Six Spot #13: Best Picture 1995

Oscar Question

Welcome back to The Six Spot! If you’d like to catch up on the season premiere of Six Spot, wherein I discuss the 2015 Best Supporting Actress race it can be found here.

Coming up with Six Spot ideas is surprisingly difficult. There are far too many years where the Six Spot seems to obvious, and yet other years where to contenders are too numerous to count. I’m a little surprised I haven’t jumped on this one yet, since it’s one of the banner years for any Weird Oscar Years list. 1995 was a year that had a frontrunner for Best Picture in Apollo 13…until Ron Howard was snubbed for a Best Director nomination. Many conflate that situation with the belief that Howard was a frontrunner himself for Best Director—not the case. While Howard won DGA, it was Mel Gibson and lone director #1 Mike Figgis who shared most of the precursor glory (then again, how many awards did Inarritu win before Oscar night?).

The First Five Spots

The Academy Award nominees were

  • Braveheart ***
  • Apollo 13
  • Babe
  • Il Postino: The Postman
  • Sense and Sensibility
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Breakdown of Seasonal Hardware

Braveheart

Key Wins: Golden Globe Best Director, WGA
Key Nominations: Golden Globe Drama, DGA

Apollo 13

Key Wins: PGA, DGA, SAG Ensemble
Key Nominations: BFCA runner-up, Golden Globe Drama, WGA

Babe

Key Wins: Golden Globe Comedy, NSFC
Key Nominations: WGA

Il Postino: The Postman

Key Nominations: DGA, Harvey Weinstein with Pulp Fiction money to burn

Sense and Sensibility

Key Wins: BFCA, Golden Globe Drama, NBR, WGA
Key Nominations: SAG Ensemble, DGA, NYFCC runner-up

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Leaving Las Vegas

Key Wins: BFCA, Indie Spirits, LAFCA, NYFCC
Key Nominations: Lone Director, Golden Globe Drama, DGA, WGA, Best Actor lock

Dead Man Walking

Key Nominations: Lone Director, Best Actress lock, Golden Globe screenplay

Get Shorty

Key Nominations: Golden Globe Comedy, SAG Ensemble, WGA

The Usual Suspects

Key Nominations: Nothing, really—both of its Oscar wins were surprises.

The Bridges of Madison County

Key Nominations: Golden Globe Drama, huge Box Office

Toy Story

Key Nominations: Golden Globe Comedy

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The Contenders for The Six Spot

Sadly, it’s already time for the first stage elimination. Most of the above Contenders for the Six Spot are listed for curtsey. Since it got no other nominations on the day, I think we can summarily dismiss Get Shorty, despite great review, residual John Travolta love, and box office. Likewise, I think we can safely assume that neither The Usual Suspects nor The Bridges of Madison County were that close to a nomination, despite the former eventually winning two Oscars and the latter being one of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven follow-up. That leaves three huge and logical Contenders for the Six Spot.

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Toy Story

Perhaps not the most obvious choice to be a finalist for the Six Spot. However, let’s look at the evidence. Toy Story was a zeitgeist movie—one of those movies where, looking back, changed everything. Not only that, it has a huge box office and the Academy was only four years removed from nominating Beauty and the Beast in Best Picture. It was a Golden Globe nominee, it was heavily respected. Further, the film became the first animated film to land a Best Screenplay nomination. Add a Song and Sound nod to that, and it walked into nomination day with three mentions. Also, unless I’m forgetting something, Toy Story remains the most recent recipient of the Academy’s Special Achievement Award.

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Dead Man Walking

Tim RobbinsDead Man Walking is a curious beast. It didn’t do particularly well on the precursor trail, other than functioning as a vehicle to finally award perennial nominee Susan Sarandon. And yet, there was the miraculous narrative of Tim Robbins directing the mother of his children to an Oscar. Add to that, Robbins never being an Oscar nominee himself, and you sort of have the explanation for Robbins’ Lone Director mention. Beyond that though…

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Leaving Las Vegas

Mike FiggisLeaving Las Vegas is one of the shining examples of the power and force of independent filmmaking in the 1990s. And the critics recognized that, too. Leaving Las Vegas was the critical favorite and its leading man, Nicolas Cage, became the de facto frontrunner for the Best Actor race. Knowing the film was a lock for not only Best Actor, but received a Lone Director nomination, one often forgets that the film WASN’T a Best Picture nominee in 1995. And yet…

Without further ado, I think the Six Spot for the 1995 Best Picture race was….

The Six Spot

 Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

What do you guys think? Who do YOU think was the Six Spot of the 1995 Best Picture race? Was it Leaving Las Vegas, Toy Story, Dead Man Walking, or one of the other many contenders? Sound off in the Comments!

(Also, in case you haven’t noticed, I listen to suggestions! So if you have a fun suggestion for future Six Spots, let me know in the Comments!)