You can feel that 1960s tension just looking at the shortlist: Classic cinematic genre fare vs. the avant-garde. Intellectual drama vs. daring social barrier-breaking. Black-and-white vs. Technicolor. They all have their merits, but one film blew away the rest of the field to win the VFA.
In America’s bicentennial year, Hollywood didn’t stray too far from home. Even the science fiction title on our shortlist has a scene in the U.S. Senate chamber, and half of the rest take place a short Amtrak ride away. 40 years later, many of the directors and stars are still top-billed today, but which of these heavyweights would go the distance for the VFA?
Spanning centuries, continents and galaxies, the 1986 VFA shortlist is certainly an eclectic group of films. Only one element appears repeatedly, and that element is: lip-synching. This being the year Cindy Crawford began as a model, perhaps filmmakers hoped a signature mark would draw attention to their art? Whatever the reason, it worked: the words spoken by the performers in their own voices are still remembered 30 years later.
In 1996, Bridget Jones wrote by hand in her diary, and George R.R. Martin typed A Game of Thrones using WordStar 4. The rest of us got ahead by learning, for the first time, to grab a mouse. Yet at the movies, more often than not, the stars were reaching for something more deadly. Wasn’t it ironic?
1985’s movies made a big deal about who you were, where you were from, and what your parents did – and then they told you: Forget all that: you can make your dreams come true with a little ambition, some new technology, or perhaps a little help from a stranger. This was, after all, the midpoint of the Reagan era, in which a Hollywood actor and union leader not only became President of the United States, but a Republican as well.
As enlightened as it may make us feel to tut-tut our way through yet another gallery of “sexist 1970s ads,” it feels even better to stop and consider how many of 1975’s films were not only highly original but also a positive influence toward today’s more inclusive society. Others were just good silly fun.
On tiny black-and-white televisions, 1965 was a year of stress and uncertainty, starring men in grey flannel suits. For a dollar, though, the big screen offered (in full color) heroes, horses, and happy endings. In such a divided era, it is noteworthy how many major films were made outside the USA. In our survey both a domestic and an import won a statuette.