Movie: My Left Foot
Nominations:Best Picture, Best Director - Jim Sheridan, Best Actor - Daniel Day- Lewis, Best Supporting Actress - Brenda Fricker, Best Adapted Screenplay
Wins/Snubs: This is a rather controversial year - Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture and Oliver Stone won Best Director for Born on the Fourth of July. I haven't seen July but I really like Daisy - though I know quite a few who don't, some vocally (*cough, FMD). I actually would still propose Field of Dreams is the Best Picture from 1990, but Dead Poet's Society is amazing too (here's .my favorite scene). Luckily Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker both took home the awards - Day-Lewis beating excellent actors (Robin Williams, Morgan Freeman, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Cruise), as Fricker beat out Angelica Huston, Lena Olin, Julia Roberts and Dianne Wiest. The one I would actually argue with is Driving Miss Daisy winning Adapted Screenplay over this movie.
My Left Foot is the story of Christy Brown, a Dubliner with cerebral palsy born into a large family in 1932. The only part of his body he has active control over is his left foot - particularly his toes. His family assumes that because he can't speak as a child, he must also be stupid. Thankfully, using chalk in his toes, he's eventually able to gain enough control in his body to spell out MOTHER. He increases his dexterity with his left foot as he gets older and learns to paint. His speech improves so that his large family, except his dad, can understand him. The fact that his dad never really learns to understand Christy exemplifies his detachment from his disabled son. One day Dr. Eileen Cole (Fiona Shaw) is shown his art and offers him a place in her clinic attempting to help people with CP, particularly helping him improve his speech. Since he's led a relatively isolated life, he mistakes her attention with affection and falls hard for her. Not that you can blame him for having a poor ability to express anger, but he's kind of an asshole, and attempts to become a drunk, but that requires someone help him.
The whole movie is told as a flashback from adult, and presumably successful, Christy's perspective as he's being honored for writing his memoir. This is more evidence convincing us that he's a bit of an asshole at heart as he argues with the nurse assigned to help him while the speeches are going on. However, there haven't been many performances that can rival Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in this - probably one of the 10 best male performances of all time in terms of raw acting - he contorts his body, mangles his speech in a consistent way, while maintaining an Irish accent. Just watching it from the perspective of knowing he won the Oscar makes for an amazing film. Brenda Fricker is terrific as his always pregnant, struggling and winning Irish mother, but it's a fairly standard Oscar-worthy performance.
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