What Movie Should Have Won the Oscar – 1990-1999

Just when I start to feel I’m getting the hang of what I’m trying to do here going back in time and deciding which movies should have been nominated and won the Oscar each year, we get closer to the present and my own personal prejudices start making themselves known. I was already a critical teenager for much of the ’90’s, but I’ll try to stay close to the spirit of this exercise and pick movies that a random modern day person could look at and agree are great movies.

Click here to read the 1970’s.

Click here to read the 1980’s.


Winner- “Dances With Wolves”

Losers-  “Awakenings”, “Ghost”, “The Godfather Part III”, “Goodfellas”

Should have been nominated- “Edward Scissorhands”, “Ghost”, “Goodfellas”, “Misery”, “Wild at Heart”

Should have won- “Goodfellas”


The 1990’s start off with one of the bigger goofs in Oscar history. “Goodfellas” was one of the more influential movies of the decade and if Scorcese won for this year, they wouldn’t have felt the need to give it to him for the mediocre “The Departed”.


Winner- “The Silence of the Lambs”

Losers- “Beauty and the Beast”, “Bugsy”, “JFK”, “The Prince of Tides”

Should have been nominated- “The Silence of the Lambs”, “JFK”, “Thelma & Louise”, “The Fisher King”, “Barton Fink”

Should have won- “The Silence of the Lambs”


Though as a writer I can relate most to the Coen Brothers classic “Barton Fink”, as a serial killer I have to admit “Silence of the Lambs” was more influential. The Academy got it right in spite of the movie inspiring way too many terrible sequels.


Winner- “Unforgiven”

Losers- “The Crying Game”, “A Few Good Men”, “Howard’s End” “Scent of a Woman”

Should have been nominated- “Unforgiven”, “A Few Good Men”, “Malcolm X”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “Glenngary Glen Ross”

Should have won- “Unforgiven”


“Reservoir Dogs” was more influential  and easier to watch over and over, but “The Unforgiven” also was a classic, and while “Reservoir Dogs” had more unforgettable lines of dialogue and the most violent moment in cinematic history that happens solely in your imagination… I’m quickly talking myself out of this, but we’ll stick with “The Unforgiven” just because it has a lot of horses and pretty scenery.


Winner- “Schindler’s List”

Losers- “The Fugitive”, “In the Name of the Father”, “The Piano”, “The Remains of the Day”

Should have been nominated- “Schindler’s List”, “The Fugitive”, “In the Name of the Father”, “The Piano”, “Groundhog Day”

Should have won- “Schindler’s List”

Schindler's List, Oliwia Dabrowska

Though the final scene where Liam Neeson gives his big heart wrenching speech about how he should have saved one more life was melodrama at its worst, the rest of Schindler’s List is photographed beautifully enough in black and white that it triumphs over an otherwise forgettable year at the movies.


Winner- “Forrest Gump”

Losers- “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Quiz Show”, “The Shawshank Redemption”

Should have been nominated- “Forrest Gump”, “Pulp Fiction”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Ed Wood”, “Heavenly Creatures”

Should have won- “Forrest Gump”


“Pulp Fiction” was more influential, “The Shawshank Redemption” had more heart, but “Forrest Gump” outruns them both.


Winner- “Braveheart”

Losers- “Apollo 13”, “Babe”, “Il Postino”, “Sense & Sensibility”

Should have been nominated- “Babe”, “Braveheart”, “Il Postino”, “Twelve Monkeys”, “The Usual Suspects”

Should have won- “Braveheart”


Somehow the Academy in the 1990’s knew which movies would hold the test of time. Five years in a row the movie they picked seemed the most best picture like in the faraway futuristic year of 2015.


Winner- “The English Patient”

Losers- “Fargo”, “Jerry Maguire”, “Secrets & Lies”, “Shine”

Should have been nominated- “Fargo”, “Jerry Maguire”, “The People vs. Larry Flynt”, “Sling Blade”, “Trainspotting”

Should have won- “Jerry Maguire”


Again I fight against personal preference. “Trainspotting” is such a great movie, but as most people can’t understand the character’s Scottish accents, I’ll admit “Jerry Maguire” the romantic comedy for people who don’t want to admit they like romantic comedies is a more universal selection.


Winner- “Titanic”

Losers- “As Good as It Gets”, “The Full Monty”, “Good Will Hunting”, “L.A. Confidential”

Should have been nominated- “Boogie Nights”, “The Full Monty”, “L.A. Confidential”, “Starship Troopers”, “Titanic”

Should have won- “Boogie Nights”


What a rotten year for movies. I thought I was just being a whiny 19 year old when I remembered hating every movie I saw back in college, but looking at what was released back then I realized I was just keeping it real. I find “Titanic” to be a terrible movie, but it was such a cultural force I had to keep it on here. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to give it a best picture award when there was one truly great movie to come out that year in “Boogie Nights”.


Winner- “Shakespeare in Love”

Losers- “Elizabeth”, “Life is Beautiful”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Thin Red Line”

Should have been nominated- “Elizabeth”, “Life is Beautiful”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Out of Sight”, “Saving Private Ryan”

Should have won- “The Big Lebowski”


The Academy truly hates comedy. 1998 had many award worthy funny stuff, but only honored a comedy set in the holocaust in “Life Is Beautiful”. “There’s Something About Mary”, “The Truman Show”, “Mr. Jealousy”, all deserved  respect above most of the nominees. The biggest honor though shall go to one of the greatest comedies of all time, “The Big Lebowski”. I’m not a fan of  “Saving Private Ryan” but the D-day battle scene deserves respect.


Winner- “American Beauty”

Losers- “The Cider House Rules”, “The Green Mile”, “The Insider”, “The Sixth Sense”

Should have been nominated- “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Fight Club”, “The Sixth Sense”, “The Straight Story”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”

Should have won- “Fight Club”


The Academy ended the century and the millennium in complete and utter shame. In a year of innovation, they instead looked backwards and celebrated a forgettable piece of pretension in “American Beauty”. I was tempted to give this as a lifetime achievement award to Stanley Kubrick who is probably the greatest director in the history of film and is definitely the greatest director to never win an Oscar, but he was already dead by the time “Eyes Wide Shut” was released and thus it would be a deathtime achievement award. Instead  give it to Fight Club, a movie that when I first saw it made me say, “That might be the greatest movie I’ve ever seen.”

Click here to read the 2000’s

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