film I hate more than "Rain Man," it might very well be "Dead Poet's Society." And while I do like the occasional Barry Levinson film, I absolutely love the majority of "Poet's" director, Peter Weir's, work. So I have no idea what went wrong here, but this movie is just so melodramatic and just so...well...awful (I can't think of more fitting term). People learn to love or hate Milton (never really completely got the gist of that) and are able to break out of the mold that their prep school tries to form around them; oh, these poor son's of rich people. And it all comes down to a climax involving a suicide attempt because the dude's dad doesn't want him to be an actor. Fucking really?
Honorable Mention - Dan Aykroyd ("Driving Miss Daisy") for Best Supporting Actor.
LEAST DESERVING WIN - "Driving Miss Daisy" for Best Picture - When the director doesn't even get nominated for the film that wins, that should tell you something. "Driving Miss Daisy" is a film full of wonderful performances (with the exception of Aykroyd), but yet again just because you have great acting doesn't mean you have a great picture, and this is a prime example.
Honorable Mention - "Under the Sea" ("The Little Mermaid") for Best Song - just for the simple fact that the film's other song that got nominated, "Kiss the Girl," is much better.
MOST DESERVING WIN - Denzel Washington ("Glory") for Best Supporting Actor - It's gotten harder each year to remember why I consider Washington to be one of the best actors working today, but then I go back and watch him act his ass off in "Glory" and remember why.
Honorable Mention - "Cinema Paradiso" for Best Foreign Language film.
BIGGEST SNUBS - Michael Douglas ("War of the Roses") for Best Actor or the film for Best Screenplay; Meg Ryan ("When Harry Met Sally") for Best Actress; "Crimes and Misdemeanors" for Best Picture; "Do the Right Thing" for Best Picture and Spike Lee for Best Director; "Parenthood" for Best Picture or Steve Martin for Best Actor; "Steel Magnolias" for Best Screenplay.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - Just for the dialogue alone, it would have been cool to see "Major League" get a Best Screenplay nod.
STRANGEST NOMINEE - Can a sequel using the same music be nominated for Best Original Score? Well, apparently because "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" did just that. Good score, but if they are going to be so fucking hard ass with the rules for Best Original Song, shouldn't the Score have to fall under the same restrictions. So that's the 80's, and it didn't take quite a month after the first installment. So, by my rate, we should have the 90's up by the end of May.