Dances With Wolves was the runaway winner on the night with seven Oscars, a sweeping epic, and hard to argue about many of the awards it took that night. Though many will debate that Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas not taking the big award was quite frankly criminal. But Kevin Costner was simply huge at the time (Field Of Dreams and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) – and he was not surely going to be beaten by a violent movie. The Academy were not ready for that. Well, the next year The Silence Of The Lambs beat the Costner-lead JFK. Fickle bunch. Here are five that were not even nominated:
Best Picture – Miller’s Crossing
The Academy were also clearly not sharp or brave enough for the Coen Brothers – it would be another six years before they succumbed to their masterful, and consistently brilliant work, with Fargo. I am going to stick my neck out and say Miller’s Crossing (which was nominated for not one Oscar) was very much one of the best and most memorable movies of the year. Easy to say now, but this is one of my personal favorites from Joel and Ethan. It has all the slick, violent, funny, original Coen traits – and in all the right places.
Best Actor – Robin Williams (Awakenings)
This was one of Williams’ dramatic roles that went unrecognized by the Academy, and I would say it was in part to his co-star Robert De Niro hitting the right nerve with voters (a bit like Dustin Hoffman and not Tom Cruise two years previous dare I say). Although Jeremy Irons went on to win, you can’t help feeling this category certainly had room for Williams. You can understand Costner grabbing a slot, he was in virtually every scene, and very good, in the three hour plus Oscar winner. Williams was terrific here though, and would certainly have not been making up the numbers.
Best Original Score – Danny Elfman (Edward Scissorhands)
Tim Burton, there was another film-maker who would not catch a break with the Academy. Like he cares. This ticked many of their boxes though, a great cast, a heart-warming story, and general crowd-pleaser. What is maybe most memorable perhaps is Danny Elfman’s wistful score, that bears all the magic and romance of Edward’s story. Shame on you, heartless Oscar voters, who instead chose the likes of perfectly okay Home Alone and Ghost, and far less memorable Avalon and Havana.
Best Original Screenplay – Hal Hartley (The Unbelievable Truth)
True, in the early 90s the kick-starters of indie cinema (like Richard Linklater and Jim Jarmusch) were never going to get a look in at the Oscars. But somehow Whit Stillman garnered an Original Screenplay nomination for Metropolitan – a huge feat for a movie like that. Hal Hartley was in a very similar boat to Stillman, but was making movies with more quirk and energy, and at a more consistent frequency. Anybody who followed the indie new wave, and saw The Unbelievable Truth will hopefully love it for its oddball dialogue and characters, but also for its original humor and charm.
Best Director – David Lynch (Wild at Heart)
I am starting to sound like a broken record now, but David Lynch’s wacky and what-the-fuck appeal must have nudged the Academy pretty hard when they nominated Diane Ladd for Supporting Actress this year. Wild At Heart may be a little twisted as road movies go, so this was never going to be a Best Picture contender. But fans of Lynch will agree that this was one of his best and most accessible works as a director – so not too much to assume they could have gone for this having that very year given nods in the Director category to two film-makers not in contention for Best Picture (Stephen Frears for The Grifters, and Barbet Schroeder for Reversal of Fortune).
Originally published October 2014.