Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Forrest Gump (1994).
The first time I saw Forrest Gump, I was in middle school and I thought it was about the best film I’d ever seen, so to an extent I still get the love for it. Within about two years I would repeat the cycle with two of the other nominees from that year that somehow became canonized on the big IMDb list as the year with all the all timers. It’s a quick look at the boomer version of their American history that makes sure to glance at all the highlights and show how literally anyone could stumble their way through it all and achieve the American Dream, so for anyone that believes in that dream, it’s uplifting and enjoyable. Unfortunately, since the middle school days, I’ve come to realize dreams are for suckers and this one especially is a lie. So Hanks’s earnest performance and some amusing insertions aren’t quite enough for me to get past how shallow most of the film is as it skids through every event without taking any time to consider it. Still, it’s far from a bad movie and does manage some good moments when it forgets about trying to be the American Story and lets Forrest find his way through his relationships with his friends, family, and Jeh-nay.
The Real Best Picture:
The Shawshank Redemption is good and Pulp Fiction is great but anyone who thinks either of those or Gump should’ve won is being a real goofball. And no, despite the great Scorsese bit and it being my favored Turturro performance, I’m not talking about Quiz Show either. Four Weddings and a Funeral should’ve won Best Picture in 1994 and then it should’ve won it again every year since. Richard Curtis is a gift.