337. Driving Miss Daisy

Movie: Driving Miss Daisy

Release Date: December 15, 1989

Director: Bruce Beresford

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd, Patti LuPone, Esther Rolle.

Tag Lines: “The comedy that won a Pulitzer Prize.”

“The funny, touching and totally irresistible story of a working relationship that became a 25-year friendship.”

Relevance: The 62nd Academy Awards happened to fall on Monday, March 26, 1990, my nineteenth birthday. I can’t remember what I had for dinner yesterday, but I know how I spent at least 3 hours and 37 minutes on that particular day. Watching the Oscars.

I was a freshman in college, living the dorm life and in rehearsals for the theatrical spring production. “Psycho Beach Party” was the show that year, and I happened to be playing the role of Chicklet. A girl. But that is a whole other discussion for a whole other time. While I was at rehearsal, my VCR was recording the Oscars. I raced home afterwards and watched them on my small color television in my dorm room. I knew how to party back then, didn’t I?

That year, I had only seen two of the five nominated movies for Best Picture before the ceremony and I was really rooting for ‘Dead Poets Society’ to win. (Spoiler alert: that movie will be popping up on this list, but not for a few months.) It did not win. ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ did. It was nominated for nine awards and won four, so of course it was on the top of my list of movies to see as soon as possible.

I didn’t actually see it until sometime that summer either through HBO or a Blockbuster rental. I watched it with my mom. We both loved the movie and I remember telling her afterwards that Jessica Tandy’s character reminded me so much of my grandmother (her mother), Josephine. She laughed and agreed. It was undeniable.

Josephine, or “Josie” as I used to call her, was a tough, opinionated, stubborn, conservative woman. She was on the shyer side, but when she spoke, you knew what she wanted or needed and you knew exactly how she felt. Underneath that tough exterior though, she was a lovely human being, and one of my favorite females ever to step foot on this planet. I used to go grocery shopping with my her and my grandfather when I was younger. My grandmother never drove, so she was always in the passenger seat while my grandfather drove and I sat in the back, sometimes with my Aunt Helen. That is really the only difference between that scenario and the scenes between Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in the movie. The harsh criticisms, the direction-giving, the bossiness and the laughter were all there. There are some great memories from those shopping trips where grandpa was “driving Miss Josie” and I am grateful to have been a part of them.

I don’t need a movie to remember Josie. But every time I watch ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ I can’t help but be reminded of her and those entertaining car rides.

Today’s Thoughts: The movie is still as sweet as can be and delightful to watch. It is a simple story that’s told beautifully by the heartwarming screenplay and two wonderful performances by its lead actors.

Jessica Tandy, still reminding me of Josie, was deserving of every award she received for the role. I still laughed at those one-liners and sharp jabs she has throughout the movie to whomever her character encounters. The subtle looks and gestures though really make this a gorgeous performance. Morgan Freeman is as equally charming and its hard to believe he didn’t win an Oscar for this role. Thankfully he finally did in 2005 for ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ (see 340. Million Dollar Baby)

Even Patti LuPone, the most horrible c-word on the planet, couldn’t ruin my viewing of this classic today. To be honest, I forgot she was in it until I saw her mug next to Dan Aykroyd. Thankfully she is not in it a lot and plays a horrible human (typecast!) that is the punchline to many jokes throughout. So it was kind of a bonus. I mean, “If I had a nose like Florene’s, I wouldn’t go around wishing anybody a Merry Christmas!” It doesn’t get better than that!

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Jessica Tandy (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material form Another Medium, Alfred Uhry (winner), Academy Award for best Makeup, Manlio Rochetti, Lynn Barber, Kevin Haney (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Dan Aykroyd (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Bruno Rubeo, Crispian Sallis (nomination), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Elizabeth McBride (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Mark Warner (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Jessica Tandy (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Morgan Freeman (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Jessica Tandy (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Bruce Beresford (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Alfred Uhry (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, Morgan Freeman (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Film (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, Morgan Freeman (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Morgan Freeman (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Jessica Tandy (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, Bruce Beresford, New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Jessica Tandy (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Morgan Freeman (nomination), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Alfred Uhry.

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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