Thursday, February 3, 2011

30 Days of Oscar: Day 7 - Moonstruck

Movie: Moonstruck
Year: 1988
Nominations: Best Actress - Cher, Best Supporting Actress -Olympia Dukakis, Best Supporting Actor - Vincent Gardenia, Best Director - Norman Jewison, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay - John Patrick Shanley
Wins:Cher, Dukakis, and Shanley.  The Last Emperor won Best Picture, and Director for Bernardo Bertolucci, and Sean Connery took Supporting Actor for The Untouchables and I can't argue that choice. 

Given that Cher reemerged this year in Burlesque and we've been denied her singing at the Oscars since the Golden Globe winning song wasn't even nominated, I thought I'd look back at her Oscar-winning performance.  Moonstruck is a romantic comedy in the best sense of the word.  The story is simple - Cher plays Lorretta, a widowed Italian book-keeper.  She becomes engaged to Johnny (Danny Aiello), just before he hops a plane to Palermo to be with his dying mother.  Before he leaves, Johnny asks Loretta to find his estranged brother Ronny (a young disheveled Nicolas Cage).  Loretta goes to find him at a bakery, but there's a good reason they're estranged, Ronny blames Johnny for the loss of his fingers (he now wears a prosthesis).  However, Loretta's no-nonsense attitude digs deeper and we find out it's not really Johnny's fault, Ronny just needs someone to blame.  If you've ever seen a single clip of Moonstruck, you'll know Johnny falls for Loretta, but her famous response is "Snap out of it". 
That's the main plot of the movie, the smaller stories are what I found more interesting to revisit.  Olympia Dukakis is Loretta's mother and married to Vincent Gardenia (Mr. Musnik from Little Shop of Horrors), but she's pretty sure he's having an affair.  Dukakis' brother and sister-in-law (Luis Guss and Julie Bovasso) are the comedy part of the movie.  He remembers a huge moon the day Gardenia proposed to Dukakis many years ago, and that moon has reappeared and is playing havoc with everyone's emotions, it seems.  Dukakis is out to dinner alone one night (her husband is at the opera with his mistress), and she meets John Mahoney (the dad from Frasier) getting dumped by a much younger woman.  They dine together and get along very well. 
A movie like Moonstruck would be very unlikely to get a nomination today, but I think having a famous singer being an actress (in her second Oscar nominated performance, the first was Silkwood) was more than the Academy could ignore.  Also, looking at the films nominated that year, the phrase "slim pickings" comes to mind.  Fatal Attraction, Broadcast News, Wall Street, Hope and Glory and Throw Momma From the Train were also big that year, so I guess it's not surprising that Moonstruck made the cut.  It's a cute movie, and the Acting and Screenplay wins were appropriate if not good choices, but it's still a bit odd that it won.  I doubt it would even get a nomination today.  The comparison that comes to mind is Julia Roberts winning for Eat, Pray, Love.  


Mrs. said...

Rachel said this movie is "the most unromantic romantic comedy I've ever seen". I love this film! It's fun & entertaining & shows that love isn't always what you think it should be.

Mrs. Thuro's Mom said...

Sorry! I hit enter to soon. That last post was from me, Jess!