The 71st Academy Awards are looming closer, and it looks like at least two of the biggest categories are all but assured. Steven Spielberg’s World War II drama Saving Private Ryan has been cleaning up both at the box office and with critics, and I have no reason to doubt it’ll reign supreme at this year’s Oscar ceremony. The last time Spielberg tackled the World War II era, he gave us Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan is as much a love letter to veterans of that war as it is an astoundingly crafted feature film.
There are actually three World War II-centric films nominated for Best Picture this year, but Saving Private Ryan is really the only one that has a shot at winning. Terrence Malick‘s The Thin Red Line, although brilliant, is likely too esoteric for voters, and while there’s significant love for Life Is Beautiful, a foreign film is unlikely to take home the big trophy either. And Best Picture nominee Elizabeth is, quite frankly, just happy to be here.
The romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love has been picking up its fair share of awards as of late, including the Best Film BAFTA (unsurprising given its British-tinged premise) and the SAG Award for Best Ensemble (also unsurprising—everyone loves this cast), and in the scheme of things is probably Saving Private Ryan’s biggest “competition,” but can anyone really see this admittedly delightful romcom trumping Spielberg’s juggernaut? I don’t think so.
There are some saying Saving Private Ryan is only good for the first 20 minutes or that the film’s ham-fisted framing device ruins its impact, but I really don’t think this vocal minority is enough to derail the film’s road to Oscar. Moreover, Spielberg’s return to drama is being unanimously heralded after the disappointing Amistad. Look no further for proof than Spielberg’s Best Director win at the Directors Guild of America Awards: just as Spielberg will no doubt be taking home the Academy Award for Best Director, Saving Private Ryan is virtually assured the Best Picture Oscar. Count on it.
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