Monday, March 08, 2010

the Oscars

Watched it at the O'Zee's place. Was thinking about Zee's question of whether Top Gun (1986) won anything, so I looked it up. It did: it was nominated for Best Sound Effects, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and won (of all things) Best Original Song for Berlin's "Take My Breath Away".

At first, however, I mistakenly looked at 1987 Oscars (which took place in 1988) as opposed to the 1986 Oscars (which took place in 1987), and I found it much more interesting. What was most striking was the disconnect between the movies the Academy deemed "the best" and which ones have the most cultural currency today.

A trite point, I know, and the Oscars aren't necessarily about movies that will be timeless rather than capturing the zeitgeist, but it's a fun exercise nonetheless.

The "Best Picture" nominees that year were The Last Emperor, Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Hope and Glory, and Moonstruck. The Last Emperor won, its last of 9 wins that year. It won in every category for which it was nominated. Other movies that figured prominently in that year's Oscars included Wall Street (for which Michael Douglas picked up "Best Actor"), Ironweed (starring perennial Oscar favorites Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, both of whom were nominated), and The Untouchables.

Of the Best Picture nominees, Fatal Attraction caused something of a scandal because it was widely thought that it was unworthy of such attention. I might have thought the same thing were I in my 30's in 1987; though I tend to root for "off-genre" movies at the Oscars, in retrospect Fatal Attraction was sickeningly chauvinistic. It is, however, far and away the most memorable of the nominees from my standpoint.

Now let's talk about some of the movies that either had only unsuccessful nominations or were wholly snubbed by the Academy that year:
  • Empire of the Sun

  • Raising Arizona. Holly Hunter was nominated that year, but for her role in Broadcast News

  • Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick died having never won Best Director

  • The Princess Bride

Regarding this year's ceremony, though, there were some other oddities and interesting facts worth pointing out:
  1. Morgan Freeman still has never won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and only has one Supporting Nod (for Million Dollar Baby).

  2. Lee Daniels (Precious) is the second African American to be nominated for Best Director -- ever. The first was John Singleton, for Boyz in the Hood.

  3. This was Colin Firth's first nomination

  4. This was Stanley Tucci's first nomination

  5. This was Christopher Plummer's first nomination. His first movie role was in 1958

  6. Sandra Bullock also "won" the Razzie for Worst Actress this year for All About Steve

My three favorite movies of the year, Star Trek, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Where the Wild Things Are, got snubbed. Star Trek won one award on four technical nominations. Fox got two nominations. Wild Things got nothing, not even a single nomination.

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