1995 was the year of Jane Austen—four major adaptations in one calendar year: the 6-hour television miniseries Pride and Prejudice that made future Oscar-winner Colin Firth a star; Sense and Sensibility, which netted Emma Thompson her second Oscar, this time for best screenplay; Clueless, a hilarious modern updating of Emma starring Alicia Silverstone; and my favorite of the bunch, Persuasion, starring Amanda Root, whom you don't know, and Ciarán Hinds, whom you may, thanks to Munich, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and TV's Political Animals.
If you've ever clicked on my complete profile to the right of this post, you know I'm a big fan of Jane Austen's books. Pride and Prejudice is the most famous and most modern in its approach to storytelling, but I prefer the lesser-known Persuasion. Published posthumously, it's the most serious of Austen's books, with the central conflict that keeps two would-be lovers apart arising not from a simple misunderstanding—the sort of problem that could be cleared up with a forthright conversation or two—but from the British class system itself. Ultimately Austen rejects aristocracy in favor of meritocracy (embodied in the novel by the British navy), a pretty straightforward idea in the 21st century, but radical in the extreme two hundred years ago.
Granted, Captain Wentworth doesn't cut a dashing figure like Mr. Darcy, but then neither is he an upper class twit, which stripped of his looks and money, is all Mr. Darcy really amounts to. I think Austen came to realize that shortly before her death.
As an aside, I remember explaining Jane Austen's novels to my law school pals in terms they would appreciate—i.e., so obscene I can't possibly share the details with you—but let's just say it had something to do with how receptive each of her novels' heroines would be to guys with nicknames like "Dog" and "Thunder Tool." There was a big run on Pride and Prejudice after that, I think. Mansfield Park? Not so much.
PICTURE (Drama) winner:Before Sunrise (prod. Anne Walker-McBay)
PICTURE (Comedy/Musical) winner:Toy Story (prod. Bonnie Arnold and Ralph Guggenheim)
PICTURE (Foreign Language) winner:Badkonake sefid (The White Balloon) (prod. Kurosh Mazkouri)
ACTOR (Drama) winner: Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking)
ACTOR (Comedy/Musical) winner: John Travolta (Get Shorty)
ACTRESS (Drama) winner: Sharon Stone (Casino)
ACTRESS (Comedy/Musical) winner: Nicole Kidman (To Die For)
DIRECTOR (Drama) winner: Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise)
DIRECTOR (Comedy/Musical) winner: John Lasseter (Toy Story)
SUPPORTING ACTOR winner: Don Cheadle (Devil in a Blue Dress)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS winner: Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite)
SCREENPLAY winner: Nick Dear, from the novel by Jane Austen (Persuasion)
Named for Katie-Bar-The-Door, the Katies are "alternate Oscars"—who should have been nominated, who should have won—but really they're just an excuse to write a history of the movies from the Silent Era to the present day.
To see a list of nominees and winners by decade, as well as links to my essays about them, click the highlighted links: