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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

March 3, 2010 at 3:47 PM

25 years ago at the Oscars: “Amadeus”

Before I forgot: For all of you interesting in talking Oscar, I’ll be having a live chat Friday at noon. Details are here; do come by at lunchtime and join me. I promise not to chat with my mouth full.
Here’s a little more Oscar nostalgia, for a Wednesday afternoon: Twenty-five years ago this month at the Academy Awards, the big winner was “Amadeus.” Milos Forman’s music-filled drama, based on Peter Shaffer’s play about the rivalry between composers Mozart and Salier, won eight Oscars including best picture, director, actor, and screenplay. F. Murray Abraham, as Salieri, beautifully depicted the pain of realizing that his was a lesser talent and that Mozart’s was God-given, in quietly artful scenes like this:

Murray, a class act, graciously acknowledged his costar in his speech (“There’s only one thing missing for me tonight, and that’s to have Tom Hulce standing by my side”), as the cameras cut to a moved, tearful Hulce. The night was also noteworthy for Sally Field, who won best actress for Places in the Heart, shrieking “You like me, right now, you like me!”; Prince, back when he called himself Prince, winning best song score for “Purple Rain”; “The Times of Harvey Milk” winning best documentary (sowing seeds for “Milk,” 24 years later); and writer Robert Towne being so irritated by changes to his script for “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes” that he removed his name from the script and replaced it with that of his sheepdog, P.H. Vazak — only to have the dog receive a nomination. (He didn’t win.) And the evening’s most magical moment was the honorary Oscar given to James Stewart, who accepted his award with such humility and charm, thanking “the audience — all you wonderful folks out there. Thank you for being so kind to me over the years. You’ve given me a wonderful life.” (The Academy won’t let me embed the clip, but you can watch his speech on YouTube here.) It’s a keeper.

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