Oscar Rewrite: 1984


Best Picture: Amadeus    This is Spinal Tap!

The proof of Spinal Tap‘s influence is in the entertainment pudding, and its calorie count goes up to 11. Writer Christopher Guest and director Rob Reiner did more than just launch a heavy metal band, they inspired The Office, Modern Family, Best in Show, Borat and every other mockumentary to date.

Best Director: Milos Forman (Amadeus)  James Cameron (The Terminator)

It seems impossible that there was a time when James Cameron thought small rather than big, but before Aliens, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar, he turned a tiny $6 million movie into a sci-fi classic, mining suspense as Arnold Schwarzenegger hunts Sarah Connor before she births the savior of mankind.

Best Actor: F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)  Bill Murray (Ghostbusters)

Saturday Night Live stars have repeatedly made the jump to the big screen, from The Blues Brothers to Wayne’s World to Coneheads. But the funniest movie from SNL alumni was not a TV skit, but rather an original film creation. Even those who haven’t seen Ghostbusters know its images and theme song, but those who have seen it know it belongs to Bill Murray (with Dan Aykroyd a close second).

Best Actress: Sally Field (Places in the Heart)  Eszter Balint (Stranger Than Paradise)

Eszter Balint “put a spell on” Sundance with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in Jim Jarmusch’s gem.

Best Supporting Actor: Haing Ngor (Killing Fields) Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)

Best Supporting Actress: Peggy Ashcroft (A Passage to India)  Glenn Close (The Natural)

Before stalking Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close haunted Redford in The Natural.

Best Original Screenplay: Places in the Heart  Beverly Hills Cop (Daniel Petrie Jr. & Danilo Bach)

Eddie Murphy inspired everyone from Damon Wayans to Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle, spending 13 straight weeks at the top of the box office, the second longest streak ever, behind Titanic (15).

Best Adapted Screenplay: Amadeus (Peter Shaffer from his own play)

A decade after sweeping the Oscars with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), director Milos Forman wowed the world with this miraculous movie music masterpiece, painting F. Murray Abraham as the brilliant classical composer Salieri, who’s overshadowed by the child prodigy Mozart (Tom Hulce). Even ’80s pop music wanted to get in on the phenomenon with Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.”