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Honestly, How Did Forrest Gump Win An Oscar?

Don’t get me wrong–I love Forrest Gump as much as the next person, but honestly, how did this movie win any Oscars at all? And it didn’t just win one Oscar–it won six: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Visual Effects. But, does it really deserve them?

Forrest Gump

Image via Mental Floss

Believe me, it’s killing me to write these words, because not only is it bashing one of my favorite movies, it’s also bashing one of my favorite actors. But, it’s been said that admitting something has flaws is one of the characteristics of successful people. So, I’m not just being negative, I’m being very successful.

Off-Beat Comedy

This movie is actually quite hilarious (until the end when it rips your heart into tiny little pieces and then throws them in the blender). All the coincidences Forrest stumbles upon are the epitome of comedy. He’s secretly the creator of the smiley face and the man behind the slogan “Sh*t happens”? C’mon, that’s hysterical.

Forrest Gump

Image via Spotern

But the humor just doesn’t seem fitting of an Oscar-winning movie. It’s not exactly high-brow humor, which is what you expect from a movie that has such a prestigious award. There’s even a joke about premature ejaculation (which seemed oddly-placed, in my opinion). Not exactly catering to the elite of society.

Still, it’s an entertaining movie and even if I don’t find it Oscar-worthy, I still think it has excellent jokes and comedic timing.

Overloaded Plot

Yes, I understand that this is supposed to be from the life of a man who’s done everything, but it’s just so much on which to focus. Even a brief plot synopsis of this movie would take up a good two pages. It goes from Alabama to Vietnam to Washington, D.C. to Louisiana to Alabama and everywhere in between. Plus, it seems like there’s new characters with their own unique plot lines emerging with every scene. It’s difficult to keep up.

Forrest Gump

Image via Lost in the Movies

But then again, this could be the genius of the movie. They overloaded the plot so much that the Academy just knew there had to be some sort of great moral or value in it, so they gave it an award. After all, a two-and-a-half hour movie with a winding plot couldn’t possibly be just another movie, could it (jokes, Inception fans)?

Overuse of Music

This film had some banging music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, but it was way overused. It felt like once one song had ended another one immediately began. If there were dancing involved, this movie could qualify as a musical rather than a comedy/drama.

Forrest Gump

Image via Beaufort County Now

The placement wasn’t ideal either. The Vietnam scene where the rain finally clears up and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” softly plays in the background just seemed so out-of-place, especially when the bullets started flying. The music ended as soon and as randomly as it began–it probably played for a minute at the most.

It seemed like Forrest Gump was simply trying to evoke too much nostalgia in too little time. Like Robert Zemeckis was sitting at the conference table and said, “You know what will really make this movie great? Music. And I don’t just mean the occasional background track. I mean the whole movie is just going to be filled with music. All of it.” And all his underlings, too scared to contradict him, were all enthusiastically nodding their heads like, “Sounds great, Boss!”

That Contrast, Though

Forrest Gump is a strange movie in how it blends genres so brazenly. One minute, you’re chuckling at something cute Forrest did to try and see Jenny. The next, tears are streaming down your face.

Forrest Gump

Image via Playbuzz

This bugs me mostly because I never know what genre to put it in. Comedy? Drama? War? Musical? How did the Academy figure it out? Did they just take a head count to see how many people were crying and how many were laughing after the movie and then just use that reaction as the basis for the genre? I don’t know.

Then again, maybe the Academy liked the fact that it was so realistic. Life isn’t always happy or always sad. There’s moments of sadness and moments of happiness in between everything. That’s what makes this such a gut-wrenching movie.

Just a Little Too Much

Overall, Forrest Gump just had a little too much crammed into too small a movie. The music constantly reminded you what time period you were in with an overwhelming urgency. The low-brow comedy was placed at the most random times. Its run-time, though two-and-a-half hours, was still too short to contain all of the plot in a focused manner that didn’t drown the audience in plot.

Forrest Gump

Image via New Ravel

But…

This isn’t to say that Forrest Gump isn’t one of the funniest, most heartwarming movies you’ll ever watch. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and life and laugh a bit on the way, too. While it’s not exactly the most sophisticated humor, it’s still funny and you’ll definitely laugh out loud a few times. The plot is a lot to take in, but that just encourages you to watch it over and over again so you can figure out what’s going on. It has a lot of music, but who doesn’t love music?

To me, it’s a great film. Just not an Oscar-worthy film.

Forrest Gump

Image via Entertainment Weekly


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27 Responses

  1. atmikapai says:

    It’s an amazing film and I’m surprised too that it one an oscar

  2. Kevin Kraft says:

    Well, every movie has problems. I don’t think its faults outweigh how good it was overall, and I guess the Academy thought the same way.

  3. I never cared for this film. I saw it, like The Big Chill, as a typical example of my generation inflating its own importance, as we so often do. Plus I feel whatever effect it did have, and it was not without it’s great moments, would have been the same if they had trimmed 30 minutes off the running time. But that’s just one old guy’s perspective.

    I appreciate your objective appraisal of it not being worthy of the Oscar despite your love for it. Nicely done.

  4. flash7film says:

    This is very interesting. I do agree Forrest Gump is not the best in many areas, and I would have much appreciated it if Shawshank Redemption won instead. As someone in the comments already said, this movie is quite Oscar Bait. It’s a classic, but the fact that it combines so many historical aspects with a well-known cast just made it the obvious choice (unfortunately). Great post!

  5. AlexTRyan27 says:

    I hate Forrest Gump, so I’m probably biased, but I also believe it’s genuinely a bad film. Tom Hanks is usually great, but his performance here is grating. The constant ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’ nostalgia is tiring, and scenes like Forrest meeting JFK or inspiring Lennon to write ‘Imagine’ are just downright obnoxious. For a movie with so much happening, there’s little plot to speak of, and no character development. Forrest just Forrest Gumps his way through some of the greatest hits of the 20th century. It also has a weirdly conservative message: Jenny is a right-winger’s wet dream of a stereotype, and the film punishes her in the most heavyhanded way possible. Not only did it not deserve Oscars – it’s just no good.

    • ExAnimo7 says:

      I can totally see where you’re coming from. That film deliberately went for people’s heartstrings and used a very heavy dose of nostalgia — like another commenter said, FG was Oscar bait. ?

      It would have been really sweet and quite redemptive for Jenny–with everything she’d been through–if her character had actually survived and lived the rest of her life with Forrest and Forrest, Jr. But NO, she had to die! ?

  6. kezijin says:

    A brave article but I agree with pretty much all the points.
    When talking to people about Forrest Gump, I always ask them to name it’s genre but not being tied to one or two is probably one of the film’s greatest strengths. Allowing it to draw from wherever it fancies.
    Another thing that I use to make my point about it is, if you ask 100 people what the greatest film is, most of them would pick Shawshank (understandably) but how many are gonna choose FG? If it’s an after thought, how can it ever be worthy of a Best Picture?
    Of course that’s hardly a concrete base, Titanic is nobody’s favourite of all time and it won, there are more than a few that won when other’s were more deserving. Looking at the lists it’s clear the quality of films have plummeted, look at the shortlists and the winners in the 90’s and compare it to now. Sure, this is probably the strongest list for a few years but how many modern films would take the crown from the likes of Good Will Hunting or Saving Private Ryan? And they didn’t even win their year!

  7. I love Forrest Gump and it’s a great movie no doubt, but my choice for the best picture would easily be The Shawshank Redemption and the worst choice for the same would be Pulp Fiction (that’s gonna hurt).

  8. katthemovies says:

    First great post, interesting topic and fair points. I’d argue that for film editing and visual effects, that those where no brainers. The meticulous effort that was put into the computer effects is astounding. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBJwq0DBjyo

    As for its competitors, Pulp Fiction was an independent Miramax film so it wouldn’t have the same studio backing for it. Pulp Fiction and Tarantino are kind of off-color and there could be something to the possibility of it competing with Ed Wood for the Indie\auteur darling film of the year. Shawshank getting shut out… I got no answer.

    As for Gump’s merit, I’d attest to it having earned its significance. Gump almost becomes a modern folk hero as he provides this sort of time capsule of American history in something that defies genre and gives a story that if life is like a box of chocolates then Forrest Gump is like a chocolate you’d find in that box. A sweet delicately crafted comedic covering, with a heart warming carmel center.

  9. The movie wasn’t really anything like the book so I’m not sure how it won best Adapted Screenplay. But then again I haven’t read the book in a while so I could be totally wrong. lol.

  10. nerdthisup says:

    Now that the Boss Baby has been nominated for an Oscar, I don’t believe the Oscar awards hold any merit to movies anymore.

  11. Well one doesn’t love to throw around the term “Oscar bait” but…

    • Kali Tuttle says:

      What are you talking about? A movie about the turmoil of the twentieth century starring A list actors definitely isn’t Oscar bait ??

  12. Shawshank is the best film of all time so I’m gonna say that should have swept the board.

  13. I don’t get it either. Pulp Fiction should have taken Best Picture. Not that I’m pro gun violence since I just wrote a post condemning it. But still, Pulp Fiction is a great movie.

  14. Book-Wyrm says:

    Yeah, not only did it win an Oscar for Best Picture, it beat out Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, and Four Weddings and a Funeral for Best Picture. Great year for movies.

    • Kali Tuttle says:

      Exactly. Fantastic year for movies and (though I love this movie with all my heart) there were other viable options

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