335. Born on the Fourth of July

Movie: Born on the Fourth of July

Release Date: December 20, 1989

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, Raymond J. Barry, Jerry Levine, Frank Whaley, Willem Dafoe.

Tag Lines: “A story of innocence lost and courage found.”

Relevance: Tom Cruise was already a big star and household name by the time ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ was released thanks to movies like ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Risky Business,’ one of which will definitely be watched by me later this year. (Can you guess which one?) Not to mention the Academy Award winning movie from the previous year ‘Rain Man’ (see 349. Rain Man). With that movie, he proved he wasn’t just another pretty face, he was also a very good actor.

I went to see ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ sometime over my holiday break during my freshman year in college either late 1989 or early 1990. As difficult as the subject matter was to watch, I really enjoyed the movie, especially Mr. Cruise’s performance. Thanks in part to director Oliver Stone, he was able to make a real life character, Ron Kovic, come to life for an audience. He even earned his first Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.

The movie about the Vietnam War and its aftermath is never an easy movie to endure, let alone watch more than once. I think I have only watched this movie once after the first time, probably around the time I bought the DVD. Even thought the movie leaves you in a hopeful place, it’s definitely not a feel good movie. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Sometimes art is supposed to be difficult.

Today’s Thoughts: After watching the movie today, I pretty much have the same feelings about it as I did when I first watched it. I enjoyed it, Tom Cruise is excellent and it is still difficult viewing.

The movie is beautifully directed by Oliver Stone. There are some beautiful shots throughout the film with gorgeous cinematography. And speaking of beautiful, an absolutely stunning Kyra Sedgwick does a wonderful job in the movie in what was most likely my introduction to her acting. Over the years I have grown to admire her work, not to mention her husband Kevin Bacon, on both the big and little screen.

There are many emotional scenes in this movie, but for me the most touching and the one that makes me cry the most (yes, the Kleenex box made a comeback today), is the scene where Ron Kovic, played by Tom Cruise, is brought back home after the war by his father. It is very touching and played superbly by both actors. Another emotional scene is the fight between mother and son. There can be an argument made that the scene is humorous, as the word “penis” is screamed a few times, but in all honesty, the root of the scene and the argument is tragic and very sad.

And since I have started tracking it, besides the famous “Don’t say penis in this house!” scene, there are actually two penises shown. This is the third movie on my list with male full frontal nudity. (See 343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus) Again, an odd thing to note from a movie but I’ll continue to do so as they pop up.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Director, Oliver Stone (winner), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, David Brenner, Joe Hutshing (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Tom Cruise (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another medium, Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Robert Richardson (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Michael Minkler, Gregory H. Watkins, Wylie Stateman, Tod A. Maitland (nomination), Academy Award for best Music, Original Score, John Williams (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, Oliver Stone (winner), Golden Globe for best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Tom Cruise (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Score, John Williams (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Tom Cruise (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Oliver Stone (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Oliver Stone (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography, Robert Richardson (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Tom Cruise (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (4th place), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Tom Cruise (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic (nomination).

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

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