Starring: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Gaby Hoffmann, Timothy Busfield, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster (in his final film)
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Summary: Mysterious voices tell an Iowa farmer to build a baseball diamond in his backyard
Other Nominations: Adapted Screenplay, Original Score
Full disclosure, I am a lifelong baseball fan so I can’t deny that it probably colors my view of the movie somewhat; with that said, this is a wonderful movie. The screenplay is exceptional for a number of reasons: first, it gets the tone and atmosphere absolutely perfect which is difficult for a semi-fantasy movie (or a fantasy movie that takes place in a realistic setting as opposed to something like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones); second, it’s well-paced, especially at the beginning where we’ve successfully established our out-there premise completely by about 15 minutes in, which gives them more time to develop its themes and subplots about dreams, passions and regrets; finally, it’s an outstanding as an adaptation. In the original novel the movie is based on, there are multiple major characters and subplots that were dropped-the movie feels tighter without them and you don’t lose that much. Even bigger, the revelation that ends the film was actually revealed only about ⅔ the way into the original novel and the change gives us a far stronger ending, one that is still remembered by moviegoers to this day.
The score also has an ethereal quality to it which fits like a glove and enhances the fantastical, dream-like quality of the movie. There are some minor and legitimate complaints: that there are no Negro League players in the film, which is an unfortunate oversight and a missed opportunity, and that sometimes it gets overly-sentimental, which I can understand as a complaint but I personally think it tows the line just right. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, this isn’t really a movie about baseball so much as a movie about following through on your dreams, so I recommend it to anyone.