Oscar Vault Monday – Quiz Show, 1994 (dir. Robert Redford)

I’m going to try to discuss one past Oscar nominated and/or winning film each Monday. For my inaugural edition of this feature, I bring you the 1994 historical drama Quiz Show.

The film is a look at the now practically forgotten Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s and a nice little look at McCarthyism. It’s directed by Robert Redford and stars Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow and Christopher McDonald and  features Paul Scofield, David Paymer, Hank Azaria, Griffin Dunne, Mira Sorvino and Martin Scorsese. Everyone delivers astounding performances, which is really what makes this film so amazing. Even with an excellent director and taught writing, if your cast doesn’t deliver your film can feel flat. Luckily for Redford his cast did not let him down.

This is one of my favorite performances from Ralph Fiennes. Throughout the film he balances between being wonderfully smug and charming. Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus gets a lot out of Fiennes’ beautifully expressive blue eyes.

John Turturro is utterly heartbreaking in his role. As the film begins he is quite and confident and as the film progresses, we see his character breakdown and he becomes manic and at times quite violent. With so many wonderful performances to his name, it still shocks me that Turturro isn’t more of a household name by now.

Rob Morrow gives perhaps one of the more subtle performances in the film, but it is his investigator that is really the backbone and moral compass of the film. Although Morrow is more known as a television actor (Northern Exposure, Numbers) he more than holds his own against the rest of the cast.

Perhaps best known as Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore, Christopher McDonald is perfect as the host of Twenty One, Jack Barry. Not only does he have that perfectly 50s look, he brings a slightly dangerous edge to the talk show host with a million-dollar smile.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director – Robert Redford, Best Adapted Screenplay – Paul Attanasio and Best Supporting Actor – Paul Scofield. It probably remains the least remembered film of the five Best Picture nominees that year, the others being Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption and winner Forrest Gump. It’s too bad too, because it is a fabulous film from start to finish. It is definitely worth a watch or at the very least an add to your Netflix queue. If I’ve convinced you enough to go ahead and buy the film, you can do so here.


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on April 19, 2010, in Oscar Vault Monday, the Academy Awards and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You have great taste! I absolutely love this film. It is one of my favorites, and definitely my favorite of all the films nominated that year. It is truly a beautiful and heartbreaking piece of filmmaking. Easily Redford’s best directorial effort, though that may not be saying a whole lot. As you say, the performances are top
    notch. Thanks for drawing attention to a worthy, oft overlooked film!

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