Category Archives: The Best Picture Project
Hello, cherished readers. As followers of this blog, you are no doubt aware of the long-running The Best Picture Project, a semi-regular series exploring every Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards from the beginning, through today. Well, if you were wondering if there was a way you could have The Best Picture Project in book form — well, you can! Set for release on November 17, 2017, will be The Best Picture Project. Featuring complete re-edited content, and together for the first time ever in one place, you can pre-order the book now for the Kindle, for the low-low price of $3.99. What a steal! And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime or Unlimited, you won’t even have to pay that!
And wait — if you’re one who prefers their media to take physical form, there will be a paperback version available as well. Unfortunately, that version cannot be pre-ordered, for reasons completely unknown to me. But never fear, come November 17, 2016, you will be able to order your own copy.
So, as you know, I’m doing the Best Picture Project, where I watch all 88 Oscar winners for best picture and honestly, life just isn’t fun without rankings, so follows are my rankings of the Best Picture winners, from 1 to 76, complete with links to all previous posts, with 10 being shuttled over into their own special circle of hell, The Bottom Ten. Two others were unranked, for reasons apparent in their initial reviews.
Best Picture Rankings Continue reading
Directed by Wesley Ruggles
Screenplay by Howard Estabrook, based upon the novel by Edna Ferber
Starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunne
Here we are friends – after these many, long years together, with you diligently consuming every entry of The Best Picture Project, and me, less-diligently, producing them, we’ve reached the end of the road, where it all comes to an end. And coming here almost feels bittersweet, like somebody should cue Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, or Boyz II Men’s End of the Road, to play us out. And don’t worry about neither being appropriate for this occasion, because they’re hardly appropriate for the other occasion for which they are most associated – high school graduations. If they work there, why not here?
But I digress. Continue reading
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by Paul Haggis, based on the stories of F.X. Toole
Starring Hillary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena and Margo Martindale
Well, here we are – the penultimate entry of the Best Picture Project. After six years of toil and misery, there is but one After Cimarron? There will be no more, forever. But that, is for another day. On this day I bring you the entry I’d been putting off longer than the rest – Million Dollar Baby. Consciously putting off longer than the rest. And the delay? Imposed not because I was saving it for myself, like a delicious dessert. No, it was put off because I did not want to see it again. Not now, not ever, and, as I put it off, I sort-of hoped I might die before I had to get to it and, in death, I’d be spared the discomfort of it. But, given I’m only 40 and in very good health, death did not save me. And that, dear reader, is a lesson – death is its most-cruel when we want it, but are denied.
Directed by Peter Jackson
Screenplay by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, from the novel by J.R.R. Tolkein
Starring Viggo Mortenson, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monahan, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Bernard Hill, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto and Andy Serkis
In the six years I’ve been running this Project, I’ve never began with any sort of disclaimer, mostly because I’ve had nothing to disclaim. Today, that ends:
Given The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (TLOTR:TROTK) is the third in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it kind of makes sense that, rather than watching TLOTR:TROTK on its own, it should be seen only as part of the whole. In other words, watching the final 1/3 of the trilogy, without taking on the first 2/3, renders any assessment of the film a bit suspect. But, while that might make sense I have three points to make that also make perfect sense: Continue reading
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplan by Steve Zailian, based upon the novel by Thomas Kennealy
Starring Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes
I’ll say it: Schindler’s List might be the most important film ever to win Best Picture. It represents a true cinematic achievement and, even if it was not revolutionary in the sense that Jaws was revolutionary, it full demonstrates how you can take a deadly subject matter and, by using all the tricks of the trade, can produce an important film about a tough subject without making it fee didactic.
That all being said – this is not a film you sit down to enjoy. There truly is no enjoyment here. It’s a tough film on a tough topic and there’s no enjoying that. That being said, it’s not punishing either, nor is it a chore to watch. Rather, it’s emotionally cathartic and the sort of thing you’ll put on only when you want to have your guts ripped open.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, based upon the novel by Mario Puzo
Starring Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Bruno Kirby, Lee Strassburg, Robert Duval, G. D. Spradlin and Harry Dean Stanton
It strikes me now that as I’ve come to the homestretch on the Best Picture Project, and looking to start my final kick, I’m facing down what might be the toughest stretch of movies, having inadvertently saved some of the longest, and some of those I’d been dreading most, for last. The streak started a few movies back with Crash (dreading), continued to The Departed (long), then on to My Fair Lady (long), leading right up to this one (long). To come, Schindler’s List (dreading for emotional reasons and my discomfort at feeling feelings), Return of the King (massive length), Cimarron (saved for basically being unavailable), and Million Dollar Baby (dread because when I saw it in the theater, the bait-and-switch made me downright hostile with it). Continue reading
Directed by George Cukor
Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based upon “My Fair Lady” by Alan Jay Lerner, and “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw
Starring Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Stanley Holloway
Lessons – life is lessons. As this project has been my life in so many ways for a good five years, it stands to reason this Project is lessons. The primary? Immediate plaudits – worldly rewards, you might say – do not last. The Oscars themselves are proof of this. Though you can win one and think you’ve really become something special, the reality is that all you’re left with is a hunk of gold-plated britannium. And the gold? It’s barely on there.
What does this mean? Continue reading
Directed by Martin Scorcese
Screenplay by William Monahan, based on the film Infernal Affairs
Starrring Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damno, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg
Martin Scorsese should have an Oscar – Martin Scorsese should have a fistful of Oscars. A fistful in both hands. He is a legend of cinema, with talent enough that he can hop genres and eras with relative ease, making his style fit them all, no matter how disparate then may be. Better, he’s been consistently good for more than four decades, without the flameout in quality you get from many other so-called legends. Add to that he’s a student of film and treats it legitimately, and reverently, as art, and you can see why he should have more Oscars than he know what to do with.
But he doesn’t have more Oscars than he knows what to do with – he only has the one. Not for directing Raging Bull or Goodfellas, but as director of The Departed.
Let me ask you a question – which is worse: Continue reading