Re-Awarding the Academy Award for Best Picture (1990-1994)

“You son of a bitch you can’t just give my Oscar to Die Hard and move on with your weird list thing like nothing even happened.”

~Mark Johnson, the Producer of Rain Man

image111

It’s been a long road on this misguided journey. Since last week, we’ve been going through all the winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture, starting from the year 1970 (the year the award was held, mind you. All the movies came out the previous year) and have redistributed those prizes with the knowledge we have today, as well as a lot of subjectivity that has been driving our readers insane. We’ve listed the winners, listed the nominees, and then told you what film released that year deserved to win. The 1970s were pretty clean, with 5 Oscars staying with their original winner, and five going to other films that were nominated, but the 1980s saw things take a messy turn. Sure, a few movies, like Platoon and Amadeus kept their statues, but a lot of worlds were turned upside, especially in 1988 where we gave the damn thing to the Princess Bride. Oh, and if you’re expecting us to try to explain giving an Oscar to Die Hard, just watch this clip and tell us we’re wrong.

…Shut up, you’re wrong.

Anyway, there’s no stopping us now. Look below for our redistribution of the all the Oscars of the first half of the 1990s. Here’s hoping that the Academy nominated more movies we’ve heard of this decade.

Re-Awarding the Academy Award for Best Picture (1990-1994)

1990

What Won

Driving Miss Daisy (7.4)

driving miss daisy

God, they gave this year’s award to the worst movie of all the ones nominated. Seriously, have you tried re-watching this movie with a 2018 woke mindset? It’s fucking trash, man. Like, as an actual film, independent of anything else, it’s, well, the worst we can say about it is that it’s pretty boring and somewhat problematic, but yeah, no, there’s no way this one’s keeping their statue.

What Else Was Nominated

Born on the Fourth of July (7.2)

born on the fourth of july

Born on the Fourth of July is considered the second of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam “trilogy” coming after Platoon but before Heaven & Earth. It won Stone an Oscar for Best Director, and it gave Tom Cruise his first nomination (Cruise has been nominated three times which is such a weird stat that we’ve heard it as a bar trivia question once). The film follows the true-life story of Ron Kovic, a veteran paralyzed in the Vietnam war who became an anti-war and pro-human rights activist. Of Stone’s big films (primarily this, Platoon, JFK and Nixon) this is the one that probably has left the smallest cultural imprint. It’s definitely considered a fine film, but it’s no Platoon.

Field of Dreams (7.5)

field of dreams

Field of Dreams is about…

*clenches jaw*

Hold on.

*Sniffle*

Breath damn it.

Shut up, you’re crying.

Anyway, we didn’t realize this had been nominated, even though it definitely deserved it especially that scene at the end where he’s playing catch and…

SHUT UP WE SAID YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS CRYING.

Dead Poets Society (8.1, 235th top rated movie all time)

dead poets society

We’re pretty upset that with all the well-regarded films that came out this year, the Academy still gave the damn thing to Driving Miss Daisy. What the hell is that? Dead Poets Society remains one of the classic Robin Williams films, and has seen its influence reach all the way from the dozens of shittier movies that try but fail to catch onto its specific brand of “rebellious teacher in stuffy boarding school” magic to this Saturday Night Live sketch that we will never stop laughing at. It did win Best Original Screenplay, which definitely helps its case as a contender for the best film of this year.

My Left Foot (7.9)

my left foot

My Left Foot was a vehicle for Daniel Day-Lewis to win an Academy Award (it was his first nomination) as well as an excuse for him to be a dick with his “method acting” (seriously, method acting stories stopped being cool the moment Jared Leto got involved). It’s the true story about a painter with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot, and it’s also a story that you don’t want to really read about outside of the movie because it gets depressing fast.

And the Revised Winner is…

Field of Dreams

field of dreams

It was neck and neck between this and Dead Poets Society, but we had to go ahead and award one of the two movies in cinematic history to be guaranteed to make a grown man cry. Dead Poets Society is probably the best of the “eccentric teacher changes lives at stuffy boarding school” genre, but that genre’s kind of an obnoxious one, so we’re going to give it to ghost baseball daddy issues instead. Worth noting, this year was stacked, also featuring Do the Right Thing, Batman, When Harry Met Sally, Glory, The Abyss, Crimes and Misdemeanors,  and, most importantly, Road House. And of all those movies (ESPECIALLY ROAD HOUSE), they picked Driving Miss Daisy? Like, you all understand why we’ve had to take on this grave challenge, right? Because the Academy keeps pulling shit like this, and we’ve got to make it right.

Anyway, next year.

1991

What Won

Dances with Wolves (8.0)

dances with wolves

God, did you realize that Dances with Wolves was three hours long? Jesus. Anyway, you’ve probably seen Dances with Wolves because just about every suburban high school has played it for their student body as a way to be “culturally inclusive.” Because what’s more culturally inclusive than a white guy coming to the rescue of a bunch of Native Americans? Anyway, the film won seven Oscars out of twelve nominations, including Kevin Costner’s win for Best Director. Costner, who won two Oscars and was nominated for Best Actor, had never been nominated for an Academy Award before, and he never would again.

Anyway, this movie featured only the second instance of a Native American receiving an Academy Award nomination for Acting (Graham Greene for his supporting role), and the Academy gave a Supporting Actress nomination for the powerful performance of “Stands With a Fist” by the famous First Nation actress *double checks the name and ethnicity* Mary McDonnell. Wait.

So yeah, on one hand, this movie was critically adored, and Kevin Costner was made an honorary member of the Sioux Nation because of his representation of their tribe in this film. It was a movie that humanized the Native experience in the West, and it also became the first Western to win the Academy Award for Best Picture since Cimarron in 1931. Then again, a lot of people view it as a “white savior” film that bluntly uses the “noble savage” stereotype. Like, technically Mary McDonnell’s character was a white woman who was adopted by the tribe as a child, but that just means that they actively sought out another reason to not have an actual Native American actress in there. Again, like, this movie is long, and it’s definitely one of those films that most people see like, once, and then move on to better ways to spend their time. It’s not like you have people walking around quoting all the famous Dances With Wolves lines such as…um…tatonka?

What Else Was Nominated

Awakenings (7.8)

awakenings

Honestly, the pedigree of this movie is pretty good. You had peak Robin Williams alongside peak Robert De Niro in a movie directed by Penny Marshall, who was just two years removed from Big and two years away from directing A League of Their Own. This was probably the movie that confirmed to everyone that, oh hey, Robin Williams is actually a real actor, and Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society weren’t flukes. Granted, he didn’t get nominated for this movie, it only got three nominations including Best Screenplay and Best Actor for Robert De Niro. But this did confirm that Robin Williams is good at acting in ways that don’t even require him to make funny noises, which was unthinkable ten years prior.

Ghost (7.0)

ghost

We could talk about Whoppi Goldberg’s Oscar in this film, or its five nominations, or it’s massive $500 million haul at the box office, or how despite all that it’s still kind of surprising (like, not in a bad way, just surprising) that this movie got nominated for Best Picture, but we know that you know this movie. So instead here’s Tony Hale on Community talking about Ghosting.

Goodfellas (8.7, 17th top rated movie all time)

goodfellas

Once Goodfellas, a movie that people (albeit, generally annoying ones) quote ad nauseum to this day, lost to Dances with Wolves, a movie widely considered to be “eh, Dances with Wolves,” the narrative of “Scorsese is cursed” or “Hollywood has some sort of cruel vendetta against the man” really began to solidify. This was arguably Scorsese’s best film to date (though he already had The Last Temptation of Christ, The Color of Money, The King of Comedy, Raging Bull, New York, New York, and Taxi Driver under his belt) and his third and fourth nominations saw him losing to Kevin fucking Costner. In fact, Goodfellas only won a single Oscar, which was for Joe Pesci’s terrifying supporting turn as Tommy DeVito, a performance that’s an incredible and jarring considering the fact that it came out the same year as him playing the goofy burglar with the gold tooth in Home Alone. You wanna see what cinematic whiplash looks like? Watch this clip from Home Alone and then this clip from Goodfellas. We’re dizzy too.

Anyway we don’t need to hash this movie out for you. It’s in the National Film Registry, it was named the top film of 1990 by Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel and Peter Travels, and it’s widely considered to be one of the most egregious instances of a film being robbed of its Oscar.

The Godfather: Part III (7.6)

godfather part 3

Lol.

And the Revised Winner is…

Goodfellas

goodfellas

This one is easy. Goodfellas is a classic film (like, not 17th best movie all time, stop being so thirsty IMDB users) and Dances With Wolves like…had Kevin Costner eating a buffalo heart and cast an Irish lady to play the love interest. As much as Home Alone, Pretty Woman, Ghost, Miller’s Crossing and Edward Scissorhands were great movies to come out this year, like, come on. It’s Goodfellas, and it’s not even fucking close. Although we will listen to arguments for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead.

1992

What Won 

Silence of the Lambs (8.6, 23rd top rated movie all time)

silence of the lambs

Everyone knows this movie, but not as many know that it was only the third film ever, after It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. It grossed $270 million on a $19 million budget, and Hannibal Lecter was listed as the #1 villain of all time according to the American Film Institute. Oh, here’s a fun fact—Anthony Hopkins had the second smallest amount of screen time of any winner of the Best Leading Actor Oscar, as he’s in the film for just under 25 minutes (David Niven in Separate Tables was on screen for about 24). Anyway, this film has gone down as a classic, and we don’t see it losing its statue. But let’s take a look at what it was up against.

What Else Was Nominated

Beauty and the Beast (8.0, 243rd top rated movie all time)

beauty and the beast

People tend to forget that Beauty and the Best was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture. Hell, most people forgot the nomination even happened in the first place. But with two Oscars (for Best Song and Best Music) and six nominations (admittedly, three of the nominations were all for Best Song. If you’re curious, “Beauty and the Beast” the song beat out “Belle” and “Be Our Guest.”) Now keep in mind, this was at a point when Disney was just getting its groove back—it was two years after The Little Mermaid, and was immediately followed by Aladdin and The Lion King in one of the strongest stretches in Disney history. What we’re trying to say here is, well, this actually deserved to be nominated. Does it deserve to take Silence’s Oscar? Well that’s a tougher sell.

Bugsy (6.8)

bugsy

No one ever really remembers the Oscar-bait biopics unless they win for Best Actor or Best Actress. This Barry Levinson film about how Bugsy Siegel (played by Warren Beatty) started Las Vegas did not manage to pull off those wins. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning for Costume and Art Direction, and it has since faded out of our collective consciousness.

JFK (8.0)

jfk

JFK was one of Oliver Stones best films, but honestly was it worth the two decades of JFK conspiracy theories? Like, we don’t want to give it an Oscar just because we’ve been cornered by cousins who were all “but how do you explain this” that they picked up from the fucking mostly-fictional movie.

The Prince of Tides (6.7)

prince of tides

Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand played love interests in a major Hollywood film with a strong suicide focus when they were 50 and 49, respectively. It made 75 million dollars. The early 90’s were wild, y’all.

And the Revised Winner is…

The Silence of the Lambs

silence of the lambs

Sure, Terminator 2 (8.5, 42nd top rated movie) came out this year, but this one isn’t even close. Silence of the Lambs is a classic, and your dad has made that “Fava beans” reference as a joke about once a week ever since this movie came out. Slam dunk decision here, the Academy got this one right.

1993

What Won 

Unforgiven (8.2, 120th top rated movie all time)

unforgiven

After going some sixty years without giving a western film an Academy Award for Best Picture, Unforgiven marked the second time that happened in the 1990’s alone. However, this movie earned points by managing to pivot Clint Eastwood away from his former “action hero” identity to his current “clumsy but occasionally effective auteur” reputation. Eastwood had never been nominated for an Academy Award before directing and starring in this film about an aging outlaw who decides to take one last obvious metaphor for Eastwood’s career job. The American Film Institute listed it as the 68th best film of all time, and the 4th best Western, and its screenplay was rated the 30th best ever written by the Writers Guild of America in 2013.

What Else Was Nominated

A Few Good Men (7.7)

a few good men

A Few Good Men was only nominated for four Academy Awards, which seems wrong. It’s a pretty well done movie, and one that has aged remarkably well. Yes, Jack Nicholson got nominated, which is only fair considering how iconic his performance ended up being. It’s a riveting courtroom drama that received rave reviews and huge box office earnings, though its acclaim usually tends to fall along the lines of, “It’s amazingly acted, if somewhat boiler plate and predictable.” We also can’t decide if this movie is better or worse for the fact that it essentially gave us Aaron Sorkin. This could go either way.

Howards End (7.5)

howards end

So apparently Helena Bonham Carter’s early career was just “put her in in an Oscar nominated period piece please”? Oh, a fun fact we discovered researching this article—in 1990, Helena Bonham Carter was in a TV movie called Beatrix: The Early Life of Beatrix Potter. But then she was in the Harry Potter movies as…Bellatrix Lestrange? Anyway, just a weird thing we found, we’re a bit drunk and we have no desire to try to learn anything about the plot of this movie. Literally, once we read “a story of class relations in turn-of-the-20th-century Britain” our brains just started playing the church scene from Kingsman on a loop out of sheer boredom.

Scent of a Woman (8.0)

scent of a woman

Okay, first of all, we have to address this poster. Don’t get us wrong, we like the movie and all, but can you think of a more jarring use of the “award prestige font” than “From the Director of Beverly Hills Cop“?

This was the seventh (and last) film Al Pacino received a nomination for (he also was nominated for Glengarry Glen Ross which came out the same year) and the first one he ever won, which is crazy when you really think about it. He didn’t win for Serpico. He didn’t win for Dog Day Afternoon. He didn’t win for Dick Tracy but like, come on, the fact that Dick Tracy got Oscar nominations in the first place is pretty silly. Like, look at this. Wut.

Anyway, the movie itself was fine, but the real problem is that this gave us SCREAMING AL PACINO. You know, the HOO-AHH Al Pacino that we like to make fun of? That’s pretty much because Al Pacino kept getting nominated playing Michael Corleone with a brilliantly understated performance without every bringing home a statue, and then the one time he’s like, “What if I just, like, YELL ALL THE TIME” they decided to give him an Oscar. We don’t blame him for being like, “Welp, apparently yelling is what works.” But it definitely means this film doesn’t age quite as well as it could. Also, this movie was over two and a half hours long. There…like, there’s no reason for that, guys. None at all.

The Crying Game (7.3)

 the crying game

Man, remember when like, every fourth film was about The Troubles (a.k.a. the most British way to describe an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that left thousands dead) back in the 1990s. This film won Neil Jordan an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and it got six nominations in total. It’s a movie that we best know because of the twist at the end (a pre-Shyamalan Shyamalan, if you will), as well as its discussion on race, nationality and sexuality. But it would be just as surprising if we gave it this re-awarded Oscar now as it would have been had it won initially in 1993.

And the Revised Winner is…

Unforgiven

unforgiven

We originally decided to give the Oscar to A Few Good Men with the following justification:

You’re probably pissed off about this, especially when you realize that Reservoir Dogs (8.3, 77th all time) was eligible this year too. But no, we’re standing by this one. Name one line from Unforgiven. You can’t, can you? And give us one line from Reservoir Dogs. Okay, listen dude who just quoted Tarantino’s Like a Virgin monologue, you’re a fucking nerd, you’re not most people. “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH” is fucking iconic, and we’re giving that moment an Oscar. Fight us.

But then we sat back on it and thought about those two films as films. Unforgiven, with its 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating versus A Few Good Men’s 81%, honestly is probably the better film here. Like, we frankly barely remember anything from A Few Good Men other than the “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH” scene, so begrudgingly we’ll admit that the Academy made the right call here.

1994

What Won 

Schindler’s List (8.9, 6th top rated movie all time)

schindlers list

Schindler’s List is not so much remarkable for the fact that it won Best Picture along with six others, including Screenplay, Cinematography and Director, but for the fact that neither Liam Neeson nor Ralph Fiennes won statues for their work in this film. Neeson hasn’t even been nominated since this movie, but this is the role that made him famous (until he hit his mid-life crisis and decided to spend the second half of his career beating people up on camera, and for that we thank him profusely). This also was the first Oscar Spielberg ever won (he’s only won three Oscars total, and only two for Directing, which seems like way too low of a number right?) and the first Spielberg film to ever take home the award (a mistake we at least helped rectify by re-awarding the 1982 Oscar to Raiders of the Lost Ark).

But what else is there to say about this movie? It’s arguably the finest, and hardest to watch, film about the holocaust in the history of cinema. It was a film so important that at the time the President of the United States made a point to urge everyone to see it. It’s one of those films that people will watch forever. So, you know, might take a lot to knock it off its throne.

What Else Was Nominated

In the Name of the Father (8.1, 187th top rated movie all time)

in the name of the father

See what we mean about The Troubles? Nominated for seven Academy Awards, In the Name of the Father is that movie that your English teacher in High School had on her wall for some reason. It also marked the last time in Daniel Day-Lewis’ career when he’d actually appear in more than one film a year. Between My Left Foot in 1989 and In the Name of the Father in 1993, he was in five films, which doesn’t sound that impressive until you consider A- he gets all “way too method, like, just cool that shit down” for each movie, and B- that it took him twelve years to film his last five movies. Our writers always tend to get this movie confused with The Age of Innocence, probably because we haven’t seen that movie and assume it’s also about a guy in jail for a crime he didn’t commit [Editor’s note: it so is not].

Anyway, this movie still gets watched by Daniel Day-Lewis completists and people who can’t get their fill of 1990s IRA-adjacent dramatic films (so basically people that didn’t live through the early 1990s when that was every movie). And it is a very good movie! But, like, come on, this isn’t taking down Schindler’s.

The Fugitive (7.8)

the fugitive

All you need to know about our arbitrary decision to list IMDB rankings being completely bullshit is the fact that The Fugitive, which is a classic movie, doesn’t crack a rating of 8. That’s bullshit. The Fugitive will go down in history, even if it’s just for the “I Don’t Care” scene (and you better believe your boy Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for that). Here we had yet another film starring Harrison Ford which got nominated for Best Picture, but not one for Ford’s acting. Which really is a shame, because he was the driving force behind this movie that even at the time was recognized as something special. But this film was, and remains, a cultural touchstone. Not quite as much as Schindler’s List, but most assuredly it’s better known than In the Name of the Father.

The Piano (7.6)

the piano

Literally the only thing we’ve internalized about The Piano is that you can see Harvey Keitel’s ass in it, which like, nope. We really didn’t need that, guys. Also we think Holly Hunter gets naked in it too? At least she got an Oscar for Best Actress for her troubles (we said her troubles, not the troubles, this is not about an IRA-owned piano). Oh right, and Rogue from X-Men won an Oscar for it too, and watching that video was the first time we realized that Anna Paquin has a New Zealand accent. Anyway, if you’ve not seen it, or have burned its memory from your mind because of Keitel ass, it takes place in the 1800s, and follows a mute piano player (Hunter) and her daughter who are sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage. It’s one of those highly regarded dramas that you know should be nominated for an Oscar, but you also would be shocked if it ended up winning.

The Remains of the Day (7.9)

remains of the day

The fuck is this movie? We got like, 4 movies everyone knows, and some movie where like, apparently Anthony Hopkins was a butler? This movie was nominated for eight Oscars and literally no one on our staff had ever heard of it until today. Sarahindie, our consultant on girl shit, informs us that this is a Merchant/Ivory flick, and that the boys on the staff would not be expected to know this, but again, we’re pretty sure this movie doesn’t actually exist.

And the Revised Winner is…

Schindler’s List

schindlers list

Like, come on. We’re not taking an Oscar from Schindler’s List. By the way, you know how wild of a year 1993 was for Steven Spielberg? He directed Schindler’s List the same year he also directed Jurassic Park, which, like, no big deal, was the highest grossing film of all time when it came out. That’s a mic drop of a year, right there. Jurassic Park or Groundhog Day would have been good candidates for a Best Picture nom here, and The Piano, The Fugitive and In the Name of the Father all could have won if they were released in less competitive years, but nothing’s taking the statue away from Schindler.

Since we’ve let Schindler’s List keep its deserved Oscar, that means that we close out this segment with…the holocaust! Not the cheeriest way to end this segment, but that’s just how this format works. In a couple of days we’ll be back with part *counts with our fingers* six of our *still counting with our fingers* eight part Oscar Redistribution series. Up next, 1995-1999! We can’t wait to see the look on your faces when we take away Forrest Gump’s Best Picture award!

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5 responses to “Re-Awarding the Academy Award for Best Picture (1990-1994)

  1. You might want to correct “Danes with Wolves,” but then again I hope you don’t.
    “Danes with Wolves” would have made a halluva lot better movie. I don’t care who wrote it. I don’t care who directed it. The screenplay could have been written by Daffy Duck, for all I care. (Actually, that would have been a plus.)
    Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie called “Danes with Wolves?”

  2. Pingback: Re-Awarding the Academy Award for Best Picture (1995-1999) | America Fun Fact of the Day

  3. Pingback: Re-Awarding the Academy Award for Best Picture (2000-2004) | America Fun Fact of the Day

  4. Pingback: Re-Awarding the Academy Award for Best Picture (2005-2009) | America Fun Fact of the Day

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