Sunday, February 23, 2014

Best Picture Winners 1980 - 1984

After the streak of 9 good to great Best Picture, this group of movies follows the example of last pick of the previous decade. Mediocre choices, to put it another way.

1980 - The winner was Ordinary People with the other nominees being Coal Miner's Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, and Tess. The Academy has a very hard time resisting a movie made by a movie star (see later Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson and especially Clint Eastwood.) Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull has been named by critics as the best film of the eighties. I like David Lynch's Elephant Better than that. (Better films of than Ordinary People of the kind the Academy doesn't nominate - Airplane, Empire Strikes Back and The Shining.) So, stinker choice.

1981 - I love the winner, Chariots of Fire. It is a rare Hollywood film with a powerful and direct Christian biography. But Raiders of the Lost Ark came out that year, the greatest action film ever made and should have one. I'm fine with nominees Atlantic City (which I like a lot), On Golden Pond and Reds not winning.

1982 - Gandhi was a great man who did some great things. The Academy seemed to think that people would think they were a part of bringing about independence to India and world peace if they gave Oscars to a film about Gandhi. But Missing and The Verdict and especially E.T. and Tootsie are much better films. (And the great, sci-fi classic Blade Runner was not nominated. It even lost its very deserved Best Visual Effects Oscar to E.T.)

1983 - Terms of Endearment won. I'm a bit prejudiced against this soap opera because I found myself laughing at a death scene in the film that was making the rest of the theater cry. There was one real stinker among the nominees, The Dresser. The Big Chill, The Right Stuff and especially Tender Mercies are better than the winner. (Two films that weren't nominated that I like better than the winner, Risky Business and Trading Places.)

1984 - The Academy finally gets it right with a Best Picture Oscar to Amadeus. The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in hte Heart and Soldiers Story are all fine films but wouldn't have even been nominees in other years. But the winner is a great film.

So a not great record for this period of 1 good choice out of 5.

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