Platoon won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1986, and also three others, Best Director (Oliver Stone), Best Film Editing and Best Sound. Stone lost for Best Original Screenplay and two of the actors lost for Best Supporting Actor to Michael Caine in Hannah and Her SistersAliens, got seven Oscar nominations (one fewer than Platoon) and won two (Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects).
That year’s other Best Picture nominees were Children of a Lesser God, which I have not seen, and Hannah and Her Sisters, The Mission and A Room with a View, which I have. I liked all three of them more than Platoon. IMDB users are more forgiving, putting it 2nd on one ranking (after Aliens) and 8th on the other.
I have seen no less than fifteen films from 1986, a record so far, no doubt reflecting the fact that it was the year I started university and had a steady girlfriend. In rough IMDB order, they are: Aliens, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Platoon itself, Highlander (there should have been only one!!!), Blue Velvet, The Name of the Rose, Crocodile Dundee, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Little Shop of Horrors, Hannah and her Sisters, The Mission, Betty Blue, Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources (I had not realised that those two came out almost simultaneously), SpaceCamp and Clockwise. I would rate Platoon below all the others; I did not like it at all. Here is a trailer.
I’m not going to waste much time on this. There are no returning actors from previous Oscar-winners or Hugo/Nebula-winners, and no crossovers with Doctor Who. I found the entire film depressingly violent, depicting the horrific abuses by and of the American soldiers in Vietnam while barely scratching the important questions of why they were there in the first place and what the local population felt about the rape and destruction that they brought. I felt no empathy with any of the protagonists at any stage. There is no named female character, and although the soldiers are not all white, I was reminded of a scene from Not Another Teen Movie:
And Barber’s bloody Adagio for Strings, all the bloody time – bludgeoning the viewer’s ears with what they are supposed to be feeling, and not even used all that well.
Mostly it looks quite good, and the scenery is used effectively; I certainly can’t tell the Philippines from Vietnam. But that isn’t going to stop me putting Platoon right at the bottom of my list, below even The Great Ziegfeld, which at least had one interesting character (not Ziegfeld).
There are a lot of war films in the list of Oscar winners, and I actually do like some of them – All Quiet on the Western Front and The Bridge on the River Kwai, for instance. This somehow ticked very few of my boxes.
Next up is The Last Emperor, but I’ll do The Princess Bride first.
1920s: Wings (1927-28) | The Broadway Melody (1928-29)
1930s: All Quiet on the Western Front (1929-30) | Cimarron (1930-31) | Grand Hotel (1931-32) | Cavalcade (1932-33) | It Happened One Night (1934) | Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, and books) | The Great Ziegfeld (1936) | The Life of Emile Zola (1937) | You Can’t Take It with You (1938) | Gone with the Wind (1939, and book)
1940s: Rebecca (1940) | How Green Was My Valley (1941) | Mrs. Miniver (1942) | Casablanca (1943) | Going My Way (1944) | The Lost Weekend (1945) | The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) | Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) | Hamlet (1948) | All the King’s Men (1949)
1950s: All About Eve (1950) | An American in Paris (1951) | The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) | From Here to Eternity (1953) | On The Waterfront (1954, and book) | Marty (1955) | Around the World in 80 Days (1956) | The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) | Gigi (1958) | Ben-Hur (1959)
1960s: The Apartment (1960) | West Side Story (1961) | Lawrence of Arabia (1962) | Tom Jones (1963) | My Fair Lady (1964) | The Sound of Music (1965) | A Man for All Seasons (1966) | In the Heat of the Night (1967) | Oliver! (1968) | Midnight Cowboy (1969)
1970s: Patton (1970) | The French Connection (1971) | The Godfather (1972) | The Sting (1973) | The Godfather, Part II (1974) | One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) | Rocky (1976) | Annie Hall (1977) | The Deer Hunter (1978) | Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
1980s: Ordinary People (1980) | Chariots of Fire (1981) | Gandhi (1982) | Terms of Endearment (1983) | Amadeus (1984) | Out of Africa (1985) | Platoon (1986) | The Last Emperor (1987) | Rain Man (1988) | Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
1990s: Dances With Wolves (1990) | The Silence of the Lambs (1991) | Unforgiven (1992) | Schindler’s List (1993) | Forrest Gump (1994) | Braveheart (1995) | The English Patient (1996) | Titanic (1997) | Shakespeare in Love (1998) | American Beauty (1999)
21st century: Gladiator (2000) | A Beautiful Mind (2001) | Chicago (2002) | The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) | Million Dollar Baby (2004, and book) | Crash (2005) | The Departed (2006) | No Country for Old Men (2007) | Slumdog Millionaire (2008) | The Hurt Locker (2009)
2010s: The King’s Speech (2010) | The Artist (2011) | Argo (2012) | 12 Years a Slave (2013) | Birdman (2014) | Spotlight (2015) | Moonlight (2016) | The Shape of Water (2017) | Green Book (2018) | Parasite (2019)
2020s: Nomadland (2020) | CODA (2021)