20 Years Ago – Difficult Choices.

 

Time flies… 20 years ago the “Oscars” were difficult to predict and some movies that were there today are considered as classics of filmmaking. Between “Shawshank Redemption”, “Forrest Gump” and “Pulp Fiction” what would you choose? Difficult choice indeed. 20 years ago in the Awards history that difficult choice was made and in retrospective I’m not sure that everyone will say it was the right one.

“Bullets Over Broadway”, “Interview With The Vampire”, Legends Of The Fall”, “Three Colors: Red”, “Burnt by The Sun”, “Hoop Dreams” “Lion King”, “Ed Wood” and “Speed” are some of the other movies in that same “Oscar” season. The best movie on IMDB Top 250 list “The Shawshank Redemption” wasn’t even nominated in the Best movie category.

1995 – 20 years ago. 20 years ago “Forrest Gump” won the most important award – Best movie. When all movies mentioned above are considered, was that justified? Was “Forrest” (movie that I like but don’t think of it as good as some of those movies) really the best of them all? Was Tarantino the best director or Robert Zemeckis deserved the award. There were Woody Allen, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Tarantino and Redford (with “Quiz Game”). Again, Frank Darabont was totally overlooked.

In retrospective, it’s great for any cineaste to see all those great movies in the same year. Choices like that are never easy. Most of these films are now in the collective memory of the masses and most of them have some sentimental value to all of us. Nikita Mikhailov masterpiece “Burnt By The Sun” is probably one of the best movies of the nineties and in some other year I would say that it should’ve been nominated for the Best movie too. But in this one that’s not an easy call. “Shawshank Redemption” was overlooked by the Academy and today it has a cult status and it is widely considered as one of the best movies ever made. “Pulp Fiction” changed the way how we see movies as an artistic form while changed the way they were made in the same time. Isn’t that alone worth of recognition? Tarantino movies are always considered as not so good for the Academy voters, but in retrospective it was probably the most significant movie of that year.

I truly love “Forrest Gump” but I can’t help myself, I must say that all the awards won in 1995 look pale in comparison to “Shawshank” or “Pulp Fiction”. In the “Awards” to come there are “Whiplash”, “Birdman”, “Boyhood” “Ida”, “Leviathan”, “Nightcrawler” and “Foxcatcher”. What do you think? Will the similar articles be written in 2025?

We can be proud on difficult choices in front of us. One more proof that movies aren’t dead. I was talking to a colleague of mine recently and he told me that he can’t take movies seriously (he’s a musician) because movies are “young artistic form”. His intellectual arrogance shocked me. We passed the century of movies, and I would be bold enough to say that there is no artistic form that is progressing more rapidly and more intriguingly than movies today. We can talk about graphic novels and comics the same way, but we see so many different approaches to movies from different countries and regions (with very distinguished cinematography) that it’s unacceptable to me to talk about movies as an lesser art-form, as less important branch of popular culture. That is the kind of cultural and intellectual elitism who would always consider Stephen King, Tolkien or David Mitchell as B-class writers. “Higher-form” of art is something unreachable I suppose, something that ordinary mortals can’t or won’t understand? Must be nice in that castle in the clouds.

20 years ago difficult choices were made. Today we can see them as wrong. We can debate about meaning of the awards, ask ourselves are the awards important at all? We can enjoy “Forrest Gump”, “Shawshank Redemption”, “Pulp Fiction” or any of the movies mentioned above and give our own “Oscars”, “Lions” or “Bears” but I think that even 25 years from now there will be one thing we mustn’t do…

We must not live in the clouds of elitism and arrogance and say that nothing is important enough for us to see. If the “Oscars” in front of us make the same kind of “mistake” that was done 20 years ago, I hope that we will be humble enough to thank the actors and film-makers for the effort of making so many good films in just one season, to be humble enough to thank them for emotions and expressions caused by their work.

There is no lesser art, there is just bigger fall from that blind cloud of arrogance in which…

… time is relative and blindness eternal.

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