Tag Archives: Best Picture Project

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

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

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…

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

The Best Picture Project — The Godfather Part II (1974)

Godfather part ii.jpgDirected 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,[1] 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

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

The Best Picture Project — Crash, dir. by Paul Haggis (2005)

Crash ver2.jpgDirected by Paul Haggis

Screenplay by Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco

Starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Michael Pena, Ryan Phillipe, Larenz Tate, Shaun Toud and Bahar Soomekh

Did you ever feel like the whole world was against you and it was because you were black?  Or white?  Or Muslim?  Or Hispanic?  Or white?  Or whatever?  And more than anything, you wanted to see a movie that confirmed your suspicions, so that you knew you weren’t just imaging it?  Only to preach at you that your problem might be as much your own racism as it is the racism of others?

Well, if you did, Crash is the film for you.

Or, did you ever feel like people hurt each other, simply so they feel alive?

Well, if you did, Crash is also the film for you.

Or, did you ever wonder why it is that people crash into each other?

Thankfully, Crash has an explanation for that, too – “We crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

The Also Rans Project — Gaslight (1944) – Best Picture Nominee

Gaslight-1944.jpgDirected by George Cukor

Screenplay by John Van Druten, Walter Resich and John L. Balderston, from the play Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton

Starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Dame Mae Witty and Angela Landsbury

It’s always best to start a discussion about a thing with maybe understanding that thing – since we’re talking about the movie, Gaslight, that means talking about the plot of Gaslight.  Except, you probably already know the plot of Gaslight because if you know the term ‘gaslighting’, you can guess exactly what a movie called Gaslight is about.  But if you haven’t, I’ll lay it out for you— Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Also Ran's Project

The Best Picture Project — Chicago (2002)

Chicagopostercast.jpgDirected by Rob Marshall

Screenplay by Bill Condon, based on ‘Chicago’ by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb and ‘Chicago’ by Maurine Dallas Watkins

Starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah, Taye Diggs, Christine Baranski, Dominic West, Lucy Liu and Deidre Goodwin

As with many of the films in this series – at least of the ones I’d seen before – I hadn’t laid eyes on Chicago in close to a decade before jotting down my take on it.  Sometimes, not having seen the film in years and forcing myself to revisit worked a detriment of the film, in that it made films I one enjoyed, seem a bit less than I thought they were – I’m looking at you A Beautiful Mind.  Sometimes, it only confirmed what I already knew – hello Gladiator.  So, in returning to it, Chicago faced the very real danger that while I once liked it a lot, I’d suddenly loathe it.  Fortunately – if you can call a middling response something of a fortune – I reacted to Chicago this time largely the same way I reacted to it last time.  Then, as now, I saw a film with parts I was fond of/blown away by, and parts I could have done without.  And perhaps in the most honest assessment a person can give, after having watched it again this time I suspect the DVD will do as it did before – it will go back into my collection and sit for another decade, if not more, collecting dust.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

The Also Rans – Stagecoach (Best Picture Nominee 1939)

Stagecoach movieposter.jpgDir. John Ford

Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on the short story “The Stage at Lordsburg” by Ernest Haycox

Starring John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Andy Devine and Claire Trevor

I resist John Wayne.  I always have and make no bones about why — he’s a rat bastard red-baiting jingoist war-monger and to this common-sense liberal, he’s repulsive.  And such is my repulsion that I can barely separate John Wayne the man from the characters John Wayne plays to such a degree I suspect he could play Ralph Nader and the only thing I’d think is, “My, it’s strange how conservative Ralph Nader is.”  To me, John Wayne’s a racist old grandpa we should be embarrassed about, not building films around.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise I’ve only seen three John Wayne films and have varying attitudes to them all:

  • True Grit
  • The Quiet Man
  • The Searchers

The Searchers, thought to be a classic, hardly registers with me beyond being racist in story and casting.  (Ironically, Gone With The Wind plays a similar game with it’s racial elements and yet, I don’t brush it off the same as I do The Searchers.  Rather, I’m apologetic of those elements to the point I’ve had to come to grips with being a massive hypocrite.) Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Also Ran's Project

The Best Picture Project — The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

The Life of Emile Zola poster.jpg

Directed by William Dieterle

Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine; Story and Screenplay by Heinz Herald and Geza Herczeg; based upon the book by Matthew Josephson

Starring Paul Muni, Gloria Holden, Gale Sondergaard and Joseph Schildkraut

The Life of Emile Zola is really two movies in one.

The first is a 25 minute seminar of a film, focusing on the professional life of writer Emile Zola.  It begins with him dirt poor in Paris, proceeds through a whirlwind medley of his greatest hits – books are published, a wife is married, fame is gotten – then settles with him into state of retirement and living off his wealth. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

What To Do…?

luiseAs loyal readers know, I’ve been chipping away at the Best Picture Project for some time — a little more intently at some times than others.  Well, at this point I’m an even dozen or so away from finishing and I’m determined to put an end to things this year, hopefully in the first half.  To that end I’ve got a DVD for The Life of Emile Zola waiting and DVD’s around the house for pretty much all the rest.  Come hell or high water, his year will put an end to it.

This leaves me, of course, in the position of wondering…what to do next?

No, loyal readers, I’m not going to pack it in and euthanize the blog — although, given how rarely I posted over the last year, who would know?  Rather, I intend to take on a different project, possibly two.

One I have in mind would be called ‘The Also-Rans’, a series looking at a Best Picture nominee in every year that I’ve not seen before — for instance, in 1939 I could watch Stagecoach.  Obviously, some years will be tough, because I’ve seen them all, but we’ll make it work.  Besides, I’m hoping that by taking a look at something down-menu, as it were, I might learn something.  Or maybe not.

The other would be called ‘Twinsies’ and more along the lines of double-features of films with the same title, or with the same actor/actress/writer/director that are disparate ends of the spectrum.  Think Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side vs. some movie where she’s the villain.

Maybe what I’ll do is both — I guess since this is my blog, I’m allowed to do that.

In the meantime, I’m going to watchThe Life of Emile Zola — meet you back here in a few days.  Maybe.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project

The Best Picture Project — Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Midnight Cowboy.jpgMidnight Cowboy (1969)

Directed by John Schlesinger

Written by Waldo Salt, based upon the novel by James Leo Herlihy

Starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman

Midnight Cowboy seems an unusual choice to win the Oscar – after all, until it’s win in 1969, no movie with any real, honest-to-goodness grit to it, save for maybe Marty, managed to snag the top prize.  And those that did have a tinge of grit to it – or darkness, if you prefer another word – were about big, important things, e.g. The Best Years of Our Lives.  In other words, if a dark movie, rooted in real life, wanted to win Best Picture, it had to go big and make epic statements about important topics (anti-Semitism, WWII), because, aside from that sweet little film about the lonely butcher – Marty – you couldn’t win.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Picture Project