Friday, March 5, 2010

And, The Best Picture Is ...

I just love the Academy Awards. My mother was a huge movie fan and it passed to me through nurture and nature. I remember that we always would arrange dinner around the broadcast. It had to be something simple, not too much cooking involved, with clean-up done before the Oscars began. And we would be bathed and PJd and ready for bed, teeth brushed, before the first note sounded the beginning of the evening's festivities.

I actually think that when I was a child, the Academy Awards seemed to me like the biggest, most important night of the year. Much bigger than New Year's Eve which was, after all, just a bunch of grown-ups wearing silly hats, drinking champagne and kissing. Who cares about that stuff?

But The Oscars, oh my, that was something real.

The Best Picture award often seems the most meaningless to me. I know it means more money for whoever made the movie. But it doesn't seem to me that it is often given to the year's best picture.

Maybe they should rename it to "Most Expensive Picture." Or sometimes "Most Special Effects" picture. Occasionally it is "Most Self-Indulgent," or that other perennial favorite "Most Violent."

Regardless of what it really means, having won "Best Picture" is something that will likely keep the movie alive for future generations. People like me will make sure to see the Best Picture of previous years.

They become cultural references, too. They may not reflect who we were. But they do reflect who we thought we were, or who we wanted to believe we were. I doubt many men coming home from World War II arrived in such idylic small towns as that shown in "The Best Years of Our Lives," where every one of the returning servicemen knew most of the people in their own small town, and those towns were full of people who loved these men. That whole small town Americana myth. I've never seen it. But I guess there's a part of me that likes to believe maybe it existed at one time.

I think they should have a new category: Best Movie Poster. I used to know an art director who worked in a small agency in a run-down, dusty and dark building in midtown Manhattan. He drew movie posters. You'd think that would be the most glamorous job in the world, but I don't think they made a lot of money doing it. I was in awe of the man. To think, he draws movie posters. Wow! But he and his family lived in an apartment building in the Bronx. He wasn't rich, he just made a living. Not anything close to what the people who do advertisements for dish soap make. Isn't that odd? Describe the label on a bottle of Joy dishwashing liquid. Now describe the movie poster for Annie Hall. Why is the Joy better compensated than the unforgettable Annie Hall poster? Skewed priorities.

Anyway, here's the list of Best Movies. Soon to be amended. Happy Oscars.

2008 - “Slumdog Millionaire”

2007 - “No Country for Old Men”
2006 - “The Departed”
2005 - “Crash”
2004 - “Million Dollar Baby”

2003 - “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
2002 - “Chicago”
2001 - “A Beautiful Mind”
2000 - “Gladiator”
1999 - “American Beauty”
1998 - “Shakespeare in Love”

1997 - “Titanic”
1996 - “The English Patient”
1995 - “Braveheart”
1994 - “Forrest Gump”
1993 - “Schindler’s List”
1992 - “Unforgiven”
1991 - “The Silence of the Lambs”

1990 - “Dances with Wolves”
1989 - “Driving Miss Daisy”

1988 - “Rain Man”
1987 - “The Last Emperor”
1986 - “Platoon”
1985 - “Out of Africa”
1984 - “Amadeus”
1983 - “Terms of Endearment”

1982 - “Gandhi”
1981 - “Chariots of Fire”
1980 - “Ordinary People”
1979 - “Kramer vs. Kramer”
1978 - “The Deer Hunter”
1977 - “Annie Hall”

1976 - “Rocky”
1975 - “One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest”
1974 - “The Godfather Part II”
1973 - “The Sting”
1972 - “The Godfather”

1971 - “The French Connection”
1970 - “Patton”
1969 - “Midnight Cowboy”

1968 - “Oliver!”
1967 - “In the Heat of the Night”
1966 - “A Man for All Seasons”
1965 - “The Sound of Music”
1964 - “My Fair Lady”
1963 - “Tom Jones”
1962 - “Lawrence of Arabia”
1961 - “West Side Story”

1960 - “The Apartment”
1959 - “Ben-Hur”
1958 - “Gigi”

1957 - “The Bridge on the River Kwai”
1956 - “Around the World in 80 Days”
1955 - “Marty”

1954 - “On the Waterfront”

1953 - “From Here to Eternity”
1952 - “The Greatest Show on Earth”
1951 - “An American in Paris”

1950 - “All about Eve”
1949 - “All the Kings Men”
1948 - “Hamlet”
1947 - “Gentleman's Agreement”
1946 - “The Best Years of Our Lives”

1945 - “The Lost Weekend”
1944 - “Going My Way”
1943 - “Casablanca”

1942 - “Mrs. Miniver”
1941 - “How Green Was My Valley”
1940 - “Rebecca”
1939 - “Gone with the Wind”

1938 - “You Can't Take It with You”
1937 - “The Life of Emile Zola”
1936 - “The Great Ziegfeld”
1935 - “Mutiny on the Bounty”
1934 - “It Happened One Night”

1932/1933 - “Cavalcade”
1931/1932 - “Grand Hotel”

1930/1931 - “Cimarron”
1929/1930 - “All Quiet on the Western Front”
1928/1929 - “The Broadway Melody”
1927/1928 - “Wings”

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