It’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences): the exciting, innovative film loses out on Best Picture to the cloying, feel-good film of the year. It’s happened so often it’s almost not worth mentioning, but it’s still a sore point for Tom Hanks.
Hanks is sore not because his film lost, but because its 1995 win was so controversial. “The problem with Forrest Gump is it made a billion dollars. If we’d just made a successful movie, [director Robert Zemeckis] and I would have been geniuses. But because we made a wildly successful movie, we were diabolical geniuses,” he reflected in an interview with The New York Times. “Is it a bad problem to have? No, but there’s books of the greatest movies of all time, and Forrest Gump doesn’t appear because, oh, it’s this sappy nostalgia fest.”
And the actor is well aware of the discourse around the competition (which, that year, included Shawshank Redemption, Four Weddings And A Funeral, Quiz Show, and Pulp Fiction): “Every year there’s an article that goes, ‘The Movie That Should Have Won Best Picture’ and it’s always Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece without a doubt.”
In an impassioned defense, Hanks continued, “Look, I don’t know, but there is a moment of undeniable heartbreaking humanity in Forrest Gump when Gary Sinise—he’s playing Lieutenant Dan—and his Asian wife walk up to our house on the day that Forrest and Jenny get married… Then I look at him, and I say, ‘Lieutenant Dan.’ I might get weepy thinking about it now.”
He went on, “Forrest and Lieutenant Dan in those four words—‘magic legs’; ‘Lieutenant Dan’—understand all they had been through and feel gratitude for every ounce of pain and tragedy that they survived. That’s some intangible shit right there. That is not just running along to Duane Eddy’s ‘Rebel Rouser.’”