Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1996

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Joel Coen (Fargo)
Milos Forman (The People Vs. Larry Flynt)
Scott Hicks (Shine)
Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies)
Anthony Minghella (The English Patient)

Biggest Snub:

Kenneth Branagh – Hamlet

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another very good year for nominees and all 5 do nice jobs directing their respective films, but there were very little surprises going into the final stretch of the awards season, because everyone knew who was going to be taking home (lots of) Gold

My Rankings:


5. Scott Hicks
4. Milos Forman
3. Mike Leigh
2. Joel Coen
1. Anthony Minghella


5. ShineGreat story that is accentuated by Rush’s performance in the lead role. The way that the story unfolds works really well and we get a clear sense as to what kind of life he dealt with. In addition to Rush, Mueller-Stahl is amazing as his ‘tough-love’ father who’s actions cannot be condoned yet based on all he endured in life is somewhat understandable. Nominated for a total of 7 Oscars, but only managed to win for Rush’s lead performance.
4. Secrets & LiesGreat idea that works really well because it gives us characters that are easy to relate to. The idea that we all have some kind of secret that we keep from others is very universal and the way this story unfolds keeps us interested the entire time. Nominated for 5 Oscars; Picture, Director, Actress (Blethyn), Supporting Actress (Jean-Baptiste) and original Screenplay but didn’t mange to win any of them.
3. The People Vs. Larry FlyntGreat film that is expertly directed by Forman because it attempts to highlight the ideals of free speech despite the fact that it was being expressed by someone like Larry Flynt. Harrelson is superb in the lead role and makes us both despite and admire this man for everything that he tried to do no matter the methods of doing so. Flynt himself has always been seen as a controversial figure and that hasn’t changed in the 22 years since this film came out yet the message of the film is all about the movement and not just the man.
2. The English Patient  – Great love story set on the eve of WWII.  Epic film that has a great story. It’s NOT as boring as people like Elaine Benis claim it to be. The title is perfect, because you really need to be patient while watching this amazing film in order to absorb all of it’s wonder.
1. FargoExcellent crime thriller that really takes the story to the level of a dark comedy because of its characters, locations and situations. The Coen Brothers really know how to take a story slightly beyond the extreme and give us a tense, enjoyable story that also makes us laugh at the stupidity and absurdity of it all. Amazing cast all fit in perfectly with this storyline. The Coen Brothers have created a movie that IMHO will always be difficult for them to top because it is done so well in all aspects. Not only is this my favorite of their movies, but it is also IMHO the best movie made in 1996.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  TEP is such an epic film that was very deserving of winning all of its awards including BD for Minghella who masterfully tells this tale of love.  None of the other 4 nominees come close to matching the scope and breadth of this epic.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1996

  1. “scope and breadth”, in and of itself – isn’t always the single most important barometer. I would’ve gone with FARGO (and I liked TEP very much) – and I’m surprised – given the fact that FARGO is ALL Coen Brothers all the time (written by, directed by, produced by, edited by and starring Oscar winning wife of — ) and was in your #1 position for Best Picture – that Director didn’t go along with it.


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