Now until the March 4 Oscar telecast, Take 2 will run a series focusing on issues and subjects involving the Academy Awards.
Twenty years ago, “Titanic” was the top movie at the Oscars and the box office. Its impact is still felt today as some people may cringe whenever they hear Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” or how going to see it in the theater is a major plotline in the hit television drama “This is Us.” Who would have thought that this year’s field of nominees would be linked to the era of Backstreet Boys, the Thighmaster and Steve Urkel? The 1990s are getting their red-carpet moment this awards season, and here are some examples that will jump start your little ‘90s heart like a sleeping Tamagotchi.
Where were you when Nancy Kerrigan screamed, “Why, why?” With three nominations, the dark comedy about the 1994 clubbing of the ice skating queen gives a sympathetic view of her rival Tonya Harding, who was linked to the crime through her ex-husband and his associates. Margot Robbie earns her first Oscar nomination with her portrayal of the disgraced skater, and Allison Janney is nominated for playing her demanding mother. The rivalry, mayhem and competition were the talk of 1994 before the O.J. Simpson trial later that summer. The movie is filled with trashy tabloid journalism, metal band tunes and Harding attitude. Harding herself has hit the red carpet during the movie’s awards run, attracting mixed attention wherever she goes.
The Dee Rees-directed drama centers around two families – one white and one black – who operate a farm in Mississippi as two World War II heroes return home with different views of their divided towns. Among the film’s three nominations are Mary J. Blige for supporting actress and original song. Blige, who is best known as the queen of hip-hop soul, came to the scene in the early 1990s with a new, aggressive sound. With hits like “Real Love,” “You Remind Me” and “Be Happy,” Blige brought audiences onto her life journey of joy and pain through music and has forged a nearly three-decade career on the radio. Her songs have appeared on several soundtracks, including “Waiting to Exhale,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “The Help,” and she has received her first song nomination with Raphael Saadiq, best known as the lead singer of the ‘90s R&B band Tony, Toni, Toné, and songwriter Taura Stinson. Blige has steadily built an acting career before this nomination, with roles in “Rock of Ages” and “Black Nativity.” For “Mudbound,” Blige is strong and makeup-free as Florence Jackson, the logical-thinking mother who wants the best for her family.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson has paired with Jonny Greenwood to score four of his films, “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master,” “Inherent Vice” and “Phantom Thread.” This year, Greenwood is a first-time nominee for his work on the costume drama. However, he is probably best known for his guitar skills as a member of the rock band Radiohead. The band made their mark in 1992 with the release of the single “Creep” with the album “Pablo Honey” the following year. Since then, Radiohead has been wowing rock fans and influencing music. Outside of the band, Greenwood focuses on classical music and brings that focus to his film scores. For “Phantom Thread,” Greenwood’s score is heavy on piano and strings, reflecting the 1950s era in London.
If you are a fan of Dave Matthews Band, you probably listened to “Crash Into Me” a thousand times in the mid-1990s. For Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), the song has a special meaning for her as she sings along to it and feels a special link to it. Writer/director Greta Gerwig wrote a letter to Dave Matthews asking for permission to use the song and how important it was to her. She also sought permission from Alanis Morissette for her song, “Hand in My Pocket.” Another face from the past is Laurie Metcalf, who earns her first nomination playing Lady Bird’s mother. Metcalf is best known for her Emmy-winning role as Jackie Harris on the hit ‘90s comedy “Roseanne.” She is set to reprise her role during its revival later this year.
Other nominated movies with ‘90s vibes are “Baby Driver,” with a rich soundtrack featuring Beck, Blur and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Nominated documentary “Strong Island” looks at the 1992 murder of director Yance Ford’s brother William Ford Jr. Double nominee “Beauty and the Beast” is the live-action version of the 1991 best picture contender, which did win two Oscars.