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Throwback Thursday FYC: sex, lies, and videotape (1989)

Our 1989 25th anniversary celebration continues...

Have you ever seen sex, lies and videotape? Steven Sodebergh won the Palme D'Or at Cannes for his very first film and somehow it wasn't all downhill from there. The film, which was a minor box office hit, was crucial in planting the seeds for the American indie boom of the 1990s but when Oscar nominations rolled around the Academy played it very safe largely shunning both of the year's most provocative critical darlings (the other being Do the Right Thing which we honored earlier this summer in a post just like this one). I spotted these FYC ads on eBay and thought I'd share them.

Andie MacDowell has won a lot of harsh criticism over the years for various performances, most notably Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (for which she was dubbed over by Glenn Close) and Four Weddings and a Funeral but she's really wonderful in this picture and in Short Cuts. Blame Steven Soderbergh and Altman if you must but don't even try to deny it! 


She got as far as a Golden Globe nomination, shared Best Actress at LAFCA with Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys (which I don't need to tell you is a great honor) and won the Independent Spirit Lead Actress prize... but no Oscar nod.

James Spader won Best Actor at Cannes. But no further awards attention. Well, not until he moved to TV and the Emmys have veritably worshipped him ever since.

I couldn't find an ad for Laura San Giacomo who won a LOT of attention that year winning the Spirit Award, some critics awards and a Golden Globe nomination. I've always suspected she was the only cast member who truly came close to an Oscar nomination. But she had to settle for the dread sixth spot. (Had she been nominated we would've been discussing her on the 31st instead of either Lena Olin and Anjelica Huston for Enemies... who the Globes didn't recognize).

Laura followed her breathrough up with another popular performance in Pretty Woman so for a few years it seemed like she might happen as it were... though she eventually ended up jumping ship for a long running TV series "Just Shoot Me" which won her a second Globe nomination.

Which performance in sex, lies and videotape is your favorite and how anger-making is its single Oscar nomination for you? 

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Reader Comments (24)

And none for Peter Gallagher. Goodbye.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKacey

I have a bit of a soft spot for Andie Macdowell because of this film and "Groundhog Day".
It's a very interesting performance, in a tricky role.

As for an Oscar nomination I think the actress field was so strong that year that I wouldn't change things up there. For me Lena Olin and Angelica Huston were stronger contenders.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Laura San Giacomo. Actually that's the pic I would have used for the hotties section. I became a fan quite instantly and saw a lot of her stuff even a western with Tom Selleck (!).

It makes me angry in retrospect. Back in 89 it felt perfectly normal. They weren't and they're still not comfortable with certain subjects (Shame, La vie d'Adèle)

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue: Imagine how different Selleck's career would have been if he actually got Indiana Jones.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I really love Andie MacDowell in this movie. She's just so perfectly cast - like Natalie Portman and Black Swan, it's a part that's really compatible with MacDowell's own limitations.
That said, I would have loved to see San Giacomo get a nomination for this. She's great.
If I could rewrite things, I might just chuck Wiest and Roberts from the lineup (as wonderful as they are), and put San Giacomo and Bridget Fonda in Scandal - a supporting actress lineup with San Giacomo, Fonda and Olin's only nominations would be a precious one.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Voltagia--Selleck has a pretty enviable career. It may not be as big as some, but an Emmy, GG a pile of nominations, two hit series and no one has ever said "What happened to him?" He may not be a big film star, but he does have Three Men and a Baby. In and Out and decades of household recognition (good recognition) to his credit. A lot of actors would give their eye teeth to have his career.

I appreciate "sex, lies...." but I've never really enjoyed it or cared much for the actors in it. I don't shy away from LSG or Spader but there are a lot of other actors I want to see on screen more. AM I could do without ever suffering again and I avoid watching anything she is in. I considered "sex,lies..." a bit of a flash in a pan at the time and it didn't bother me that it got no further than one nom. Its important to me only so far as it shows the terrific promise of Soderberg which he has lived up too.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Henry -- wow. for me it totally deserved a Best Picture nomination. Was actually my favorite film of that year.so my best pics would probably be


give or take DRUGSTORE COWBOY or JESUS OF MONTREAL. There are so many I should rewatch though.

August 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I might just chuck Wiest

Screw you Mike. Wiest was the best in her lineup. But her losing makes sense in the context of the Academy Awards and their self-imposed limitations on acting wins. I can honestly say I've never seen Wiest give a bad performance. Even in bad movies she's a bright presence to latch onto. She's not even my favorite actress but I have profound affection for her. I could lose the whole lineup and keep Wiest. You likely haven't watched Parenthood in years.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Mike -- it's strange to me to realize that Fonda got a Globe nomination. I think she's really great in Scandal (i liked that movie a lot) but i don't remember the movie having much support in general -- too racy as i recall.

absolutely agreed on MacDowell's part being a glove fit. she's just so good in it though i always go back and forth on who i would have nominated in best actress that year because there were so many goodies

PFEIFFER -Baker Boys *winner*
the rest in no order
TURNER - war of roses
FIELD - steel magnolias
MACDOWELL - war of roses
ADJANI -camille claudel
RYDER - heathers
RYAN - when harry met sally
ABRIL - tie me up! tie me down

there are other good performances that year like: Hunter (Miss Firecracker), Tandy (Miss Daisy), Barkin (Sea of Love), Whalley (Scandal), Brown (Strapless) but my 5 would come from that top 8 above. but which 5?

key performances i haven't seen yet from this year: Jennifer Jason Leigh (Last Exit to Brooklyn), Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine), Jessica Lange (Music Box)

August 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan, PLEASE watch Music Box now! Jessica shows a lot of old-school star power while giving a very emotional performance. That third act is killer. It's one of my favorites of hers. AND she's a brunette! Yowza!

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

MacDowell was outstanding in SLV...I was so disappointed She and San Giacomo missed the nomination, even if the nominees were from good to great

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

3rtful: I'm a huge Wiest fan too. What if I keep her out for Parenthood, but get her back in for Rabbit Hole and Synechdoche in the imaginary future? Because, let's face it, she deserves those too.
I honestly think it's a pretty neat lineup the way it stands now, I just like the idea of seeing San Giacomo and Fonda in it for their work as well - it's entirely possible a nomination here could have added some longevity to their careers.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Nathaniel: You need to watch Bening in "Valmont."

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Fonda voluntarily left Hollywood to have a family with Danny Elfman. I doubt a nomination would have changed that. She was doing quite well before she split.

I agree with 3rtful - Wiest is a treasure.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

LSG was best in show in this film and deserved a nom over Roberts (fat chance, of course). As much as I love Macdowell in this, the Actress field was way too crowded. It's a pity that Turner in "War of the Roses" or Meg Ryan in WHMS didn't get in either, not even over Pauline Collins.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterzig

BVR -- oh yes. Love The Bening in that one. For someone reason I always misremember it as 1990.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I take back the (screw you Mike). You have been very kind to me. And Wiest should have a fourth nomination for the Charlie Kaufman film. You can delete anyone from the lineup but Davis.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The only reason it kind of hurts that this wasn't nominated for Best Picture is because the actual nominees are so incredibly weak. And we shall not discuss the eventual winner. :-)

This and Groundhog Day are Andie's greatest moments, but just having a longtime continuing career despite not much range is reward enough.

I think it's Laura San Giacomo that was shafted from this cast. She really brought it and probably needed the nomination the most. Oh well. I'm sure she's fine doing...whatever she's doing.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Andie Macdowell was Oscar worthy in Short Cuts. I know, it is easy to get lost in a cast that features Julianne Moore, Jack Lemmon, Lily Tomlin, Anne Archer etc., but she was actually fantastic as the handwringing trophee wife, whose worries about everything can't save her from the biggest tragedy of them all.

I know she gets a lot of flack and so I felt this should be mentioned. Terrific casting decision.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthomas

You really do need to watch The Last Exit to Brooklyn, if nothing for Jennifer Jason Leigh's heartbreaking performance as Tralala (don't you just love that name for her lady of the night character?). Leigh won the New York Film Critic Circle award that year for best supporting actress (she later went on to win two more acting awards from that group). And there are some other amazing actors in it as well, like a young Sam Rockwell. A bit of trivia: Courtney Cox auditioned for Leigh's role, and Madonna claimed that was one part she wished she could have played.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Love seeing some great films mentioned from the year. I second the love for (most of all) War of the Roses. Turner and Douglas both brought it in spades. Last Exit was great on many levels, Bening in Valmont (as well as a few others in that film) and Shirley Valentine is worth the visit although it isn't a patch on the stage show which is still one of my favorite nights at the theater.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Macdowell is sensational in this, and rip-your-heart-out fantastic in "Short Cuts." ("There ARE! NO! MORE! BIRTHDAYS!" Chills. Tears.) But she's also very good in "Groundhog Day," and gives an exquisite performance in the too-little-seen "Unstrung Heroes"--her final scenes in that will also have you reaching for the Kleenex box. I think she just needs the right director to "click," and as we know, Soderbergh is nothing if not a great actor's director.

I also thought Meg Ryan and Carrie Fisher were shockingly overlooked for "When Harry Met Sally," and Jennifer Jason Leigh is shattering in "Last Exit." (The entire film is shattering, but so hard to watch.) And Ryder's turn in "Heathers" was probably handicapped by it being a high school movie, but Danny Peary's admiring description of it as "breathless" is dead-on.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

Nice to see so many Andie MacDowell fans here...

I'm a BIG fan of Andie MacDowell. I recently rewatched The End Of Violence; she's so stunning in that movie, it's incredible. And her performance is so good and layered. It's a really underrated Wim Wenders movie, too.

And I love her in Green Card, so sweet and insecure; you so want her character to find happiness, you can't wait for her to be french kissed!

And terrific and (grounded) in Groundhog Day, a nice calming presence next to Bill Murray's manic energy.

Four Weddings and a Funeral; so good, real movie star performance, that last scene in the rain is a fucking classic.

And she was so moving in Short Cuts, as the grieving mother.

And I totally get why Emilio Estevez falls in love with her in St. Elmo's Fire.

As for Greystoke; she was dubbed by Glenn Close because Andie's southern accent was too prominent, or whatever.
It's no wonder it didn't turn out well, but it was hardly Andie's fault.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

lol. the andie worship here. she was lucky getting some good roles in interesting films but she added little to nothing to these films. imagine sex lies and videotape with julianne moore or someone else. imagine the short cuts role with someone else. her scene with lyle lovett when she was mad was atrocious and laughable. totally not gut wrenching.

August 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlolandie

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