Read what this is all about here.
Best Picture winner: Unforgiven (dir. Clint Eastwood)
Box office champion: Aladdin ($217.4 million – actual, $415.3 – adjusted)
BEST OF THE BEST
Reservoir Dogs (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Could it be that Tarantino’s first film is his greatest? That’s certainly open to debate, considering he’s never made anything less than great as a director. His debut is a startling, violent neo-noir featuring one of the most intense and iconic scenes in movie history. Plus, as always, that dialogue pops.
Aladdin (dirs. Ron Clements and John Musker)
Oscars: Original Score, Original Song (“A Whole New World”)
Oscar nominations: Sound, Sound Effects Editing, Original Song (“Friend Like Me”)
Though it doesn’t hold up as well as I like, this is another example of Disney during its second peak. The animation is even more fluid than usual and ends with a climax as dark and intense as Sleeping Beauty (1959). Robin Williams does great work as the Genie, though this led to an unfortunate trend of stunt-casting in animated films, with ad-libbed hijinks taking over.
A Few Good Men (dir. Rob Reiner)
Oscar nominations: Picture, Supporting Actor (Nicholson), Film Editing, Sound
Yes, it’s a standard courtroom drama. Yes, it features Nicholson at the beginning of his hammy period. But that’s all upped a level in Rob Reiner’s last great film, thanks to an essentially perfect script by Aaron Sorkin, based on his off-Broadway play. Hard to believe movies like this used to win at the MTV Movie Awards.
My Cousin Vinny (dir. Jonathan Lynn)
Oscar: Supporting Actress (Tomei)
A Mooney family staple, My Cousin Vinny is probably in my Top 5 Most-Watched Movies of All-Time. Featuring that amazing performance from Marisa Tomei (who controversially won, and deserved it), this is one of the greatest of all screen comedies. More standard courtroom proceedings, livened up by Joe Pesci as the loud-mouthed lawyer Vincent Gambini. But the movie’s secret weapons? Fred Gwynne (aka Herman Munster) as the judge and Austin Pendelton as the stuttering public defender.
The Player (dir. Robert Altman)
Oscar nominations: Director, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay
Something of a comeback for director Robert Altman, The Player finds Tim Robbins at his best, playing a studio executive on edge after he receives death threats. Perhaps a little too inside-baseball for those outside Hollywood, it’s nonetheless a hilarious and dark piece of work, and brought a master director back to the conversation.
Unforgiven (dir. Clint Eastwood)
Oscars: Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Hackman), Film Editing
Oscar nominations: Actor (Eastwood), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound
Unforgiven is almost an anti-Western, with the way it deconstructs long-held notions of the myths of the West, making the good guys bad and the bad guys good and mixing it all up over the course of two hours. Eastwood also riffs on his own persona, playing a timid farmer pulling one last assassin job for the sake of his kids. He wants to leave his old life behind until a heartless sheriff (Hackman) lowers the boom on him. Then the grizzly bear gets unleashed. It’s a great riff on a well-worn genre and worthy of its Oscar wins and place in history.