A bitter old Jewish woman bonds with
her black chauffeur over a 25 year period.
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Written by Alfred Uhry
Starring Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd,
Esther Rolle, Patti LuPone
Based on the stage play by Alfred Uhry
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy),
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Makeup
Oscar Nominations - Best Actor (Morgan Freeman),
Best Supporting Actor (Dan Aykroyd), Best Art Direction,
Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing
The Best Picture win for Driving Miss Daisy is easily the biggest mistake the Academy has ever made. Compared to the exemplary Dead Poets Society and the provocative Born on the Fourth of July, Driving Miss Daisy is a total tone-deaf misfire that has gone down in infamy as an increasingly poor decision for the Academy. The friendship between Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy makes no sense, and never feels earned. The casual racism and lukewarm attempts at comedy just make the audience uneasy. Frankly, it's a wonder this film was ever even touched by the Oscars, let alone that it won four.
Freeman plays Hoke Colburn, a black man in a dishonest 1950's American South. When he is hired by Boolie Werthan (Aykroyd) to drive his bitter, mean, old mother Daisy (Tandy), Hoke finds himself the newest target of Daisy's aimless rage at her situation. Somehow, and out of pretty much nowhere, Hoke and Daisy become friends, but Hoke is still never invited anywhere that Daisy goes, because even though they're friends, she's still his white boss. The film never really bothers to include the African American struggle for equality, despite references to Martin Luther King and a scene where Hoke is pulled over in Alabama. All we get is surface-level inclusion, and in many ways, that's worse than just ignoring it.
Driving Miss Daisy is not a good movie. It's a half-assed attempt at a white savior movie that, for some reason, encapsulated audiences in 1989 and inspired the Academy to award it top honors. A lot of people have compared it to Green Book, which won Best Picture in 2019, but I think Green Book is superior. While still being a white savior movie, Green Book at least acknowledges the problems that existed, and they do so in an honest way.