best picture winners and my picks for the real best picture of the year
in 2008, after watching the 80th annual academy awards, i resolved to watch all the best picture winners that i had not already seen. later that year i finished watching the remaining films and reached some conclusions:
worst slips in best
picture selection history:
1956 is a contentious year, though not to the same degree as 1958. around the world in 80 days is at least a good picture with very good production values. but history has told us that the searchers, the killing, and all that heaven allows would have been better choices.
1958 has got to be near the top. gigi won. vertigo was released that year and is considered by many to be amongst the top 5-10 films of all-time. gigi isn't an even half way decent picture yet it somehow stole the award from hitchcock. a travesty.
1961 saw west side story win which is an awful pick in my book, but for some reason there are people out there who still defend that pile of camel dung. yojimbo is roughly 87 times better than west side story. oh well.
1963 tom jones won over great escape (not nominated). great escape would seem like the odds on favorite since it's an epic war picture with a great cast, a compelling story, a touching ending and it's well-crafted. instead the academy went for some crappy british picture about a guy who gets a lot of tail.
1968 like 1958 has to be near the top of this discussion. oliver! somehow managed to win the award and left behind films like 2001: a space odyssey, once upon a time in the west, bullitt, producers, and night of the living dead (which had no chance in hell of even being nominated, but which remains a better film than any of the five that were). oliver! is a true shit pile and 2001 sits atop the sci-fi genre. pathetic.
1980 saw ordinary people winning best pic when films like raging bull, the empire strikes back, and the shining were passed up. it's not that ordinary people is extraordinarily shitty, rather that the other films (nominated or not) are clearly better.
1981 had another subpar british flick (chariots of fire) taking the prize. a superior australian flick (road warrior) would have been a better choice, so would raiders of the lost ark and das boot (best world war II film ever?).
1994 was probably the first year that i remember watching and being really disappointed with the outcome. forrest gump (hanks plays a retard: the ultimate pandering) won when pulp fiction and shawshank redemption were both far better and also nominated. not only did they pass on those two, but they didn't have the balls (or good sense) to nominate hoop dreams as best picture despite pleas from the likes of siskel and ebert. truly pathetic.
1996 brought us films like fargo and trainspotting (finally a brit pic worth actually nominating), but instead the academy fell back on a faux-brit (it's actually a usa production) period piece in the english patient. not the worst film to win best picture, but fargo was nominated and should have won.
1998 was a pretty good year in film, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the film the academy selected. i'd bet that 95% of people couldn't even guess what film won this year, not because of their ignorance so much as how forgettable the picture is. shakespeare in love is basically worthless drivel that won out over nominees like life is beautiful and saving private ryan as well as unnominated pictures such as pi (probably my pick for best of the year), rushmore, there's something about mary, and big lebowski. we knew that the academy has no sense of humor, but they proved again that they have no taste with their pick in 1998.
2002 was a tough year for the country - it was post 9/11 and people wanted to escape. that's the only thing that explains the pick of chicago as best picture in a year that saw releases like bowling for columbine, city of god, in america, road to perdition, 28 days later...(another horror flick that never had a chance at nomination, but was better than most of the pictures nominated), lord of the rings: two towers, and 25th hour.
2005 wasn't an amazing year for film, but it certainly had better films than the fake feel-goodery of crash. munich and brokeback mountain were nominees that fell short, but cache would have been my pick. walk the line, squid and the whale, and the island were also good pics that were more deserving than another paul haggis hackjob.
the 70s were good:
there were three picks in the 70s that i actually agreed with (more than any other decade). the two godfather films and one flew over the cuckoo's nest. what's more is that all the best picture winners in the 70s were at least pretty good and acceptable nominees in their respective year. kramer vs. kramer is the weakest of the ten, but is a good enough flick for me.
foreign films are
there aren't a whole lot of foreign films that have won best picture and those that have have been predominately british. the british produce good music, not good films. yes, there is a separate category for best foreign film (added in 1956), as well as best documentary feature (added in 1941), but it wasn't always like that. there have been foreign films that have had the director nominated, but the films generally get passed up. films like yojimbo, das boot, rashomon, m and ikiru (the last three were released before 1956) made my best picture list.
the academy likes
certain kinds of films:
the academy tends to pick films with epic subjects, movies with war as a backdrop, films with musical numbers (not as true in more recent history), sad stories, and films that take place during different time periods. the academy isn't real smitten with comedies, action flicks, or horror films; apparently those films just aren't serious enough for them.