Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1998

dtgirbp-1998Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Life is Beautiful
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
The Thin Red Line

Biggest Snub:

Prince of Egypt

My Overall Thoughts:

This is yet another great year of nominated films, but there is clearly one that is a few levels above all the rest.  The narrative and technical aspects of Saving Private Ryan make it one of the best films ever.  The first 30 minutes of the film has changed the way we all look at war films and was really able to capture the horrors and realistic danger of battle.

The other four films are all very good films, but just don’t compare to this Spielberg directed masterpiece.

My Rankings:


  • 5. – The Thin Red Line – Malick knows how to choose great stories, just doesn’t know how to tell them in a straight fashion.  The narrative is great, just tries too hard to be more philosophical than it really should be.
  • 4. – Elizabeth – Great biopic of the young Queen Elizabeth I with Blanchett giving an amazing performance as the young Queen
  • 3. – Shakespeare in Love – Very clever film that utilizes so much about what we know about Shakespeare and his plays. Works extremely well, but still not the best film of the year.
  • 2. – Life is Beautiful – Benigni showed that it’s possible to make a sad yet somewhat humorous film about the Holocaust and still have a powerful effect on the audience.
  • 1. – Saving Private Ryan – One of the best war films and among the best overall films ever made. Spielberg does an amazing job capturing the feeling of real close combat and we are treated to an experience unlike any other as we are taken as close as we can get to a real battle. The cast is superb with Hanks, Burns, Pepper, Davies, Goldberg, Diesel, Sizemore, and Ribisi all wonderful as the men chosen for such a mission. Each of them is made real and unique by their mannerisms and opinions which help the diverse dialogue about the overall thematic debate to constantly take place. The cinematography is amazing and it helps enhance the patriotic and grandeur feeling of it all. It’s completely unacceptable that this film lost Best Picture at the Oscars to Shakespeare in Love (1998) because there is no rational reason for that to have happened. At least they had the forethought to award Spielberg the award for Best Director.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not At ALL!!!  One of the biggest mistakes of all of the years of Oscar history. SIL is a fun film, but doesn’t come anywhere near comparison to SPR in story nor technical aspects.  Looking back after 18 years and its still seen as a real travesty!

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

5 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1998

  1. I realize full well that my opinion is an extreme minority, but “The Thin Red Line” is a vastly superior film to “Saving Private Ryan.” SPR is well made but a pretty derivative war film and its ideas are nothing new. TTRL actually has something to say in a new way.

    I love “Shakespeare in Love,” fun movie, but I agree it’s not worth Best Picture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. Great comment, Sean. Thin Red Line says so much. I think it may be a bit too dense and rely on visual themes more than narrative ones. That said, I really dig on the artsie side of Mallick’s movies. For me, he is one of cinema’s best directors.


  2. This was a controversial year. Great article once again, Rob. I love these. You know where I land on this one though. My #1 is Thin Red Line, but man did I love Pvt. Ryan. I agree the Oscars got in wrong. Big time. I also agree with your snub. That animated film is underrated for sure.


  3. I wonder how many people assume Saving Private Ryan won Best Picture, not remembering that it was beaten out by a forgettable Shakespearean fiction. I am not a fan of Shakespeare in Love, mainly because of how over-awarded it was, and though I’m still working up the nerve to see SPB, it seems so much more deserving. I would have been happy with Life Is Beautiful too, and in a weaker year, The Truman Show might have gotten more love as well.


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