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.

1934
It Happened One Night
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Cleopatra
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.

1939
Gone with the Wind
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Ninotchka
Of Mice and Men
Stagecoach
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.

1941
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
Suspicion


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.

1943
Casablanca
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.

1950
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.

1954
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.

1956
Around the World in 80 Days
Friendly Persuasion
Giant
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.

1962
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.

1963
Tom Jones
America, America
Cleopatra
How the West Was Won
Lilies of the Field


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

1967
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.

1970
Patton
Airport
Five Easy Pieces
Love Story
MASH


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

1972
The Godfather
Cabaret
Deliverance
The Emigrants
Sounder


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.

1974
The Godfather Part II
Chinatown
The Conversation
Lenny
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.

1975
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Barry Lyndon
Dog Day Afternoon
Jaws
Nashville


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.

1976
Rocky
All the President's Men
Bound for Glory
Network
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.

1977
Annie Hall
The Goodbye Girl
Julia
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.

1979
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.

1980
Ordinary People
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Elephant Man
Raging Bull
Tess


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.

1990
Dances with Wolves
Awakenings
Ghost
The Godfather Part III
Goodfellas


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.

1991
The Silence of the Lambs
Beauty and the Beast
Bugsy
JFK
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.

1993
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.

1994
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."

1996
The English Patient
Fargo
Jerry Maguire
Secrets & Lies
Shine


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:



1997
Titanic
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"

1998
Shakespeare in Love
Elizabeth
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.

2001
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!

2002
Chicago
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.

2003
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River
Seabiscuit


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."

2005
Crash
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Good Night, and Good Luck
Munich


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.

2006
The Departed
Babel
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?

2007
No Country for Old Men
Atonement
Juno
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.

2008
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
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.

2009
The Hurt Locker
Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up
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.

2010
The King's Speech
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
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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