Milwaukee Was Snubbed in the 2020 Oscars So We’re Creating Our Own Awards

The Milwaukee Oscars: A celebration of cinema’s greatest portrayals of Wisconsin.

Hollywood doesn’t particularly like us. Is it because Wisconsin doesn’t offer big tax breaks to filmmakers? Or because we don’t have the giant screw-all skyscrapers and sewer rats of New York? Does Boston just have a more charmingly working-class accent than ours? Whatever the reason is, we are insulted, and we will have our revenge. But for now, the best we can do is throw out our own personal Milwaukee Oscars for the few times those California camera-junkies have thrown us a bone.

Best Movie Set in Milwaukee: Mr. 3000

THIS MOVIE TAKES the top spot, because it is set fully and completely in Milwaukee, unlike most Wisconsin-referencing films, which spend a couple seconds here and then move on (i.e. Tommy Boy, Up In the Air, etc.).

Rest in Peace to Bernie Mac. In this classic sports comedy, Brewer All-Star Stan Ross, played by Mac, retires in the middle of a postseason run immediately after getting his 3000th hit like a selfish bum, leaving his team to lose shamefully without him. Nine years later, Mr. 3000 Ross, learns that the records were wrong and he’s actually only Mr. 2997. Older now and full of aches and pains, he must return to baseball secure his legacy. Will he remain selfish and bum-like? Or will he have a character arc? Give the flick a watch to find out, and enjoy the shots of Miller Park (and the plentiful Milwaukee extras littering the scenes).

Runners-Up: Bridesmaids, Dawn of the Dead, Dahmer 

Best Movie Filmed in Milwaukee: Public Enemies

MOST OF THIS movie wasn’t filmed strictly in Milwaukee, but that’s true of almost every movie “filmed in Milwaukee.” Except maybe Major League, which filmed a bunch of baseball scenes in Miller Park, but hey, we already gave the last Oscar to a baseball movie, we can’t just go and do it again, this is professional awards operation, damn it! So a big ol’ shouts out to your boy John Dillinger, stone-cold bank robber and thug, who inspired this biopic starring Johnny Depp. A bank robbery scene was filmed in the Milwaukee County Historical Building on 3rd Street. Dillinger’s apartment was filmed at 1260 North Prospect, a.k.a the Art Deco Building, and the filming locations extend way beyond the city. They filmed in Madison (for the Washington D.C. scenes), Columbus, Beaver Dam, Oshkosh, Darlington and more.

Runners-Up: Major League, The Blues Brothers

Best New Milwaukee Movie: Give Me Liberty

THERE IS HOPE for Milwaukee cinema yet. This 2019 movie was filmed in Milwaukee, set in Milwaukee and starred people from Milwaukee. It’s the Holy Trinity of locally-based cinematic achievement. The movie follows a young medical transport driver through the city and was directed by former young medical transport driver Kirill Mikhanosvky, now an up-and-comer on-the-rise young-Coppola-type ready to take the movie world by storm. It was written by a poet/lawyer/playwright Alice Austen, and we’ve written about it multiple times, because it’s pretty exciting to finally get some of that sweet sweet celluloid love.

Runners-Up: I don’t know of any. So instead, I’ll fill up this spot with an inspirational quote from a famed director: “My cow is not pretty, but it is pretty to me.” – David Lynch

Best True Wisconsin Story

The Straight Story
SPEAKING OF David Lynch, this award goes to his 1999 film The Straight Story for committing a true Wisconsin story to screen with beauty, accuracy, and poignancy. In 1994, Alvin Straight, who was 73 years old, and severely arthritic, was living in Iowa when he learned that his brother Henry had suffered a stroke at his home in Blue River, Wisconsin. So Alvin, who was too blind to get a driver’s license, got on his 1966 John Deere riding lawn mower and drove to Wisconsin to see him. After multiple breakdowns and setbacks, he made it the 240 miles (at a 5 mph pace) and got to see his brother. Lynch’s on-screen depiction of this is pretty damn touching, especially considering that Richard Farnsworth, who plays Straight, was terminally ill with prostate cancer throughout shooting and couldn’t fully move his legs due to paralysis.

Runner-Up: All Mine to Give 

Best Wisconsin Documentary: American Movie

THIS DOCUMENTARY – about a young filmmaker trying to make his first horror movie in Milwaukee – is so hilarious that people originally thought it was a scripted hoax. The setbacks, struggle, and snowy Wisconsin setting make for one of the best documentaries out there. A hearty recommendation.

Runners-Up: As Goes Janesville, The Blood is at the Doorstep

Best Wisconsinite Character: Mr. White (Reservoir Dogs)

SURPRISE PICK HERE – Mr. White is far from your stereotypical Milwaukeean. Real name Lawrence Dmick comes from our fair city, where he rooted for the Brewers and has a history of robbing folks. Played by Harvey Keitel, he’s a pivotal player in this film, which launched Quentin Tarantino’s career. As the leader of a crew of diamond thieves, he may not be the most moral of Wisconsin’s cinematic children, he does have the coolest lines, i.e., “You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.”

Runners-Up: Jack Dawson (Titanic), Lars Lindstrom (Lars and the Real Girl)



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.