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Meet the Panelists for Smackdown '94

by Nathaniel R

The next Supporting Actress Smackdown arrives on Sunday June 24th. But before we get to that always pleasurable event, it's time to meet this month's panel. We'll skip my introduction (Nathaniel) as the host because (hopefully) you know me already but if you don't, here I am.

So without further ado, let's get to know the five of them after the jump...


Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch. [Twitter]

What does the year 1994 mean to you, Erik?

1994 was a landmark Oscar year because the fight between Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump was the beginning of the indie vs studio film that would follow the Academy Awards up to where it is. Gump won, of course, but it marked the beginning of the end of the studio domination of the Oscars. 



Itamar Moses is the author of the full-length plays Outrage, Bach at Leipzig, Celebrity Row, The Four of Us, Yellowjackets, Back Back Back, Completeness, and The Whistleblower, the musicals Nobody Loves You (with Gaby Alter), Fortress of Solitude (with Michael Friedman), and The Band's Visit (with David Yazbek, Tony nomination). Awards for his work include the Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle, and Obie award. On television, Itamar has written for Men of a Certain Age, Boardwalk Empire, Outsiders, and The Affair. He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU and has taught playwriting at Yale and NYU. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. Born in Berkeley, CA, he now lives in Brooklyn, NY. [IMDb / IBDB]

What does 1994 mean to you Itamar?

1994 was when I started my senior year of high school so…it feels like that. And one of my strongest memories from that year is actually walking out into the parking lot of the Emeryville movie theatre with my friend Adam after seeing Pulp Fiction on the big screen for the second time, humming the surf-rock track that plays over the end credits. Other than that I mainly remember listening to “Throwing Copper” by LIVE and “August and Everything After” by Counting Crows. You’d think I’d feel more embarrassed about that than I do.”



Alfred Soto is an instructor of journalism, a media adviser at Florida International University, and freelance editor for SPIN Magazine. He was features editor of Stylus Magazine. His work has appeared in Billboard, The Village Voice, The Miami Herald, NPR, Rolling Stone, Slate, and Pitchfork. Much of his film, art, and political writing is found at Humanizing the Vacuum. He has been a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle since 2015. He lives in Miami. 

What does 1994 mean to you, Alfred?

1994 was the year when Hollywood and industry wags realized for the 21st time that it had a problem recognizing good work from female professionals in the industry.



Sheila O'Malley is a regular film critic for and other outlets including The Criterion Collection, Film Comment, and The New York Times. Her blog is The Sheila Variations. She’s a member of the NYFCC. 

Sheila previously participated in the 1984 Smackdown

What does 1994 mean to you, Sheila?

I am Gen-X to the bone because the first thing that came to mind is: “Kurt Cobain killed himself. I burst out sobbing when I heard the news.” 



Nick Davis is a professor of English, film, and gender studies at Northwestern University and the proprietor of the recently relocated and renamed Pardon our dust.

Nick has previously participated in multiple Smackdowns. Look it up! He also always provides with a year-appropriate photo and I think you'll agree he's outdone himself this time...

Nick with his '94 PHYSICAL MEDIA. Ohmygod.

What does the year 1994 mean to you, Nick?

 The shortest answers are: Borovnia. Chickabay. Tayyy-ina-wee‘yun.

Almost as short: "Live Through This" by Hole—amazing. My mom seems worried, though. Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers oh my GOD! Clearly she was the girl with the most cake. Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show oh my GODDD, welp, I guess I must be gay, omg wait, what??
Slightly longer: 1994 marked the start of my senior year of high school and my debut as the film critic for the school paper. Panning Forrest Gump and The Lion King earned me few friends. Bullets over Broadway I totally raved, as I did Little Women. I didn't understand Barcelona at all, so I gave it three stars. Brilliant, beautiful, hilarious Kate Culpepper, more Goth on some days than others, invited me to the Sadie Hawkins dance but we ditched it after 10 minutes to go see Pulp Fiction. We had A LOT of thoughts about Interview with the Vampire and the Academy's failure to nominate Kirsten Dunst OR Sandy Powell. This is important, because back in the 1990s, you couldn't count on having a friend in high school who knew about Sandy Powell, and GOT her. Months later, Kate borrowed her mom's SUV so we could see The Madness of King George in the afternoon, like sophisticates. I fell asleep. I would have taken a midnight train going anywhere to see Tom & Viv before the Oscar ceremony, but I was trapped, checkmated. I screamed to everyone at that trainless station, "I'm dying in this town!!" I didn't catch it till college, on VHS in 1996. For some people, university opens up huge intellectual and interpersonal horizons. It did that for me, too, but it also meant, "Holy shit, I live in a city now! Somebody SOMEWHERE must have Tom & fucking Viv!" This marks the last time I had to watch the Academy Awards with no opinion about a nominated performance, much less two! It's no way to live, though I acknowledge people do it every day in our crap world, and somehow they live through even this. #neverforget"


We'll talk to the five panelists on at the "Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1994". Dear readers, get to watching those movies, and sending in your own ballots by June 21st, and we'll all discuss on Sunday June 24th when the Smackdown and its companion podcast arrive.

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Reader Comments (30)

Nick <3

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

What a great panel! I especially like Nick's "almost as short" response LOL

For me, 1994 = the following albums from amazing women: Hole's "Live Through This," Madonna's "Bedtime Stories" (and its amazing videos), Tori Amos' "Under the Pink," Sinead O'Connor's "Universal Mother," And Liz Phair's "Whip-Smart." Plus one amazing man--Jeff Buckley and his beautiful 'Grace" album.

Also: My So-Called Life. I mean--c'mon. Angela and Jordan! That show belongs in a 1994 time capsule.

For films, Pulp Fiction blew my mind in terms of realizing what a film could be. I loved it. but it's not a film I've revisited much (I think I've only seen it one more time?). In my heart, I tend to think of 1994 as The Year of Winona in terms of movies.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

I am always here for casual dismissal of "The Lion King" as not very good. This Smackdown is paying off already.

Welcome, new panelists!

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Wow, I think that picture of Nick just gave /3rtful a "perennial" ;)

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTrev

I worked at AMC Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri, that year as a manager, so I most remember the nightmares of "The Lion King" and "Pulp Fiction".

The former for the trash and mess everywhere from traumatized 7 year olds. The latter for the faintings, chokings, walk outs, last minute college student show ups, and even a heart attack induced from the movie (the needle scene was the biggest culprit.)

But I also remember the tearjerker "The Cure", one of my favorite movies (if a problematic one), "Threesome" and the Coming Out conversations after that one, "Priest" and the uproar when a local Catholic radio station gave out our phone number for people to call and protest, and working 17 hours a day, and thinking I hated my job.

Little. Did. I. Know.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Thank you, Nick, for reminding me that UK TV and streaming services NEVER have Antonia Bird's "Priest" available, even though I have been wanting to watch it for around 10 years.

UK TV and streaming services constantly have "Priest" showing, only for me get excited before quickly discovering that this version is a (presumably) awful vampire movie starring Paul Bettany.

One of these days, it'll be the one I want to see, I just know it...

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

Can I also request a post in tribute to "the real best supporting actresses of 1994" focusing on Jeanie Drynan (Muriel's Wedding) and Sarah Peirse (Heavenly Creatures)?

Neither stood a chance of recognition (Drynan especially, as I don't think her film was released in the USA until the following year!) but they'll remain my Top 2 of the year.

Uma Thurman from the nominees, though I expect Dianne Wiest to sweep and I don't mind...

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

1994 is the year I bought a ticket for The River Wild and snuck into the R-rated Pulp Fiction.
And it's the year my best friend bought a ticket for The Road to Wellville with the same intention, but chickened out and sat through The Road to Wellville.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Oops, "The Cure" was April of 1995, not 1994. My bad!

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I want to a read THE BOOK of Nick's 1994.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobUK

RobUk -- i basically want to read Nick's memoirs from *EVERY* year. And I just realized that Itamar and Nick are the same age but they had different favorite albums that formative year ;)

JJM -- MY SO-CALLED LIFE. That *was* my favorite thing about 1994 too... and I'll get to the movie things on the podcast.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

RobUk -- i basically want to read Nick's memoirs from *EVERY* year. And I just realized that Itamar and Nick are the same age but they had different favorite albums that formative year ;)

JJM -- MY SO-CALLED LIFE. That *was* my favorite thing about 1994 too... and I'll get to the movie things on the podcast.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

RobUk -- i basically want to read Nick's memoirs from *EVERY* year. And I just realized that Itamar and Nick are the same age but they had different favorite albums that formative year ;)

JJM -- MY SO-CALLED LIFE. That *was* my favorite thing about 1994 too... and I'll get to the movie things on the podcast.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Helloooooo to everyone! I was going to take a picture of myself with two martinis in honor of Dianne Wiest, then empty them through a mail slot in honor of Miranda Richardson and nominee Rosemary Harris, but it was a school night.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

@JJM: ABSOLUTELY on Bedtime Stories. Still a totally underrated album.

@Erik: Where do we all get that T-shirt?

@Alfred: We've got a whole month. We'll wait for that footage.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis


June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

I can’t tell if I’m more excited by the panel or by the fact that my ballot is due a week later than I thought it was. More time to look up juicy alternatives! But for real, very excited to hear what y’all think of these actresses.

Long as everyone wants to put on a dazzling tribute to these nominated ladies, the lineup feels pretty ripe for a costume party. Or a mix-and-match! Mirren’s wig, Tilly’s nightgown, Wiest’s enunciations. There’s a look!

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

@kermit_the_frog: I'll totally back you up on Jeanie Drynan from Muriel's Wedding. Her character has stuck with me ever since I first saw it in '94. She did a brilliant job.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Itamar Moses is a handsomer version of Harmony Korine.

Nick Davis I am you conscience. I will now sing quote a Best Actress Icon: There's something on my mind. Will somebody please please tell me what's wrong? You're just a fool you know you're love. What you say? Hey hey hey hey! (Please for the love of Frances McDomand becoming a Best Actress Pet -- update the Best Actress section of your site).

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I want the poster and the t-shirt

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

1994 was the first year I was really INTO the movie scene. At the allergist's office every week I would always read Entertainment Weekly while waiting for my shots, and I suddenly had OPINIONS about movies I hadn't even seen because of it.

It's cute at 10 years old, not so much when your're older.

The movie I remember loving most that year was The Mask. Jim Carrey could finally have a body as cartoonishly rubbery as his face, and he could end up with Cameron Diaz! I still love that movie.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Definitely My So-Called Life - still one of the best shows of all-time. I was a fan of Tori Amos's Under the Pink, Liz Phair's Whip-Smart and REM's Monster. And I was obsessed with Nancy and Tonya. Later that year, of course, the Nancy and Tonya scandal would be totally eclipsed by the OJ trial....

Everyone talks about the Oscar race between Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, but I've always felt that Quiz Show is the superior movie. It is very traditional but outstanding at what it does. And Reality Bites defines the era so well.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

h Nick, right there with ya on freshman year being all about FINALLY being iin a CITY WHERE WE COULD SEE ALL THE MOVIES. (Fun fact: Nick and I were college classmates!)

1994 for me was the year I really started becoming a true movie nut. It's the first year I remember regularly reading movie reviews, even if I didn't always see the movies. And when, I started writing them, too, for my high school paper - Little Women being the one I remembered the most because I was astonished at how much I loved it.

And yes, the first year I noticed and had an opinion on the Academy getting it *so* wrong. Except like Suzanne, I'd have given best pic to Quiz Show. I still might today, actually, even though I'm quite fond of Pulp Fiction.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

I'm thrilled with the panelists, the return of Nick and Shelia is always welcome. I love their blogs and I am especially interested in Shelia's opinions on acting. She knows her stuff. The newcomers look both qualified and interesting.
1994, I got free tickets to the opening of Pulp Fiction, took a friend who HATED it ! She hated the violence the way some vegetarians get nauseated by meat. I liked Pulp Fiction more than she did - but I always view Tarentino's violent tendencies with less enthusiasm than most people.

June 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I can't wait to hear what you think about the legendary Rosemary Harris and her weird Oscar nom for Tom and Viv.

June 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

Before there was a fully forged concept of a "Stan," I remember going all out for "Forrest Gump." Felt so adult at the time, and certainly the first Oscars I felt remotely invested in. Folks bought me the VHS that I wore out watching. Not "ashamed" of my childhood self, per se, but more disappointed in how long it took for me to gain greater film exposure. You live, you learn, surely.

Pivoting from this maudlin posting ...


This smackdown! Remember these films like they came out yesterday. It's on!


June 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVance

Yay, I have been a fan of Alfred ever since I read his piece in Pop Matters on the glorious Christine McVie and the album Tusk. Your writing is so original, so insightful. Can't wait!

June 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

brookesboy: Damn, you remembered that piece! Thank you! I may do the Martini Dance after all.

June 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

Nick you are so hilarious!!! Love Live Through This and Bedtime Story sooo much.

June 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

a real live tony nominee? it's getting fancy around here!
[congrats, itamar]

i love how professor nick is NOT letting go of that tom & fucking viv dvd

June 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

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