Let’s Second Guess The Academy: Best Picture 1985

Jonathan Pryce in Brazil

Last week, we reconsidered whether or not The Hurt Locker deserved the title of Best Picture of 2009.

This week, let’s go back to the year of my birth, 1985.  According to the Motion Picture Academy, the five best films of the year were:

1) Steven Spielberg’s controversial adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple,

2) Witness, a film about a tough cop (Harrison Ford) who hides out with the Amish,

3) Kiss of the Spider Woman, one of the first independent films to ever be nominated for best picture,

4) Prizzi’s Honor, a darker than dark Mafia comedy from John Huston that starred Jack Nicholson,

and finally,

5) Out of the Africa, the film that was eventually named best picture of 1985.

Despite its victory at the Oscars, Out of Africa hasn’t aged well.  If any year seems to be worthy of a little second guessing, it would certainly be 1985.  If you were a member of the Academy in 1985, which nominee would you have voted for?  Personally, I would have voted for Witness.  How about you?

Now, here comes the fun part.  Let’s say that Out of Africa wasn’t released in 1985.  Let’s say that Steven Spielberg never made The Color of Purple and that Jack Nicholson refused to star in Prizzi’s Honor.  Let’s say that none of the five nominated film had been eligible in 1985.  Which films would you have nominated in their place?

You can vote for five of the film listed below and yes, we do accept write-ins!

(Incidentally, I voted for Brazil, The Breakfast Club, To Live and Die In L.A., The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Insignificance.)

6 responses to “Let’s Second Guess The Academy: Best Picture 1985

  1. There really should be a “Ten Years After” AA; please keep doing this – love it!
    Out of Africa sucked – all your listed alternatives were better!
    Of course my opinion of the greatest production from this year = author of this piece


    • Of the actual movies listed, my favorite was Brazil. Of course, I saw all these in college, so take that for what it’s worth..


  2. We can second-guess the Academy all we want…how about we second-guess the Razzies?

    “Rambo: First Blood Part II” took Worst Picture, Sylvester Stallone took Worst Director for “Rocky IV”, and Stallone took Worst Actor for both the aforementioned films.

    This is why I have zero respect for the Razzies. It’s just a big fat case of tall poppy syndrome. Yeah, OK, Stallone has two of the top three highest grossing films of the year (behind top cinematic cash cow “Back to the Future”), let’s tear the guy to shreds.

    I know that “Rambo: First Blood Part II” and “Rocky IV” were dripping with jingoistic sentiment, and the whole macho action flick isn’t for everybody, but if you honestly think that either one of these films is anywhere early as terrible as “Missing In Action 2–The Beginning”, then you’re absolutely crazy. Chuck Norris, as even he will admit, can’t act to save himself, and Chuck’s “death sentence” speech he delivers to Soon-Teck Oh should offend anybody with an IQ above that of a houseplant. Chuck Norris ceased to be relevant years ago, anyway, only good nowadays for Chuck Norris Facts.

    On a cheerier note, I’m glad you enjoy “Insignificance”, Lisa Marie. It’s very much an overlooked film. I’m rather fond of “Witness”, as well as “Fright Night”–I think Roddy McDowall is exquisite in this. The thing about 1985 is that it featured quite a few really enjoyable films that would never be considered for Best Picture with only five slots available (perhaps they would fare better these days with 10 films eligible for Best Picture).


  3. I have to agree, this is pretty fun. Agnes of God was pretty awesome when it came out. Mask is also a great film, and don’t even get me started on Fright Night. I’ve seen that film way too many times to count. 🙂


  4. Pingback: Let’s Second Guess The Academy: Best Picture 1986 | Through the Shattered Lens

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