Annal: 1985 Academy Award® for Best Motion Picture

Results of the Academy Award® in the year 1985.

Film:Amadeus

Amadeus

Milos Forman

The satirical sensibilities of writer Peter Shaffer and director Milos Forman (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest) were ideally matched in this Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Shaffer’s hit play about the rivalry between two composers in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II—official royal composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), and the younger but superior prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). The conceit is absolutely delicious: Salieri secretly loathes Mozart’s crude and bratty personality, but is astounded by the beauty of his music.…

Film:The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields

Roland Joffé

This harrowing but rewarding 1984 drama concerns the real-life relationship between New York Times reporter Sidney Schanberg and his Cambodian assistant Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor), the latter left at the mercy of the Khmer Rouge after Schanberg—who chose to stay after American evacuation but was booted out—failed to get him safe passage. Filmmaker Roland Joffé, previously a documentarist, made his feature debut with this account of Dith’s rocky survival in the ensuing madness of the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal campaign. The script of The Killing Fields spends some time with Schanberg’s feelings of guilt after the fact, but most of the movie is a shattering re-creation of hell on Earth. The late Haing S. Ngor—a real-life doctor who had never acted before and who lived through the events depicted by Joffé—is outstanding, and he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Oscars also went to cinematographer Chris Menges and editor Jim Clark. —Tom Keogh

Film:A Passage to India

A Passage to India

David Lean

This adaptation of E.M. Forster’s mysterious tale of British racism in colonial India turned out to be master director David Lean’s final film. Subtle and grand at the same time, Lean’s adaptation is faithful to the book, rendering its blend of the mystical and the all-too human with exquisite precision. Judy Davis plays a young British woman traveling in India with her fiancé’s mother. While visiting a tourist attraction, she has a frightening moment in a cave—one that she eventually spins from an instant of mental meltdown into a tale of a physical attack that…

Film:Places in the Heart

Places in the Heart

Robert Benton

Places in the Heart is a landmark film. Its emotionally gripping story centers around EdnaSpalding (Field) and her unending struggle against extraordinary hardships. But, as recalled from director-writer Robert Benton’s own childhood, it’s also a portrait of a time and a place and a people. It is the 1930s in Waxahachie, Texas. Against this Depression-torn background, unforgettable characters meet and collide. Like Mr. Will (John Malkovich), the blind boarder who sees all too clearly the bigotry of his time, Moze (Danny Glover), a black man who knows a lot, including his own place in a white Southern town, and Wayne (Ed Harris), Margaret (Lindsay Crouse) and Viola (Amy Madigan), decent people caught up in an adulterous triangle which threatens two marriages. Together they leave an indelible impression of faith, courage, love and, most of all, endurance.

Film:A Soldier's Story

A Soldier's Story

Norman Jewison

Charles Fuller adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier’s Play for the big screen in 1984. The film version, A Soldier’s Story is essentially a murder mystery, played out against a background of inter and intra-racial conflict at a Second World War training camp. To the consternation of his white opposite number at the camp, a black captain (Howard W Rollins) arrives to investigate the death of a black sergeant (Adolph Caesar). Suspicion immediately falls on a pair of bigoted white officers but as the tale unfolds in a series of flashbacks, it…

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