Philadelphia (1993)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA, 1993TriStar Pictures, Clinica Estetico.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A big-budget Hollywood film finally tackles the issue of AIDS for the first time; brave, yes, but it’s still just another Hollywood movie where gay men only hug so that we don’t get too uncomfortable.  Tom Hanks is excellent in an image-breaking role as a lawyer who is let go from his firm when it comes out that he is dying of AIDS. He refuses to take the discrimination lying down, opting instead to hire a homophobic lawyer (Denzel Washington) and take his whole firm to court, starting with its extremely old-fashioned boss (Jason Robards).   stars as Hanks’ boyfriend, while Mary Steenburgen shines as the defense attorney who has to fight for a team that she doesn’t quite believe in. Jonathan Demme’s undercooked drama is well-intentioned and features that famous scene where Hanks describes the opera he’s listening to, but respectability only takes you so far. Ron Nyswaner’s screenplay is polished but lacks a lot of dramatic power, and the end result is less than involving.

Academy Awards:  Best Actor (Tom Hanks); Best Original Song (“Streets of Philadelphia”)
Nominations: Best Original Screenplay; Best Makeup; Best Original Song (“Philadelphia”)

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Actor-Drama (Tom Hanks); Best Original Song (“Streets of Philadelphia”)
Nomination: Best Screenplay

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