Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Best Pictures From the Outside In

Have you seen all of the Best Picture winners over the years? I'm nearing my personal finish line. (Mea culpa. 5 remain unseen: Gentlemen's Agreement, Hamlet, A Man For All Seasons, The French Connection and *gulp* The Godfather Part II. I am deeply ashamed) If you're semi-new to The Film Experience, check out this tri-blog series wherein Nick, Mike and Nathaniel (c'est moi), rescreen the winners starting from both ends of Oscar's chronologally. (We began in 2008 which is why Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker do not kick the festivities off)

Best Pictures From the Outside In (so far)
episode 1 No Country For Old Men (07) and Wings (27/28)
episode 2
The Departed (06) and Broadway Melody (28/29)
episode 3 Crash (05) and All Quiet on the Western Front (29/30)
episode 4
Million Dollar Baby (04) and Cimarron (30/31)
episode 5
LotR: The Return of the King (03) and Grand Hotel (31/32)

episode 6
Chicago (02) and Cavalcade (32/33)
episode 7 A Beautiful Mind (01) and It Happened One Night (34)
episode 8 Gladiator (00) and Mutiny on the Bounty (35)
episode 9 American Beauty (99) and The Great Ziegfeld (36)
episode 10 Shakespeare in Love (98) and The Life of Emile Zola (37)

episode 11 Titanic (97) and You Can't Take it With You (38)
episode 12 The English Patient (96) and Gone With the Wind (39)
episode 13 Braveheart (95) and Rebecca (40)
episode 14 Forrest Gump (94) and How Green Was My Valley (41)
episode 15 Schindler's List (93) and Mrs. Miniver (42)

episode 16 Unforgiven (92) and Casablanca (43)
episode 17 Silence of the Lambs (91) and Going My Way (44)
episode 18 Dances with Wolves (90) and The Lost Weekend (45)

Driving Miss Daisy (89) and The Best Years of Our Lives (46)


Volvagia said...

Of the four of those I've seen (All but Hamlet), my personal best is A Man For All Seasons and the worst is Gentleman's Agreement. Tackle the latter first, because you can always see a great movie right after.

Michael said...

I love A Man For All Seasons. I've found it to be very rewatchable.

You've got your hands full with Gentleman's Agreement. That was tough to get through once.

Brian Darr said...

That's funny; I found A Man For All Seasons to be an uninteresting chore, and was about to comment that Nat was saving the worst of these (not the worst of all BP winners, but not so far off) for last.

Good thing you've seen The Godfather. Doing this "From the Outside In" series would play havoc with your experience with that trilogy, were you "forced" to watch The Godfather Part II first.

Volvagia said...

I know. Just once I wanted a character to tell Gregory Peck's character that what he was doing is unethical on every level. A relative picked up a "Best Pictures Double Pack" that included it along with The French Connection, All About Eve, The Sound of Music and How Green Was My Valley. How Green was pretty good, yet no Citizen Kane, French was definitely a Top 5 film of the year, but the acting nominations were total headscratchers, Eve was an actors piece, and I'd give it Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (Thelma Ritter) (Lead Actress goes to...Rashomon) and The Sound of Music...well it was a light fluff piece. Not nearly as good as Darling (a genius satirical take on the Grace Kelly story), but a respectable and fun Best Picture winner.

MrW said...

Forgive me for saying that, but it's sort of a relief you haven't seen The Godfather II yet. Makes me feel less insecure about the classics I haven't seen yet. (*cough*, Nashville, *cough*)

(And for the record, I've seen all but two BP winners, Cavalcade and Cimarron. These two are just impossible to get a hand at.)


MrW -- EEEK. See Nashville immediately. haha. it's so brilliant. it's got more brilliance in each of its hours than most filmmakers manage over several hours of their filmography. ;)

NicksFlickPicks said...

Seriously, unless you're an emergency health-care provider, or Michelle Pfeiffer's agent (I think these amount to the same thing for Nathaniel), call in sick to work and watch Nashville.

I only have Gandhi left among the winners. Derek keeps suggesting that we order a bunch of Indian food one night and watch it, yet this seems... precisely like the wrong thing to do.

Volvagia said...

Yes, Brian, A Man For All Seasons can get a bit too intellectual and slow for it's own good, and it's definitely nowhere near as influential as The Battle of Algiers, but it's not innately hypocritical like Gentleman's Agreement's, "Let's stop intolerance by being intolerant" plotline. I don't like to be prissy about everything, but I'd gauge it's the worst post '35 Best Picture winner for a mixture of slowness, stupidness and raging hypocrisy. I can understand Gigi, I can understand Around the World in 80 Days, I can understand The Greatest Show on Earth, I can understand Oliver!, but I can't understand why they thought there was enough merit in Gentleman's Agreement to even have it as a nominee.

cal roth said...

Gentlemen's Agreement - BORING, but it was a bad year for Best Picture. My BP from the nominees: Great Expectations. Best of the year: Black Narcissus

Hamlet - Kenneth Branagh's, please, not this one. My BP from the nominees: The Treasure of Sierra Madre. Best of the year: Letter From an Unkownn Woman

A Man For All Seasons - Scofield is brilliant, but where's the movie? My BP from the nominees: Who's Affraid of Virginia Woolf? Best of the year: Persona

The French Connection - absolute fucking amazing masterpiece. How did they dare? My BP from the nominees: The French Connection Best of the year: The French Connection

The Godfather, Part II - every scene is brilliant, but they don't come together as perfectly as in The Godfather. But how can you complain when all the scenes, I mean all the scenes, are this well-played, thought and executed? My BP from the nominees: The Conversation Best of the year: A Woman Under the Influence

cal roth said...

That's, of course, only counting what I've seen (but I am familiar to those years, anyway).

Volvagia said...

And of course, Cal, Friedkin himself would call you crazy. Look it up. Personally:

1971 Best Picture:

Harold and Maude * Winner
A Clockwork Orange
The French Connection
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Sunday Bloody Sunday

Andrew R. said...

I've seen all 82, an acheivement I am very proud of. I think the Academy picked the flat-out best film of the year 20.5 times. (Why 0.5? For 1977, I simply tied it between Annie Hall/Star Wars. It's the only time ever I tie an award-TOO DIFFICULT.)

Of those 5...the order you listed them is ascending in order of betterness. None of them were the best film of the year, though. They actually nominated that film 4/5 times.

1947: La Belle et la Bette (not nominated, too foreign)
1948: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (nom'd, not as Oscary as Hamlet)
1966: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (nom'd, too controversial)
1971: Clockwork Orange (nom'd, self-explanatory loss if you've seen the film)
1974: Chinatown (nom'd, defeated by a worthy opponent)

Best of the Best Pictures: The Godfather.

Worst of the Best Pictures: Broadway Melody. If you have seen it, you can relate.

MrW, of the two you have not seen...avoid them unless you're determined to finish. Cimarron is 2nd worst, Cavalcade is 3rd worst. (Actually, they flip-flop often but never beat Broadway Melody.)

Nate, I like Nashville a lot, but I think they should release a DVD pack entitled "Films With Too Damn Many Characters" and include this and Gosford Park. Every time I watch those movies, without fail, I can't keep track, give up, and go get a cheat sheet online.

Back to Oscar winners...someday, I will rank all 82 (and beyond), but I have not seen several in a very long time and rewatching them is a bit of a pain.

Amir said...

French Connection is one my most favorite best picture winners.
definitely watch that as soon as you get a chance.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Oh I'm so hoping you trash DRIVING MISS DAISY. It can be lovely and endearing as hell, but it was such a snooze. And I still can't believe Jessica Tandy won the Oscar.

cal roth said...

I stand by The French Connection. And I know there's A Clockwork Orange, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Death in Venice, Straw Dogs... But I stand by my movie. It's a masterpiece.

(And I know the discussion about Driving Miss Daisy will eventually go to Pfeiffer losing the Oscar. But was Pfeiffer really the best of the nominees? WE'll talk about it later)


um yes she was. she was was was.

MrW said...

@ Nate & Nick:
For some reason, Nashville has no Region 2 DVD release (at least none that I am aware of).

So I'll just have to wait...

@ Andrew:
I have spent 10 hours of my life (which I'll never get back) to watch the LotR-trilogy. I finished The Sound of Music, even although I hated every minute of it (well every minute that didn't have anyone singing). I even re-watched Kramer vs. Kramer when it had been only a distant memory, just to see the second time around whether all those people who think it's a fine film do have a point which I simply missed the first time around (if they do, I missed it on the second go, as well).

After enduring all this and a lot more, sitting through Cimarron and Cavalcade is a chore I'm willing to endure to finally become a completist...

Laika said...

Can I be the 'Gentleman's Agreement' apologist? I saw it recently, with the lowest possible expectations (that may in part explain my reaction). It may be a head-slapper for a best picture win, and a preachy social-message movie of a kind that seems pretty alien to modern film viewers, but I think it's a pretty intelligent and interesting film of it's type. It has a surprisingly thorough approach to the subject of anti-semitism, tackling it from as many angles as it can think of, and in the process raises a whole series of issues that may now seem old hat but were less familiar (and more discomforting) then - institutional racism, self-loathing, liberal complicity. Of course it would be a more interesting film if the ethics of Peck's actions were interrogated a little more thoroughly (you'd think his secretary, at least, would be furious), and only about half the scenes work. Still, the gradual but relentless pressure that is brought to bear on Dorothy McGuire's character carries a lot of the film's other weaknesses for me, particularly as she begins to crack in an interestingly self-pitying, self-serving way. If Peck's character had a few of the same feelings, and someone took him to task over his deception, you might really have a movie. As it is, I'd rather watch it than 'Going My Way' or 'All the King's Men' any day of the week, or any of the inflated fifties spectacles, up to and including 'Ben-Hur'.

The other four films, though, are legitimately wonderful. I'm jealous that you get to experience 'A Man for All Seasons' and 'The Godfather, pt. II' for the first time in the near future.