Monday, February 8, 2016

Oscar Movie Review: "Quiz Show" (1994)

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Movie"Quiz Show"
Year Nominated: 1995
Director: Robert Redford
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 13 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Quiz Show is one of the most popular shows on television. When a young lawyer named Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) starts an investigation into the show's practices, he discovers it may actually be rigged.

Based on true events, "Quiz Show" tells the story of the game show "Twenty One," which came under fire after accusations of it being rigged were brought to light. Like most historical films, though based on true events, some dramatic license has been taken via condensing time frames and the bending of a few facts or character traits in order to make the film flow quicker. Despite this, director Robert Redford does a fantastic job capturing the overall message he wanted to convey in a compelling way, especially for a movie about a game show. Here, he has made a deeply enthralling and wholly engaging movie. "Quiz Show" was nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture, best director, and best adapted screenplay. Though Paul Scofield was the only actor to receive a nomination for his supporting performance as Mark Van Doren, all of the acting is quite good. Ralph Fiennes is superb as Charles Van Doren, a university professor who becomes a celebrity after a long run as Twenty One's champion. John Turturro is also stellar as the jaded and slightly spastic Herbie Stempel, who was ousted from his position as champion in favor of the more suave Charles Van Doren. The network found that long running champions often brought in higher ratings. If the audience ever lost interest in the show, a new champion was found to reinvigorate them and get them invested in watching again. The only way to control a constant slew of good ratings was to rig the game. In a way, Twenty One was like pro-wrestling for a more game show/trivia-oriented crowd, except the public at large was kept in the dark about the game being fixed. Even though the television networks technically did nothing illegal, this scandal destroyed the public's trust and almost killed off game shows entirely, though you wouldn't know it today considering how many different game shows and reality/game show programs that are on television now: Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and The Price is Right, to name a few.

We really enjoy this film. Though at its core, the subject is pretty simple, each piece of the cinematic puzzle fits together to create a rich and insightful look at an event in our history that's not as big or as important as others, but is sure symbolic for its moment in time. By combining social drama with moral observations, Robert Redford has crafted a really underrated Oscar nominee. Its only drawback is the pacing. Sometimes it can be a little slow, but most of the time, it's a great movie!

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"

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