Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Revised Experience: The Longest Best Picture Titles

tues top ten: for the list maker in me and the list lover in you

Your life isn't complete without knowing the answer to the following question:
What Are the Ten Longest Titles of Best Picture Nominees? We've answered it once before but Precious... which is officially titled Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire has shaken up the rankings. Plus, new readers haven't read this. So, it's new to you!

There are several ways to count the titles and they result in different orders. I've opted to do it by character count, not including spaces.

point of contention: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope used to simply be called Star Wars. Now, people add the episode tags because there are so many of them... If you allow for the revised official titling, Star Wars makes the top ten, tying for #9

Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) Just barely makes the top ten but it's an appropriate choice. It's so long winded it clocks in at 3 hours. Hey, it takes a long time to shove in all those celebrity cameos, people. The Player was an hour faster with the same task but Michael Anderson is no Robert Altman.

09 (tie) Best Picture winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), still beloved today, may be Jack Nicholson's finest crazy hour. It won Jack the first of his three Oscars but it was the fifth of his 12 nominations (the record of male actors). Then there's Best Picture nominee I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932). Even the tag line of this drama about a wrongly imprisoned man is a mouthful "Six sticks of dynamite that blasted his way to freedom... and awoke America's conscience!" But, with a 93 minute running time, it's actually the quickest sit in this top ten.

08 (5 way tie) The wordy titles being Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Meredith Wilson's The Music Man (1962), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954). The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) rounds out the list. My favorite from this list is Woolf which is one of most exhilarating films of all time. Sierra Madre is the only one of these five that I haven't seen. In my defense there's not an actress in it and since I'm first and foremost driven by actressing... Well, that's my excuse. Side note: While attending the junket for Elegy a couple of years back Dennis Hopper listed this as one of the five best/most important movies ever. He was caught off guard by the question and answering on the fly but still...

07 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Paul Newman was Butch (RIP). Robert Redford is still "The Sundance Kid" (did you read the Sundance coverage last month?)

06 (tie) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
You knew the Rings trilogy would be here. And even if you didn't know the title, you'd assume Button had a long one while watching it, wouldn't you?

05 Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004) Oh, wait. Riiiiight. (sigh) the Oscars suck.

---> Elijah Wood has seen too much. He is terrified to watch all of the Rings movies back to back.

05 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) takes the five spot. Incidentally, Return... is one of the very longest Oscar winners at 201 minutes. (Only Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur have numbed more asses. The last Rings film is even one minute longer than The Godfather Part II). And it's the longest film on this here list.

04 Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
The newest addition to the list.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
I realize this title is lifted from the novels but I think it's awkward at best and unintentionally funny at worst.

But it's a good movie so who cares.

The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (1966) and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

01 Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Not only does this classic comedy have the longest title ever from a best picture nominee, it has one of the best titles period. Ever. All time. Don'cha think? It's also a merciful 95 minutes long. Comedies are funniest when they're short, timing being everything. One day filmmakers and audiences will come back to their senses and the bloated Judd Apatow movies of the world.

I can do without most ":" subtitle situations... but wouldn't it be great if more titles were this creative, funny and movie-descriptive? Remember when that Nicolas Cage romantic comedy was called Cop Gives Waitress 2 Million Dollar Tip which was a fun "ripped from the tabloids" descriptive title and then it became the utterly generic sounding It Could Happen to You, a title which could fit only three hundred thousand other movies with ease. zzz.

So, here's to short movies with long titles like Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. It's easy to sit through them and it's fun to say their names aloud.


Nate Tyson said...

Judd Apatow films are not meant to be short and sweet. They are long and lived-in. I like 'em that way.

Andrew K. said...

I said to myself, Love with the Proper Stranger and then realised the title of the post. My favourite (sounding title) is I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang. It just sounds so nice saying it. :)

OT. I don't know if this is true but I heard that they're planning on rebooting the Mr and Mrs Smith franchise without Brangie. WTF?

Calum Reed said...

Although referred to by most people as Henry V, IMDB lists the title as "The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France", which could be a contender.

Ryan T. said...

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

Anonymous said...

Harold and Kumar Escape from Gauntanamo Bay was robbed of a best picture nomination...

anna said...

Obviously this wasn't a nominee and as such didn't qualify, but it's Fassbinder so it's still worth a mention:

Fontane - Effi Briest oder: Viele, die eine Ahnung haben von ihren Möglichkeiten und Bedürfnissen und dennoch das herrschende System in ihrem Kopf akzeptieren durch ihre Taten und es somit festigen und durchaus bestätigen

(Rough translation:
Fontane - Effi Briest or: Many Who Have a Notion of Their Abilities and Needs and Nevertheless Accept the Current Regime in Their Minds Through Their Deeds and Therefore Stabilize and Pretty Much Affirm It)

S said...

Nathaniel have you seen this"Films of 2000s"? It's so good!!

ben said...

Just a couple things...


* If you use the English title for CROUCHINGTIGER,HIDDENDRAGON (2000)(and not 'Wo hu cang long'), it becomes tied at #8 with LOVEISAMANY-SPLENDOREDTHING, MEREDITHWILSON'STHEMUSICMAN, et al.

* If you use quotes around 'Push' (which several sources do), then PRECIOUS:BASEDONTHENOVEL'PUSH'BYSAPPHIRE advances to tie with THELORDOFTHERINGS:THEFELLOWSHIPOFTHERING.

* Also on punctuation: several sources use a comma in the title THERUSSIANSARECOMING,THERUSSIANSARECOMING, which would bump it to the #2 spot ahead of THELORDOFTHERINGS:THEFELLOWSHIPOFTHERING.

* Is it just me or does AROUNDTHEWORLDINEIGHTYDAYS contain the same number of characters as ONEFLEWOVERTHECUCKOO'SNEST and IAMAFUGITIVEFROMACHAINGANG? Unless you are really using the shorter title AROUNDTHEWORLDIN80DAYS (which most sources give)... but in that case several titles (16, by my count) would be as long or longer:


* And finally, I thought it was interesting to note that if you were to include all movies with Oscar-nominated performances, there would be just ONE movie title that would exceed the 56 characters of DR.STRANGELOVEOR:HOWILEARNEDTOSTOPWORRYINGANDLOVETHEBOMB. (...But I'm sure you already know what that is.) :)

Unknown said...

"Who is Harry Kellerman, and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (longest among all nominees)

ben said...

Anthony - Yep! :)

(Although, as I was writing this, I remembered that the complete title of The Talented Mr. Ripley was really "The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate Talented Mr. Ripley", which is actually more than twice as long as Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me. Which is probably why most people use the short version.


ben -- but the adjective friendly Mr Ripley was not nominated.

as for benjamin button. I should amend.

as for all these other titles. i wonder why my wordcount/charactercount misses these things in word.

i am perplexed.

as for AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS. IMDb lists the remake as officially titled with the "80" and the original as officially titled with "eighty" but maybe they have it wrong?

Peter Nellhaus said...

How did you miss this title: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?.

And also the U.S. title of a beloved Roman Polanski film: The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck.


peter -- but those aren't best picture nominees!

Jen said...

Regarding title length does UP takes honours for the shortest Best Picture nominee title?


Jen -- no. That would be Z (1969)

Unknown said...

To break up the five-way tie, Meredith Willson's name actually has two "L"s in it (As in "Meredith Willson's The Music Man"), thereby giving it an extra character and screwing up the list.