Golden reviews predict Oscar riches

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Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. (Warner Bros. Inc. �1992)

While the Oscars and movie critics do not always agree, Beacon Journal reviewers have often been in tune with the motion picture academy.

“Stampede your way to Unforgiven, a powerful ride that might finally net Clint Eastwood Oscar nominations in the acting and directing categories. But don’t mosey in expecting High Plains Drifter or A Fistful of Dollars. Although David Webb Peoples’ Unforgiven screenplay incorporates themes from ol’ Clint’s spaghetti-western days, this ambitious project is bleaker, grander, less flip, more disturbing.” (Mark Dawidziak, 1992)

Eastwood was nominated for acting and directing, winning as director. The film had nine nominations in all, winning four, including best picture.

“All those old screeching terms once used for 1950s movies could be used for Gandhi, and they would be accurate. ‘Epic. Twenty years in the making. A cast of thousands.’ But the power of the film is much simpler and much more complex. The power comes from the meticulous portrayal of the strength of Gandhi’s soul, which [director Richard] Attenborough obviously understood and has portrayed lovingly.” (Bill O’Connor, 1983).

Eleven Oscar nominations and eight wins, including for best picture, best actor (Ben Kingsley) and Attenborough as director.

“American Beauty will ultimately be remembered as the most noteworthy release of ’99. ... Much of the content will bother a large section of the populace, and — if you suspect you fall into that sector — I urge you not to see this film. But if you don’t mind the social baggage, you will absolutely love American Beauty. It will make you appreciate what you don’t have; being ordinary may be terrible, but it’s got to be better than living like this.” (Chuck Klosterman, 1999)

Eight Oscar nominations, five wins, including best picture and best actor (Kevin Spacey).

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a nearly flawless blend of substance and style. ... If you want to quibble with anything, it’s the runtime, but considering I looked at my watch only once — at the three-hour mark — most fans of the original two [movies] will have little problem.” (George M. Thomas, 2003)

Eleven nominations, won all 11, including best picture.

“Ordinary People is not a drama in which you can be easily, comfortably absorbed because it cuts to the bone and the pain is exquisitely felt. Which is nothing more than the precise art of reflecting life.” (Dick Shippy, 1980)

Six nominations, four wins, including best picture and best director (Robert Redford).

On the other hand, even after The Artist won five Oscars last year, including best picture, and was nominated for 10, Rich Heldenfels was still complaining. In a column about the release of the film on DVD, he said:

“It was not my favorite for any of the major awards. While it was pleasant enough, it still felt slight, a cute bit of cinematic trickery that appealed to the voters in Hollywood because — like Hugo — it so loved the magic in making movies.”


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