The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Brief History of the Best Picture

Or, where I think Oscar got it right, and Oscar got it wrong.

It Happened One Night
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Flirtation Walk
The Gay Divorcee
Here Comes the Navy
The House of Rothschild
Imitation of Life
One Night of Love
The Thin Man
Viva Villa!
The White Parade

This year, Oscar got it right. "It Happened One Night" is a great film. A real classic. One of Clark Gable's all time best.

Gone with the Wind
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

Ooh, this is a tough one. I'm going to have to say that Oscar got this one right too. "Gone With the Wind" is a great, American classic. But so is "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and a little movie called "The Wizard of Oz." All of these movies had an impact and are still a part of pop culture today.

How Green Was My Valley
Blossoms in the Dust
Citizen Kane
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Hold Back the Dawn
The Little Foxes
The Maltese Falcon
One Foot in Heaven
Sergeant York

You all know this one. But this was definitely one of Oscar's first great blunders. Does anyone still talk about "How Green Was My Valley?" No. But we all know "Citizen Kane." Even if you don't love it, you know it. Orson Welles' masterpiece is remembered, referenced, and parodied even to this day. But, we all know the politics. William Randolph Hearst tried hard to destroy this film and bury Welles.

I would also like to add that "The Maltese Falcon" was a great film as well. I love Humphrey Boggart, and it was much better than "How Green Was My Valley." That being said, I think it's a good thing that it didn't go down in history as the movie that took Orson Welles' Oscar.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Heaven Can Wait
The Human Comedy
In Which We Serve
Madame Curie
The More the Merrier
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Song of Bernadette
Watch on the Rhine

This is such a no-brainer. "Casablanca" has had just as much of a cultural impact as "Citizen Kane." It also had a lot to say on the themes of love and sacrifice against the backdrop of the most terrible war ever fought. I'm not just saying this because it's my all time favorite film, but it deserved this.

All About Eve
Born Yesterday
Father of the Bride
King Solomon's Mines
Sunset Boulevard

Depending on what day you ask me, I'll have a different answer for this one. "All About Eve" was terrific. So was "Sunset Boulevard." You couldn't find two films more diverse that both deserve this award just as much as the other. I guess, either way, Oscar would have made the right decision.

On the Waterfront
The Caine Mutiny
The Country Girl
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Three Coins in the Fountain

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. "The Caine Mutiny" is terrific too, but if you have never seen "On the Waterfront" then shame on you.

Around the World in 80 Days
Friendly Persuasion
The King and I
The Ten Commandments

Sorry, Oscar. You got this one wrong. It should have been "The Ten Commandments." You don't need to be religious to enjoy this movie. Well made, well crafted, and Charleton Heston's all time best.

Lawrence of Arabia
The Longest Day
The Music Man
Mutiny on the Bounty
To Kill a Mockingbird

This was a tough year, but Oscar got it right. "Lawrence of Arabia" is one of the most epic movies I have ever watched. I'll take this further and say that you don't just watch it, you experience it. You feel like you're in the desert, the movie really immerses you.

Tom Jones
America, America
How the West Was Won
Lilies of the Field

And we did so well the previous year. "Tom Jones" sucked, should have been "Cleopatra."

In the Heat of the Night
Bonnie and Clyde
Doctor Dolittle
The Graduate
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Ouch... this was a tough one. A very tough one. I cannot fault the pick here, "In the Heat of the Night" is a great, and relevant movie. Sydney Poitier was amazing. However, "The Graduate" is another classic, as is "Bonnie and Clyde." Now, my personal favorite out of these would have to be "Bonnie and Clyde." But, if I were an Academy voter this year, well... I don't know. I really don't.

Five Easy Pieces
Love Story

As fun as "MASH" was, this was really a no-brainer. "Patton" is a favorite of mine. It earned this award.

The Godfather
The Emigrants

1972 was a year of great movies, but again, this was a no-brainer. Like "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," and "Gone With the Wind" before it, "The Godfather" is a masterpiece. It's opera.

The Godfather Part II
The Conversation
The Towering Inferno

Another tough one. I love "The Godfather Part II" and I love "Chinatown." This was before Roman Polanski raped a child, so he wasn't the creep he is now yet. While both are amazing films on every level, well, I think Oscar did the right thing this year. "The Godfather Part II" was the final chapter on an epic duology, and another one was never, ever made. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Barry Lyndon
Dog Day Afternoon

Oh... Oscar, don't do this to me. This is another year where I would have a tough time voting. God, I love the 70's. Is there any doubt yet, that this was Hollywood's greatest decade? As much as I personally love "Jaws," I think Oscar got it right again.

All the President's Men
Bound for Glory
Taxi Driver

Oscar got it wrong. It should have been Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver." I have no problem with "Rocky" but even "All the President's Men" would have been a better choice.

Annie Hall
The Goodbye Girl
Star Wars
The Turning Point

Now comes the part where I lose friends and alienate people. Oscar got it right. "Annie Hall" is an amazing film. Amazing. It's smart, well acted, well written, expertly directed. Yes, I like the original "Star Wars" movie as well, but I don't think it was Best Picture material at all. It was a popcorn flick, and I like popcorn flicks, but I also loved "Die Hard" and I don't even think that was Best Picture of the year.

Kramer vs. Kramer
All That Jazz
Apocalypse Now
Breaking Away
Norma Rae

Good lord, this was just embarrassing. "Apocalypse Now" all the way. I'm not saying anymore for fear of dignifying this atrocity.

Ordinary People
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Elephant Man
Raging Bull

Two in a row, you're not doing too well now, Oscar. It should have been Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull." "Ordinary People" just sucks.

Dances with Wolves
The Godfather Part III

Sigh... Martin Scorsese again is snubbed when "Goodfellas" is shut out. Detecting a theme yet, people? I hated "Dances With Wolves" and I hate that it put Kevin Costner on the map.

The Silence of the Lambs
Beauty and the Beast
The Prince of Tides

The very first time an animated movie got nominated for Best Picture. That being said, as great as "Beauty and the Beast" is, you have to give it to "The Silence of the Lambs" which really re-defined thrillers. Not to mention the landmark performances turned in by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Schindler's List
The Fugitive
In the Name of the Father
The Piano
The Remains of the Day

Oscar got it right. If you disagree, you're either anti-semitic, an imbecile, or both. 'Nuff said.

Forrest Gump
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show
The Shawshank Redemption

Oy... just... oy. This one actually physically angers me. They got it so horribly wrong. If I were an Academy member, I'd have cast my vote for Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction." But take that away and you have "The Shawshank Redemption" which is also infinitely better than "Forrest Gump." I don't get "Forrest Gump" I mean, if people want to root for a movie about retards, we've still got "Pulp Fiction."

The English Patient
Jerry Maguire
Secrets & Lies

A lot of great movies are being snubbed this decade, aren't they? Should have been "Fargo." Oscar got it wrong. And as for "The English Patient," I agree with Elaine Benes on this one:

As Good as It Gets
The Full Monty
Good Will Hunting
L.A. Confidential

No... good god, no. I will never understand the popularity of "Titanic" and I'll never forget how badly I wanted James Cameron to get booed off stage when he declared himself "the king of the world." It should have been "L.A. Confidential"

Shakespeare in Love
Life Is Beautiful
Saving Private Ryan
The Thin Red Line

This was a good year, but I'm going to shock some of you and say that Oscar got this one right. I adore "Shakespeare In Love." It was a film that really moved me. I know that "Saving Private Ryan" is the favorite among most, but it peaked in its first twenty minutes and I didn't really care for what happened after that powerful introduction on D-Day.

A Beautiful Mind
Gosford Park
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge!

Good lord, no. Oscar messed up again. I'd have given it to "Lord of the Rings." I also give LOTR a lot of credit for bringing intelligence to the blockbuster films. Before this, they were mostly pretty stupid and just used as exercises in SHINY!

Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist

Damn, this was a good year. I saw "Chicago" a while back, and I was impressed. I liked it a lot. That being said, if I could vote, I would have given it to "Gangs of New York." Once again, it seemed like Martin Scorsese's year, and once again he gets snubbed. "The Two Towers" was great, but the weakest of the trilogy. And as for "The Pianist" well, by itself, it's an amazing film... but I cannot vote for it in good conscience because of who directed it.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River

A tough year, but Oscar got this one right. Peter Jackson's achievement was amazing. Let's see if lightning will strike again when "The Hobbit" gets made. I also really enjoyed "Lost in Translation" and "Mystic River."

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck

Oh, fuck you, Oscar. Fuck you. It should have been "Brokeback Mountain" but they had to take the "safe" pick. Actually, I thought "Crash" was the weakest of the nominees.

The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Oscar: Hi Marty, um, remember all those times I snubbed ya? Well, um, if I give you a statue for this movie that is no where near as good as the rest of your movies, will all be forgiven?

No Country for Old Men
Michael Clayton
There Will Be Blood

As much as I enjoyed "No Country for Old Men," Oscar really made the wrong choice here. "There Will Be Blood" was perfect. It was THE film of 2007. This was a terrible choice.

Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader

Again, Oscar failed. Out of these choices, I think "Frost/Nixon" and "Milk" would have been better choices. However, the film that should have won Best Picture wasn't even nominated. Yes, "The Dark Knight" got snubbed, as did Christopher Nolan.

The Hurt Locker
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

This year I was rooting for "Inglourious Basterds" but at the end of the day, I was in the "anything but Avatar" camp. Good lord, how I hated "Avatar." However, while Oscar didn't make the right choice... and there was more than one right choice, "District 9" and "Up" were great also, I am thankful it didn't make the wrong choice.

And I was also so happy to see James Cameron get his ass handed to him by the ex-wife he cheated on and was horrible too. So, while I don't think "The Hurt Locker" was the right choice, I do enjoy some old fashioned schadenfreude.

The King's Speech
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

I had no horse in this race, and I already discussed my thoughts in my previous post. However, I think it's quite obvious at this point that Christopher Nolan is the new Martin Scorsese.

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