Over the past few months, we’ve been revisiting all the major Academy Awards from 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years ago in our Recall the Gold survey, asking the entertainment industry and EW.com readers to decide whether the winners in the top categories are still Oscar worthy after several years of percolating within popular culture. With just three more categories to go, we’ve finally reached the winner whose Oscar would seem by far the safest: The 1993 Best Picture, Schindler’s List. Director Steven Spielberg’s haunting and harrowing portrait of the Holocaust often felt as if it was a document rather than a narrative; it feels just as alive and terribly vital today as it did 15 years ago. Asking whether it still deserves its Oscar feels somehow a little wrong and a lot beside the point.
And yet there are those who contend, now and in 1993, that Schindler’s List is a flawed film, that Spielberg indulged in some overly sentimental tropes — the girl in the red coat; Oskar Schindler’s “I could have done more” speech — as if he couldn’t bear to fully face such an uncompromisingly brutal period in history. The other four Best Picture nominees from that year, meanwhile, were worthy films in their own right. The Fugitive may seem now like the One That Doesn’t Quite Belong, but in truth, it was really just a dying breed: A contemporary, audience-pleasing, near-perfectly executed Hollywood thriller that also happened to earn a Best Picture nod. In the Name of the Father was a blistering look at the true story of a group of working class Irishmen falsely imprisoned for an IRA bombing. The Piano, a tale about a mute Scotswoman (Holly Hunter) and her young daughter (Anna Paquin) who move to New Zealand for an arranged marriage, felt like a living novel, winning raves, and Oscars, for Hunter, Paquin, and writer-director Jane Campion. (Only the second-ever female Best Director nominee, Campion won for her original screenplay.) And The Remains of the Day, about the life of a buttoned-up butler (Anthony Hopkins) in post-WWI Britain, was yet another impeccable Merchant Ivory literary adaptation (Howards End, A Room With a View) that have since fallen out of favor with the Academy.
These four films lost for one reason: They weren’t Schindler’s List. The quibbles over Spielberg’s softer side were not nearly enough to keep the film from taking home seven Oscars (including Spielberg’s first as a director), including, of course, Best Picture. And now, PopWatchers, it’s your turn to decide whether, with the benefit of time, that Oscar is still as deserved today as it was in 1993, or should go instead to one of the other nominees. Vote in our poll below; if you need a reminder of the films, check out the clips after the jump. (Some are NSFW.) While you’re at it, if you haven’t already, vote in all the other polls from our ongoing walk down Oscar’s memory lane. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the 1988 Best Actress race; also, check out coverage of this year’s awards contenders in Dave Karger’s Oscar Watch blog.
In the Name of the Father (language NSFW)
The Remains of the Day