Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meme Challenge: What Should Have Won Best Picture...

So it's getting close to Oscar season--it's that magic time when we know something's coming up, we just don't know what. (My October picks for the Best Picture nominees, based on absolutely nothing but marketing bullshit, cast and crew pedigrees, and gut feelings: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Gran Torino, Milk, Revolutionary Road and The Wrestler. However, we should remember that one or more of these could be a turd and I'll have to swoop in with something else.)

Anyway, I recently took a notion to compose a list of what should have won Best Picture from 1927 onwards. And I've decided to challenge some of my fine fellow LAMB (Large Association of Movie Blogs) members to come up with a better, more equitable list. All rules and popular notions of what traditionally constitutes an "Oscar winner" are out the window. Foreign films, TV movies, little-known films, trash movies, cartoons, documentaries and shorts are all okay in my book as Best Picture. Also, I counsel this to anyone who takes the challenge: don't worry about what is the "Best"--just worry about what film is your favorite of the year, out of the ones you've seen. And I'd like a final count as to how many of your picks actually won Best Picture at that year's awards ceremony.

Without further delay, my winners are:

1927: Napoleon (Abel Gance)
1928: La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (Carl Dreyer)
1929: Steamboat Bill Jr. (Buster Keaton)
1930: Pandora’s Box (G.W. Pabst)
1931: City Lights (Charlie Chaplin)
1932: Scarface (Howard Hawks)
1933: Duck Soup (Leo McCarey)
1934: Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks)
1935: Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale)
1936: Fury (Fritz Lang)
1937: Lost Horizon (Frank Capra)
1938: The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz)
1939: Gone With The Wind (Victor Fleming)
1940: The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford)
1941: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
1942: The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles)
1943: Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock)
1944: Meet Me In St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli)
1945: They Were Expendable (John Ford)
1946: It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)
1947: Great Expectations (David Lean)
1948: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston)
1949: The Set-Up (Robert Wise)
1950: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder)
1951: A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan)
1952: High Noon (Fred Zinnemann)
1953: Shane (George Stevens)
1954: Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock)
1955: Kiss Me, Deadly (Robert Aldrich)
1956: Giant (George Stevens)
1957: Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick)
1958: Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)
1959: The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut)
1960: Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
1961: West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins)
1962: Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)
1963: Hud (Martin Ritt)
1964: Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick)
1965: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy)
1966: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols)
1967: Playtime (Jacques Tati)
1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
1969: The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)
1970: M.A.S.H. (Robert Altman)
1971: The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich)
1972: The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)
1973: American Graffiti (George Lucas)
1974: Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
1975: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman)
1976: Network (Sidney Lumet) (note: all five of the nominees deserved to win–Rocky, All The President’s Men, Taxi Driver and Bound for Glory–also add Seven Beauties to the mix and you got a tough year).
1977: Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
1978: The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)
1979: A Little Romance (George Roy Hill) (note: here are the 80 best/most notable films of 1979: A Little Romance, Manhattan, Breaking Away, Best Boy, Alien, Oblomov, Chilly Scenes of Winter, Apocalypse Now, Kramer Vs. Kramer, The Tin Drum, All That Jazz, Being There, Over The Edge, Mad Max, The Silent Partner, Norma Rae, Going in Style, The Black Stallion, The Onion Field, The Warriors, The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Hair, Escape from Alcatraz, Saint Jack, The China Syndrome, My Brilliant Career, Vengence is Mine, Rich Kids, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Stalker, That Sinking Feeling, Starting Over, 1941, Rock and Roll High School, Yanks, North Dallas Forty, The Muppet Movie, Quadrophenia, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Phantasm, Hardcore, The In-Laws, Richard Pryor Live in Concert, Time After Time, Real Life, Rocky II, The Kids Are Alright, 10, The Rose, Nosferatu The Vampire, The Europeans, La Cage Aux Folles, Murder by Decree, Scum, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, And Justice for All, Last Embrace, Woyzeck, The Changeling, The Brood, The Jerk, Meatballs, Love on the Run, The Legacy, Rust Never Sleeps, The Great Train Robbery, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, The Lady in Red, Star Trek The Motion Picture, David, Zombie, Caligula, The Cat and the Canary, The Champ, Driller Killer, Cannibal Holocaust, The Odd Angry Shot, To Forget Venice, Love at First Bite and The Black Hole. Unquestionably the best movie year of the last 50 years–something excellent for everyone.)
1980: Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese)
1981: Reds (Warren Beatty)
1982: Das Boot (Wolfgang Petersen)
1983: Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman)
1984: The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe)
1985: Brazil (Terry Gilliam)
1986: Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
1987: Matewan (John Sayles)
1988: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman)
1989: Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee)
1990: GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese)
1991: Barton Fink (Joel and Ethan Coen)
1992: Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
1993: Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg)
1994: Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
1995: Toy Story (John Lasseter)
1996: Breaking the Waves (Lars Von Trier)
1997: The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan)
1998: Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg)
1999: Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson) (note: 1999 was another great movie year: Magnolia, Election, Toy Story 2, Eyes Wide Shut, The Insider, Three Kings, The Straight Story, Fight Club, Topsy-Turvy, The Matrix, Being John Malkovich, Titus, American Beauty, Sweet and Lowdown, The Iron Giant, Office Space, American Movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Sixth Sense, Buena Vista Social Club, Hands on a Hard Body, The Cider House Rules, Analyze This, The Blair Witch Project, eXistenZ, The End of the Affair, Grass, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Boys Don’t Cry, Go, Bringing Out The Dead, The Limey, Run Lola Run, Judy Berlin, Cookie’s Fortune, October Sky, Galaxy Quest, Girl on the Bridge, All About My Mother, Head On, An Ideal Husband, Felicia’s Journey, The Red Violin, One Day in September, A Map of the World, Twin Falls Idaho, Sugar Town, Notting Hill, Ratcatcher, SLC Punk, East-West, South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut, Sleepy Hollow, The Hurricane, Stir of Echoes, Cruel Intentions, Any Given Sunday, Julian Donkey-Boy, Two Hands, Dogma, and the first season of The Sopranos.)
2000: You Can Count On Me (Kenneth Lonergan)
2001: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
2002: Russian Ark (Alexandr Sokurov)
2003: Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
2004: Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)
2005: The New World (Terrence Malick)
2006: The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
2007: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominick)
2008: The Fall (Tarsem Singh)
2009: Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
2010: Greenberg (Noah Baumbach)
2011: The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)

I was surprised to see that, given that I like the institution that the Academy Awards has always been, I only picked nine movies that actually won Best Picture for their respective years: Gone With The Wind, West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, Unforgiven, Schindler's List, and Million Dollar Baby. This makes the 1970s the most accurate decade, in my book, for the Academy's collective tastes.

I suppose I should pick a few people to challenge: Okay, how about Tony at Cinema Viewfinder, T.S. at Screen Savour, James Hansen at Out 1, Jose at The World's Best Films, Sarah at Sarahnomics, and MovieMan at The Dancing Image. I'll convert these site names into links once they complete their challenge, should they decide to take it. (It's a harder task than it looks, but it's also very rewarding, as what you end up with is a unique, one-stop-shopping list that reflects your personal view of movie history and its value.) Good luck, all!


T.S. said...

Dean! You rocked my world until 1999 ... then that's where you and I could probably get into fisticuffs. Ha.

Absolutely great list. I should try my hand at one of these some time. Maybe we could get a meme going?

Joel Bocko said...

Dean, I too had trouble with 1999, a year I didn't care for as much as you (I eventualy combed your list for an appropriate title and was reduced to picking a whole season of television).

Anyway, my list is up and running, check it out & let me know what you think.

Tony Dayoub said...

My list is forthcoming, but I gotta tell you... I think these lists are HIGHLY subjective, especially since I (and others) are not equipped to pontificate on the vast array of films that might otherwise be eligible.

My own deficiencies are in the foreign film area, as well as silents.

James Hansen said...

Fianlly put together my own list. I changed the rules a little though. This sure takes a long time to do! Kudos on this great idea. Here's my list (with some challenges for possible lists to come/spread around.)

Anonymous said...

it took me long enough, but i did it!