My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 60: Driving Miss Daisy (Best Picture Ranking)

Driving Miss Daisy managed to receive the acclaim of the Academy as being the best picture of the year – but apparently it wasn’t even among the five best directed. Bruce Beresford’s director snub is certainly surprising considering that the Academy has given Director nominations for much less.

Anyway, Driving Miss Daisy is the sentimental, moving and also amusing story of an old widow and her black chauffeur and how they slowly end up spending years and years together while becoming friends. Driving Miss Daisy seems mostly as a movie about racism and prejudices but these are actually themes are hardly touched and it mostly focuses on the relationship between Miss Daisy and Hog. This was a wise decision and while it is frustrating that Hog as a character is never as explored as Miss Daisy, the whole movie still keeps a nice balance between those two characters and use the, maybe, simple themes that shape their relationship as its driving force.

As a result, Driving Miss Daisy completely depends on the performances by Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman – and both are first-class. Jessica Tandy’s Miss Daisy is stubborn, determined and rather unlikable at the first look but she manages to create an overall captivating, loveable and touching character. Morgan Freeman adds humour and dignity to his role as Hog and never lets him turn into a black saint who spends his life serving a white lady but instead turns him into a full three-dimensional character. But even more important than the singular performances is the chemistry that these two actors develop since they are onscreen together for most of the time – and again, they both succeed. From their first moments that are marked by open rejection by Miss Daisy to their last moments together, the two actors both shine and create a truly magical on-screen relationship. Dan Akroyd offers some nice support (but an Oscar nomination was surely an exaggeration). And then there is even Patti LuPone (yes, that Patti LuPone!) as Miss Daisy’s annoying daughter-in-law – she’s too over-the-top sometimes but still manages to be somewhat entertaining.

Maybe it was an exaggeration to say that Driving Miss Daisy completely depends on the actors – because it has more to offer. The screenplay is extremely touching and manages to tell this small story without ever feeling empty or banal. Then there’s the wonderful, catchy score by Hans Zimmer which so perfectly accompanies the story.

Overall, Driving Miss Daisy beautifully captures the friendship between two unlikely characters without ever appearing too sentimental – all the effective moments are never overdone but only hinted it, even the final scene between Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy avoids any cheap sentimentality and feels surprisingly honest instead. Besides this, there are many other beautiful and moving scenes – Miss Daisy teaching Hog how to read at the graveyard, the two driving to the birthday party of her brother or cooking together. Driving Miss Daisy doesn’t provide any truly big moments or tackles grand themes but underneath its simple story is still hints at some greater truth without becoming preachy or sentimental.


Louis Morgan said...

A very enjoyable film, although I would certainly put it above the Great Ziegfeld.

Anonymous said...

I agree,except that i think that Freeman's performance is only first-class.Tandy is just serviceable.(In your ranking she is painfully high.Joan Crawford is painfully low :))

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great film, when I first saw this I thought I was going to hate it because I certainly didn't think the subject was that interesting, but it turned out to be one of the most moving films I've seen, one of the best acted ones and one of the best films ever and I certainly think Jessica Tandy earned her Oscar and Morgan Freeman should have been recognized as well (if only My Left Foot hadn't been premiered in 1989). Definitely in my top 30 of Best Picture winners, but still a decent ranking in your list (most people would place it at the bottom for no logical reason).

dinasztie said...

A great movie but I'm less enthusiastic about it than I used to be.

Anthony said...

Usually considered an unpopular win, but out of that lineup, it would have received my vote and it is a wonderful and moving film (I recently saw the Broadway revival with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines and it was phenominal as well!). My personal favorite film from that year was the not-nominated "Crimes and Misdemeanors" but I am fine with this win :-)