Green Mile, The (1999): Darabont’s Oscar Nominated but Conventional, Overlong Prison Drama, Starring Tom Hanks

With a box-office gross of 136.8 million, The Green Mile, Frank Darabont’s conventional prison drama, is the most popular Stephen King screen adaptation in history and one of the very few that is not scary.

Released in December, and toplined by star Tom Hanks, the Castle Rock production was inexplicably nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (see below).

While Frank Darabont received an Oscar nomination for his adapted screenplay, he was snubbed by the Academy’s Directors Branch. “The Green Mile was the only contender that didn’t score a Best Director; Spike Jonze took his spot for the quirky and original, “Being John Malkovich.”

As E.W. put it, “The nomination is widely seen as an also-ran that barely snagged its nom in the first place.”

A mishmash of a sentimental movie with something for everyone, this period melodrama pretended to deal with bi issues like racism, spirituality, and death penalty, though most viewers remembered the image of mice that could perform magical tricks (I am not kidding).

This was Frank Darabont’s second adaptation of a Stephen King novella, five years after “The Shawshank Redemption,” which was also nominated for Best Picture and also deprived him of the directing nod.

Overextending its welcome by aan hour (running time is 3 hours and 20 minutes), “The Green Mile” raised eyebrows when it received four, particularly that its acting ensemble, including Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan, was not particularly good, which was the redeeming grace of “Shawshank Redemption,” with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in top form

Oscar Alert

Oscar Nominations: 4

Picture, produced by David Valdez and Frank Darabont
Screenplay (Adapted): Frank Darabont
Supporting Actor: Michael Clarke Duncan
Sound: Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Michael Herbick, Willie D. Burton

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

In 1999, “The Green Mile” competed for the Best Picture Oscar with Sam Mendes’ suburban serio-comedy “American Beauty,” which won,
Lasse Hallstrom’s “The Cider House Rules,” Michael Mann’s expose “The Insider,” and the supernatural thriller “The Sixth Sense.”

Warner (Castle Rock)

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