- The Piano
- Schindler’s List
- The Remains Of The Day
- Short Cuts
- The Age of Innocence
- The Wonderful, Horrible Life Of Leni Riefenstahl
- My Favorite Season
- Silverlake Life: The View From Here
- The War Room
- The Wedding Banquet
A performance that really has stood the test of time is the very best that Anthony Hopkins has ever delivered on film, that of the repressed butler who puts duty above desire in the other Merchant Ivory masterpiece, The Remains Of The Day. Hopkins is tempted to overplay his hand in just about every scene of this film (butlering is the easiest thing to ham up), and he never falters for a moment. One of the most powerfully romantic films ever made.
Following its popular screening at Cannes, where it tied for the Palme D’Or (the first and so far only time a woman has won the prize) and a Best Actress prize for Holly Hunter, The Piano went on to scoop up international prizes left, right and centre when it finally arrived in North American theatres. Hunter collected just about every trophy there was available to her and it is easy to see why: while physical handicap is easy Oscar bait, her performance is so much more than just a gimmick. As the mute, strong-willed 19th century Scottish woman who travels to New Zealand as a mail order bride, she brings a huge level of expression and intensity to Jane Campion’s gorgeously etched, Brontesque romance. She’s not an actress I would ever have considered appropriate for a period piece (or for an arthouse international hit, for that matter), and yet she is barely detectable as the same woman who stole hearts in James L. Brooks’ Broadcast News six years earlier.
Honour Roll: Angela Bassett, What’s Love Got To Do With It;Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation; Catherine Deneuve,My Favourite Season; Emma Thompson, Much Ado About Nothing/The Remains of The Day
Oscar critics have, in the years since this category was handed out at the 1994 Oscar ceremony, stated that the trophy really should have gone to Leonardo DiCaprio’s sensitively affecting performance inWhat’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and they’re wrong. He’s wonderfully sympathetic, but there’s nothing to compare with Tommy Lee Jones redefining the law man on the hunt in The Fugitive. It’s a film that is surprisingly classy and tight for an action movie (earning a Best Picture nomination, a rarity for the genre) and much of that comes from the superb charisma and intelligence that Jones brings to every single scene in which he appears.
While the marvelous Joan Allen had to wait two more years before Nixon would bring her the attention she so deserved, 1993 saw her give two marvelous performances that would have merited Oscar’s attention had she already established her name. As the fiercely protective mother in Searching For Bobby Fischer she does such an admirable job of protecting her son from being corrupted by an overzealous father (“He’s decent,” what a great scene). In Ethan Frome, the less well-known adaptation of an Edith Wharton book made that year (the other being the highly superior Age Of Innocence) she gives the film’s best performance as the abandoned wife whose husband Liam Neeson prefers Patricia Arquette to her.
Jane Campion, The Piano