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The Shawshank Redemption Should've Won Best Picture in 1994 Over Forrest Gump

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2012 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,721 times Debate No: 22694
Debate Rounds (5)
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1994 was clearly a great year for cinema, with the films The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Quiz Show being up the prestigious Academy Award of Best Picture.

Forrest Gump won that year, and I will debate that The Shawshank Redemption was the rightful winner.

The film, along with films such as Citizen Kane and The Godfather is oftenly regarded as one of, if not, the best film of all time. It's a shame that the film lost out on proper recognition for it's accomplishments in film.

The debate will be 5 rounds with a max of 8,000 characters, 72 hours to complete each round and a 3 day voting period.


Forrest Gump is an american classic and was the right choice to win. The story is about hope and love with characters that are actually likeable unlike Shawshank Redemption who features convicts who are rapists and murderers. Forrest Gump is home to one of the best American actors ever, Tom Hanks, who also won for his portrayl of Forrest Gump. Tim Robbins didn't win for the Shawshank Redemption.

Forrest Gump is a classic and a better put together film than the Shawshank Redemption and deserved to win the oscar for Best Picture.
Debate Round No. 1


While it's true Forrest Gump is an American Classic, the same can be said for The Shawshank Redemption.

The Shawshank Redemption is, too, about hope - hope that someone can change their path after making a mistake (presented by the character of Red played by Morgan Freeman) and hope that you can break free of all of your constraints (presented by the character Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins). Though The Shawshank Redemption may not actively portray a love story, the characters of Red and Andy have a true, platonic love for one another; sometimes a friendship can be portrayed more beautifully than any love story could.

Though the characters of The Shawshank Redemption are, indeed, convicted felons guilty of various crimes, that doesn't necessarily make them all bad people. It's important to consider that Andy Dufresne was unrightfully thrown into prison - he wasn't a bad person and didn't belong in prison.

Red was a character, although committed crimes to land himself in prison, that truely changed his ways and became a better person from the experience.

Though it's true that Andy for some time was repeatedly raped by "The Sisters" that doesn't make him a bad person, nor does it lessen the quality of the film. They're horrible events, but they are true to what sometimes happens in prison. The prison, nor the prisoners, are sugarcoated - times can get extremely bad in prison and the film truely depicts this.

Tom Hanks is a great actor, but again, the same can be said for BOTH Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The acting in a picture is definitely important, but it's not the only element that makes a truely great film. The cinematography, screenplay, script, costumes, etc all have to be considered as well. When all of these elements are considered, The Shawshank Redepmtion sets itself above Forrest Gump in so many ways.

Contrary to your argument, The Shawshank Redemption is a fantasitcally put together film, constantly recieving rave reviews, even after almost twenty years since it's release. Forrest Gump's legacy hasn't faired as well as The Shawshank Redemption's has; Forrest Gump is often seen as a very overrated film, robbing The Shawshank Redemption from its rightful title as the 1995* (There is a typo in the topic of this debate, it should read 1995 rather than 1994, the films were both released in 1994, but up for Best Picture in 1995) Best Picture Winner.

The Shawshank Redemption is constantly revered as one of the best films of all time, while Forrest Gump can't help but trail behind it.

The Shawshank Redemption was the rightful winner for the 1995 Academy Award for Best Picture.


Forrest Gump follows a character with redeeming qualities and that while not always doing smart things always means well.

Forrest and Jenny have a great love story that adds to the quality of the movie that the Shawshank Redemption doesn't have. In fact, what are there, 2 or 3 females in the movie? Forrest Gump at least showcases strong women like Forrest's mother and Jenny. It's not just a man's world.

Forrest is such a loveable character and relatable. That's one of the best elements of the movie, Forrest is relatable to the audience. I doubt people sitting in a theatre can relate to a bunch of prisoners.

Forrest grew from his experiences, too.

The movie has great cinematic qualities, and is in fact one of the most quoted movies ever:
"Run Forrest Run!"
"Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you're gonna get."
These two lines are often quoted and carry the essence of the film: There's always hope. You can always run and achieve your dreams, and life is full of surprises.

Forrest Gump was obviously well recieved consiering it WON the oscar. It's seen as a great American film. No matter what critics say now, Forrest Gump is a great movie and deserved to win all the Oscars it did.
Debate Round No. 2


The characters of The Shawshank Redemption, too, have redeeming qualities. Andy Dufresne is an extremely intellegent man who, despite his unfortunate situation of being thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, treats the other prisoners very well, considering how the prisoners often treat one another. Andy even attempted to teach another prisoner how to read. Through constant persistence, Andy managed to build a library in the prison, where the prisoners could be able to read.

Red also had redeeming qualities. He listened to Andy's plight and kept his promise to venture to the spot that Andy left something for him if he were ever to get out. He was also the man to go to in need at the prison; he could get any object a prisoner could need. He was a very helpful man, and was depicted as such.

Jenny isn't necessarily the most redeemable character known to film. In fact she was often very selfish and took advantage of Forrest.

Though I do love a story that depicts a strong female, The Shawshank Redemption didn't call for one. You're right, it isn't just a man's world. But, the film was about male prisoners, the addition of a female would have been inconsistent wit the plot. Though there were no strong female characters, there were strong male characters in place.

Forrest is definitely lovable, and at times relatable. Though, I'm not sure many viewers have literally run across country, fought in war, and met the president.

Andy is an extremely relatable character. He was literally and figuratively imprisoned. He was accused of something he didn't do. I'm sure every viewer could relate to those attributes. He was an extremely inspriring man, stopping at nothing to win back his rightful freedom. He was clever in the sense that he was successfully able to free himself from prison.

Red was also very relatable. He knew he was a canged man but was always denied a release from prison. Haven't you ever been denied something you know is rightfully yours. Viewrs can definitely relate to his struggle.

Being quotable doesn't always equate being good (Often quotes can be said in jest) However, The Shawshank Redemption features inspiring quotes as well, particularly "Get busy living or get busy dying" This is surely a quote to live by: Either get to something or just waste away.

THe Shawshank Redemption is a critic gem. It is ranked as Number One of the Internet Movie Data Base's Top Two Hundred Fifty. Out of every single movie ever recorded on the Data Base, it is number one. It beat out THe Godfather, Citizen Kane, Schindler's List, and, yes, Forrest Gump, which is ranked number twenty eight. The Shawshank Redemption has a scored of 9.2, while Forrest Gump has a 8.6. It rightfully sits at the top of list list, furthering my argument that it was the rightful winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1995.


Jenny was a great character because she was flawed. Not everyone is always perfect or a good role model, that's what made her real.

Forrest was intellegent too, just in a different way, obviously. He was a charming and loving man. He often brought others happiness.

Forrest was inspiring. It's true he did actions not many could do, he was still relatable besides it.

It's true that The Shawshank Redemption is number 1 on IMDB but that doesn't mean it's a better movie. Those ratings don't mean everything when deciding what a good movie is.

The fact is: Forrest Gump won the oscar so obviously it was agreed that it was the better movie. Oscars are probably a better indication of the quality of movies rather than a website.
Debate Round No. 3


The characters of The Shawshank Redemption were flawed, as well. Red clearly made mistakes in his life - he recognized this fact. Andy often kept to himelf and sometimes had a hard time defending himself. These are all qualities that viewers can identify with.

The whole essense of The Shawshank Redemption is inspiring. It's a testament that sometimes you literally have to crawl through "feces" to be free, but when it's all over it's paradise.

I agree - ratings don't mean everything. But in the same respect, just because Forrest Gump won Best Picture doesn't mean it deserved to.

Take 2005 for example - There's no way it can be agrued that Crash was the rightful winner that year, or that it was a better picture than Brokeback Mountain or Capote. Sometimes the Academy gets it wrong (often, even). The Shawshank Redemption was streets ahead of Forrest Gump and deserves the title of Best Picture.

I find it important to cite scenes that truely encompass my reasons for this debate:

For example, this scene is considered a beautiful cinematic piece of film

The prisoners stopping in their tracks to all hear something as simple as music is hauntingly beautiful. It portrays how often we take things for granted. These prisoners haven't heard music in ages, a luxury many of us take advantage of everyday. The saying "You don't know what you have got until it is gone" truely plays in here. Words weren't needed to complete this beautiful scene. It can stand alone and help further my argument that The Shawshank Redemption should've won Best Picture, as evidence to this scene.

One of the best elements of The Shawshank Redemption is the unforgettable narration by Red played by Morgan Freeman. His narration, much like the rest of the picture is so well written (the story is loosely based on "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by the highly acclaimed writer Stephen King). The writing can often fall corny in Forrest Gump, but is never the case in The Shawshank Redemption.

Andy Dufresne isn't even a man of many words. So much can be conveyed through Tim Robbin's subtle acting - he can say so much just through a facial expression.

As I said earlier, many elements go into a film - the acting and screenplay - as stated just above are just two of these elements that thrust The Shawshank Redemption up and over Forrest Gump.

Also to be mention is the mise en scene of particularly Andy's prison cell. So much is contained in the small parameters of his cell. The carefully placed, hand crafted chess piece serve as a subtle alibi to Andy's need of a small rock hammer, conveyed to Red. The posters of the pin up girls are obviously vital, for they serve as a cover up for Andy's escape route.

The Shawshank Redemption is a film like no other and deserved to win Best Picture.


It's important to recall all that Forrest Gump did for movies. Those scenes where Forrest was put into the backdrop were awesome and still quite new. They were able to have him "meet" JFK and hilariously tell him he has to use the bathroom. The effects of that scene were well done even by today's standards. It's important to remember that when discussing the films because The Shawshank Redemption didn't have anything like that so it set Forrest Gump apart and maybe that's why the Academy decided to award it best picture. It did something that was unique and new.

Forrest running and his braces coming off is an inspiring scene, too. One can succeed even with physical disabilities.

Forrest was a great character considering he was not all mentally there. It was nice to have a depiction of someone like that that was positively revered and seen in a good light.

The fact is though, that Forrest Gump did win, as did Crash. At the time (still for Forrest Gump) they were seen to be the rightful winners. Maybe it's different for you now but back then you don't now how people saw the movies. Forrest Gump is still a classic today.

Forrest Gump has great writing too, and it's creative. There's even a restaurant in NYC called Bubba Gumps! That's how influential the movie was. Forrest sees all of these great moments in history happen.

It'd a geat movie to show in school because Forrest goes throughout history. Kids can learn something from watching it. What can they learn from The Shawshank Redemption? How to break out of prison? That's not a good lesson.

Tom Hanks is an amazing actor an has multiple awards to prove it. His portray of Forrest is one of the best ever.
Forrest Gump deserved to win.
Debate Round No. 4


In conclusion, The Shawshank Redemption overall is a better film than Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump in its own right is a great film, don't get me wrong, but there are many flaws to it that The Shawshank Redemption doesn't have.

The Shawshank Redemption has stood the test of time as an incredible film and hasn't been subject to sour criticisms later on, as Forrest Gump is often home to.

The Shawshank Redemption sits at number one at the top of the Internet Movie Data Base's collection of all films in the system. That's thousands and thousands of films. It's hard to believe a film this highly acclaimed didn't win Best Picture - it's a true shame to the film society and one of it's biggest travesties.

I do agree that Forrest Gump did envelope some great film techniques, particulalry the John F Kennedy scene you mentioned. The Shawshank Redemption, however, didn't need to rely on things as such to create an interesting story.

The Shawshank Redemption is about just that - a redemption. The Shawshank Redemption was actually shown to me in a film class (that's where I first saw it), so I disagree on you're point that it can't be shown to students. Considering it is often prefaced as the greatest film of all time, it's important it be shown to students. In my class we had plenty of material to delve into and learn from. The film had multiple layers and themes to disect.

Andy Dufresne breaking out of prison wasn't the point of the film. The point was that it's possible to get what you deserve and it shows that often one must go through a lot to achieve it. In the same respect, Red legally got out of prison. That can teach students and really any viewer that it's possible to change and overcome barriers.

My last note will be as follows. You know a film is good when it gets your heart racing and you feel suspense on a situation. The scene in this post truely conveys this sensation> one that has seen the film knows that Andy's rock hammer is in the bible. Upon a rewatch, there is no words to describe how tense you feel when the prison master holds the bible containing the hammer. That sensation is the mark of a truely great film.

Some more information about critical reviews of the fiilm: On Rotten Tomatoes, The Shawshank Redemption holds a 90% fresh rating, while Forrest Gump only holds a 71%

The Shawshank Redemption is arguably the greatest film of all time. Forrest Gump, while a great film, is not and can't be considered such. The Shawshank Redemption deserved to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1995 over Forrest Gump.


steviemarie forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF