WebMD/Medscape Reveal Winners of ‘Meddys’ Film Awards
Why let Oscar have fun?
Readers were allowed not only to choose from pre-selected candidates but also to write to favorites.
So, without further ado, Maddie goes to…
• Best Medical Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
After its release, Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s actors and its director, calling the film “a chillingly compelling portrait of a supremely sane man driven to the extreme limits of his sanity by having to comply with hospital rules and regulations.”
Drew Ayers, Ph.D., associate professor of cinematography at Eastern Washington University, said the film’s superb ensemble reflected the emotions of many people at the time.
“It was the mid-1970s, and the film spoke of alienation and inadequacy, especially Randle McMurphy,” he said. “There was this search for freedom, but it was unattainable, as in Easy Rider or Bonnie and Clyde.”
Wayne Grody, MD, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Human Genetics at UCLA School of Medicine, and a frequent consultant for films and TV shows such as CSI, understands the appeal of the absolute winner.
“Of course, it’s a classic. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made by director Milos Forman,” he said. “As with Ken Kesey’s original writing, the film adaptation takes on the kind of sensational, magical realism that turns it from a true depiction of psychiatry into something more Hollywood that resonates.”
• Best Doctor: Robin Williams, Awakening
Many were shocked that Williams was not nominated for an Oscar for his role as neurologist Malcolm Sayer, M.D. Williams shared with De Niro the Best Actor award from the National Board of Review. That honor went to his co-star Robert De Niro as patient Leonard Lowe, a beneficiary of an experimental drug used for catatonic patients.
Awakening, which received a Best Picture nomination, is based on the memoir of the same name by Oliver Sachs, who inspired Williams’ character. When the movie came out in 1990, film critic Roger Ebert called it one of Williams’s “best performances, clean and uncluttered, without the ebullient distractions he occasionally throws in, a gimmick that requires nothing.”
Williams was the overwhelming favorite in our poll, with 55% of the vote. In the second place, Jennifer Garner is Slightly behind in Dallas Buyers Club, followed by Omar Sharif in Dr. Zhivago (12%) and Michael J. Fox in Hollywood Doc (10%).
For Ayers, Williams’ portrayal of a real doctor and a natural drug, mixed with a bit of Hollywood fiction, is part of what makes the film and its action so realistic.
“[Sacks] was a famous doctor, which gave him credibility and the real story behind the drugs,” he said. “Perhaps this is the most accurate depiction [of the nominees].”
• Best Nurse: Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Fletcher above won an Oscar and a Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for her role as cultural icon Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In her speech at the Oscars, she thanked the organization with the phrase: “All I can say is that I liked it when you hated me.”
Our audience also fell in love with Fletcher, gaining 47% of the vote. Emma Thompson’s nurse, Emily in Angels in America, came in second, followed by Ben Stiller as Greg Focker in Meet the Parents.
For Grody, the role of Fletcher was “an iconic moment in film history.”
When the American Film Institute compiled a list of the best movie villains in 2003, the strict nurse ranked fifth behind Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Darth Vader,, and the Wicked Witch of the West. In 2018, Fletcher told Vanity Fair that getting the nurse to speak calmly was her idea — it was eventually taken up by director Milos Forman — and that she came up with the backstory of the character I have not shared it with anyone, to this day.
“It’s a memorable role,” Ayers said.
• Best Patient: Tom Hanks, Philadelphia
Tom Hanks won the first of his two consecutive Oscars for his portrayal of Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer in Philadelphia. His portrayal of Hanks in one of the first major studio films dealing with the AIDS crisis broke the image of him as a mainstream comedian. It provided an essential introduction to gay characters for a wider audience.
They were receiving the Pioneer Award for their performance in 2015. From a magazine– said journalist Nathan Smith. The meaning of a recognizable actor playing Beckett: “What a Philadelphia showed the following: Tom Hanks pretended to be gay. Tom Hanks has revealed himself to be both gay and AIDS. Tom Hanks showed life with AIDS.
Ayers called Hanks’ portrayal and the film itself “historically important” in how it addressed homosexuality, the AIDS crisis, and the general public’s understanding of—and perhaps more precisely, fear—of the virus, spurring public discussion.
Grody agrees that Philadelphia has played a vital role in the public perception of people living with HIV/AIDS. “The movie showed that people living with HIV and AIDS are just like everyone else, and Tom Hanks’ role was instrumental in proving that he plays such a great character.”
Hanks’ role resonated with our audience, with 46% calling him the best on-screen patient. Jack Nicholson’s Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won 27% of the vote, followed by Angelina Jolie’s Lisa Rowe in Girl, Interrupted.
• Best Worst Caretaker: Kathy Bates, Misery
When it comes to the person our audience wants to least care about, Annie Wilks from the 1990 film Misery was the clear winner with 60% of the vote.
Kathy Bates, who played the antagonist in the film based on the novel by Stephen King, brought her an Oscar for Best Actress. After a car accident, Wilks’ caring for writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) proved that not everyone could care for others.
Grody agrees that Annie Wilkes was the only choice for the best worst caretaker. “I don’t know who else you could choose for this category,” he said. “No one else could come close to receiving this award.”
The late film critic Gene Siskel said: Bates’ performance raised the film from a “regular thriller” to her “wonderful performance… as a demented groupie who alternates between compassion and brutal insanity, all while smiling blissfully and with a small golden cross dangling from her neck.”
In second place behind Bates in our poll was Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins from The Silence of the Lambs (21%), and Dr. Frankenstein, played by Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein (13%).
For Ayers, the film is less about caring and more about something ubiquitous today, 30 years after the film’s release: a toxic fandom.
“It’s all about owning or controlling the art or the thing you’ve created, feeling like it’s only for ‘them’ and thus deserving access to it,” he said. “It speaks to today’s social media and how some actors or writers attack what they’ve done because they think it belongs to them.”