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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The 4 Most Baffling Nominations From The 1994 Oscars

1994 was a tremendous year for movies. The three best movies of that year, in no particular order, are Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, and Pulp Fiction. These 3 films were (unsurprisingly) nominated for Best Picture that year. While almost everybody believes that Forrest Gump robbed Pulp Fiction that year of everything at the Oscar, that's not what this post is about. I'm not going to complain about the winners (and truthfully, I believe The Shawshank Redemption was robbed of everything, but that's for another time), I'm going to complain about the nominations themselves. It's weird looking back at who and what got nominated, especially in a year as incredibly deep and good as 1994 was. Here are the 4 most baffling nominations from the 1994 Oscars:


I actually just saw Four Weddings and a Funeral for the first time about 30 minutes prior to the writing of this post. So I of course had the mindset of who Richard Curtis (the writer of this film was) 20 years later. Since Four Weddings, Curtis has written and directed the best love story of all time, Love, Actually, and wrote some damn fine love stories such as Notting Hill, About Time, and (some would defend) Bridget Jones' Diary. Clearly back in 1994, we didn't know that we were going to get better projects from Curtis, but nonetheless, it's still surprising this rom com gets an Academy Award nomination. Needless to say, the stuffy, white, uptight Academy is not normally accustomed to nominating comedies, nevertheless romantic comedies. None of Richard Curtis' movies ever received a Best Picture nomination ever again, even Love, Actually. Four Weddings and a Funeral is a fine movie, but it's shocking to hear it being called Award Worthy.


Travolta and Jackson are incredible in Pulp Fiction and most certainly deserve an Academy Award nomination for their work in the film. So if you're going to find a way to get them both nominated, I understand that nominating John Travolta for Best Actor and Samuel L. Jackson for Best Supporting Actor was the way to do it. But neither men are the lead in this Tarantino classic as it's truly an ensemble cast. However, if anyone of them were the leading male, it's Samuel L. Jackson, not Travolta. Travolta may have spent more time on screen, but Jackson has the more powerful presence and the more complete story arc. But all of that is not relevant because both are supporting actors. There's just no logical way you can watch Pulp Fiction and say without any shadow of a doubt that, "that person is the film's lead."


Quiz Show is a solid film from 1994, and one that I can see generating as much Oscar buzz as it did. Quiz Show has clearly not stood the test of time the way Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and The Shawshank Redemption have, but it's still a film I enjoyed watching- even for the first time in 2014. Part of the reason Robert Redford's film is so good to watch, is because of the great acting of its 3 males leads: Ralph Fiennes, Rob Morrow, and John Turturro. So it seems absolutely mind boggling that the only actor from the film that earns a nomination is Paul Scofield. Don't get me wrong, Scofield is fine in the film as Fiennes' father, but he's nowhere as good as Fiennes himself, and certainly not as good as Morrow or Turturro. I think Fiennes, Morrow, and Turturro were all three male leads and Scofield is a true supporting actor, but if the Academy was going to play games by calling John Travolta a lead in Pulp Fiction, there was no reason to suggest that either of the 3 true leads couldn't have taken Scofield's place instead.


I could write an entire column of films and people that should have been nominated in 1994, but were not: Tim Robbins for The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Wright and Sally Field for Forrest Gump, The Lion King for Best Picture, and so on and so forth. But all of those nominations can at least somewhat be justified. Not so much nowadays, but certainly 20 years ago when these nominations were released. But the one film that unequivocally deserved a nomination was Hoop Dreams for Best Documentary Feature. It's an incredible epic telling the story of two inner city kids in Chicago during their high school years trying to become a professional basketball player. It's widely regarded as one of the best sports films to ever be created. And it's not as if sports movies were absent from the Academy Awards prior to 1994. Films like Rocky, Raging Bull, Hoosiers, and Bull Durham all received Oscar nominations beforehand, and worse, Hoop Dreams did receive ONE nomination that year- for Best Editing.


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