The Best Picture Project — Pre-Sale Now!

front-cover-01Hello, 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.

Per-order now!

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The Also Rans — The Exorcist (Best Picture Also Ran 1973)

A man with a hat on his head, holding a suitcase, arrives in a house building in วthe night, with the film's slogan above him while the film's title, credits and billing underneath him.Directed by William Friedkin

Screenplay by William Peter Blatty, based upon his novel

Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cob and Jack MacGowran

Confession is an appropriate place to start this entry, given the heavily Catholic tone of The Exorcist, so here goes: I’ve seen The Exorcist before.

See, when I started this Project – The Also Ran’s – I had the idea I’d use it to see Best Picture nominees I’d not seen before as a way to force new viewing experiences on myself.  Given I’d already seen many of the Best Pictures, that made the Best Picture Project as much about revisiting films as it was about discovery.  By definition then, The Also Rans was explicitly meant to be about discovery because it excluded movies I’d already seen.  Moreover, it would also give me a unique look at the workings of prior generations, in that by looking at what lost, I might find something very instructive.

But while this is my aim, here I am throwing the rule away and using this project as an excuse to re-visit The Exorcist.  Why?  Because it’s my Project, so it’s my rules to break.  Also, because with The Exorcist, any viewing will be a discovery.

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The Best Picture Project – Rankings

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

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The Best Picture Project — Cimarron (1931)

Cimarron (1931 film) poster.jpgDirected 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

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The Best Picture Project – Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby poster.jpgDirected 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,[1] there is but one After Cimarron?  There will be no more, forever.[2]  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 BabyConsciously 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.

Alas…

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The Also-Rans Project – Room (Best Picture Nominee 2015)

Room Poster.jpgDirected by Lenny Abrahamson

Written by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel

Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus and Sean Bridgers

Best Picture 2015 was the first year in which The Best Picture Project and The Also-Rans overlapped – probably because The Also-Rans didn’t exist before.  This meant 2015 was the first – and likely only – year in which I could alter in real-time what movies I was going to see with respect to that year’s Best Picture contest.  Generally, try to catch all the Best Picture nominees in theaters, and because this was the first year I knew I was going to be doing The Also-Rans, I had the chance to hold out on seeing one, or more, of the nominees for the express purpose of watching that film later for The Also-Rans.  The movie I withheld?  Room. Continue reading

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The Also Rans — The Adventures of Robin Hood (Best Picture Nominee 1938)

Robin hood movieposter.jpgDirected by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley

Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller and Rowland Leigh

Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathone, Claude Rains, Alan Hale Sr., and Melville Cooper

Everybody knows the story of Robin Hood, or at least the one-sentence tag they think is the story of Robin Hood – steal from the rich and give to the poor.  Not surprising, that tag is overly-reductive, and grabs one line from the movie in an effort to summarize it, almost at random, ignoring that Robin Hood is complicated and less-interested in stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, than he is about protesting tax policy, and religious and ethnic persecution.

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The Also Rans – The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (Best Picture Nominee 1966)

Russians are coming.jpgDirected by Norman Jewison

Screenplay by William Rose, based upon the novel by Nathaniel Benchley

Starring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin, Brian Keith, Jonathan Winters, Paul Ford and Theodore Bikel

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming might’ve been nominated for Best Picture – and Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and a couple others – but it had zero chance of winning.  And by zero, I mean zero.  There’s always one or two of those kind of films in any Best Picture race and in 1966 The Russians are Coming was it.

One reason was history: Since the beginning, only six comedies have won the Oscar for Best Picture.  Ironically, at the time Russians came out, it would’ve had a better chance than it does today, because at that time five comedies had won Best Picture.  In the fifty years since, just one.  In a very real way its zero chance of winning in 1966 has steadily fallen below zero since. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans — Atonement (Best Picture Nominee 2007)

Atonement UK poster.jpgDirected by Joe Wright

Screenplay By Christopher Hampton, based upon the novel by Ian McEwan

Starring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Benedict Cumberbatch and Juno Temple Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project — The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King.jpgDirected 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

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