Tag Archives: Silence of the Lambs

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.

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The Best Picture Project — 12 Years A Slave (2013)

Directed by Steve McQueen

Written by John Ridley, based upon the memoir by Solomon Northup

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofer, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt

When Argo won Best Picture of 2012, I had the distinct thought that AMPAS finally got it right.  That after all the years of giving the Oscar to the wrong film – anybody want to talk about Crash? – and despite the slight backlash against Argo for its changes to the story to make it more cinematic, AMPAS stood strong and did the right thing.

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The Best Picture Project – Going My Way (1944)

Directed by Leo McCarey

Screenplay by Frank Butler and Frank Cavett, story by Leo McCarey

Starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald

Here’s an intriguing question:  What does it take for an actor to win an Oscar?  Leaving the little matter of politics out of it, my curiosity is over what kind of performance does it take for an actor to win an Oscar?  Is it better to play a showy role where the scenery can be chewed in all it’s glory, or at least one where we know a part is being played?  Or, is it better to play a role that rewards the naturalistic, showcasing the kind of acting where the actor doesn’t’ even seem to be acting? Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Forrest Gump (1994)

Film poster with an all-white background, and a park bench (facing away from the viewer) near the bottom. A man wearing a white suit is sitting on the right side of the bench and is looking to his left while resting his hands on both sides of him on the bench. A suitcase is sitting on the ground, and the man is wearing tennis shoes. At the top left of the image is the film's tagline and title, and at the bottom is the release date and production credits.Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise

Screenplay by Eric Roth, from the Novel by Winston Groom

Forrest Gump is probably not the worst film to ever win Best Picture.  After all, it’s hard to be the worst when films like Cavalcade, Gigi and Around the World In 80 Days all took the top prize.  But just because it’s not the worst, it’s victory might just be the most egregiously wrong in Academy history.

After all, to get the crown, Gump had to overcome two other classic movies – Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption – but even taking those two out of the equation, it’s still not nearly as good as the two other movies left in the race, Quiz Show and Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Quite simply, Forrest Gump might not be the worst to win Best Picture, but it’s easily one of the creakiest. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Amadeus (1984)

Directed by Milos Foreman

Written by Peter Schaffer, adapted from his play

Starring F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce

Amadeus is one of those films honored by the Academy that, because of the perfect storm of subject, lack of recognizable stars, and what-have-you, is for the most part, generally unknown by the modern public – at least that’s the way it seems to me. After all, whenever I discuss any movies, especially Best Picture winners, nobody mentions Amadeus. The action-nerds talk about Platoon, the sci-fi guys talk about 2001 and Star Wars getting shafted, the costume drama buffs talk about Gone With the Wind, and the musical buffs have a million to choose from. Even thriller guy gets to talk about Silence of the Lambs. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – The Deer Hunter (1978)

The theatrical poster features Robert De Niro pointing a gun to his head. It is a black and white image with red highlighting his bandana.Directed by Michael Cimino

Screenplay by Deric Washburn, Story by Deric Washburn, Quinn K. Redeker, Michael Cimino and Louis Garfinkle

Starring Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, John Savage, Christopher Walken and John Cazale

The Deer Hunter might be the darkest film to ever win Best Picture, and if not the darkest, then at least the bleakest.  Certainly, over the years the Academy has recognized pictures that were not of the sunniest disposition – after all, Hamlet is several hours of brooding, followed by Hamlet’s death – but on the whole, the Academy has shown a decided tendency towards films that could either be called heartwarming, uplifting, or hopeful.  Think about Gigi, Around the World in 80 Days, Rocky, et al.  And even some of the darkest to win Best Picture haven’t been all that dark. Continue reading

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