Cinema 1989: You Must Remember This–Events, Trends, Movies, StarsKnow

Cineliteracy: What You Need to Know about 1989 as a Movie Year

Best Picture Oscar Nominees

Born on the Fourth of July, 8 nominations, 2 Oscar

Dead Poets Society, 4, 1

Winner: Driving Miss Daisy 9, 4

Field of Dreams, 3, 0

My Left Foot, 5, 2



Batman                             251,188,924

Indiana Jones & Last Crusade       197,171,806

Lethal Weapon 2                    147,253,986

Look Who’s Talking                 140,088,813

Honey I Shrunk the Kids            130,724,172

Back to the Future II              118,450,002

Ghostbusters II                    112,494,738

Driving Miss Daisy                 106,593,296


Best Actress (by different groups)

Oscar: Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy

N.Y. Film Critics Circle: Michelle Pfeiffer, Fabulous Baker Boys (see below)

L.A. Film Critics: Michelle Pfeiffer, Fabulous Baker Boys

National Society: Michelle Pfeiffer, Fabulous Baker Boys

National Board: Michelle Pfeiffer, Fabulous Baker Boys

Golden Globes: Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy (comedy); Michelle Pfeiffer, Fabulous Baker Boys  (drama)

Cannes Film Fest: Meryl Streep, Cry in the Dark


Gems of 1989:

Fabulous Baker Boys

Steve Kloves’ impressive, highly entertaining directorial debut centers on the Baker boys (played by real-life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges), siblings who have a two-piano act that plays at Seattle’s downbeat cocktail lounges.

Though working together, the two brothers represent opposite types. Jeff is a bitter loner whose ambition is to be a jazz musician, not a hack. In contrast, Beau is a family man content to spend his days giving piano lessons and his nights doing cheery canned repartee and playing pop tunes with his brother.

The only thing the loser brothers agree about is that their act needs some new blood, new energy to jazz it up, since they don’t get many engagements and some of the existing ones are cancelled. Enter Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), a tough, cynical former hooker, whose presence immediately revives the act, but also complicates matters when Jeff falls for her.

As writer, Kloves is responsible for sharp and biting dialogue, and he is also good as a helmer, considering that this is his first feature, coaxing strong performances from the trio, particularly Pfeiffer, who has one show-stopping number, which she sings atop a piano in a sexy red dress.

Curio Items

You can spot Jennifer Tilly (then better known as sister of Meg) as a ditzy singer, rendering an awkward version of “Candy Man.”

Auteur Alert

Steve Kloves would go on to script the “Harry Potter” film franchise.

Oscar Nominations: 4

Actress: Michelle Pfeiffer Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus Original Score: David Grusin Film Editing: William Steinnkamp

Oscar Context

“Fabulous Baker Boys” lost in each of its four nominated categories. In 1989, Michelle Pfeiffer swept most of the critics kudos for her fabulous performance, but the winner was Jessica Tandy in “Driving Miss Daisy”; the sentimental factor worked in Tandy’s favor, plus it’s always easier to win if you performance is contained in a Best Picture nominee, as Tandy’s was in “Miss Daisy,” which won Best Picture.

The Cinematography Oscar went to vet Freddie Francis for “Glory”; the Editing Oscar went to David Brenner and Joe Hutshing for “Born on the Fourth of July”; and the Original Score Oscar was won by Alan Menken for “The Little Mermaid.”