Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best Picture of 1984

One more collection of nominees out of the way and, as I've come to expect from this project, not a dud among them. However, this decision proved to be a little easier than recent verdicts, for which my tired brain is grateful.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1984 are:
  • Amadeus
  • The Killing Fields
  • A Passage to India
  • Places in the Heart
  • A Soldier's Story
Contrary to the diversity of some of the previous years I've examined, these five films can almost be similarly categorised ... well, perhaps with a little manipulation. Each deals at some level with the dastardly deeds to which human beings can subject one another. Racism features prominently in four of the pictures, the fifth being a more personal account of hatred. Consequently, 1984 was a powerful year for the Best Picture award.

To be completely ruthless, A Soldier's Story left the smallest impact on me, which is more a credit to the other four films than a criticism of the Norman Jewison picture, for it is undoubtedly a poignant film. Nonetheless, it will be the first casualty of my selection. Next to go is A Passage to India which, although gripping in its latter half, suffered slightly from a slow start.

The final three all seem capable of claiming my top honour. But one of the trio was clearly the primary tickler of my fancy. So, I'll say goodbye to The Killing Fields and Places in the Heart, through no faults of their own. Both are extremely moving films. Coincidentally, the only non-racism themed picture is the sole survivor. Although, perhaps it is Amadeus' intimacy that touched me most. Whatever the reason, I now officially declare Amadeus to be my favourite 1984 Best Picture nominee, thereby agreeing once more with the Academy's decision.

Best Picture of 1984
Academy's choice:


Matt's choice:


Your choice:

Vote for your own favourite using the poll above. Some very fascinating results from previous verdicts. At last count, the 2001 race is almost a five-way tie. And Gone With the Wind has perhaps unsurprisingly swept all but one vote from the 1939 election. The next round of nominees belongs to 1944, containing a host of classic Hollywood fare...

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1944 are:
  • Double Indemnity
  • Gaslight
  • Going My Way
  • Since You Went Away
  • Wilson
See you again soon...


  1. 1984 was an admirable, if not spectacular year for film. The decade of the 80s, as a whole, pales in comparison to the 70s. My personal omission from 1984 would be Sergio Leone's mythicized violent tale of unfulfilled love and betrayed friendships, "Once Upon a Time in America." It's a movie I can get completely lost in.

    Looking at the nominees, "A Soldier's Story" will be the first eliminated. Entertaining and well crafted, but pretty much a by the book stage adaptation. It gets tougher after this. I'd probably put "Places in the Heart" and "The Killing Fields" in fourth and third place, or vice versa, they are that close. With the two films that received the most nominations, I'd pick "A Passage to India" as the runner-up. Classic David Lean in a surprising, but in ways odd story. That leaves "Amadeus" as my choice, agreeing with The Academy and once again with Matt. It was my clear pick on Oscar Day in 1985, but on review the gap is closer now. It looks great, and though it loses some momentum finishes powerfully - and it has that magnificent music.

    We finally get to perhaps my favorite movie decade, the 1940s. My beloved Film Noir shows its face here with one of its penultimate representatives, but I won't give the other nominees the short shrift. Two of them for all practical purposes will be first time viewings.

  2. Surprised that A Passage to India brings fourth. I haven't seen it since my youth [which was like yesterday :)] but I remember liking it much. Still, glad to see appreciation for the underrated Places in the Heart. Definitely looking forward to 1944. One of the five are in my top 100 of all time...but I won't sway you. We'll see how it goes.

  3. Well, it looks like I'll have to take a pass on "Wilson," one of the 1944 nominees. Only available on VHS, it is not to be found in my library system or any adjacent county systems. I also checked the schedules for Turner Classic Movies and The Fox Movie Channel (Wilson is a Fox film), but no success there. I did manage to see about a half hour of it a few months ago on TCM, and those impressions will have to do.

    By the way, "Gaslight" is being shown on Turner Classic Movies this Thursday, November 24, at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Of course, this and the other three nominees are available for viewing on DVD.