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The English Patient Movie Review

awards binoche actress scott

Once, a long time ago, I was a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. After a few bewildering industry functions, I let my membership lapse. So I'm not even marginally qualified to vote with the members of the Academy for Best Picture of the Year. But if I could have voted in 1996, I would have, for Fargo! More than enough people are worshipping The English Patient that I don't need to join them. It's the sort of big, circuitous movie that always wins Best Picture. Okay, so it's an indie, but it's an indie that looks, sounds, and feels like Gandhi, except for Juliette Binoche and Naveen Andrews as Hana and Kip. This is not to knock Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, who are very good, just the picture's naggingly pompous undertones AND overtones. Fiennes’ character (Hungary's own Count Almasy) falls hard for Katherine, AKA Mrs. Geoffrey Clifton (Scott Thomas). Since boring old Geoffrey is played by Colin Firth, he's practically asking for his wife to be whisked away by a handsome count. The climax of this film may be terribly romantic in a gloppy sort of way, but it's all so avoidable that you can't blame destiny for this one. Oh well, people in love WILL do anything, won't they? Like lose their minds. And their wits. And their humility. And their sense of logic…and proportion. There was this skirmish going on at the time, World War II, I believe it was called? Am I supposed to quiver with anticipation every time Katherine and the Count exchange a guilty glance? Because I don't. Best Pictures of the Year don't really do it for me, anyway (I've concurred with precisely five choices in the entire history of the Academy). I can (almost) stand the very best ones every 10 or 20 years. As for the rest, once is enough, thanks. In order for a movie to be acceptable to the Academy membership, it can't be quirky or cutting edge, it has to say something positive about the human spirit, which must be Binoche's and Andrews’ function here. To be honest, Hana and Kip are worth a heckuva lot more attention than the central characters, mainly because they ARE played by Binoche and Andrews. Oh, and the costumes here are nearly as ghastly as the ones in Secrets and Lies.

1996 (R) 162m/C Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, Julian Wadham, Juergen Prochnow, Kevin Whately, Clive Merrison, Nino Castelnuovo; D: Anthony Minghella; W: Anthony Minghella; C: John Seale; M: Gabriel Yared. Academy Awards ‘96: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director (Minghella), Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Supporting Actress (Binoche), Best Original Dramatic Score; Directors Guild of America Awards ‘96: Best Director (Minghella); Golden Globe Awards ‘97: Best Film— Drama, Best Original Score; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘96: Best Cinematography; National Board of Review Awards ‘96: Best Supporting Actress (Binoche), Best Supporting Actress (Scott Thomas); Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards ‘96: Best Director (Minghella), Best Screenplay; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘96: Best Actor (Fiennes), Best Actress (Scott Thomas), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Effects Editing; British Academy Awards ‘96: Best Actor (Fiennes), Best Actress (Scott Thomas), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director (Minghella), Best Film, Best Supporting Actress (Binoche); Golden Globe Awards ‘97: Best Actor—Drama (Fiennes), Best Actress—Drama (Scott Thomas), Best Director (Minghella), Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Binoche); Screen Actors Guild Award ‘96: Best Actor (Fiennes), Best Actress (Scott Thomas), Best Supporting Actress (Binoche), Cast; Writers Guild of America ‘96: Best Adapted Screenplay. VHS, LV, Closed Caption, DVD

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