The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Brief History of the Best Picture

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

The film at the top of each category was the winner.

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. If you don't think so, go watch Michael Bay's latest turd, you mouth-breathing troglodyte.

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.

1984
Amadeus
The Killing Fields
A Passage to India
Places In the Heart
A Soldier's Story

This is such a no-brainer. If you don't like "Amadeus", chances are you're an imbecile.

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 idiots, 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. 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.

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 to. 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, but it probably should have been "The Social Network"

2011
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Okay, this was a pretty weak year. But I think "The Artist" was the right call.

2012
Argo
Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Now this is more like it! "Argo" was great, "Django Unchained" was great, "Lincoln" was great, "Zero Dark Thirty" was great! I would have given it to "Zero Dark Thirty", but I can't be too upset, "Argo" was amazing. Between "Argo", "The Town", and "Gone Girl", Ben Affleck is receiving such a resurgence. Too bad that resurgence will die when "Superman vs Batman: Dawn of Justice" is released and it won't be his fault.

2013
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

Yes, 12 Years a Slave was a powerful cinematic experience and deserved it.

2 comments:

  1. 1939-1954--Agreed

    1956: Friendly Persuasion. I actually enjoyed the 1923 version of The Ten Commandments (also directed by DeMille) more.

    1962: To Kill a Mockingbird. I have seen Lawrence of Arabia, but I want to see it on a big screen someday.

    1963: Lilies of the Field.

    1967-1974: Agreed

    1975: Dog Day Afternoon

    1976: Agreed

    1977: I have only seen Star Wars from those five films. I need to see Annie Hall and couple of others before I can make an informed decision.

    1979-1996: Agreed

    1997: Good Will Hunting

    1998-2005: Agreed (Although I LOVE Master and Commander (2003))

    2006: The Queen

    2007: No Country for Old Men

    2008: Milk

    2009: District 9

    2010: The King's Speech.

    2011: The Descendants

    2012-2013: Agreed.

    As for years you didn't include, my personal rule is that I have to have seen at least 2 of the movies nominated that year. My person choice will be the first listed and if the Best Picture winner (if I have seen it) will be marked with an *. The rest of the movies listed are not by preference; just me writing them down.

    1929/1930 (held bi annually for awhile)

    All Quiet on the Western Front*
    The Big House
    Disraeli

    1932/1933

    I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
    The Private Life of Henry VIII
    Little Women

    1935

    Captain Blood
    Mutiny on the Bounty*
    David Copperfield,
    The Informer,
    The Lives of a Bengal Lancer,
    A Midsummer Night's Dream,
    Les Miserables

    1937

    The Life of Emile Zola*
    The Awful Truth
    Captains Courageous
    The Good Earth)

    1938

    The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Pygmalion

    1940

    The Grapes of Wrath
    Rebecca*
    The Great Dictator
    The Philadelphia Story

    1942

    Yankee Doodle Dandy
    The Magnificent Ambersons
    The Pride of the Yankees)

    1944
    Double Indemnity
    Going My Way*

    1945
    The Lost Weekend*
    The Bells of St. Mary’s
    Mildred Pierce

    1946
    The Best Years of Our Lives*
    Henry V
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    The Yearling

    1947
    Great Expectations
    Gentleman’s Agreement*
    Miracle on 34th Street

    1948
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    Hamlet*

    1951
    A Streetcar Named Desire
    An American in Paris*
    A Place in the Sun

    1952
    The Quiet Man
    High Noon

    1953
    From Here to Eternity*
    Julius Caesar
    The Robe
    Shane

    1957
    The Bridge on the River Kwai*
    12 Angry Men
    Witness for the Prosecution

    1958
    The Defiant Ones
    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    1959

    The Nun’s Story
    Ben-Hur*
    Anatomy of a Murder
    The Diary of Anne Frank

    1961

    West Side Story*
    The Hustler
    Judgment at Nuremberg

    1964
    My Fair Lady*
    Becket
    Mary Poppins
    Dr. Strangelove

    1965
    Doctor Zhivago
    The Sound of Music*

    1968
    The Lion in Winter
    Oliver!*
    Romeo and Juliet

    1969
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    Midnight Cowboy*
    Anne of the Thousand Days

    1971
    A Clockwork Orange
    The French Connection*
    The Last Picture Show

    1973
    American Graffiti
    The Sting*

    1982
    Tootsie
    E.T.
    Gandhi*
    The Verdict

    1985
    The Color Purple
    Witness
    Out of Africa*

    1987
    Fatal Attraction
    Moonstruck

    1988
    Rain Man*
    Mississippi Burning

    1989
    Field of Dreams
    Driving Miss Daisy*
    Born on the Fourth of July
    Dead Poets Society

    1992
    Unforgiven*
    A Few Good Men

    1995
    Babe*
    Braveheart
    Apollo 13
    Sense and Sensibility

    1999
    American Beauty*
    The Green Mile
    The Insider
    The Sixth Sense

    2000
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    Gladiator*
    Erin Brockovich
    Traffic

    2004
    The Aviator
    Million Dollar Baby*
    Sideways
    Ray
    Finding Neverland







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  2. No mention of Traffic getting snubbed for Gladiator in 2000? I thought the Academy was batshit insane to give THAT movie best picture over Traffic

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