Friday, April 25, 2014

Ranking the Best Pictures of the 1940's

As I have seen all the films nominated during the 1940's, first I will rank the ten best pictures and a later post will rank all seventy films nominated during that decade.

10. All The King's Men (1949) - The last of the muckraking films of the decade to win.  Loosely based on the life of Huey Long former governor of Louisiana, it shows a hard working man becoming a corrupt politician.  A good film but if this happened today he would end up getting a reality show.

9. Gentleman's Agreement (1947) - Another great muckraking film of the time, rather dated today.  Gregory Peck takes on anti-semitism by changing his last name and tries to get into hotels and other places where Jewish people were not allowed.  Dean Stockwell is his son who gets beaten up at school because the kids think he's Jewish.  In the late 1940's this was a big issue, not so much today.

8. Rebecca (1940) - A Hitchcock classic, the only one to win best picture, but not may favorite Hitchcock movie.  Laurence Olivier is great in this film, as he is in any film, but it seems rather mild compared to other mysteries.  Rare occurrence for a director to have two of their films nominated in one year, the only other person that comes to mind is Francis Ford Coppola in 1974.

7. The Lost Weekend (1945) - And another muckraking film this time showing the evils of alcohol.  Ray Milland's only Oscar, and it was a better acting role than the one having his head sewn onto Rosey Greer.  Very close I may add.  Should of ranked lower but the giant bat that attacks Ray Milland bumped it up one spot.

6. Hamlet (1948) - Laurence Olivier's version of the Shakespeare play is probably the most accurate.  You feel like you are in Denmark.  Rather long, and can be a bit stuffy, but the best version of this play and probably the best Shakespeare movie adaption.

5. Going My Way (1944) - The happy go lucky film that is just a nice film.  Made during WWII it was the type of film to make people feel better.  Good songs, decent acting, just a nice film, good enough to be in the middle of the pack.

4. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - A very powerful drama about life after WWII.  Great acting helps this film, but it was a product of it's time.  One of the best movies about people dealing with the war and how soldiers had to adapt coming back to normal society.

3. Mrs. Miniver(1942) - One of the finest films made about life during WWII and a bit of a propaganda movie.  This is common for films made during the war as opposed those made after.  Great acting, intense drama and a strong political message make it one of the best films of the decade.

2. How Green Was My Valley (1941) - The film that beat out Citizen Kane.  Even though historically it is one of the most disappointing upsets, this is clearly the second best film of the year and it is a very good movie.  The only reason why it gets criticized is because of Citizen Kane.

1. Casablanca (1943) - And the best best picture of the decade, the classic Casablanca, one of the top of all time of those that won.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The End Of Another Decade

I have now completed another decade, as well as some films from the recent year and finally get to the biggest debate of our lifetime, which was the best film of 1980?  But for now, let's jump into what I've seen as I inch that much closer to five hundred films.

One Foot In Heaven (1941) - The Methodist's Going My Way.  Alright no one has ever said that before, but I think it fits.  A bio-pic about a Canadian minister traveling the United States building churches and spreading the gospel.  Well acted by Fredric March, it's an enjoyable film but a bit preachy, but it did have a council of clergymen as advisers for the film, so that is to be expected.

And this closes out 1941, as well as the entire decade.  I will rank the top ten films in another post and after that one all seventy films in another.  But for the year that has been closed out, Citizen Kane was robbed of it's great honor of being the best picture for that year.  Second would be How Green Was My Valley because it was a great film.  It's just not better than Citizen Kane.  Third is The Maltese Falcon since it is such a good film noir movie.  Fourth is Blossoms In The Dust another great film and closely followed by Sergeant York another classic.  For sixth is Hold Back The Dawn a well done romantic drama.  Seventh goes to Here Comes Mr. Jordan a nice film that just edged out Suspicion a good Hitchcock film that is eight.  Ninth would be One Foot In Heaven and tenth is The Little Foxes, not that it was a bad movie, just someone had to finish last.  Overall a great year for movies.

The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) - Not so much a movie as more of a clip show of famous acts under contract with MGM.  Full of comedy bits, dramatic skits, songs, dancing and fanfare, it's a movie that took a vaudeville type of show and put it on film.  It's entertaining but more interesting to watch a film from this era, not too many films from the 1920's still around and even less get shown.

This being the third film I've seen for this year, it ranks third.  Not that it was bad, but it's not really a movie.  The Broadway Melody is still the top runner with In Old Arizona still second.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - Although I did see this before the Oscars were announced, I knew it wasn't going to win best picture.  A good Scorsese film, but not in his superb class of movies.  Done in a similiar way to Goodfellas, it covers the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort in the late 80's and the 90's in Wall Street.  As someone who interned back in the late 80's in the financial district, there was a lot that I remembered from watching this film, there was a good deal of accuracy in the mood of that era.  Great acting from Leonardo DiCarpio who didn't win an Oscar, but was real close in my opinion.  Rather long and some editing could have helped, but overall a really good film that deservied to be nominated.

This is the sixth film I saw of nine.  It would fall in before Nebraska and after Dallas Buyers Club for fifth.  Even though it didn't take home any Oscars, it is one of the five best of the year, doubt it would fall lower.

Philomena (2013) - The 490th film I have seen.  Another bio-pic about a woman who tries to find her child that she gave up for adoption against her will in the 1950's after hiding the secret for fifty years.  She ends up traveling to America with a reporter who is writing up her story as she tries to track down her son.  A rather good film, not too long, somewhat simple, but much better than I though it would be.

And this is the seventh film for the year, leaving only two left.  Pretty rare for me to see so many films before the best picture was announced, but winning those contests at my local movie theater has paid off.  This film would rank right after The Wolf of Wall Street and in front of Nebraska to be sixth, pushing Nebraska back to seventh.

Tess (1980) - An adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles that just isn't worth watching.  It goes on forever, the story is painful to watch, as well as most of the acting.  Nice cinematography, but not much could save this film.  Even if you had a different director than the unhuman animal who did direct it, still couldn't make this a watchable film.

But putting this horrible film aside, comes the big moment.  Which film was the best film of 1980?  I'll build the suspense and count backwards.  Sixth was Tess (I know only five films were nominated, hang in there), fifth was blank because watching a wall for 186 minutes is more enjoyable than that time spent watching Tess.  Fourth is Coal Miner's Daughter, a very good film but couldn't compete with the top films.  Third, to no surprise is The Elephant Man a very good film.  It now comes down to Ordinary People and Raging Bull.

A few things will have to be compared here to determine which was better.  As for the director Robert Redford won, but are you going to say he's a better director than Martin Scorsese?  Call that one a draw.  For the actor it's Donald Sutherland against Robert De Niro, no contest since De Niro won that easily.  For the actress Mary Tyler Moore was better than any actress in Raging Bull.  Supporting Actor is a challenge between Joe Pesci and Timothy Hutton.  Judd Hursch was nominated too and Timothy Hutton still won, advantage Ordinary People.  Ordinary People did win adaopted screen play, Raging Bull won best editing.  Seeing how it's still somewhat tied, the tiebreaker will have to be the technical items like sound, cinematography, costume design.  That Raging Bull is the clear winner.  And while Ordinary People is still a great film, Raging Bull is considered a modern day classic, always getting ranked in top movie lists.

So the second best film of 1980 was Ordinary People.  The best film of the year, and the best of the decade, which was robbed of an Oscar, Raging Bull.

Ranking The Nominated Pictures of the 2000's

So since I have finished the decade of the 2000's, and have ranked the ten best pictures, the next step was to rank all of the films during the decade.

55. Good Night and Good Luck (2005) - Good luck trying to watch this film.  It is boring, goes nowhere and doesn't accomplish anything.  But it was filmed in black and white, oh wait that didn't help, it still sucked.

54. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) - Why was this film nominated?  You could keep extrapolating until you get to why was it even made, but bad films are made all of the time.  But no one I know likes this film, it is a train wreck, but not in a interesting way.  More in a bloody mess type of way.  Avoid it, not worth watching.

53. Moulin Rouge! (2001) - A flaming cat turd of a film from Baz Luhrmann, but you shouldn't be surprised.  This film is a nightmare to watch unless you are a fourteen year old girl, then it's the greatest movie you've ever seen.  Not to be a spoiler, but this is pretty much standard for all of his films.  Somehow this one was nominated.

52. The Hurt Locker (2009) - Another one of those films that years from now people will scratch their heads and say why did this win?  And anyone who was alive would shrug their shoulders and not have an answer.  Not really a good war film either but the only one, so far, to win based on the Iraqi war.

51. Seabiscuit (2003) - A rather boring film, unless you love horse racing history, then you would find it a rather boring film.  Goes on way too long and is filled with a lot of mindless unnecessary political commentary in between the story.  Another of those why did this get nominated?

50. In the Bedroom (2001) - If you take away the three main actor and actresses, you have a movie that would make paint drying really exciting.  Even with the top three stars it is still a very mind numbing film that was not very good.

49. Inglourious Bastards (2009) - The only good thing about this film is Christoph Waltz. Brad Pitt isn't too bad, a bit over the top, but that is what his character is.  Otherwise this is a nightmare of a film to watch and unnecessarily too long.

48. Michael Clayton (2007) - Very stylish film that seems confusing and doesn't seem to have much of a plot, story, direction or purpose.  One of those films that people will forget years from now, if they haven't already.

47. Atonement (2007) - A standard English film that is fine, but not Oscar worthy.  The only claim to fame is the one continuous scene on the beach at Dunkirk, but even that wasn't factually correct either. Or most of the film too.

46. An Education (2009) - Just like the previous film, English movies, with rare exception, are still some of the weakest films made. This fell into the first expanded year of nominees, so it got more exposure than if it came out years earlier.  Yet still one of the weaker films that got nominated during the decade.

45. Finding Neverland (2004) - A film that attempts to be a bio-pic which is really as far from the truth as you can get in a film based on historical events.  Rather well acted and an enjoyable film, but clearly not a best picture.

44. Avatar (2009) - One of the greatest special effects film ever made.  The only problem is that they ran out of money on the special effects and couldn't pay someone to write a screenplay.  So you get a film that is amazing to watch and painful to try and follow the story.

43. Brokeback Mountain (2005) - If this film wasn't about two men involved in the relationship, would it have been nominated?  The answer is simple, no it would not.  So is it a worthy film for nomination?  Only because of the controversial subject matter did it get attention.  That is not what makes up a Oscar worthy film, but it was very well acted so it ranks a bit higher than other movies nominated from the decade.

42. Lost in Translation (2003) - A quirky film, rather stylish, but still not much meat to it.  Bill Murray was good in the lead role and earned a nomination for Best Actor, and it won Best Original Screenplay.  But it's not one of those films that you have to see over and over again, or think about once after you watch it.

41. The Hours (2002) - An interesting film that has multiple time lines occurring during the film.  It does have rather good acting, but rather depressing subject matter.  A good film but not great, but worthy of being nominated.

40. The Pianist (2002) - An intense film based on the true story of a Polish pianist and how he survived WWII and avoided being sent to concentration camps and was hid.  Good acting, pretty good film, but it was directed by a pedophile so it does lose ranking.

39. Chicago (2002) - If you enjoy musicals then you love this movie.  If you don't it ranks up there with having your toenails being pulled off.  It was based on the play and was the first musical to win in thirty four years but didn't start a new pattern thankfully.  The costumes were done well and it was a popular film especially that the county was still numb after 9/11.  Otherwise it will be forgotten as a top movie years from now.

38. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - A rather depressing movie about a poor orphan who ends up on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and can answer all the questions even though he has no education.  You find out that the reason why he knows the answers is based on usually a horrible tragedy in his life.  And his brother is a crime boss, or at least a wanna be crime boss and other sappy drama.  But it is in the standard Bollywood style so it is one that made it big in Hollywood.

37. Frost/Nixon (2008) - A respectable film loosely based on the interviews of David Frost with former President Nixon.  Well acted, somewhat interesting, but doesn't really hit home.  Good enough to be nominated but not able to win in a weak year, middle of the pack for the decade.

36. Gosford Park (2001) - Quirky film made by the great Robert Altman that wasn't great but if it was done by a different director would have been much worse.  Very stylish, great scene decoration, costume design, but the story is not incredible.

35. Chocolat (2000) - A nice film about a chocolate shop opening in a small French village in the 1950's.  Very well done, a good film that doesn't get much exposure, but one of the better ones of the decade.

34. Babel (2006) - An attempt to try and do what Magnolia did perfectly and Crash did somewhat well. Films with multiple story lines are generally tough to pull off, especially when they are not occurring at the same time.  This is rather confusing until the film is over, which is a bit too late.  Good enough to be nominated, but falls in the middle of the pack for the decade.

33. The Queen (2006) - A historic drama about the time of Princess Diana's death and how the Queen handled it.  Great acting from Helen Mirren, but beyond that it becomes a rather tedious boring film. Unless you are fascinated with the lives of tyrants, then you'd rank it higher.

32. The Reader (2008) - A strange film that I'm still convinced was a soft core porno, but some good acting and rather well done. Stands out more for being nominated in a weak year, but still a good enough film to be nominated and rank rather well.  As for being a great film, it wasn't, but it could have been much worse.

31. Erin Brockovich (2000) - Fine acting from Julia Roberts and a nice film.But this film is somewhat overrated.  Everyone was convinced that their water was polluted after watching this film.  And there is the issue of accuracy, especially when it comes to the science.  But why should that matter, unless you were making a bio-pic, er um, middle of the pack.

30. The Blind Side (2009) - An enjoyable well acted film, and another bio-pic in the decade of bio-pics.  This one is a bit more accurate and a nice heart-felt fuzzy movie.  A film that was in the pack of ten that year but would still have been nominated if there were only five.  Put it this way it wasn't the best film of the year but much better than the one that won the Oscar.
29. Up in the Air (2009) - A film that was nearly impossible for me to watch only a few months after I was laid off myself.  But as time goes on I realize it was a good film.  While I can never say I truly enjoy this movie, I can recognize that it was well done.  Ranking it in the top thirty is a bit of overcompensating for my previous reviews, but it does fall somewhere in the middle for the decade.
28. Million Dollar Baby (2004) - A solid Clint Eastwood film about a female boxer. Well acted and took on a somewhat controversial topic, it has slowly lost it's significance as time goes on. It did finally give a long overdue Oscar to Morgan Freedman. It won best picture over The Aviator which is a bit of a mystery.
27. Ray (2004) - A really good film about Ray Charles that was well acted by Jamie Foxx and was one of the better bio-pics of the decade.  But it wasn't an exciting film or something that ranks in the top eschelons of movies.  Still very enjoyable to watch and hear some great music.
26. Sideways (2004) - The little film that could.  One of the better independent films of the decade that spread by word of mouth.  Simple story, done well with good acting makes it a rare gem in the independent film genre.  Definitely worth a nomination and more recognition than it gets.
25. Traffic (2000) - A film that takes on multiple story lines, which is usually done poorly, but not this time.  Add the interesting element of color tinting, something that is very rare.  The only other film I can think of was Intolerance from 1916.  The film is not the greatest, but for taking chances like this ranks it much higher.
24. Up (2009) - One of the better animated films of the decade and one of the few nominated for best picture.  Much more than a kids movie, it is a good story that you can follow as an adult.  First cartoons were just Itch & Scratchy, then they tried to install morals and values.  Films like this are good movies that happen to be animated.  Although it does make the story much cheaper to film without all the special effects.
23. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - A very good foreign film, still a rarity to see one nominated for best picture.  It also takes the genre of martial arts and makes it into a stylish film.  Almost every other film made in this genre, especially in the 1970's, were comical and outlandish.  While it is still fantasy, it's done very well and not campy.
22. Munich (2005) - A very powerful movie that may or may not be a true story.  It's based on actual things that did happen and could have been done in the way the film suggests, or not.  Either way it is a really good film and very intense.  One of the better nominated films of the decade.
21. Gladiator (2000) - A film made in the classic action drama style like a 1950's epic movie. A Roman general ends up on the run and becomes a gladiator. I know I'm giving a very vague recap but it has been a few years since I've seen it and besides great costumes and some cool fight scenes it's a good movie that falls about the middle of the best picture pack for the decade.
20. The Departed (2006) - The one that finally got Scorsese the Oscar for best director and picture. A very intense cop film that is a remake of a Hong Kong movie from a few years earlier. This is not his best, there are at least a half a dozen better, but it's not his worst with an equal amount much worse. It was a lifetime achievement Oscar, kind of like The Greatest Show on Earth but thankfully he isn't done making movies yet.
19. District 9 (2009) - A really great sci-fi movie and a great movie overall.  This is one genre that gets ignored by the academy and usually for good reasons.  This one was very creative and had a good story.  Worthy of the top twenty.
18. A Serious Man (2009) - Although not the best Cohen Brother's film, still better than any other film that year.  Typical Cohen Brother's movie that is worth to watch and a great film.  Since their standard is so high, even films that aren't amazing, they are really good films.  (Think I've proven I really like their films?)
17. Juno (2007) - A very funny and well done film.  Won an Oscar for best original screenplay, deservedly so, and was well acted.  One of those films that would still be enjoyable fifty years from now, meaning it doesn't depend on current event gags or plot lines.
16. Milk (2008) - A very well done bio-pic with amazing acting.  Sean Penn was great, he did win best actor.  But Josh Brolin was incredible, even looked like Dan White.  Even though he was a supporting actor, he stole the film.  And yet he didn't win an Oscar?
15. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) - I've thought about this film and seen parts of it again.  It just seems to get better and better each time you watch it.  The makeup was outstanding, really good acting and an interesting story that wasn't a bio-pic!  Wonder how it got made during this decade.  Inched ahead of Milk to be the best film of the year.
14. Master and Commander (2003) - A film done in the classic swashbuckling style of movie from the 1930's like Anthony Adverse.  A really good adventure film, good acting, cinematography, set decoration, costume, it just looked great and was fun to watch.  One of the best films of the year and of the decade.
13. Mystic River (2003) - A powerful drama that had great acting and was a very intense film, even up to the last scene.  It's the type of film you would regularly see in the 1970's, very rare but enjoyable to see made during this decade.
12. Capote (2005) - One of the best bio-pics made during the decade.  Great acting by the recently late Philip Seymour Hoffman who really became Truman Capote and earned a best actor Oscar.  It also doesn't fall into the standard bio-pic formula of covering their entire life, this just covers his research for In Cold Blood.  A very good film that doesn't get shown much but may become a classic.

11. The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - The first of the trilogy that got nominated, only the second film since The Godfather trilogy to do so.  The Godfather won two out of three, Lord of the Rings only got one.  Yet they are amongst the best films of the decade.  The first one was a bit slow so it ranks a bit lower.

10. Precious (2009) - A surprising terrific drama with great acting dealing with a very depressing subject matter.  Overall a well done film that should have been the best picture.  At least it did earn supporting actress and adapted screenplay Oscars.  One of the top ten films of the decade.
9. Crash (2005) - A powerful drama that shows what you see on the surface is not always what is underneath. Those who you think are racist are not and those who you think aren't really are. A very good movie that reminds us that there are differences between races, nationalities, religions and not everyone will get along but we should judge on character.

8. Gangs of New York (2002) - Another great Scorsese film that got robbed.  An epic film about 19th century New York City that was so well done, acting, scenery, costumes, everything about this film was amazing.  Ranks up there with his other great classics, it deserves more recognition than it got.
7. The Return of the King (2003) - This was more of an Oscar for the trilogy than specifically for this film, but it was worthy of it. Only the second trilogy to have all films nominated for best picture. Great special effects tied to a classic story and a rare feat for a sci-fi fantasy film to win.
6. There Will Be Blood (2007) - A powerful film that is so good and only gets better because of Daniel Day Lewis who clearly got the Oscar for best actor.  Its just one of those films that is an instant classic.  Could have won best picture if it came out a year later but it lost out to another film, the best film of the decade.

5. The Aviator (2004) - And another film that Scorsese was robbed for, kind of see why he got his Oscar for The Departed?  Leonardo DiCaprio was snubbed once again with another great role.  Clearly the best film of the year, even if ignored by the academy.

4. The Two Towers (2002) - The best of the trilogy but they held off for one more year to give all the films recognition.  The best sci-fi movie of the decade and ranks up amongst the top of all time.
3. A Beautiful Mind (2001) - A great bio-pic from the decade of bio-pics. A powerful story of a genius who has hallucinations and develops a world of mystery that crashes around him. Well acted and a good story that stays consistent in its story telling from start to finish. One of the better films of the decade.
2. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) - I am convinced that since this was a foreign language film it wasn't going to win best picture.  The conundrum is that if it was in English, then it wouldn't have been that good of a film.  Seeing the battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective is something rare to see in American cinema, but was really well done.  Lost out because of the makeup to Scorsese but is the second best film of the decade.

1. No Country for Old Men (2007) - A modern day classic, one of the best Coen brother's movie, a simple story that was told perfectly. The acting is amazing, Javier Bardem is the most evil and creepiest villain of all time. I consider almost of the Coen brother's movies to be the best of the year but this is one that will go down as one of the best of all time. Clearly the top picture of the decade.