John Gielgud (Arthur)
Jack Nicholson (Reds)
James Cagney – Ragtime
My Overall Thoughts:
This year has 4 pretty good nominees plus one who was amazing and was able to take an early lead and remain the front runner througout.
5. Jack Nicholson
4. Ian Holm
3. Howard E. Rollins Jr.
2. James Coco
1. John Gielgud
5. Reds – Good epic biopic but it moves way too slowly. Its easy to see how much this was a labor of love for Beatty. Amazing cast helps a bit. I can understand how this film could garner 12 Oscar Nominations with 3 wins, but the story isn’t as engaging as one would hope. Really liked how they managed to intersperse real interviews with friends and compatriots of Reed and Bryant, but as epic as it may be, it feels too disjointed.
4. Only When I Laugh – Interesting idea that probably works much better on a stage than on screen. Mason is fine in the lead but she is constantly overshadowed by Coco, McNichol and Hackett. The story is told pretty well but they don’t manage to endear us enough to the lead character to care so much about what she has gone through and where she is headed. The dialogue is great (as with all Simon scripted plays/films) but something still feels missing that would have made this an even better and more engaging story.
3. Ragtime – Great story that shows the way people were treated by other during the turn of the 20th century. Really enjoyed the way that they tell so many various stories and find a way to tie them all together in realistic and plausible ways. Great cast led by Cagney, McGovern, Steenburgen, Patinkin, Rollins and Dourif. Rollins and McGovern were both nominated for Oscars for their supporting performances yet neither won. The story manages to show that the way of life for people could easily be disrupted by various racial and marital tensions and works on numerous levels. The characters all feel quite realistic and I liked how it follows the story of a black musician trying to make his way and raise a family despite everything going on around him.
2. Arthur – Very fun romantic comedy that works so well despite its somewhat strange premise. Moore is great in the title role and is wacky chemistry with Minelli is just what they needed here. As good as they both are tho, they are easily outshone by Gielgud who seems on paper to be completely miscast in this supporting role, yet in actuality he was perfect for it stealing every scene he is in. As a morality play, this film is quite effective despite its few flaws.
1. Chariots of Fire – Very inspirational movie, but lacks developed characters. Deserving of winning Best Picture even if there were better choices that year.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely! JG is amazing in this role and steals every scene he is in. There is no question that despite this being a 180 degree turn from most of the roles he played in his career, he was perfect in this performance and by far the best of the 5 nominees.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!