Oscar Winners, a Look Back


There is a lot of focus on Oscar night. We wonder who's going to win and it can be easy to get caught up in the moment. But, often, when you look back a few years later it's easy to second guess voters' decisions. Some have even suggested that the Best Picture prize should be handed out five years after release.

As we prepare for a new crop of films for the top prize, I'll be taking a look back at past ceremonies and considering the Best Picture fields. Today I'll look at the nominees from 30, 25, and 20 years ago.

30 Years Ago:
Ceremony: 1987
Film Year: 1986
Nominees:
* Platoon
* Hannah and Her Sisters
* A Room With A View
* Children of a Lesser God
* The Mission
Winner: Platoon
Thoughts: The big question is always if the winner was the right one. In that field there are a few good films. I've always been taken with "The Mission," the Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons religious drama. But "Platoon" is a film that has endured and spoken to many people. Thirty years later it has a legacy that's enduring and was probably the right selection.

25 Years Ago:
Ceremony: 1992
Film Year: 1991
Nominees:
* Silence of the Lambs
* Beauty and the Beast
* Bugsy
* Prince of Tides
* JFK
Winner: Silence of the Lambs
Thoughts: Only three films in the history of American cinema have won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay, and "Silence of the Lambs" is one of those three. It feels apt that we're looking at this film year now, as I think "La La Land" could become the fourth film on that list. It's not a lock, but it feels like it could happen. This was a historic film year, including "Beauty and the Beast" being the first animated film nominated for Best Picture. You could make a case for some of these films, but "Silence of the Lambs" is a masterpiece that endures. Twenty five years later it's clear that voters made the right decision.

20 Years Ago:
Ceremony: 1997
Film Year: 1996
Nominees:
* Jerry Maguire
* Fargo
* The English Patient
* Shine
* Secrets and Lies
Winner: The English Patient
Thoughts: Of the three years we're considering today, this is the only one where you could clearly say, with the advantage of time, voters missed the boat. "The English Patient" was a popular film at the time, and many weren't surprised it won. But 20 years later, it doesn't have the enduring legacy of other films on this list. "Jerry Maguire" was a commercial success, and it remains a relevant film. In fact, it was featured in "The Lego Batman Movie," which opened this weekend. But the clear winner here is "Fargo," one of the Coen Brothers most celebrated film, and a film that's still revered 20 years later. It was a mild upset at the time that it didn't win Best Picture, but it looks even worse as the years progress.

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