The Retroactive Film Awards Of 1985

We are in the middle of the 1980s now, and also to a time when movies were being released before I was born. When it comes to films from the 1980s, the ones I’ve seen are the notable ones. By the time I became aware of them, they had whatever degree of cultural cache. That means I have seen fewer of them, but arguably I haven’t seen fewer of the worthwhile films. I’ve just had the chaff separated from the wheat for me, so to speak. What does 1985 have in store for us? Here are my retroactive film awards for the year in question.

Best Supporting Actress: Madeline Kahn, Clue

Clue is a weirdly polarizing movie. A lot of people really like it and consider it a classic comedy. Conversely, a lot of people think it’s not good at all. At the time, it was a flop. As is often the case with polarizing movies, my opinion lands in the middle. Clue is good, but mostly is carried by the cast. Speaking of which, even if you are a Clue hater, you probably can at least acknowledge one highlight of the movie: “Flames…flames on the side of my face.” Kahn was a genius comedy actor, and she’s the best of the bunch in Clue as Mrs. White

Best Supporting Actor: Roddy McDowall, Fright Night

Fright Night doesn’t entirely work, but it has one element that is up my alley. McDowall plays Peter Vincent, a horror host for a show within the film called, yes, “Fright Knight,” and he played a vampire hunter in many movies. Of course, that doesn’t mean he is equipped to fight an actual vampire, which is what comes to the forefront in this movie. That’s part of the fun of McDowall’s performance, and he is the one who balances the horror and comedy of Fright Night the best.

Best Actress: Julie Hagerty, Lost in America

Many consider this film to be Albert Brooks’ best work, and Lost in America is effectively a two hander between him and Hagerty. The two play an out-of-touch Yuppie couple who decide to get in touch with the world and see America, and then just end up in casinos and bad motels and stuck in a quagmire of misguidedness. Brook is good, of course, but he’s in his own film. Hagerty can’t simply go into “Julie Hagerty mode,” because that doesn’t exist. I’m not knocking Brooks! I am commending Hagerty.

Best Actor: Jonathan Pryce, Brazil

Brazil is Terry Gilliam’s world, and he is the primary force and visionary of the movie. However, he still needed actors. Pryce is the lead in this dystopian sci-fi film, and he’s great in the movie. It’s a tricky role to nail, and I can’t even necessarily articulate entirely why it works. I just know it definitely works. Pryce is gripping at the center of what could be an overwhelming movie.

Best Picture: Real Genius

Yeah that’s right. I’m doing it. I don’t care. Real Genius is the best movie of 1985. It’s so funny. Val Kilmer is great. The jokes are strong, and it’s a campus comedy from the 1980s that largely works. Part of it is that this “snobs vs. slobs” comedy features “slobs” who are also serious students who just happen to be a little more relaxed. Also, they aren’t that mean spirited. Look, I checked out all the films of 1985, and Real Genius won my Best Picture. The runner up was Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. It’s not like I was ever going to give the award to Out of Africa.

Chris Morgan
Author: Chris Morgan

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