Tag Archives: Martin Scorcese

The Best Picture Project — Out of Africa (1985)

Directed by Sydney Pollack

Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke, from the books Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Story Teller by Judith Thurman, and Silence Will Speak by Errol Trzebinski

Starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer

Out of Africa is a typical 80’s movie.  Not in the way that Top Gun is an 80’s movie, with all the bombast, jingoism, reductionist story-lines and bonanza box office.  No, it’s an 80’s movie in the way Ordinary People and Ghandi and The Killing Fields are all 80’s moves: it’s earnest, epic, about something sort-of important, and, above-all, fairly dull.

In other words, it’s the movie the Academy typically fell in love with in the 80’s and dumped a butt-load of Oscars on.

Even as I say that, with all the weariness and disdain I can muster V just imagine me rolling my eyes when I write typically – it really comes as no surprise bloated, boring epics were the name of the game in the 80’s, as far as the Academy was concerned.  Giving awards to this kind of film was just what they did.  And honestly, just like this isn’t the first time I’ve said it, it probably won’t be the last I say it, either.  No, what will be said here first – at least by me – is the reason I think the 80’s went the way they did.

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The Best Picture Project – A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Directed by Ron Howard

Written by Akiva Goldsman, based on the Sylvia Nasar book

Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Josh Lucas and Paul Bettany

Not all that long ago I covered the awful 2000 film Gladiator for the Best Picture Project and mentioned I thought Russell Crowe won an Oscar for the wrong film.  Usually the Academy gets it wrong and honors an actor (or director) for some lesser work later in the career, usually to make up for overlooking them earlier in their career.  Think about Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman but going empty-handed for everything he did in the 70s; Martin Scorcese taking gold for The Departed and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas; or Kate Winslet winning for The Reader despite previously being overlooked for Little Children and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  These are but three, but the list goes on. Continue reading

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