Steven Spielberg's 1998 Best Picture nominee Saving Private Ryan will be the next feature in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great To Be Nominated” series. The war drama will be screened on Monday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
Following the screening, Oscar-nominated make-up artists Lois Burwell and Daniel C. Striepeke, Oscar-nominated producer Mark Gordon, sound mixer Ronald Judkins and sound effects editor Ethan Van der Ryn will take part in a discussion about the film.
Upon its release, Saving Private Ryan received nearly unanimous praise for its honest and gripping depiction of World War II. Well, those people obviously didn't watch the same movie I watched.
Written by Robert Rodat, Saving Private Ryan follows eight American soldiers (among them, Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, and Jeremy Davies) trying to find and rescue a fellow soldier (Matt Damon) trapped behind enemy lines so as to make the soldier's mom happy. Once their characters' quest begins, the filmmakers strive to push every single cliched button of every single cliched Hollywood war movie ever made.
Cardboard characters talk like William Bendix in Wake Island and John Garfield in Air Force, while the much-admired Normandy invasion sequence feels less horrifying and realistic than most videogames out there. The “clever” twist at the end is as irritating as it is dishonest.
That same year, Terrence Malick made the flawed – but infinitely superior – The Thin Red Line. Unsurprisingly, Malick's adult World War II drama earned much less money and was found considerably less award-worthy than Saving Private Ryan.
Despite Spielberg's insistence that his (expensive) B-movie was an homage to US veterans and therefore should be treated as reverentially as the US flag, Academy members took the unpatriotic route (thanks to Miramax's Oscar-savvy publicity machine) by picking the period (part-)British romance Shakespeare in Love as the best movie of the year.
Saving Private Ryan earned a total of 11 Academy Award nominations, winning Oscars for Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Directing (Spielberg), Film Editing (Michael Kahn), Sound (Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Judkins) and Sound Effects Editing (Rydstrom, Richard Hymns).
The film also received nominations for Best Picture (Spielberg, Gordon, Ian Bryce, and Gary Levinsohn, producers), Actor in a Leading Role (Hanks), Art Direction (Tom Sanders; Set Decoration: Lisa Dean Kavanaugh), Make-Up (Burwell, Conor O'Sullivan, Striepeke), Music – Original Dramatic Score (John Williams) and Writing – Screenplay written directly for the screen (Rodat).
Mark Baker's Oscar-nominated animated short Jolly Roger will be screened prior to the feature.
Passes for part five of “Great To Be Nominated” are $30 for the general public and $25 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Including Saving Private Ryan, there are 11 films remaining in the series. A $5 discount is available for those who wish to renew their passes from parts one, two, three or four of the series. Individual tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Passes and tickets may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Curtain time for all features is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.
Saving Private Ryan photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library.