Ah, the 90s.
Some would say that this was the last good decade that the world would ever experience. It was certainly a good decade for films! Though I don’t agree with the majority of the Academy’s winners from this decade, I do agree with most of their nominations. Here are 6 things that Academy got right in the 90s!
- Nominating Pulp Fiction and Quentin Tarantino
Way back in 1994, it actually probably took more than a little bit of courage to not only nominate a film like Pulp Fiction for Best Picture but to also honor its director as well. Still, by doing so and also giving Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary an Oscar for their screenplay, the Academy not only announced that Tarantino had arrived but they also embraced an entirely new, pop culture-driven sensibility. Of course, this led to a number of very bad films that were directed by people hoping to be the next Tarantino but it led to some pretty good films as well. It is certainly cemented Tarantino’s place in the culture.
2. Nominating The Thin Red Line and Terrence Malick
The 90s may have begun with Tarantino and the combination of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but it ended with the return of Terrence Malick and his own idiosyncratic but unforgettable aesthetic. Though 1997’s The Thin Red Line may not have won best picture and Malick did not win Best Director, the Academy still deserves some credit for nominating both of them.
3. Nominating Fargo and the Coens
Like Pulp Fiction and The Thin Red Line, Fargo didn’t win Best Picture. However, by nominating the film, the Academy was announcing that times had changed. Directors like the Coen Brothers were no longer destined to be on the outside looking in. Much like Pulp Fiction and Thin Red Line, Fargo has gone to be much more influential than the film to which it lost.
4. Steven Spielberg Winning Best Director for 1993’s Schindler’s List
It took Spielberg a while to win his first Oscar. When he finally did when, it was for one of his best and most important films.
5. Clint Eastwood Winning Best Director For 1992’s Unforgiven
The 90s were about two things: independent films and unexpected comebacks. After years of being dismissed as just an action star who rarely spoke, Eastwood made a critical comeback and proved that he was a masterful director with Unforgiven. He also proved that, as an actor, he was capable of more than just snarling. Unforgiven remains one of the most powerful explorations of violence ever put on film.
6. The Silence of the Lambs Wins Best Picture
The Silence of the Lambs is often described as being the first horror movie to win Best Picture. I consider it to be more of a thriller than a horror film but still, one cannot deny it’s influence. The character of the erudite and manipulative serial killer has become such a trope that it can be surprising to go back and rediscover just how Anthony Hopkins was in this film.
Up next: the 2000s!