Monday, October 11, 2010

Best Picture of 1994

The battle for Best Picture of 1994 included a particularly impressive selection of nominees. I realise that assessment is one that has prefaced almost every verdict I have delivered so far in this project, but this time I really mean it. In a decade and a half, four of these five films have achieved a rather prominent place within pop culture. Nothing to sneeze at.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1994 are:
  • Forrest Gump
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Quiz Show
  • The Shawshank Redemption
Five very accomplished films, all with bucket loads of merit. The sole romantic comedy of the bunch, Four Weddings and a Funeral, is the first one out of the running for my top honours. Partly due to the innate unfairness that labels comedies as less significant as other genres, and partly due to its saturation of slightly underdeveloped supporting characters.

The other four pictures are much harder to separate. Quiz Show, the nominee with the least success cementing its place in film history, suffers mildly from the ambivalence that is elicited by its likeable but morally questionable lead character. Nonetheless, the film is still immensely engaging. Forrest Gump, Oscar's choice for Best Picture, offers a somewhat passive lead character, yet remains emotionally impactful with plenty of charm to boot. Pulp Fiction is, on occasion, gratuitously wordy, but its humour and inventiveness far outweigh any flaws.

Thus, we are left with the film that IMDb users have voted their number one film of all time, The Shawshank Redemption. It may not necessarily take that crown in my all time list, but it certainly has my support as 1994's best. It is a masterly film that succeeds on many levels, drawing the viewer in with humour, pathos and suspense.

Best Picture of 1994
Academy's choice:

Forrest Gump

Matt's choice:

The Shawshank Redemption

Your choice:

Your opinion can be made by using the poll above to select your favourite 1994 nominee. Soon, we will begin our next year of review. We head to the 1960s again to take a look at the following bunch.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1962 are:
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Longest Day
  • The Music Man
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
Stay tuned...


  1. Tough call.

    1994 was a helluva year for films.

    I think I would have put my money on Pulp Fiction. Just saw it again the other day and it's still wildly inventive and entertaining.

    Looking forward to more of your posts.

  2. Thanks, Phil. Yeah, the 1994 shortlist is definitely one of the best that Oscar has compiled. Certainly near the top of the ones that I've reviewed so far. Perhaps just behind 1975 and 1976.

  3. here is little room for omissions on 1994's nomination list. A few films that I feel could have supplanted Four Weddings and a Funeral: Bullets Over Broadway, Nobody's Fool and Exotica. Looking at my top list for that year (compiled quite some time ago), I also mention Clerks, Little Women, Three Colors: Red, Ed Wood and a Coen Brothers guilty pleasure, Hudsucker Proxy. I wrote the below comments last night and again our thoughts on the year are quite similar, Matt.

    So, I'll place Four Weddings and a Funeral in fifth place, but by no means a criticism of its merits.

    The top four films are perhaps the closest bunched I've yet to find among the years we have examined thus far. So plunging ahead, here's my ranking today:
    4th place: Quiz Show
    3rd place: The Shawshank Redemption
    2nd place: Pulp Fiction
    1st place: Forrest Gump: One of the infrequent times my sentiments align themselves more with the general public than with the critics.

    I enjoyed rewatching each of them, but truth be told, the one easiest to rewatch was Quiz Show.

    I didn't vote for 1962 for only one reason: Lawrence of Arabia has yet to be released in Blu-ray and I'd love to see it that way for the rewatch. Nevertheless, a nice mix of films. One thing about the 60s, you can expect to see a musical in contention nearly every year. It's another year of long movies, with a total running time of 855 minutes, just 5 fewer minutes than the 1956 nominees.

  4. Haven't seen Shawshank, but NOTHING can beat Pulp Fiction, baby.

    Forrest Gump is a pile of steaming dung, with only Gary Sinise maintaining dignity and plausibility. It's popular appeal (who somehow carries on today) is lost on me.

    Pulp Fiction's appeal/fan base hasn't let up a bit, but it's more of a "cult" appeal than a widely universal one that dump called Gump had/has.

  5. Shawshank wins, with Pulp Fiction very close behind.

    As for 1962, I agree with Oscar, but I also think Lawrence of Arabia is a very, very overrated film.

  6. 1994 was probably second only to 1939 in regards to the sheer number of very good to great films that were released. Among those is the best documentary ever made - Hoop Dreams.