Oscar Rewrite: 1987


Best Picture: The Last Emperor  Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war flick brought hilarious boot-camp bluster from R. Lee Ermey’s drill instructor (besting An Office and a Gentleman), then turned on a dime with a violent bathroom massacre, Vietnamese prostitutes offering to “love you long time” and a “Paint it Black” portryal of war. “How can you shoot women and children?” “Easy. Just don’t lead them so much.” Horrific.

Best Director: Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor) Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire)

To call City of Angels a remake of Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire does a severe injustice to the original. Wenders’ film is less a structured plot as it is a transcendent experience, slower-paced than Hollywood fare, yet winner of Best Director at Cannes. Set in Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the film tracks two angels, one of which falls (literally) for a human. Wenders shifts from B&W to color, championing mortal love over angelic eternity through an ingenious subplot where Peter Falk (Columbo) plays himself with a clever twist. It’s hard to imagine Field of Dreams, Ghost or The Sixth Sense without this one. As the mortal lover says in the end: “We’re defining the game for everybody.”

Best Actor: Michael Douglas (Wall Street / Fatal Attraction)

In 1987, Michael Douglas encountered two of history’s greatest villains. In Wall Street, he created the AFI’s No. 24 Villain as the “greed is good” Wall Street exec Gordon Gekko. In Fatal Attraction, he made every man second guess extra-martial affairs by sleeping with the AFI’s No. 7 Villain, who waited by the phone, cranked up her “bunny boiler” and insisted, “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan.”

Best Actress: Cher (Moonstruck)

Cher moved from music icon to movie queen with the slap heard ’round the cinema world.

Best Supporting Actor: Sean Connery (The Untouchables) John Candy (Planes, Trains & Automobiles)

John Hughes is known for the “Brat Pack” hits Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller. But Planes, Trains & Automobiles gave Steve Martin and John Candy career roles with priceless moments, from “those aren’t pillows” to “you’re going the wrong way.” Candy was the “genuine article” as shower-curtain ring salesman Del Griffith, and his “home for the holidays” journey was so delicious that Hughes and Candy revived it for Home Alone.

Best Supporting Actress: Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck) Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)

A year before Fred Savage joined The Wonder Years, he listened to William Goldman’s storybook tale of Princess Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Andre the Giant, the Cliffs of Insanity and a “prepare to die” sword fight. Is there a funnier tale of whimsical fantasy and adventure? Inconceivable.

Best Original Screenplay: Moonstruck  Lethal Weapon (Shane Black)

After five installments, it’s easy to overlook how Shane Black turned a classic good cop/bad cop setup into a pop culture fixture with one of the great buddy pairs in Danny Glover and Mel Gibson.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Last Emperor (Mark Peploe & Bernardo Bertolucci from Henry Pu-yi’s autobiography)  The Untouchables (David Mamet from a book by Oscar Fraley & Eliot Ness)