Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ranking the 85 Best Pictures

The time has come to rank the best pictures since I have seen them all at this time.  I’ll build suspense by naming them in reverse order and forcing you to have to scroll to the bottom to see what it was, not like you could have guessed.  So here are the eighty five best pictures that have won and how they rank.

85. An American in Paris (1951) – The one that started it all.  This movie is why I decided to start ranking the movies nominated against the best picture because this film won.  At the award ceremony people were shocked.  They gave Gene Kelly an honorary Oscar because they were afraid he wouldn't get recognition for his work in the film.  It beat out Quo Vadis, A Place In the Sun and A Streetcar Named Desire.  It is clearly the worst best film compared to the others that have won.     

84. Marty (1955) – Another horrible film that was nothing of a story.  A butcher has trouble asking a woman out on a date.  It is a boring film.

83. Gigi (1958) – A film that nearly breaks the creepy meter.  An adult man is lusting after a teenage girl who is to be his mistress but he wants her as his wife.  If it was remade today it would be the Neil Goldschmidt story.

82. Tom Jones (1963) – A mindless film about a man who seduces women in old England.  It beat out a number of other good films like America America, How the West was Won and Lilies of the Fields.  It was better than Cleopatra; I’m not insane you know.  But this was months after President Kennedy was assassinated so it won because it made everyone feel good.

81. Terms of Endearment (1983) – A terrible film from a rather terrible year.  The 80’s were not known for making good movies and this is a perfect example of one of them.  It’s a sappy tearjerker of a film that had the luck to come out at the right time.  Just like a team that finishes one game above five hundred but win’s their division, this is what you get.

80. Out of Africa (1985) – Talk about competing in a weak division, another example of a film that had no serious competition.  Very stylish but boring and tedious, a perfect example of what the 1980’s were like in Hollywood.

79. Chariots of Fire (1981) – The start of a long run of bad movies (see above) to come from the decade.  With the exception of Ordinary People and Gandhi, this film is typical of the type of film that won best picture during the decade.  A simple slightly boring movie about English runners in the 1924 Olympics doesn't rank well against the other movies over the past eighty five years.

78. The English Patient (1996) – The film that is a mystery until you figure it out and then you don’t care.  Very stylish and was among three other independent films nominated that year, but wasn't the best of them.  Not sure why it won but it hasn't held up over time and not that great of a movie.

77. Forrest Gump (1994) – The bane of the baby boomers.  A film that was pop art, all fluff with nothing substantive.  A film that in fifty years people will watch and unless they have a degree in late 20th century pop culture will watch it and say what were you all thinking back then?  A feel good film for anyone born in the late 40’s or in the 50’s, a story about a mentally slow man who witnesses the major events of the late 20th century but doesn't understand or appreciate it, just floats along.  It does prove that baby boomers are the evil generation though, so it did have some value.

76. 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.

75. American Beauty (1999) - A film that comes close to Gigi on the creepy meter but not as bad.  But they use an original concept for the movie, showing that life in suburbia is not utopia.  <sarcasm> WOW </sarcasm>.  As you can see I'm learning some html, but how this was the best film was partially due to not having strong competition and, and, I can't think of much else.  It rounds out the top ten of the bottom of best films.

74. 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.

73. Driving Miss Daisy (1989) - An aptly fitting film to close out the weak decade of the 80's.  A simple heartfelt drama about an old woman unable to drive and her son hiring her a driver.  She doesn't like or trust him but they eventually learn to become friends.  It's not a terrible film, but when compared to other films that won it's not that good.

72. Rain Man (1988) - Another typical 1980's film, although great acting from Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruse.  It did come from a weak decade and a very soft year so it really isn't much of a classic.  Simple drama about a man finding out he has a mentally disabled older brother and finding himself, and a lot of money, as they go across country.  It was the first movie that I saw in the theater before it won best picture so I was rooting for it back in 1989.

71.  Around the World in 80 Days (1956) - The other really bad decade in the history of the Academy Awards was the 1950's.  As you can see only fifteen into the list and this is the fourth movie.  There were a few powerful films to come from that decade, this is not one of them.  Victorian era, now steam-punk, style of film about Englishmen betting if someone can go around the world in eighty days when dial up was really slow and forget about streaming live video.  Nice film but I would recommend the remake with The Three Stooges instead.

70. Oliver! (1968) - The last of the musicals from an era when almost every Broadway play was getting a film adaption and most times winning best picture.  If you haven't figured it out, it is about Oliver Twist and it is a musical but it wasn't a great musical.

69. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) - The lifetime achievement award for Cecil B. DeMille.  This wasn't so much for the film, a nice story about Barnum and Balley's circus, but for all of his work over the years.  It is a bit sappy and silly at times but an overall good film.

68. All the Kings Men (1949) - Probably the last muckraking film to win best picture.  Based loosely on the life of Huey Long, it shows a politician's rise to power and how greed and bullets stopped him.  Especially the bullets.

67. Argo (2012) - The most recent winner which was a good movie but will not be a classic.  Well acted and an interesting story about the rescue of American hostages held up at the Canadian ambassador's house in Iran during the hostage crisis.  It may move up over time but for now it ranks near the bottom.

66. Shakespeare in Love (1998) - A fictionalized story about what Shakespeare was possibly thinking and doing while writing Romeo and Juliet.  A nice film but somehow beat out Saving Private Ryan which is rather confusing so it ends up further down.

65. 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.

64. The King's Speech (2010) - The loosely based story of King George and his stammer.  Except it's during World War II and he has to make radio speeches to keep people motivated.  A good drama that was well produced but not an exceptional film.  Not the best film of the year either in my opinion.

63. Platoon (1986) - Hollywood's attempt to wash away their guilt for treating Vietnam veterans like dirt after the war.  There was a popular movement in the mid 80's to finally recognize Vietnam vets including parades and movies like this.  Talk with a vet who served and they will tell you that this movie is pure fiction, not much of it based on reality.  It does have some strong acting and to date the last Vietnam War film to win best picture.

62. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) - At the time it was a very powerful movie, almost like the muckraking films of the late 1940's about a man trying to get custody of his child in a divorce.  Very well acted and helped change people minds that the mother automatically would get the child in a divorce, but has become a bit dated today.

61. Dances With Wolves (1990) - The first western, the true American film genre, to win in almost sixty years.  A well done film based on the end of the western expansion in the late 1800's and helped make westerns popular again.  But this beat out Goodfellas and causes it to slip down in the ranks since Goodfellas is one of the best gangster films of all times.

60. West Side Story (1961) - The great Broadway musical that had all the popular songs and dance scenes which made it very very popular.  But it doesn't hold up over time.  I don't think it held up when it came out fifty years ago.  But I do believe that the fight scenes are the most accurate emulating the Bloods and Crips.

59. The Lost Weekend (1945) - One of the most known muckraking films of all times.  Ray Milland as an alcoholic writer, sorry to be redundant, going on a binge when no one is around to keep tabs on him.  Powerful drama and cool hallucinations of attack bats but not strong enough to be in the top of the pack.

58. Cavalcade (1933) - Based on the Noel Coward play a rather boring story about a family in England from 1900 up to present day which was 1933.  It came out during the epic decade of the 1930's but was the weakest of the winners that decade.

57.  The Broadway Melody (1929) - The first film with sound to win best picture.  And that's all there is to it really.  A well done film about two sisters trying to make it on Broadway but besides the coolness of watching a film from the 1920's, there isn't much to it.

56. From Here to Eternity (1953) - A strong drama about the days leading up to Pearl Harbor on an Army base in Hawaii.  Good cast of actors that do a great job.  Not the best war film or best war best picture but a semi classic remembered for the love screen on the beach between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

55. The Sting (1973) - A quirky comedy from the other great decade for movies.  Not as strong as other films that decade but very stylish and was a good story with respectable acting.

54. The Great Ziegfeld (1936) - The biopic that honors the life of Florenz Ziegfield.  He was the biggest entertainer producer of the early twentieth century.  This film won because probably everyone who voted for it was either in the audience or on the stage of one of his productions.  He died about a few years before the film came out so it was going to win.  It is a good film from a great decade and a year of tough competition.  It's hard almost eighty years later to see how this film won but at the time it was big, but hasn't held up enough.

53. 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 clearly won best picture, although The Aviator did give it a good run.  But it falls nearer to the middle of the best over all of best pictures.

52. Midnight Cowboy (1969) - The first rated X film to win and the only one since.  Not that it was a porno, but when the ratings first started an X film was what would be known as a NC-17 film today, a movie not for children.  It was at the time of the end of the self imposed censorship that movies had for the past thirty plus years.  As a result it took on themes that were not commonly shown in movies.  It was controversial at the time but more than forty years later it isn't any more.  It also went up against week competition that year but it helped usher in the 1970's and it share of gritty dramas and well told stories.

51. Wings (1928) - The first best picture winner for overall production, eventually changed the next year.  A nice film about a young man going off to WWI and a young woman from his neighborhood who volunteers as a medic to make sure he stays safe.  Does have a very young Gary Cooper in a bit part.  A classic film that is mainly known for winning the first Oscar and some nice footage of air crafts from the era.

50. 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.

49. Braveheart (1995) - Based on the legends of William Wallace who in the late 1200's fought for Scottish independence from England.  He became a folk hero that is honored over seven hundred years later.  I once read a book about English history from the 1920's and the author spoke of how popular William Wallace is still in Scotland.  The film has some great war scenes and does have a good political message.  One of the better films of the decade.

48. Cimarron (1931) - The first western to win best picture.  Although technically it's not a true western film but showing the rise of Oklahoma from the late 1800's to modern day era late 1920's.  A good film for it's time which only got notice when Dances With Wolves won about sixty years later.

47. Amadeus (1984) - A rather good film about Mozart, although not very historically accurate but very well done.  One of the finer best pictures from the decade that produced some of the worst best pictures.  The costumes were great, very good acting and the soundtrack isn't too shabby either.

46. Rocky (1976) - The classic feel good root for the underdog film.  One of the better boxing movies that have been made and has become part of our popular culture, everything from running up a flight of stairs and celebrating or the theme to Rocky or "Yo Adrian".  But it should be remembered that it beat out Taxi Driver and Network so it falls in the middle since those two movies are miles above this one.

45. The Departed (2006) - The one that finally got Scoresse 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.

44. Gentleman's Agreement (1947) - A powerful muckraking style film from the late 40's when antisemitism was still part of society.  Rather dated these days but made strong impact.  And it has Gregory Peck and Dean Stockwell so it is a classic but doesn't hold up over time.

43. The Sound of Music (1965) - The great musical falls in the middle mainly since it is a musical but it is a truly classic film.  Still popular these days even if the actress picked for Maria can't act her way out of a paper bag.  (Yes I made a timely joke that years from now people will be confused about it).  It comes from that era when plays were being made into musicals and everyone who loved the play gave Oscars to the films.

42. My Fair Lady (1964) - As proven here just a year earlier, another popular play that won best picture.  Actually a play by George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion which was nominated for best picture back in 1938, this is a musical that is very well acted and holds up years later.  The best spoof was from SCTV which you should watch if you can.

41. Ben-Hur  (1959) - Chariot races, lepers and religion, what more can you ask for?  A kind of Gentleman's Agreement of the Roman empire, this is a classic epic film.  Only reason why this one won an Oscar and not the original?  That one came out in 1925 and would have won if there was an Academy Award ceremony, but this is a great remake and still an exciting film to watch.

40. All About Eve (1950) - A strong drama from a relatively weak decade.  Well acted about a movie star who's assistant is out to steal her life and rather ruthless in her attempts.  Still holds up over sixty years later.

39. Rebecca (1940) - Hitchcock's only film to win best picture, even beat out another of his films that year.  Classic suspense with Laurence Oliver that is a very good movie.  Not one of my favorites but very popular and very well acted.

38. Going My Way (1944) - The happy go lucky film about a priest who creates mirth wherever he goes.  A standard Christmas classic with popular songs.  Bing Crosby won an Oscar and the film cleaned up pretty well.  Made at the end of WWII it is more of an uplifting movie for a nation at war, but still enjoyable today.

37. The Artist (2011) - A great movie that is a homage to the classic silent era of movies.  Only the second silent film to win best picture, or at least a 98% silent movie and one of the few black and white films to win over the past sixty years.  This film will become more of a classic as time goes on.  And besides being very stylish it's an enjoyable well acted film.

36. Grand Hotel (1932) - The amazing cast of this film rivals very few other best pictures or most movies made.  Similar to a modern day drama about multiple characters, all are in the Grand Hotel in Berlin and how they interact among one another.  The great Lionel Barrymore and his brother John, Gretta Garbo's "I vant to be alone", Joan Crawford and many others make this a classic film.

35. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - The classic post WWII film about soldiers readjusting to civilian life.  Well acted and very powerful.  A film that no other movie could have beaten this year.  It's a film that shows a period of history through the eyes of Hollywood, although I don't know how accurate it was, it is still a great film.

34. The Bridge on the River Kwai - (1957) - The epic WWII film about an English Army unit having to build a bridge for the Japanese and then destroying it to help in the war effort.  Sounds confusing, don't worry.  It is a great movie even if it wasn't historically accurate.  One of the best from a rather weak decade.

33. The Apartment (1960) - The Billy Wilder dramedy that was one of the last black and white films to win best picture.  A well told story that has great acting and is still a good movie today even if the office layout has changed from what was common over fifty years ago.  One of the better best pictures of the decade.

32. 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.

31. The French Connection (1971) - One of the few action films to win best picture and deservedly so.  This helped define the gritty style of movies that became common during the 1970's which next to the 1930's produced some of the greatest movies of all time.  Not your typical Hollywood cops and robbers film either which makes it that much better.  And it gave me driving tips on how to get to work on time.

30. The Last Emperor (1987) - A stylish epic that doesn't get the recognition it deserves.  Made during a decade where most movies were bland and meaningless, this is one of the few that was very well done.  Based on the life story of the last emperor of China it shows his life as he grows up, deals with WWII and imprisoned under the dirge of communism.

29. Titanic (1997) - An extremely popular film that was very well made, they certainly spent the money on it.  The story is a bit hokey and the dialogue is very weak but the special effects were great.  It was a very well produced movie that has become a classic already.

28. Annie Hall (1977) - The only best picture, so far, from Woody Allen.  A very funny comedy that is done so well that it isn't a farce or slapstick but very indelicately done.  A comedy classic that was during a decade that made great movies.  Even if you are not a Woody Allen fan (How dare you!) you still will enjoy this movie.

27. Gandhi (1982) - The grand epic that is an island in a sea of horrible movies.  One of the few best pictures of the decade that are in the top half of best picture winners.  A well done bio-pic about the life of Gandhi well acted and great cinematography.  One of those films that still stands up over time.

26. The Lord of the Rings: 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.

25. 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.  On of the better films of the decade.

24. Unforgiven (1992) - Partial lifetime achievement for all of the great spaghetti westerns and for being one of the best Westerns made.  When I saw this in the theater and saw Clint Eastwood fell off his horse I was amazed, as well as every other man in the theater, and knew why it won best picture.  A nice simple story acted really well and done perfectly.

23. The Life of Emile Zola (1937) - The great Paul Muni plays Emile Zola who was a 19th century French author.  This movie is great because of Paul Muni who was great in everything he did.  A classic from the classic era of Hollywood, a shame it doesn't get shown more often.

22. How Green Was My Valley (1941) - Even though this beat out Citizen Kane which is probably the best movie ever made, doesn't mean it was a bad movie.  Adapted from the novel about coal miners in Wales, it is a powerful drama that is a classic movie.  Was it worthy of a best picture Oscar can be debated, debate over, it shouldn't.  But since it won it does deserve it's proper recognition.

21. Mrs. Miniver (1942) - A great war drama made during WWII about England surviving at home during the war.  Well acted, strong message about war and life in crisis, an overall great movie.  And Greer Garson isn't too hard on the eyes either and a great actress as well.

20. In the Heat of the Night (1967) - The gritty drama that helped shape the style of movies during the next decade.  A great acted and well done film that deals with a murder investigation and racial tension.  On of the best pictures of the decade and a classic that is still popular today.

19. Hamlet (1948) - The classic Laurence Olivier interpretation that is amazing.  Probably the best Shakespeare film ever made, a great epic movie.  Granted it is a bit stuffy but the acting is great, the scenery terrific, just a great movie.

18. On the Waterfront (1954) - A great drama with an all star cast, the film is almost too good for this decade.  Some of the most well know lines and scenes are from this film.  Just one of those films that when it's on you have to watch.

17. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) - Such great acting makes this movie one of the best of all time.  It beat out eleven other movies that year to win and rightfully so.  What an old action adventure film was before the days of special effects.

16. Patton (1970) - One of the greatest war movies and bio-pics of all time.  The film is almost three hours long and you want it to go longer.  Very well acted, great war scenes, just a fantastic movie to watch.

15. Ordinary People (1980) - Clearly the best picture to win from the decade, but it still riles me that it beat Raging Bull.  Either way it is one of the best dramas to be made, a simple but powerful film that will stand the test of time.

14. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) - Based on the classic novel, the finest WWI movie made and one of the greatest war films as well.  Great acting, it follows the novel rather closely and is such a great film.  A classic that should be seen at least once in your life.

13. The Deer Hunter (1978) - Probably one of the best war movies ever made and one of the longest too. The opening wedding scene is the longest of any wedding scenes, the acting is great, a terrific film from an amazing decade.

12. 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.

11. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - When you think of an epic film this is what it should be.  Everything from the acting, the cinematography, the costumes, the war scenes, the dessert is just perfect.  Made during the era of epics this one is the one that is probably the best.

10. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) - The best and only horror film to win best picture and one of only three movies to sweep the top five categories (picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay).  It is the last film to do so and as such it makes it one of the ten best best pictures of all time.  If you can pull that sweep it shows that you are one of the best.

9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - Only the second film to sweep and one of the most intense dramas of the decade as well as all time.  Made at the peak of the modern classic era of films during the 1970's it is still as powerful today as it was almost forty years ago.  Clearly one of the best movies of all time.

8. It Happened One Night (1934) - And the first film to sweep and hold the title for over forty years.  A classic romantic comedy that is a classic from a great decade.  Not to mention it also beat out eleven other films that year being only one of two years that had twelve movies nominated.  It's a great film and all that it won puts it in the top ten, simple as that.

7. Gone with the Wind (1939) - One of the most known films and most popular of all time, this won beating out nine other movies in what has been called the finest year in film.  Still today it is considered a great film that is an all time classic.  Constantly quoted and spoofed too, it is clearly one of the ten best best picture winners.

6. You Can't Take It with You (1938) - The Frank Capra classic that is one of his finest.  A surpurb cast headed by the great Lionel Barrymore in my personal favorite role.  It's such an enjoyable well done movie that it will always be a classic.  It's a shame it doesn't get the same recognition as other movies from this era but it is truly one of the best ever made.

5. Casablanca (1943) - A classic, beloved and praised by many.  Although not one of my personal favorites, I do recognize how popular it is and how it has stood the test of time for over seventy years so it is in the top five of best pictures.

4. Schindler’s List (1993) - The most intense, most powerful, most incredible film that I could never watch again.  It is a hard depressing movie but one of the greatest ever made.  I avoided watching it for years because I knew it would depress me but it is a great film.

3. A Man for All Seasons (1966) - This is a perfect movie.  It is acted perfectly.  The costume, language and decoration are all perfect.  It is just a terrific movie.  And Paul Scofield earned his best actor Oscar after performing this on stage for years.  It is almost a bit of a lost film in that you rarely see it on television, but it the best of the decade.

2. The Godfather Part II (1974) - The greatest sequel to be made and the only one to win best picture.  Personally I like this one better than the first since there are two story lines about Vito Corleone and Michael Corleone going on at the same time in two different time lines.

1. The Godfather (1972) - And of course the greatest best picture of the past eighty five years is The Godfather.

No comments:

Post a Comment