The 1993

Perfect World

Now that the Oscars have gotten their piddling nonsense over with, it's time to reveal the recipients of the one true award, the Stanley. That's right, kids, here are this year's winners of the BRETTnews Perfect World Awards for Excellence in Cinema...

Best Picture

The only true odd man out here was The Fugitive, a fun, forgettable flick. It took the spot that should have been awarded to Shortcuts. Didn't really matter, though. Nothing was going to stop the Schindler's List juggernaut. And, believe it or not, I'm going with the Academy this year, the winner of the Perfect World Award for Best Picture of 1993 goes to Schindler's List. It truly is a remarkable film, as much for its restraint as for it excesses. It is a better, richer film than I'd come to expect from Steven Spielberg.

Best Director

The five nominees chosen by the Academy in this category were all worthy choices, the films they made all top-notch. But, having read the Woolf novel on which the film, Orlando, was based, I wondered how anyone could successfully film it. Sally Potter did a marvelous job of bringing it to the screen and is hereby awarded the Stanley for Best Direction.

Best Actress

Perhaps an award is also needed for Best Enactment of a Manipulative Onscreen Death. Then we wouldn't have sweat such nominations as Julia Roberts's for (please!) Steel Magnolias a few years back and Debra Winger's this year for Shadowlands. I have no real problem with the Academy's selection of Holly Hunter but the Stanley goes to Angela Bassett, who was quite amazing in What's Love....

Best Actor

Perhaps the Academy should follow our lead and create a new category for acting: Best Portmyal of a Person with a Disability or Debilitating Disease. This would free them from having to grant guilt-induced Oscars to folks like Al Pacino and Tom Hanks. Hanks' performance was fine but hardly the year's best. That was turned in by this year's Stanley winner, Lawrence Fishburne, in What's Love Got To Do With It? He managed the rather difficult task of showing us a bit of Ike Turner's charm to balance the evil.

Best Supporting Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio was remarkable in Gilbert Grape but was nominated in the wrong catogory (see Best Actor commentary above). Tommy Lee Jones was effective in The Fugitive, as was John Malkovich in In The Line of Fire but let's face it, these guys could do this stuff in their sleep. Ralph Fiennes definitely wins the Brass Cojones Stanley for daring to show that belly of his on the wide screen (his work was fine too) but the winner of the Perfect World Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role goes to Pete Postlethwaite for his work in the titular role in In the Name of the Father..

Best Supporting Actress

This was the Academy's nadir of nominations. The only one they selected here who deserved a nomination was the eventual winner, Anna Paquin. And having won, we can now watch her gradually descend into insufferability (she's got a head start on it with those MCI commercials). Emma Thompson was barely in In The Name of the Father, Age of Innocence only revealed Winona's shortcomings (I've got two words of advice for you, Winona: contemporary roles), Rosie Perez was okay as, well, Rosie Perez in Fearless but she wasn't Oscar material. And if you think I would sit through The Firm just to come up with a quip about Holly Hunter, think again. Can anything about The Firm truly deserve an award? C'mon, now, get ahold of yourself! Jennifer Jason Leigh cops the coveted Stanley for Supporting Actress for her fine work in Shortcuts.

Best Original Screenplay

Sleepless in Seattle? Ultra-trite. Philadelphia? The opera scene, 'nuff said. In The Line of Fire? It's action- adventure, what screenplay? Dave? Didn't see it, insert your own jape here. The Piano? Hmmm, maybe, but the script was not the film's stongest point. Still, as I look over last year's list of films, no stronger candidate comes to mind. Okay, The Piano it is but I'm not happy about it.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Some better options here...Schindler's List, Remains of the Day, Shortcuts...but the Stanley goes to Sally Potter's cagey adaptation of the rather daunting, in my view, Virginia Woolf novel, Orlando.

Best Foreign Film

I haven't seen a single one of the Oscar-nominated films but that's nothing new, they never seem to gain wide release in the U.S. in time for me to catch them.Two films tied this year for the Perfect World award, the slightly skewed and utterly delightful Strictly Ballroom and Finnish director Aki Kaurasmaki's La Vie de Boheme.

Best Portrayal of a Character with a Disability or Debilitating Disease

In this, the first year for this new award, we have four nominees: Tom Hanks for his portrayal of an AIDS victim in Philadelphia, Leonardo DiCaprio as a mentally challenged youth in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Holly Hunter as a mute woman in The Piano and the guy who played the one-armed man in The Fugitive. And the winner is: Leonardo DiCaprio.

Congratulations to this year's winners!

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Coen Brothers are back and their newest film, The Hudsucker Proxy, doesn't disappoint. Having taken a shot at a suspense thriller (Blood Simple), a broad comedy(Raising Arizona), a gangster picture (Miller 's Crossing) and an Old Hollywood morality play (Barton Fink), the boys have now set their sights on Frank Capra/Preston Sturges territory with this Everyman-takes- on-the-corrupt-establishment fable.

The Hudsucker Proxy concerns Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins in the James Stewart role), a well-intentioned, if a somewhat dim, young man just arrived in Manhattan from the Muncie College of Business Administration. Barnes finds himself in the middle of corrupt corporate shenanigans at the huge conglomerate where he lands an entry-level job. With the Machiavellian Musberger (Paul Newman, clearly enjoying himself) pulling strings, he makes the climb from the mailroom to the president's suite in record time but, alas, something is rotten in New Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, a tough-as-nails reporter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) sets out to expose Barnes as a sham and a fake but finds herself falling for him instead. This is a real showcase role for Leigh and she clearly revels in the opportunity to play in this period piece. Her Miss Archer is one part Hepburn, one part Stanwyk and one part Roz Russell with a little Anne Sothern thrown in for good measure. She's got down pat that mid-Atlantic accent the actresses of yesteryear were required to master and manages to bring some truth to a rather broadly written role.

It has been suggested elsewhere that The Hudsucker Proxy is emotionally distant, that it lacks heart. I don't completely disagree but I do wonder if those reporters have seen the Coens' other works. What these films lack in heart, they more than make up for in smarts and panache. There is no denying that the Coens' films are stylish, even stylized, and knowing that going in, one is not likely to be disappointed by this new offering. It has its share of laughs, is beautiful to look at and is a worthy addition to the Coens' unqiue filmic legacy.

Read next article.

Return to table of contents.

Return to BRETTnews.