Monday, September 28, 2015

Ranking the Best Pictures of the 1970's

I have not been looking forward to this since this was a decade that had so many great films and many of them won best picture.  But here it goes.

10. The Sting (1973) - An offbeat comedy-drama that won in a year that didn't have a lot of strong competition.  Not to say that it is a bad film, but there were so many other films that are classics compared to this one.  Basically someone had to finish in tenth.

9. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) - A strong movie for its time but a bit dated today.  Possibly shouldn't have won best picture, Apocalypse Now was much better.  But this film is a great time capsule of the late 1970's and did tackle the social issue of should the mother automatically get the child in a divorce.

8. Rocky (1976) - And the other film that won from the decade that it shouldn't have.  Still a sports classic and popular to this day.  Proof that the social climate of the country does play into how the academy votes, remember this was during the Vietnam, Watergate and Bicentennial area, so a movie like Rocky was a sure bet for best picture.

7. Patton (1970) - Possibly one of the greatest war movies of all time.  George C. Scott's portrayal of the great general is so amazing, the war scenes, everything about this film is great.  Even though it is a long movie, you just don't want it to end.

6. The French Connection - (1971) - Clearly the best cops and robbers film ever made.  Tough, gritty, a true example of the 1970's had to offer for cinema.  So few films can combine drama with action.  Even the classic car chase scene wouldn't be done today, every fifteen seconds someone would have to throw in a witty comment or have some stupid explosion.  But this film is a classic.

5. Annie Hall (1977) - A great film from the mind of Woody Allen that finally got him an Oscar for best picture.  Comedy doesn't always do well, but in the '70's a film like this could be recognized for how great it was.  As a kid I couldn't understand why it beat Star Wars, but now as an adult I understand and glad it won.

4. The Deer Hunter (1978) - On of the greatest films of the decade, which a friend of mine used to brag that it had the longest wedding scene in any movie.  I would say this is the best Vietnam War film to win best picture, and I think it hurt Apocalypse Now the next year from winning. Nevertheless, a great film that is in the top five of best pictures for the decade.

3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - One of only three films to sweep all the major awards at the Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay), and rightfully so.  Still holds up today as an amazing film.  In fact after seeing Birdman win at this year's Oscars, I immediately turned over to TCM and this was on.  I felt like my pallet was cleansed and felt proud to know the difference between art and kitsch.

2. The Godfather Part II (1974) - Clearly the greatest sequel ever made and one of my personal favorite movies of all time.  Great acting combined with a dual story line showing the history of Don Corleone is amazing.  It is second only because there could only be one film even better.

1. The Godfather (1972) - One of the best films ever made, a perfect movie.  The amazing classic is still enjoyable today, has become part of our society, our lexicon, our lives.  If you haven't seen it stop reading right now and go and watch it.  If you have seen it, watch it again.  Go now!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And You Thought That Pirates Were Only In Pittsburgh

That's right, Somali Pirates are not a single A franchise of the Pirates organization, but they do love taking over ships.  Besides Captain Phillips, a few others that has me now at single digits of what I have not seen.  I know it has been a while, but you try and find nominated movies when you've seen almost all of them.

Captain Phillips (2013) - Based on the true story of an American container ship that was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates and how the captain escaped.  Well acted by Tom Hanks and a good adventure film, it does run a bit long.  And since you know how it ends, there isn't much suspense that builds up.  Still a good film and worthy of being nominated.

I will do a full rundown of 2013 since I also have seen the last film of that year, but for now I will put it in seventh place out of the eight I have seen.

The Emigrants (1971) - A film that was so good that after it was nominated for best foreign film for 1971, the next year it was nominated for best picture of 1972.  An impressive epic tale of Scandinavians who leave Sweden in the 1850's and their journey across the Atlantic and into the United States.  Great acting from the well known stars of Swedish cinema Max von Sydow and Liv Ulmann and a cast of other impressive actors makes this a film worthy of watching, even though it is over three hours.  A rare film that has taken me years to see, catch it if you can.

So this closes out the 1970's which will be a post later on.  For now I can finally rank 1972, and if it was no surprise the best picture was The Thing With Two Heads staring Ray Milland and Rosie Grier.  Just kidding, it was The Godfather, but now thinking about it......nope I'll stick with The Godfather.  Second would be The Emigrants, third Cabaret since it was a gritty film, or at least gritty for a musical, and won a number of awards.  Fourth is Deliverance, still a classic in my opinion and fifth Sounder a very good drama.

The Tree of Life (2011) - Talk about a pretentious waste of time.  What was this even about?  Pretty impossible to follow, not sure what was the purpose of the film except that life is difficult?  Not sure why it got nominated, let along made, but somehow it did both.  A shame because I really do like Brad Pitt, who is always a great actor, even if you don't know what he is supposed to be acting in.

This was the last film of 2011, and the best picture was The Artist.  Not that it is one of the best films ever made, but the best it was competing against.  Making a silent film in the modern era, and doing it well, is a clever thing and deserves best picture.  Second is Hugo mainly because it is a Scorsese movie, but very well done.  Third is Midnight in Paris one of Woody Allen's finest in a long time.  The Help is fourth, a really good drama and Moneyball finishes out the top five.  At sixth is The Descendants which was good, but not good enough for the old criteria.  War Horse is seventh because it is very boring and could have been made much shorter which would have helped.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the previously worst nominated film of the year, gets bumped up to eight.  Not that it was good, but that ninth is The Tree of Life which is so bad.

Her (2013) - A quirky bizarre film about a man who falls in love with his computer operating system.  What works is that even though it is fantasy, it is accepted as fact by the other characters.  Rather funny at times, it does bring up a valid point that we may have to deal with at some point in our future, what is a life?  Must it be a human being or can it also be a computer that has human intelligence?  Thankfully we don't have to worry about that now, but when that day comes I know the dryer will be coming after me.

Now I can finally rank 2013, and the best picture was 12 Years A Slave.  Although it was one of the closest years in recent history and rightfully so with American Hustle as the second best film.  Gravity is third, one of the best sci-fi films made ever.  Remember sci-fi is a genre that doesn't get recognized often, but when it does the academy gets it right.  Dallas Buyers Club is a solid fourth carried by great acting.  The Wolf of Wall Street just inches into fifth place, the Scorsese edge helping it there.  Her is sixth, only because there are five really good movies ahead of it, but you could interchange it with number five.  Seventh is a tough choice, but I will say that Captain Phillips just edges out Philomena in eight.  Both really good, but Captain Phillips had drama and action, Nebraska is ninth, not because it wasn't a good movie, I would recommend it to anyone, and I like how they used black and white to help with the story.  But this was a tough year and someone had to finish last.

Whiplash (2014) - What an amazing film!  Seriously this was not what I was expecting.  Not to reveal too much, but the basic story is about a music student trying to become the best jazz drummer and the music teacher who you don't know is trying to push him to better or push him over the edge to quit.  JK Simmons was amazing and rightfully so got the Oscar for best supporting actor.  This is one of those films that you have to see.

With this being the last film to see of 2014 I can rank the movies.  And we have a perfect example of the academy going off the rails and making a major mistake.  Big time mistake, like 1994 or 1951 epic mistake.  The best film overall was Boyhood.  The reason is that you have to weigh all options about a movie, and this one had it.  It set out what it wanted to do, and did it perfectly.  It wanted to show twelve years in the life of a boy, and actually took twelve years to film it.  Just the complexity of such a project alone is enough to win, but it was the best picture.  In second is American Sniper, but if all things were fair, this could have won best picture also.  But due to the political makeup of many of the voting members, this film was doomed.  Whiplash falls into third, a really great film.  And finally in fourth would you get Birdman, the one that did get the Oscar for best picture.  Don't get me wrong, Birdman is a very good film, funny at times, well acted, but it was NOT the best picture.  Fifth is The Imitation Game, a great film about Alan Turing in WWII.  At sixth is The Grand Budapest Hotel, mainly because Wes Anderson puts so much effort into his films, you really enjoy watching them.  The Theory of Everything is seventh, just barely, but a good movie, but could have easily missed the cut.  Selma is eight only because it was rushed and could have been better.