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  • Award Snub: Some may see Tommy Lee Jones losing out the Oscar to Jack Palance in City Slickers as this, or at least when one sees how it might have led to his win for The Fugitive over Ralph Fiennes in 1993.
  • Awesome Music: Composed by John Williams, what else would you expect? Try listening to "Prologue" without getting stirred feelings inside.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Gary Oldman as Oswald.
    • Donald Sutherland as "X"
    • Joe Pesci as David Ferrie.
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    • Tommy Lee Jones, managing to stand out enough to get an Oscar nomination.
    • John Candy, whose role is a perfect example of Playing Against Type. Despite the fact that he was so intimidated to be acting alongside the likes of Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland that his character's sweating was NOT acting, fans consider it one of his best performances.
  • Critical Research Failure: Several historians have taken Stone to task on the movie for massively changing real life events. For example, Garrison never delivered an in-court summation of the trial and they cite numerous mistakes Stone made in the film.
    • In his book Reclaiming History, Vincent Bugliosi devotes 900 pages to every single omission, mistake and outright falsehood Stone made to fit his conspiracy theory.
  • He Really Can Act: Critics praised John Candy's performance as Dean Andrews Jr. and considered it to be is neck-and-neck with Del Griffith as his best performance, especially because it was a rare example of Candy Playing Against Type.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Back and to the left," so much so that one episode of The Critic has Jay reviewing the director's cut, which is apparently eight additional hours of that one line.
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  • Narm Charm: Dean Andrews' constant stream of Totally Radical slang is made far more palatable by John Candy's comedy skills, plus by all accounts the real Andrews really was like that.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Donald Sutherland as X. Also, John Candy as Dean Andrews manages to be creepy even without doing anything remotely evil on screen.
  • Protagonist Title Fallacy: Many people allegedly went to the movie expecting to see Kevin Costner playing John F. Kennedy.
  • Strawman Has a Point: The opposing argument to Jim Garrison's conspiracy scenario is laid out nicely by Bill Broussard (played by Michael Rooker). While yes, Broussard was secretly working with the FBI against Garrison, he nonetheless raises an excellent point when he criticizes Garrison's scenario regarding the assassination of President Kennedy - which, according to Garrison, involves the CIA, FBI, anti-Castro Cubans, the Mafia, the Dallas Police, right-wing oil billionaires, and the military-industrial complex to name just a few. Broussard lays out the best argument for lone gunman proponents when he says that such a conspiracy would be impossible to successfully pull off and keep a secret, owing to how complicated such a conspiracy would be and how many people would have to be involved (something real people have also argued). True, Broussard's own theory isn't great either, but his criticism of Garrison unintentionally undermines the film's pro-conspiracy message. Given that Garrison is mostly a mouthpiece for Oliver Stone to voice his own views, and that the person whom Broussard was based upon was claimed by the real Garrison to have undermined his case from day one (and Stone largely believed whatever Garrison said), Broussard is treated as a villain while Garrison is portrayed as in the right, regardless of the nonsensical nature of his entire premise.
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  • The Woobie: David Ferrie: Expelled from the life he wanted for being gay, becoming involved in shady deals almost by accident, and eventually getting in so over his head that he can't tell which way is up anymore. Whether you think his death was murder or suicide, you can't help but feel sorry for him. Incidentally, in real life, he was as staunch a supporter of JFK as you'd ever find in New Orleans (he really did want to be a priest, and was thrilled that a Catholic had been elected president). And his death was from a Berry aneurysm, the culmination of years of poor health — there's no evidence that foul play was involved.
    David Ferrie: All I ever wanted in my life was to be a Catholic priest. Live in a church, serve God... I had one FUCKING weakness, and they defrocked me.


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