THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)
What is it? The multi-layered tale of a badly burned patient (Ralph Fiennes) being moved through Italy as the Nazis retreat by a Canadian nurse (Juliette Binoche), alongside the patient's pre-War love affair with an Englishwoman (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his nurse's love for an Indian bomb disposal expert (Naveen Andrews).
Why did it win? Harvey and Bob Weinstein seemed to have the Oscar formula down cold, perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than here. A respected literary offering, a talented director, gorgeous cinematography and an Oscar-friendly story, both epic and personal. The other nominees were too comedic (Fargo, Jerry Maguire), too low-key (Secrets & Lies) or too Australian (Shine) to stand a chance.
Did it deserve to win? Over the years its desert glow has rather faded, but if you go back and watch it again the epic sweep and emotion of this Miramax-in-awards-baiting-mode effort are still compelling. The acting's top-notch, the adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's book well done and Anthony Minghella's direction pretty flawless. It's just that we all love Fargo better.
Worth a look? Yes, honestly! Watch it and wish your upper lip were that stiff.