(1994)4.5Richard GilliamForrest Gump is the Baby Boom generation's tribute to itself, a panorama of American culture from the sleepy South of the 1950s to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. The film is a technical masterpiece, skillfully weaving together numerous cultural reference points, all without ever causing the audience to pause for thought. Director Robert Zemeckis and a team of top-notch special effects experts convincingly combined actors with archival footage so that Gump (Michael Conner Humphreys as a child and Tom Hanks as an adult) gets to interact with many famous personalities of the day. Of particular note are Gump's scenes at the University of Alabama, where Forrest meets then-governor George Wallace (via newsreel footage) and football coach Bear Bryant (actor Sonny Shroyer). Similarly outstanding are the sequences set in Vietnam and the later shrimpboat scenes with Gump's best friend (Gary Sinise), a legless war veteran. Forrest Gump won six Oscars, including Best Picture, over critical favorites Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. An interesting sidelight to Hanks' Best Actor win is Jessica Lange's also set-in-Alabama Best Actress performance in Blue Sky in the same year. The wins, however, did not lead Hollywood to rush to set more films in the "Heart of Dixie" state.