Oscar

DID THE ACADEMY GET THE BEST PICTURE RIGHT?

I realized that with retirement, I could really catch up on the best movies.  Not knowing where to begin, I have decided to pick random years and watch all the Oscar Best Picture nominees.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Have you ever wondered if the Academy got it right?  I would love to hear your opinions.

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Next year reviewed to be determined

2002 Best Picture Winner: Chicago



The reason I am late with this month’s review is due to the Lord of the Rings.  I procrastinated in watching the film.  I am not a sci fi/fantasy fan, and still am not after watching the film.  I do realize the film was a blockbuster, the cinematography was incredible, the integration of special effects and animation worth seeing.  The performances in The Hours were stellar but watching the stories of these three women unfold did not seem to involve or entertain me. The Gangs of New York was a grotesque look at democracy with an amazing cast (Daniel Day Lewis’ character, Bill the Butcher, is unforgettable).  The movie is long and discomforting. Then there is Chicago which is a fun, well paced musical revue.  Should it have won? My choice for 2002 would be The Pianist which tells the story of how Adrien Brody (starring as our protagonist) survived WWII by hiding in Warsaw with a bit of luck, positivity and assistance from the Polish resistance.  In some ways the film is detached from the reality of WWII since so many did not survive, but if you pull in director Polanski’s survival and his perspective, we see the portrayal of an atypical ending for a WWII Jew.

1970 Best Picture Winner: Patton



What an interesting year, 1970, was for nominees. MASH was a joy to rewatch, I loved everything about the film.  Funny and poignant, the theme song you just can't get out of your head, and memories of watching the TV spinoff Monday nights with the family.  Love Story, too, has memories, seeing the movie with friends, learning to play the theme song on the piano and that quote "Love means never having to say you are sorry".  I had forgotten about Airport, probably an impactful action film at the time, but almost comical when stacked up against Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988).  Though enjoyable and enduring, these three films are not Oscar candidates. I had never seen Patton.  Billed as the greatest war movie ever, I think I would take issue.  The battle scenes pale in comparison to so many since, and outside of the opening monologue, Patton was portrayed as petty and competitive at a time when cooperation was most needed.  I think Five Easy Pieces was a better choice for Best Picture.  A young Jack Nicholson gave an amazing portrayal of an unforgettable character, Bobby Dupea, an oil rig worker hiding a privileged youth as a piano prodigy.  The film was relevant and engaging as we watch Bobby Dupea confront the angst of his current and past life with additional great performances by Karen Black and Susan Anspach.

1965 Best Picture Winner: Sound of Music

What an interesting year for pictures.  I chose 1965 because the Sound of Music was making its annual TV presentation.  I love Julie Andrews and the songs.  The soundtrack, rather than the movie, appeals.  The story is trite in its family portrayal, inaccurate in its facts of the von Trapps, and dismissive of Nazi occupied Austria.  The movie's commercial success, however, made the contenders pale.  Jason Robards is a nonconformist in 1000 Clowns (a difficult film to find). Although moments are funny and Robard's performance excellent, I found no affinity for the character. Ship of Fools had a stellar cast and, I believe, was meant to present the allegory of the same name, but failed in its overt script and presentation.  Julie Christie, in Darling, is told by one of her lovers "Your idea of fidelity is not having more than one man in your bed at the same time" as she uses men to climb the ladder.  This quote sums up a trendy 1960s movie that is now sorely out of touch.  Dr. Zhivago highlights David Lean's artistry and beautiful cinematography, while presenting a cohesive story.  Like the Sound of Music, the period politics are a sideshow amid developing relationships, but I found Dr. Zhivago sweepingly romantic and still current. I think the Oscars had it wrong in 1965.

1989 Best Picture Winner: Driving Miss Daisy



Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman were fabulous in Driving Miss Daisy but the movie did not resonate with me 30+ years after its making. Daniel Day Lewis deservedly won the Best Actor in the tortured My Left Foot. Robin Williams was a joy again to see in Dead Poets Society, however the movie now feels like just another coming of age film. Field of Dreams was a surprise delight in its continued ability to please; well worth the re-watch.  Oliver Stone's Born on the 4th of July, however, seemed the most powerful and relevant to me now out of the five contenders.  Issues presented in the film are still current, and potently shown.  Brutally honest, the movie has one premise, even the most patriotic can change their mind about Vietnam.  Tom Cruise was amazing in the lead role.



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