Friday, January 20, 2012

Listology # 4: Top 10 Best Best Picture Oscar Winners

Oscar nominations will be unveiled next week. Cinephiles like me have often criticized and bash the Oscars for mediocre, middlebrow choices and often missing the mark on what are considered truly great films. The list of great films not even NOMINATED for an Oscar is frankly embarrassing to say the least. But the Academy Awards have been around for 84 years and they do occasionally get it right. Here are 10 films, based on what I've seen among the Best Picture winners, I feel are the Best Best Picture Oscar winners of all time in chronological order.

 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927, F.W. Murnau)

During the first Academy Awards, there were actually two Best Picture winners. Although Wings is often credited as the first Best Picture winner, this one is technically a co-winner because Wings is Best Production while this won as Best Artistic Achievement. It is indeed one of German director Murnau's masterpieces. It's a rather melodramatic story about the love story between a couple but so stunningly made, it really is an artistic achievement in cinema.

Rebecca (1940, Alfred Hitchcock)

One of the most retarded things the Academy has ever done is not give a Best Director Oscar to the Master himself, Alfred Hitchcock but one of his films did manage to win Best Picture and that's Rebecca. It may not be the best Alfred Hitchcock film but it's definitely in the Top 8, easily. Mrs. Danvers is probably one of the best Hitchcock villains of all time.

Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)

Quite a few films that win Best Picture often become only remembered for doing just that: winning the Best Picture Oscar. But not this film. This film is still fondly remembered and widely regarded as it was when it was first released, perhaps even more so. Extremely quotable, superbly acted and frankly one of the most romantic movies ever made. It's a real classic.

The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)

Speaking of romantic movies, this is another one of them. Billy Wilder has been known to create sardonic and often funny films. It's wonderful that a contemporary comedy like this would manage to win Best Picture, It's sharply written and wonderfully acted. It is one of those rare comedies that manage to win.

The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)

Yet another Best Picture winner that the Academy got right. Until now, it's still revered as a classic and it's one of my favorites. The sequel is about as good as also won Best Picture.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)

Like comedy, horror is another genre that's sorely underrepresented at the Oscars. So it's kind of amazing that this gruesome but absolutely gripping, superbly acted horror-thriller manage not only to win Best Picture but sweep the top awards: Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay. It instantly made Hannibal Lecter played by Anthony Hopkins one of the most iconic big-screen characters of all time.

Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)
Only three Westerns have won Best Picture Oscar and this is the best among them (Cimarron and Dances with Wolves are the other two). Clint Eastwood has made a name for himself as one of the great American filmmakers and this film is one of his masterpieces. One of the more exemplary choices made by the Academy.

 Schindler's List (1993, Steven Spielberg)

The Academy was in a hot streak during the early '90s, no? After so many years, director Steven Spielberg finally earned respect and plaudits for turning a dead serious Holocaust drama. It may not be the best Holocaust movie ever made but it's certainly the one that opened my eyes to it. It's an incredible, mature piece of work and worthy of being called the best of the year.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003, Peter Jackson)

Fantasy is another genre that gets very little respect from the Oscars. But not this year. Peter Jackson's monumental achievement of filming J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece swept the Oscars that year and in my opinion, deservedly. 

No Country for Old Men (2007, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)

Though I may slightly prefer There Will Be Blood that year, the Coen Brothers are among my favorite filmmakers and I have trouble deciding between this and Fargo as my favorite Coen Brothers film. I've seen this three times and it never ceases to amaze me. It's bleak and methodically paced but it's such a great film and will probably hold up for years to come.

Honorable mentions: All About Eve (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean),  The French Connection (1971, William Friedkin), The Godfather Part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola), Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen),.


Bersercules said...

I loved No Country For Old Men" but There Will Be Blood was far better as far as I'm conserned!

Thanks for the list! There was a few movies I never heard of I'm gonna have to track down!

MRanthrope said...

great list. I remember seeing the VHS cover of Rebecca all the time when I was a little kid. It was one of my mom's first VHS purchases. Still haven't seen it though.

Awesome choices btw.

YeamieWaffles said...

This is an amazing list man. All of these are great films, especially Rebecca, I loved it.

Anonymous said...

Schindler's List is one of my favorite films.

Mark said...

People will always complain about awards but it is nice when the truly deserving get one.

God King said...

I like Lord of the Rings best from that list!
Btw, cool blog, following!

The Angry Lurker said...

There are some gems there and 3 I haven't seen....

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Nice roundup, I would be confused if Casablanca wasn't included, but you covered all the bases.

That Bastard From Bellingham said...

You got some great choices her, bro, but I gotta point out that some years the Oscars are left with nothing BUT crap to choose from (at least in the past twenty years or so).

Well, maybe not THAT bad, but outside of There Will Be Blood (doooono't get it twisted, No Country For Old Men was awesome, but Chirugh or however you spell that assassin's name...dude just cinched it for me) and a couple of others, but seriously what movies in the past fifteen years scream award-worthy...that actually even get NOMINATED, let alone the gold?

Yeah naw, award shows like the Oscar's or Spike T.V.'s Video Game Awards (YOU OUGHTA KNOOOOWWWW I WOULD'VE GONE THERE!) are just all that much more malarkey, further attempts at commercializing what should be an honorable art form.

That reminds me, 'cuz of you I have Bergman's "Persona" on my Netflix list. Currently I have no way of watching Netflix, but the moment I get a current-gen system or figure out what's goin' on with my 'puter it's the first thing I'm watchin'.

justjoe said...

Great list. Out of all these, I have yet to see Sunrise or Rebecca. But I'm sure I'll look into them now!

choms said...

omg ;D great movies :D