I used to have this Academy Award Best Picture poster on my wall in college–it collects the posters of all the Best Pictures. (Mine stopped in 1985 with Out of Africa, because I was Doogie Howser-ing it up in college when I was seven years old. Uh huh, yep…)
I don’t really have a big dog in the Oscar hunt this year. I like most of the 10 Best Picture nominees (some more than others), but my two hands-down favorites–True Grit and Winter’s Bone–have zero chance of taking home the gold.
You can see and compete against Erika and my 2011 Oscar predictions over at the redbox Awards Show game on Facebook. (We had to make our picks the morning of the nominations, so yeah I’m probably going to get burned on my Melissa Leo choice.)
So with the Big Show coming up Sunday night, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back over some of my favorite Oscar Best Pictures, and some of my least favorite. In order to keep the lists somewhat manageable, I’ve limited them to films that have won since year of my birth, 19… mumblemumble. Take a gander below and see if you agree or disagree.
(And feel free to comment on my lifelong leaning toward dark, often violent tales versus domestic melodrama. There are also a couple films I liked a lot when they came out and won, but have since cooled on with repeated viewings over the years: namely, Titanic and American Beauty.)
The uplifting tale of Sir Thomas More, who faces the great hardship of opposing Henry VIII’s split from the Catholic Church and having Robert Shaw bellow at him a lot. He triumphs by having his head cut off.
The uplifting tale of General George S. Patton, who faces the great hardship of fighting the Axis armies in North Africa and Europe. He triumphs by giving quotable speeches, slapping soldiers, and swearing at both the Germans and the British.
The uplifting tale of Michael Corleone, who faces the great hardship of out-maneuvering the five New York families, facing his own crumbling morality, and trying to understand what Marlon Brando is saying with those cotton balls in his mouth. He triumphs by having Moe Green shot in the eye during a massage.
The uplifting tale of Fredo Corleone, who faces the great hardship of trying to catch fish on Lake Tahoe. He triumphs by getting shot in the back of the head at the order of his brother.
The uplifting tale of R.P. MacMurphy, who faces the great hardship of Nurse Ratched and the authoritarian society she represents. He triumphs by getting lobotomized and then mercy smothered by a large Native American. But in a very inspiring way.
The uplifting tale of Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who face the great hardship of one of them being an FBI trainee and the other a suave, sophisticated serial killer. They triumph by working together to catch a man who seems very confused about where his man parts are supposed go.
The uplifting tale of William Munny, who faces the great hardships of someone cutting up whores, a town sheriff who’s building a house, and a past spent killing women and children. He triumphs by giving the townsfolk an inspirational speech about how if they don’t take better care of their whores he’s going to kill every one of the sons-a-bitches, kill their families, and burn their houses down.
The uplifting tale of Will Shakespeare, who faces the great hardship of trying to write a hit play about Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. He triumphs by falling in love with Gwyneth Paltrow while she’s dressed up like a young man.
The uplifting tale of Frodo Baggins, who faces the great hardship of trying to singlehandedly keep all of Middle Earth from falling into darkness and evil. He triumphs by throwing some jewelry into a volcano.
The uplifting tale of Anton Chigurh, who faces the great hardship of trying to retrieve missing drug money using only a cattle stunbolt gun and a bowl haircut. He triumphs by being impossible to kill while killing everyone else.
Now comes the controversial part! The following are Best Picture winners I personally find to be a mix of pandering, overwrought, manipulative, shallow, overrated, or just plain dull. I don’t have room to go into all my reasons below, but call me out in the comments section and I’ll gladly elaborate on why these films made the list.
Out of Africa
Driving Miss Daisy
Dances With Wolves
The English Patient
A Beautiful Mind
Million Dollar Baby
Okay, let’s hear your thoughts below!
Some of this year’s Best Picture nominees available from redbox:
- The Social Network on DVD and Blu-ray
- Inception on DVD and Blu-ray
- Toy Story 3 on DVD and Blu-ray
- Winter’s Bone on DVD and Blu-ray
- The Kids Are All Right
Recent Best Picture winners available from redbox: