Lost in the Movies: October Oscars

October Oscars

Dean Treadway let me off the hook tonight; rather than sit down for a few hours to watch a movie and then knock off a lengthy response, I can take him up on his meme. As a party trick (no, not that one), I've been known to spout Best Picture winners off the top of my head: "1947?" "Gentleman's Agreement!" "1929?" "Do you mean 1928/29 or 1929/30?" "1920?" "Trick question! There were no Oscars in 1920!" Actually, I haven't seen many of the winners, so perhaps I'm not fully qualified to say who should have won, but then again, the idiots over at the Academy have shamed themselves repeatedly, so what's to stop me? The list resides after the jump.

1927: The General
1928: The Passion of Joan of Arc
1929: The Man With a Movie Camera
1930: All Quiet on the Western Front
1931: City Lights
1932: Scarface
1933: Duck Soup
1934: It Happened One Night
1935: Top Hat
1936: Dodsworth
1937: Grand Illusion
1938: The Adventures of Robin Hood
1939: The Wizard of Oz
1940: Fantasia
1941: Citizen Kane
1942: Casablanca
1943: Day of Wrath
1944: Henry V
1945: Children of Paradise
1946: It's a Wonderful Life
1947: Kiss of Death
1948: Bicycle Thieves
1949: The Third Man
1950: Sunset Boulevard
1951: A Streetcar Named Desire
1952: Singin' in the Rain
1953: Ugetsu
1954: On the Waterfront
1955: Kiss Me Deadly
1956: The Searchers
1957: The Nights of Cabiria
1958: Vertigo
1959: The World of Apu
1960: The Virgin Spring
1961: Il Posto
1962: Lawrence of Arabia
1963: 8 1/2
1964: Band of Outsiders
1965: Chimes at Midnight
1966: Masculin Feminin
1967: The Graduate
1968: 2001 - A Space Odyssey
1969: Easy Rider
1970: Gimme Shelter
1971: Out 1
1972: The Godfather
1973: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
1974: The Godfather Part II
1975: Mirror
1976: Taxi Driver
1977: Star Wars
1978: The Deer Hunter
1979: Apocalypse Now
1980: Raging Bull
1981: My Dinner with Andre
1982: E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
1983: Sans Soleil
1984: Stranger Than Paradise
1985: Mishima - A Life in Four Chapters
1986: God's Country
1987: The Street of Crocodiles
1988: Grave of the Fireflies
1989: The Decalogue
1990: Goodfellas
1991: JFK
1992: The Last of the Mohicans
1993: Schindler's List
1994: Hoop Dreams
1995: La haine
1996: Secrets & Lies
1997: Lost Highway
1998: The Big Lebowski
1999: The first season of The Sopranos
2000: In the Mood for Love
2001: Mulholland Drive
2002: Bus 174
2003: Lost in Translation
2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005: Jarhead
2006: Iraq in Fragments
2007: No Country for Old Men

As you can see, Dean allowed for the inclusion of TV movies, short films, documentaries, foreign films, and other excuses not to pick a movie that would have actually been eligible for Best Picture (well, OK, foreign films technically can get nominated, but how often does that happen)? This thankfully allowed me some wiggle room when needed. Sometimes I excluded films which are among my all-time favorites (Pandora's Box, White Heat, Breakfast at Tiffany's) because their greatness relies overwhelmingly (though certainly not exclusively) on their star, and there was another classic from that year which whose great elements formed more of a whole.

I do feel I kind of chickened out with '94, where Pulp Fiction was clearly the most groundbreaking though its malign influence has (rather unfairly) soured me on rewarding it, while Forrest Gump is a movie I can watch over and over again - anytime it's on TV I'll stick with it even though there's already a VHS and DVD copy in my home; nonetheless, entertainment and actual Oscar aside Pulp was clearly the most innovative, groundbreaking, artfully crafted movie of the year (yes, Virginia, Tarantino once had discipline). Nonetheless, Hoop Dreams was a great doc, and one I will be revisiting in the next few days.

Initially, I placed Marty atop '55 and Scarface atop '83. They're undoubtedly my favorites of those respective years, but in retrospect, probably not the "BEST" (trumpet fanfare). So I replaced them with excellent films which are perhaps a little more well-rounded. There's probably a good case that The New World (which Dean calls the best film of the decade) is a more deserving Best Picture than Jarhead, but the jury - for me at least - is still out on the former, and the latter was criminally underrated and deserves a shout-out. On the other hand, I concede that Eternal Sunshine is an incredibly unique and inventive movie, and so I gave it the "Best Picture" it deserved, but I have to admit my heart is really with the also-great HBO film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. Oh well.

So, who's next? Consider yourself tagged.


Graham said...

Well, maybe I'll think about joining this meme, but it sounds epic to me. In other news, I just wrote a long post about best/favorite and asked for peoples' opinions on it, and didn't hear much on the subject. I'd love to hear how you distinguish between favorite and best - ie what does "well-rounded" mean?

Joel Bocko said...


I will definitely check it out. I keep meaning to rampage through the blogosphere, visiting all the blogs on my favorites list, but I never make it past the first few (usually the ones like House Next Door and Some Came Running, which are updated frequently) and hence keep falling behind. If only I got paid to do this...

Graham said...

Ouch. Jabbing at me for not posting regularly. It hurts, it hurts!

Joel Bocko said...

No, ha ha, that wasn't the intention. Compared to Glenn Kenny & the folks at House, we all post slowly! And anyway, when I reach 100 posts I will probably be slowing down the pace.

James Hansen said...

Cool list...I'll try and put something together over the coming days. I actually went on a Best PIcture rampage and have now seen every winner except for "Wings", which I own on DVD. Just can't get excited to watch it even though I am sure I'll enjoy it when I do. Not that that will make me anymore of an authority on the issue or anything. But it would at least be interesting to note which ones I (or anyone else) still think actually deserved to win.

Joel Bocko said...

Wings was actually very entertaining - and I really like a lot of William Wellman's films...pretty much all of the ones I've seen, actually. (I saw a Richard Schickel-produced documentary on him on TCM once and it sparked an interest.)

I look forward to that list.

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