Midnight 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.
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.
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
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