Friday, July 8, 2016

1994--The Year in Review

1994 marks the beginning of the Tarantino age, for better or worse (its effects still reverberate today, and mostly from ill-equipped imitators). As stunning as his 1992 debut Reservoir Dogs was, it couldn't prepare us for the time-jumbling tale awaiting in his sophomore directorial effort Pulp Fiction. It was simply impossible to watch this movie without feeling your heart racing so fleetly, you might require a shot directly to the ol' pump to slow it down. Absolutely everything works so perfectly in it that you actually feel in your gut the moviemaking machine operating absolutely to par. It was a slam dunk at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme D'or. But the populist vote arrived when Forrest Gump was released in the summer to absolute acclaim and big box office. I stupidly fell for Zemeckis's film upon first viewing--in fact, it took me a few years to realize it was a venal work, filled with damning judgments directed at its most innocent characters, and ever since then, I've found Forrest Gump unwatchable, even though I like elements of it. It likewise hoodwinked the Academy into awarding it Best Picture and five other accolades (including a second consecutive Best Actor Oscar for Tom Hanks). But Gump never blinded me to the quality of Pulp Fiction, a movie that continues to offer deeper insight into the concepts of loyalty, understanding, and morality--it's a much more lovable and entertaining film, even with its abject bloodiness. Its two closest competitors--Terry Zwigoff's painfully intimate documentary Crumb and Tim Burton's gorgeous, surprisingly joyful biopic Ed Wood (with Johnny Depp again arriving up top under Tim Burton's direction)--come within a hair's breadth of besting Tarantino's epic. And yet the year included additional remarkable titles like Hoop Dreams, Little Women, Natural Born Killers (co-written by Tarantino), Heavenly Creatures, box-office disappointment The Shawshank Redemption, and art house hits Four Weddings and a Funeral, Leon (released as The Professional in the US), The Hudsucker Proxy, To Live, Through the Olive Trees, and surprise Best Picture nominee Il Postino (which wouldn't hit US shores until 1995). I have to note the tie I've arrived at here: it's just impossible to choose between the two finest supporting male performances of the entire decade; as much as I adore Martin Landau's lovingly detailed portrayal of Bela Legosi in Ed Wood, it feels horribly wrong to ignore Samuel L. Jackson's superb showing as the icy, contemplative hitman Jules Winnfield. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold. 

PICTURE: PULP FICTION (US, Quentin Tarantino) (2nd: Crumb (US, Terry Zwigoff), followed by: Ed Wood (US, Tim Burton); Three Colors: Red (France/Poland/Germany, Krzysztof Kieslowski); To Live (China, Zhang Yimou); Hoop Dreams (US, Steve James); Vanya on 42nd Street (US, Louis Malle); The Shawshank Redemption (US, Frank Darabont); Little Women (US, Gillian Armstrong); Natural Born Killers (US, Oliver Stone); Heavenly Creatures (New Zealand, Peter Jackson); Leon (aka The Professional) (US/France, Luc Besson); The Hudsucker Proxy (US, Joel Coen); Through the Olive Trees (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami); Il Postino (Italy, Michael Radford); A Pure Formality (Italy/France, Giuseppe Tornatore); Quiz Show (US, Robert Redford); The Kingdom (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Chungking Express (Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wai); The Madness of King George (UK, Nicholas Hytner); Burnt by the Sun (Russia, Nikita Mikhalkov); Fresh (US, Boaz Yakin); Spanking the Monkey (US, David O. Russell); Shallow Grave (UK, Danny Boyle); Four Weddings and a Funeral (UK, Mike Newell); Reality Bites (US, Ben Stiller); Being Human (US, Bill Forsyth); The Glass Shield (US, Charles Barnett); Nobody’s Fool (US, Robert Benton); The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Australia, Stephen Elliott); Before the Rain (Macedonia/UK/France, Milcho Manchevski); Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Hong Kong, Ang Lee); Forrest Gump (US, Robert Zemeckis); Queen Margot (France, Patrice Chereau); The Boys of St. Vincent (Canada, John N. Smith); Bandit Queen (UK/India, Shekhar Kapur); Muriel's Wedding (Australia, P.J. Hogan); Death and the Maiden (UK, Roman Polanski); Exotica (Canada, Atom Egoyan); Ladybird Ladybird (UK, Ken Loach); The Last Seduction (US, John Dahl); Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (US, Alan Rudolph); Wyatt Earp (US, Lawrence Kasdan); Interview with the Vampire (US/UK, Neil Jordan); Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (US, Steven M. Martin); A Great Day in Harlem (US, Jean Bach); Barcelona (US, Whit Stillman); I Like it Like That (US, Darnell Martin); Bullets Over Broadway (US, Woody Allen); The Lion King (US, Roger Allers and Ron Minkoff); Once Were Warriors (New Zealand, Lee Tamahori); Cemetery Man (Italy/France/Germany, Michele Soavi); Faust (Czechoslovakia/UK, Jan Svankmajer); I'll Do Anything (US, James L. Brooks); The Mask (US, Charles Russell); It Could Happen to You (US, Andrew Bergman); Ashes of Time (Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wei); Go Fish (US, Rose Troche); When a Man Loves a Woman (US, Luis Mandoki); Speed (US, Jan de Bont); True Lies (US, James Cameron); The Ref (US, Ted Demme); Cabin Boy (US, Adam Resnick); Legends of the Fall (US, Edward Zwick))

ACTOR: Johnny Depp, ED WOOD (2nd: Nigel Hawthorne, The Madness of King George, followed by: Woody Harrelson, Natural Born Killers, Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption; John Travolta, Pulp Fiction; Massimo Troisi, Il Postino; Roman Polanski, A Pure Formality; Gerard Depardieu, A Pure FormalityTom Hanks, Forrest Gump; Paul Newman, Nobody’s Fool)

ACTRESS: Irene Jacob, THREE COLORS: RED (2nd: Linda Fiorentino, The Last Seduction, followed by: Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures; Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle; Juliette Lewis, Natural Born Killers; Natalie Portman, Leon; Melanie Lynskey, Heavenly Creatures; Meg Ryan, When A Man Loves a Woman; Jessica Lange, Blue Sky)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: (TIE) Martin Landau, ED WOOD and Samuel L. Jackson, PULP FICTION (2nd: Robert Downey Jr., Natural Born Killers, followed by: John Turturro, Quiz Show; Paul Scofield, Quiz Show; Bob Gunton, The Shawshank Redemption; Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction; Dennis Quaid, Wyatt Earp; Myketi Williamson, Forrest Gump)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Brooke Smith, VANYA ON 42ND STREET (2nd: Kirsten Dunst, Interview With The Vampire, followed by: Claire Danes, Little Women; Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction; Helen Mirren, The Madness of King George; Janeane Garafalo, Reality Bites; Amanda Plummer, Pulp Fiction; Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway; Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies)

DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino, PULP FICTION (2nd: Tim Burton, Ed Wood, followed by: Terry Zwigoff, Crumb; Krzysztof Kieslowski, Three Colors: Red; Oliver Stone, Natural Born Killers; Zhang Yimou, To Live; Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption; Steve James, Hoop Dreams; Abbas Kierostami, Through the Olive Trees)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: THREE COLORS: RED (France/Poland/Germany, Krzysztof Kieslowski) (2nd: To Live (China, Zhang Yimou), followed by: Through The Olive Trees (Iran, Abbas Kierostami); A Pure Formality (Italy/France, Giuseppe Tornatore); Il Postino (UK/Italy/France, Michael Radford); Chungking Express (Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wei); Burnt By The Sun (Russia, Nikita Mikhalov); Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Thailand, Ang Lee); Before the Rain (Macedonia/France/UK, Milcho Manchevski))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: CRUMB (US, Terry Zwigoff) (2nd: Hoop Dreams (US, Steve James), followed by: Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (US, Steven M. Martin); A Great Day in Harlem (US, Jean Bach))

ANIMATED FEATURE: THE LION KING (US, Roger Allers and Ron Minkoff) (2nd: Faust (Czechoslovakia/UK, Jan Svankmajer))

ANIMATED SHORT: BLACK ICE (US, Stan Brakhage) (2nd: Tales From The Far Side (US, Marv Newland), followed by: Bob’s Birthday (UK, David Fine and Alison Snowden)

LIVE ACTION SHORT: TREVOR (US, Peggy Rajski) (2nd: Bottle Rocket (US, Wes Anderson), followed by: Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life (UK, Peter Capaldi) (tied with Trevor)Some Folks Call It A Sling Blade (US, George Hickenlooper); Sabotage (US, Spike Jonze))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery, PULP FICTION (2nd: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Ed Wood, followed by: Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Three Colors: Red; Wei Lu and Hua Yu, To Live; Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Heavenly Creatures)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Frank Darabont, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (2nd: Alan Bennett, The Madness of King George, followed by: Robin Swicord, Little Women; Anna Pavignano, Michael Radford, Furio Scarpelli, Giacomo Scarpelli and Massimo Troisi, Il Postino; Paul Attanasio, Quiz Show)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Stefan Czapsky, ED WOOD (2nd: Piotr Sobocinski, Three Colors: Red, followed by: Roger Deakins, The Shawshank Redemption; Robert Richardson, Natural Born Killers; Owen Roizman, Wyatt Earp)

ART DIRECTION: THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE, The Hudsucker Proxy, Ed Wood, Quiz Show, Little Women

COSTUME DESIGN: THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, Interview With The Vampire, Little Women, The Madness of King George, Queen Margot

FILM EDITING: NATURAL BORN KILLERS, Pulp Fiction, Hoop Dreams, The Shawshank Redemption, Leon

SOUND: SPEED, The Shawshank Redemption, Natural Born Killers, Leon, Forrest Gump

SOUND EFFECTS: SPEED, Leon, Forrest Gump

ORIGINAL SCORE: Thomas Newman, LITTLE WOMEN (2nd: Howard Shore, Ed Wood, followed by: Zbigniew Priesner, Three Colors: Red; Luis Bacalov, Il Postino (won in 1996); Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption)

ORIGINAL SONG: “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from THE LION KING (Music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice) (2nd: "Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King (Music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice), followed by "Circle of Life" from The Lion King (Music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice); "Regulate" from Above the Rim (Music by Warren G., Nate Dogg, Michael McDonald, Dr. Dre, and Bob James, lyrics by Warren G. and Nate Dogg); "Stay (I Missed You)" from Reality Bites (Music and lyrics by Lisa Loeb))

ADAPTED SCORE/SCORE FOR A MUSICAL: David Boeddinghaus, CRUMB (2nd: Hans Zimmer, The Lion King (won as Original Score))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: FORREST GUMP, The Mask, The Hudsucker Proxy

MAKEUP: ED WOOD, The Mask, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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