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 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
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke, from the books Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Story Teller by Judith Thurman, and Silence Will Speak by Errol Trzebinski
Starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer
Out of Africa is a typical 80’s movie. Not in the way that Top Gun is an 80’s movie, with all the bombast, jingoism, reductionist story-lines and bonanza box office. No, it’s an 80’s movie in the way Ordinary People and Ghandi and The Killing Fields are all 80’s moves: it’s earnest, epic, about something sort-of important, and, above-all, fairly dull.
In other words, it’s the movie the Academy typically fell in love with in the 80’s and dumped a butt-load of Oscars on.
Even as I say that, with all the weariness and disdain I can muster V just imagine me rolling my eyes when I write typically – it really comes as no surprise bloated, boring epics were the name of the game in the 80’s, as far as the Academy was concerned. Giving awards to this kind of film was just what they did. And honestly, just like this isn’t the first time I’ve said it, it probably won’t be the last I say it, either. No, what will be said here first – at least by me – is the reason I think the 80’s went the way they did.
Directed by Jonathon Demme
Screenplay by Ted Tally, based on the novel by Thomas Harris
Starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins
It’s somewhat funny that, as I work myself through this project, I’ve described various Best Picture winners as ‘perhaps the darkest Best Picture winner ever,’ or some sentiment along those lines. I’ve said this about Oliver!, I’m sure I said it about The Lost Weekend, and if I didn’t say it about Platoon, I don’t know why. The reason this is funny is that, there can truly only be one film to hold the title of ‘darkest Best Picture’, and with all due respect to those other films that I might have tried to include in the race, the reality is that The Silence of the Lambs is easily the darkest of the Best Picture winners ever, hands down. Continue reading
Directed by Kevin Costner
Starring Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene and Rodney A. Grant
The Oscars were originally thought to be a promotional tool – the way for Hollywood to congratulate itself – but over time it’s not been without its share of controversy. Yes, there are little blips, such as Vanessa Redgrave and her ‘Zionist hoodlums’ speech, but really the most controversy is reserved for the Best Picture race and those years when it’s perceived the wrong film won. Continue reading