Movie Review Flashback: Why Did ‘Out of Africa’ Win Best Picture?

Last night led me to watch another Best Picture winner, the film that would beat The Color Purple (one of the best films ever made) for the top award at the Oscars, Out of Africa. The film, starring the ever-charming Robert Redford and the gazillion-time nominated actress Meryl Streep, in a sweeping romance that took nearly three hours of my life to complete, was not one of the best movies I’ve seen. In fact, it wasn’t even close.


An hour into the film I knew what was going to happen in the end. It was obvious. Denys (Robert Redford) was going to die in a plane crash. It was unavoidable. When it happened I shed a few tears (because it was sad) and as the movie came to a close I found myself wondering how in the world did this long, dry movie end up winning Best Picture?

Like Green Book, which I felt didn’t deserve the win over BlackKklansmanOut of Africa is another example of the feelgood film that makes, excuse my bluntness, white people feel good about themselves. Meryl Streep’s character, Karen, is your typical European stepping onto African soil, seemingly owning everything and everyone (I’m talking about the Africans) that she comes into contact with. But, because she fell in love with an American big-game hunter (Denys) who helped her see Africa in a different light, helped her understand that Africa was a beautiful, powerful, and intelligent continent long before the white man ever stepped foot on the continent’s shores, she was a changed woman by the conclusion of the film.

After losing her farm, she wanted to get her Kikuyu workers a piece of land and fought for them to have the land they rightfully owned. Her servants (because that’s what they were) loved her and were sad to see her go. And she was sad to leave Africa in return. Cue the yawn.

The Color Purple is a film that is not only emotionally impactful, highly unpredictable in its storytelling, and delivers some of the most powerful performances seen in any film, but it’s also become an iconic film. Out of Africa is anything but iconic.

Its sweeping views of Africa were stunning but it just took too long to get to the point. Ever since Denys appeared on the screen it was clear that Meryl Streep’s Karen was going to fall for him and that that was going to be the primary real estate of the story. It didn’t need to take an hour and forty minutes (more than half the film’s runtime) for them to finally stop staring at one another (Robert Redford with his narrowed, thoughtful gaze as if he’s drinking Meryl Streep up simply with his eyes, and Meryl Streep staring back as if she’s trying to keep him at bay but really all she wants to do is clobber with him a shower of kisses) and finally start smooching.

Then, after that, it’s an hour of more talking, more kissing, sightseeing, more kissing, arguing, confessions, Denys, a free-spirit, finally decides to settle down with Karen for good, and then boom, he dies! Ugh. This movie annoyed me on a number of levels.

Will I ever watch this film again? Definitely not. It’s not a bad movie but geez, it was boring. It took too long to reach a conclusion I had foreseen before the movie even got anywhere remotely interesting, and unfortunately, there wasn’t much to be interested in with this film.

How this won Best Picture is almost laughable but hey, I guess I’ll never see another movie like it, and for good reason. Lol.

I’m giving this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars and 85 out of 100. Casablanca was more interesting than this and that’s saying something because I don’t even like Casablanca.

Hmm…that’s two movies I’ve seen starring Meryl Streep (The Post and Out of Africa) and I found them both extremely boring. What will be the first great Meryl Streep movie I see? If there ever is one.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a remarkable day.

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