Somehow I have seen all of the best pictures that were nominated for production for 1928. But as you move towards seeing 450 movies it was bound to happen. I've also seen the nominees for best picture in unique and artistic production as well, the only year they had that category. I will cover all of them in my assessment of 1928. As well as a few more films that closed out some more years.
The Racket (1928) - A Howard Hughes production about a police captain who is honest is sent out to the "sticks" when he stands up to the local mob boss. Very well done, well acted and covering topics that were self censored years later by Hollywood. The quality is amazing, they have fixed the film so that 85 years later it still looks almost new. A great film that could be made today.
Here is the part that I have been dreading for sometime, which movie is the best of 1928. I'll start with the nominees for unique and artistic production where you had Sunrise a classic that won by F.W. Murnau, Chang: A Drama Of The Wilderness about villagers in Siam dealing with elephants and just life in general and King Vidor's The Crowd. Of those three, all amazing films I think The Crowd should have won but was badly edited by the studio, especially the ending. For the best produced films Wings was the best movie, the main reason is the airplane footage was terrific. Second would be The Racket for it's gritty portrait of crime in the 1920's and third Seventh Heaven, still a great movie.
Three Coins In The Fountain (1954) - Romantic film of the 1950's, very stylish in the way it was filmed and well acted although most of the actors and actresses were not major stars. A story of three young women who are working in Italy and the romances they find themselves in. Cinematography is incredible, the music was very nice, the story was good.
This makes four out of five for this year and On The Waterfront is still the best film of the year. I would put this movie third after The Caine Mutiny since the story was better than I though it would be, but not as good as the other two above it.
Winter's Bone (2010) - Should you make a movie if information you find out at the end of the movie meant you didn't have to watch the entire film to understand what it means? Here is an example, if I told you in The Godfather in the opening wedding scene that Michael Corleone would kill Carlo the groom at the end of the film would it make sense to you? Winter's Bone is the opposite of this. This film could have been done in twelve minutes. There is one reason that saves this film and it was the incredible acting performance of Jennifer Lawrence. Otherwise there was no reason to make this film.
This being the eight film of ten for the year it is clearly down in the bottom of the pack. Not as bad as 127 Hours but pretty close. Inception is still my lead for the best film of the year and it may just stay that way.
Wake Island (1942) - A somewhat fictionalized account of the battle of Wake Island mainly since the battle was still going on while the film was being made. Right after Pearl Harbor Japan started attacking Marines stationed on Wake Island. The film shows the brave soldiers as they defend the island. This is another WWII film made during the war so it is more propaganda than showing an entertaining movie. Nevertheless it is still a good film even if it didn't get all the fact correct.
This closes out 1942 another great year of movies. This is going to be a tough year but Mrs. Miniver was the best film of the year. Now it gets very difficult but the rest in order would be Kings Row, Ronald Reagan in one of his finest roles; The Talk Of The Town, great acting performances; Random Harvest, Greer Garson in a another great film and Ronald Coleman; Pride Of The Yankees, could be higher and has Gary Cooper but does have the yuckies the worst team in baseball which dropped it at least two places; Yankee Doodle Dandy one of James Cagney's most well know roles; The Magnificent Ambersons another great Orson Wells film but not his best; The Pied Piper a rather good WWII film, but not as good as Mrs. Miniver; Wake Island, see review above and 49th Parallel which wasn't that good, but still better than some year's best pictures.
Barry Lyndon (1975) - My 446th film and an epic Stanley Kubrick movie. Ryan O'Neal is an Irish man who falls into military fame and nobility but not very well acted. You could have got at least a dozen better actors. It looks as beautiful as any other Kubrick film, but drags on a bit long. Think O Lucky Man! but based in the 18th century.
And this too closes out 1975, a very interesting year for movies. The 1970's besides the 1930's is one of the best decades of Hollywood movies. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is clearly the best film since it is historically only one of three to sweep all the major awards of best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay. That and it is one of the most powerful films you will ever see. Second is Dog Day Afternoon another amazing drama that is so well done. Continuing with amazing dramas you have Nashville as the third best, a great Robert Altman movie with an all star cast. Jaws falls into fourth only because what it lead to for the 1980's. It was a great action film but because it was one of the first "blockbuster" movies it set the pattern that Hollywood started to follow after Heaven's Gate and almost ruined Hollywood. Not that Jaws is a bad film, but what it did to the movie industry, even if accidental, causes it to be in fourth. And Barry Lyndon is fifth, not one of Kubrik's best but still a good film that was worthy of being nominated.