Annal: 1986 Academy Award® for Best Motion Picture

Results of the Academy Award® in the year 1986.

Film:Out of Africa

Out of Africa

Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack’s 1985 multiple-Oscar winner is a sumptuous and emotionally satisfying film about the life of Danish writer Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), better known as Isak Dinesen, who travels to Kenya to be with her German husband (Klaus Maria Brandauer) but falls for an English adventurer (Robert Redford). The film is slow in developing the relationship, but it is rich in beautiful images of Africa and in the romantic tone surrounding Blixen’s gradual discovery of her life and voice. One downside: while we may all love Redford, he is as convincingly British as…

Film:The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg, proving he’s one of the few modern filmmakers who has the visual fluency to be capable of making a great silent film, took a melodramatic, D.W. Griffith-inspired approach to filming Alice Walker’s novel. His tactics made the film controversial, but also a popular hit. You can argue with the appropriateness of Spielberg’s decision, but his astonishing facility with images is undeniable—from the exhilarating and eye-popping opening shots of children playing in paradisiacal purple fields to the way he conveys the brutality of a rape by showing…

Film:Kiss of the Spider Woman

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Hector Babenco

Kiss of the Spider Woman starts out simply enough, hemmed in by the narrow walls of a Latin American prison cell. Molina (William Hurt) is telling his new cellmate, Valentin (Raul Julia), his favorite story. Molina is a delicate homosexual imprisoned for seducing a minor; Valentin is a bearded revolutionary still bleeding from his interrogation. If their film unfolded into the typical prison buddy plot, it’d still be a good movie. But this is a great movie. There are stories twisting within stories, each drawing a new, surprising level of difference…

Film:Prizzi's Honor

Prizzi's Honor

John Huston

It may not seem like the most obvious kind of Huston country, but this black Mafia comedy fits perfectly with the John Huston mindset. Adapted from Richard Condon’s novel, the film stars Nicholson as a none-too-bright hit man for a Mafia family who falls in love with an independent operator—a female killer played by Kathleen Turner. The two make a surprisingly funny couple, whether taking a fling at domesticity or comparing professional notes. But their romance is threatened by the woman Nicholson has jilted: the don’s daughter, played by Anjelica Huston in a…

Film:Witness (1985)

Witness

Peter Weir

When Samuel (Lukas Haas), a young Amish boy traveling with his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis), witnesses the murder of a police officer in a public restroom, he and his mother become the temporary wards of John Book (Harrison Ford), a detective who’s been assigned to solve the crime. After suspect lineups and mug-shot books yield nothing, Samuel, in the most memorable scene of the film, recognizes the murderer as a narcotics agent whose picture he sees in the precinct. Once Book realizes that the police chief is in on it, too, he whisks Samuel and Rachel back…

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