When Shakespeare Beat Spielberg: An Oscar Shocker, 20 Years Later (AWARDS)


Twenty years ago (when the Academy Awards were still in late March), one of the biggest Oscar upsets of all time went down in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture.

In this feature story for Collider, I make the case for why the Academy got it right. I also look back at the history of how that controversial Oscar race was fought and won.

Here’s an excerpt:

  • Shakespeare In Love is “smart, witty, and as substantial as the legend it fictionalizes, with a fervent love story to match. The right director won the Oscar, if only for the landmark Normandy invasion alone (including the kinetic drop-frame approach that remains the standard for a combat aesthetic), but the reason Shakespeare In Love is better is because of the screenplay, which is superior to Robert Rodat’s for Ryan – and by a considerable margin.”

To read my full defense, click here.

One thought on “When Shakespeare Beat Spielberg: An Oscar Shocker, 20 Years Later (AWARDS)

  1. You are correct. As much as I love Spielberg, “Ryan” just underwhelmed me. The opening is brutal, but the storytelling just didn’t do it for me. And when William Goldman wrote the piece that blew a hole through the logic of the opening flashback well, that was it for me.

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