Well, now that the latest Oscar ceremony is out of the way, I guess it’s time to focus on predicting what will be nominated next year.
(Well, it’s not really time but if you’re an Oscar-obsessive like I am, you really have no choice. Oscar speculation is an addiction that’s easily shaken off.)
Below, you’ll find my predictions for April. As always, these should be taken with several grains of salt.
First off, I haven’t seen any of these films and some of them might not live up to expectations.
Secondly, I’m not even sure whether the Academy is going to go back to the old rules of using the end of December as their eligibility cut-off or if they’re going to continue with the extended release window that they used last year.
Third, the Oscar picture is never anywhere close clear until November or December rolls around. Right now, I can only predict what I know is going to be released between now and December 31st. Obviously some of the movies below might have their release date changed and several movies will be picked up from the various film festivals. In all probability, next year’s big Oscar winner isn’t even on anyone’s radar right now. (Let’s not forget that, up until February of this year, most people were still predicting that Da 5 Bloods would be a huge Oscar player.)
Also note, the Academy is finally going back to having a set number of best picture nominees so no more of this stupid 7 or 9 nominees nonsense. In theory, that’s good news for film like Dune, which will probably get a lot of technical nominations but which probably would have struggled to make the final best picture lineup under the former rules. Of course, the Academy is also about to institute their inclusion requirements so it will be interesting to see if any of the expected contenders are disqualified from competing for best picture.
If you want to follow how my thinking has developed, be sure to check out my predictions for March!
This morning, I woke up and I thought about the cult of Steven Soderbergh.
Soderbergh is a filmmaker who is fervently adored by some film and cultural critics. They eagerly devour his every thought. They examine his annual list of the things that he watched during the year with the intensity of theological scholars studying an ancient-but-just-discovered religious text. The Cult of Soderbergh reacts with excitement whenever it’s announced that Soderbergh has secretly filmed an improvised comedy on his phone and that he’ll be releasing it on HBOMax. The fact that the movie itself will probably turn out to be a self-indulgent mess never really seems to concern them.
Don’t get me wrong. Steven Soderbergh has directed some very good movies. There are quite a few Soderbergh films — Out of the Past, The Girlfriend Experience, The Informant!, Logan Lucky, Magic Mike — that I really, really like. However, Soderbergh has directed and otherwise been involved with some truly mediocre films as well, films that would probably be totally forgotten if not for the fact of his involvement. Even his worst films tend to get good initial reviews, if just because people tend to assume that anything Soderbergh directs has to be good even when it’s not. But, in retrospect, many of his films are stylish and ultimately empty. Haywire is a mess. The Laundromat was self-indulgent and pretentious. Let Them All Talk was so dull that it felt as if it was specifically made to troll the type of people who proudly proclaim that they will watch Meryl Streep in anything. Contagion may have predicted a pandemic but that doesn’t make it any less of a drag to sit through. When Steven Soderbergh is good, he’s very good. When he’s bad, he’s incredibly bad. He’s one of the most frustratingly inconsistent filmmakers around. That’s something that many film fans and critics have yet to come to terms with.
It’s also why I kind of groaned a little when, last month, I read that Steven Soderbergh would be producing the Oscars this year. Everyone knows that the Oscars are struggling to stay relevant and that the ceremony needed to be jazzed up a little and, if nothing else, that seemed to be something that Soderbergh could deliver. But, even while the Cult of Soderbergh was celebrating, I was thinking about how the Oscars seemed like just the type of event that would draw out Soderbergh’s worst tendencies.
Now, at this point, I should make clear that Soderbergh did not direct last night’s ceremony. He was strictly the producer and, in fact, he was just one of three producers. That said, from the opening scene of Regina King walking through Union Station to the decision to allow the winners to ramble on for as long as they wanted (almost as if they were Meryl Streep and Candice Bergen shooting an improvised film during an ocean cruise), this definitely felt like a Steven Soderbergh production. Even more importantly, it felt like a bad Soderbergh production. This wasn’t Traffic or even Ocean’s 11. This was Solaris. This was Full Frontal. This was one of those terrible movies that he agreed to executive producer as a favor to George Clooney. This was the type of train wreck that could only have been put together by a genius who no one was willing to double guess.
We all knew that last night’s Oscars were going to be a bit different, of course. And I guess we should be glad that they didn’t make the same mistakes that the Golden Globes made. That said, the ceremony was an endurance test. Last night’s ceremony did away with a lot of the things that have been criticized about previous ceremonies but, in doing so, it only made us realize that an awards show actually does need a host. It does need a cheesy montage. It needs spectacle. It needs live performances of the nominated songs. It needs humor, even bad humor. (Glenn Close twerking after her record-setting eighth Oscar loss does not count.) And, perhaps most importantly, it needs a band that’s willing to start playing the exit music whenever a winner goes on for too long. Who didn’t want a full orchestra to drown out the Documentary Feature winners? Do we really need a filibuster from someone who probably had sex with an octopus? That’s what the Senate’s for.
As I watched the ceremony, I thought about something one of my creative writing teachers once told me. Seriously, this is one of the most important lessons that I’ve ever learned and anyone who knows how much I hate learning anything will understand that’s high praise coming for me. If you want your reader to truly feel as if they know your characters, show. Don’t tell. Show. If you want your readers to understand that someone is good at their job, don’t just say, “She was good at her job.” Instead, write a scene that shows she’s good at her job. For the most part, last night’s ceremony eschewed showing clips of the nominated films and instead, we were provided with trivia factoids about the nominees, the type of stuff that you typically find on the imdb or Wikipedia. But hearing that someone worked in a movie theater when they were a teenager doesn’t tell us anything about why they were nominated. Last night, the lack of clips made it seem as if the Academy ashamed of the films they had nominated. They kept telling us the nominees were good but, at the same time, they refused to show us.
Finally, there was the weird choice to move around some of the categories. It’s obvious what the show’s producers — and I won’t lay the blame squarely on Soderbergh because there were two other credited producers on the show — were trying to do. They assumed Chadwick Boseman would win best actor. They assumed it would be a huge emotional moment, the 21st century’s equivalent of Judy Garland introducing herself as “Mrs. Norman Maine” in the 1954 version of A Star is Born. And so, they moved the categories around.
As a result, Chloe Zhao won Best Director in the middle of the show. Zhao is only the second woman to win best director and the first woman of color. It should have been a great Oscar moment but instead, it was just randomly tossed in there, with no build-up or anything else. Best Picture, which is traditionally the joyous end of the ceremony, was moved so that the final award could go to Chadwick Boseman. Of course, that didn’t happen. The final award went to Anthony Hopkins for The Father. When presenting the award, Joaquin Phoenix read the name of the winner so quickly that it actually took a few minutes for me to realize that Hopkins had won. Phoenix read the name and the end credits rolled so quickly that you got the feeling someone in the control room panicked. It was an odd moment. Obviously, Hopkins couldn’t come to L.A. for the ceremony but he was also apparently so convinced that Boseman was going to win that he didn’t even bother to stay up for the ceremony. (According to People Magazine, he was asleep when his name was called. Actually, that was true for a lot of people in America as well.)
It was an anti-climatic end to the ceremony but, putting aside the question of who should have won best actor, it was hard not to feel some schadenfreude. The show’s producers basically messed up the show’s entire momentum for a big moment that they assumed was going to happen and then it didn’t. They got a bit too clever for their own good. As more than one person pointed out on twitter, last night was proof that the producers do not know, ahead of time, who is going to win. I know some would say that it’s easy to be critical in hindsight but that if Boseman had won last night, we would be talking about what a moving moment it was. Yes, we would but it would been just as moving if Boseman had won at the end of the ceremony or at the beginning of it or in the middle. Instead, the producers took a risk that only succeeded in making Boseman’s loss the defining moment of the 93rd Academy Awards.
(Incidentally, I watched The Father on Sunday, before the ceremony. Hopkins is amazing in the film and I feel he deserved the award. At the same time, I’m also very aware that Boseman was very good in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and that this was literally the Academy’s last chance to honor both his performance and his legacy. So, when I say that it’s unfortunate Boseman loss, that should not be taken as criticism of Hopkins. Nor should my praise of Hopkins be viewed as criticism of Chadwick Boseman.)
Many of the changes last night felt less like they were the result of seriously considering what would improve the ceremony and more like change for the sake of change. It felt like the people in charge basically said, “This is our show and we have to do something to show that we know better than everyone who has come before us.” There was a lot of hubris involved in last night’s ceremony. There was a definite lack of understanding of why people watch the Oscars in the first place. Watching the ceremony, I was reminded of the experiencing of listening to countless Steven Soderbergh commentary tracks where he got so caught up in discussing dry technical details that he didn’t actually bother to comment much on what it was like to actually make the film and work with the actors. (One gets the feeling that Soderbergh is more comfortable talking about lenses than about human emotions.)
I’m not going to get into an argument about what the Oscars are “supposed” to be. Obviously, there’s no set rule that says the Oscars have to take place in a giant theater or that there has to be a host or a live musical performance. But I will say that, for me, the most memorable Oscar ceremonies have been entertaining to watch, even if they did inspire a bit of snarkiness on the part of many viewers. (The snarkiness, let’s be honest, is a part of what we all look forward to.) The show’s producers were so busy patting themselves on the back for not being tacky that they failed to consider that shameless tackiness is actually one of the things that makes the Oscars the Oscars. Last night’s show was boring. And beyond everything else, that was the main problem. People want to have fun. They want to escape for a few hours. They want a little spectacle. If the Academy and Hollywood at large can’t remember how to deliver that, I don’t know how much longer this yearly tradition of watching the Oscars will continue.
Patrick, I think, had the right idea. While Doc and Epoch slept and he read, Leonard, Jeff, and I watched a live tweeted this year’s Steven Soderbergh-produced Oscar ceremony. That it was an odd ceremony should not have come as a surprise, all things considered. Still, the three of us found ourselves shocked by not only the strange placement of the categories (i.e., putting Best Director in the middle of the show) but also by just the entire style of the entire ceremony. It was very Soderberghian, in that it was occasionally interesting but overall rather uneven. We were especially surprised when Best Picture was given out before the acting prizes but then we realized that they were obviously building up to the emotional moment when Chadwick Boseman would win his posthumous Oscar. Of course, for that to happen, Boseman would have to win Best Actor and …. well, here’s a few of our tweets from the very odd ceremony:
Ah, the 2010s. Social media made anxiety the norm and Americans became obsessed with “red states” and “blue states.” Americans fetishized politicians and the Academy decided that it would be cool to do away with the idea of having a set number of best picture winners. One bright spot, for me at least: Arleigh invited me to write for this site! And the rest, as they say, is history!
Should Have Won: Ah, The King’s Speech vs The Social Network. On the one hand, The King’s Speech was a far more conventional film than The Social Network. On the other hand, The Social Network‘s supporters tended to be so obnoxious about it that you kind of wanted it to lose just to spite them. Personally, I liked The King’s Speech on an emotional level. The Social Network holds up fairly well, though I still find it to be overrated. Inception is still exciting to watch and Winter’s Bone gets better every time I view it. In the end, though, my vote still goes to Black Swan, a film that gave me an asthma attack the first time I watched it.
Should Have Won: The Artist isn’t bad but its victory was still more about its novelty than its quality. The Tree of Life is visually stunning but the scenes with Sean Penn are a bit too heavy-handed for me. My vote goes to Hugo, a film that gets better each and every time that I see it. (My favorite film of the year remains the unnominated Hanna.)
Should Have Won: This was a good year and I can make an argument for why American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Her, and The Wolf of Wall Street all deserved to win. In the end, though, the power of 12 Years a Slave cannot be denied.
Should Have Won: We all love Michael Keaton but Birdman was a pretentious film that thought it was more profound than it actually was. Of the nominees, Boyhood is my pick. (My favorite film of the year was — and I make no apologies for this — the terrifically entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy.)
Should Have Won: Spotlight is a well-acted, visually flat movie that feels like it belongs on television as opposed to playing in theaters. Of the nominees, I really love Brooklyn but Mad Max: Fury Road is a masterpiece of the pulp imagination and that’s the film that gets my vote.
Should Have Won: This is one of the stronger best picture line-ups and the fact that I would pick a film other than Moonlight should not be taken as a criticism of the Academy’s decision. Moonlight is a worthwhile winner. La La Land would have been a worthy winner, as well. In retrospect, 2016 was a better year for movie than a lot of us realized a the time. Back then, I would have voted for Arrival but today, I would probably vote for Hell or High Water. “We ain’t got no goddamned trout.”
Should Have Won: Considering how much I love Guillermo Del Toro, it pains me that I didn’t particularly care for The Shape of Water. But I have to admit that the film lost me as soon as the Fishman ate that cat. Of the nominees, I would have voted for Lady Bird.
Should Have Won: My favorite film of the year, Eighth Grade, was not nominated. In fact, a lot of good films weren’t nominated in 2018. What a strange year that sees both Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody nominated but not Eighth Grade or First Reformed. Spike Lee finally got his first nomination but it was for one of his most conventional films. It was a strange year. Of the nominees, I would vote for A Star is Born.
Should Have Won: My favorite film of the year was The Souvenir, which barely got any distribution at all in the States and went unnominated. Parasite‘s victory was a great moment and it’s certainly a good film. That said, I still would have voted for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
And that’s it for our look back at all the previous races for Best Picture! Later tonight, a new film will join these previous winners! The big show starts in about 30 minutes!
Ah, the aughts. The new century started out with the terror of 9-11 and it ended with the collapse of the world’s economy. In between, a lot of films were released. Some of them were really good. A few of them were nominated for Best Picture. Most of them were not.
Should Have Won: I’m in a minority here but I’ve never particularly cared for Gladiator. Joaquin Phoenix is a good villain and I can certainly understand why some people have adopted it as a sort of a life manual but, for the most part, Gladiator just falls flat for me. If I was voting, I would have voted for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There was a time when I would have voted for Traffic but Crouching Tiger has aged with a bit more grace the Steven Soderbergh’s look at the war on drugs.
Should Have Won: A Beautiful Mind gets criticized for being too Oscar bait-y but it’s not a bad film. What it does, it does well. That said, I would have voted for Todd Field’s haunting In The Bedroom.
Should Have Won: As much as I love Chicago, this is the year that I would have selected to honor Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Two Towers is the darkest chapter in the saga and it’s also the best.
Should Have Won: Even while it was sweeping the Oscars, it was understood that Return of the King was being honored as a way to acknowledge the entire trilogy. Since I already honored the trilogy with The Two Towers, that frees me up to vote for Lost In Translation this year. Lost In Translation is a film that haunts me in a way that few other films ever have or ever will.
Should Have Won: Martin Scorsese finally won his first Oscar for The Departed. Sadly, The Departed is actually one of his weaker films. (Of course, a weak Scorsese film is still better than an average film from any other director.) Back in 2007, I thought Babel should have won but that’s just because I was going through a pretentious phase where I thought any film with multiple storylines was automatically brilliant. Today, I realize that The Queen was the proper winner.
Should Have Won: This is the year that the Academy went back to ten nominees. The idea was that this would lead to a more diverse best picture lineup and it certainly worked the first year they tried it. This is one of the strongest best picture lineups in Oscar history and I say that as someone who really disliked Avatar and who thought The Hurt Locker was a bit overrated. I could make an argument for honoring Up In The Air, Up, District 9, A Serious Man, and Inglourious Basterds but my final vote would go to the underrated but wonderful An Education.
Coming up in an hour, we wind up our look at the history of the Best Picture race with the 2010s!
Should Have Won: Goodfellas. It can be difficult to get a large group of film fans to feel the same way about anything but everyone seems to agree that Goodfellas has held up far better than Dances With Wolves and that Martin Scorsese’s gangster film should have won over Kevin Costner’s good-for-you western.
Should Have Won: The Silence of the Lambs is one of those films that’s both brilliant and ludicrous at the same time. Actually, you can probably say the same thing about the two other major contenders, Bugsy and JFK. You can really make a case for why all three of the films should have won, despite all three being a little overrated. That said, my vote goes to Beauty and the Beast because it’s a film that embraces life as opposed to death.
Should Have Won: I like all of the nominees, though I would have switched out The Fugitive for Dazed and Confused.The Piano is a haunting film but, in the end, the Academy picked the right winner. It’s become a bit fashionable to try to find flaws in Schindler’s List but you know what? Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and Schindler’s List is both a needed history lesson and an important film.
Should Have Won: Oh God, Titanic. I loved you when I was like 12 but today, I can’t watch the film without snickering at the dialogue. Of the nominees, my vote would go to L.A. Confidential. I wish Boogie Nights had been nominated.
Should Have Won: Shakespeare in Love is a film that I actually really like but knowing that it was a pet project of Harvey Weinstein’s makes the film a bit awkward to watch nowadays. I’m generally not a fan of war films but The Thin Red Line has moments of haunting beauty. That said, of the nominees, Elizabeth gets my vote. It’s a film that challenges our preconceived notions of an iconic historical figure. Add to that, a good deal of Shakespeare In Love‘s cast also appeared in Elizabeth so, by honoring Elizabeth, we ensure that Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes still get to brag about appearing in the best film of 1998.
Should Have Won: 1999 was a great year for movies so it’s kind of ironic that the Oscar went to one of the worst films of the decade. Are we finished pretending that American Beauty has anything worthwhile to say? My votes goes to The Sixth Sense, which holds up well even though we all now know about the big twist at the end.
Up next, in about an hour, a new century begins! Welcome to the aughts!
Ah, the 80s! Ronald Reagan was president. America was strong. Russia was weak. The economy was booming. The music was wonderful. Many great movies were released, though most of them were not nominated for any Oscars. This is the decade that tends to drive most Oscar fanatics batty. So many good films that went unnominated. So many good nominees that failed to win. Let’s dive on in!
Should Have Won: Ordinary People is actually a pretty good film. It may feel more like a made-for-TV movie than a feature film but it’s well-acted and it deserves some credit for not offering up any easy solutions. A lot of people would say that the Oscar should have gone to Raging Bull but, as well-directed and acted as that film is, Jake La Motta is such an unlikable character that it’s hard for me to really get emotionally invested in his story. My vote would have gone to David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. Lynch tells an inspiring story without compromising his surreal vision.
Should Have Won: The victory of Chariots of Fire is an odd one. The music is great but the film itself isn’t particularly memorable. I really, really like Atlantic City but ultimately, my vote would go to Raiders of the Lost Ark, an adventure that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience.
Should Have Won: Gandhi is the epitome of the type of Oscar winner that won less because of any cinematic artistry involved in the production and more because of what it was about. To be honest, though, I’m not extremely enthusiastic about any of the other nominees either. Ultimately, I guess I would have to go with E.T. It’s a bit heavy-handed but it works.
(My pick for the best of 1982 would probably be …. I don’t know. Blade Runner? Diner? There are some really good 1982 films but it’s hard to find one that just leaps out and says, “This is the best of the year!” Actually, I’d probably go with Tenebrae, despite the fact that it wasn’t released in the States until 1984 and in a heavily edited version at that.)
Should Have Won: Out of Africa is a pretty boring movie and Robert Redford is totally miscast as an Englishman. (To be honest, Redford is pretty much miscast as anyone but Robert Redford.) There were a lot of good films in 1985 that were not nominated: Brazil, Ran, Runaway Train, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Mask, After Hours, and quite a few more. Of the nominees, I would have gone for the beautiful and haunting Witness.
Should Have Won: Here’s one of my favorite exchanges from King of the Hill. It’s Peggy and Hank’s anniversary. They have the house to themselves for the weekend. Feeling that the romance has gone out of their lives, Peggy’s depressed. Hank tries to cheer her up.
Hank: “C’mon, Peg, we’ve got the house to ourselves. Plus, I rented an R-rated movie.”
Peggy (briefly hopeful): “Really? What movie?”
Hank (pauses, looks down): “Uhmmm …. Platoon.”
Some people love Platoon and some people don’t. You can put me in the latter category. Oliver Stone achieves a dream-like intensity but good God, was Charlie Sheen ever a good actor? Of the nominees, I would vote for A Room With A View.
Among the films not nominated this year: Blue Velvet, Aliens, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Stand By Me, Mona Lisa, Something Wild, and Top Gun.
Should Have Won: How about Full Metal Jacket? Oh wait, wasn’t nominated. Robocop? Not nominated. Dirty Dancing? Not nominated. Oh well. Even if those films were nominated, I would still have voted for Hope and Glory.
Should Have Won: This is an odd year. It’s kind of a weak line-up. Not nominated were films like Do The Right Thing, Scandal, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Enemies: A Love Story, and Henry V. Driving Miss Daisy gets criticized for obvious reasons but Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman both give strong performances. Born on the 4th of July has some good moments but Oliver Stone’s heavy hand eventually gets in the way and the scene where Tom Cruise-as-Ron-Kovic tracks down the parents of the soldier he accidentally killed only succeeds in making Kovic look like a selfish jerk. Dead Poets Society is, in many ways, just as heavy-handed as Born On the 4th of July but it’s also a lot more likable and I enjoyed the trio of Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Josh Charles. In the end, Dead Poets Society gets my vote.
Ah, the 70s. The decade started with the collapse of the studio system and the rise of the so-called movie brats. For the first half of the decade, Hollywood was producing the type of challenging films on which they would never again be willing to take the risk. The 70s were indeed a second cinematic golden age, full of anti-heroes and dark endings. Then, in 1977, Star Wars changed all of that and ushered in the era of the blockbuster. The 1970s gave the world disco, The Godfather, and some of the best Oscar winners ever.
Should Have Won: I know that there are people who love Patton. I’ve never been able to sit through the whole film, despite the obvious power of George C. Scott’s lead performance. Airport is dull when compared to other disaster films and Love Story will leave you actively rooting for either divorce or death. Of the nominated films, M*A*S*H and Five Easy Pieces are the strongest. Both are flawed, of course. M*A*S*H is frequently misogynistic but, at the same time, it’s still one of the most effective anti-war films I’ve ever seen. (The scene where blood suddenly spurts out of a wounded soldier’s neck still shocks me.) Five Easy Pieces features a great performance by Jack Nicholson but, far too often, it doesn’t play fair by making everyone around him a caricature. In the end, my vote goes to M*A*S*H.
Should Have Won: With the exception of that nomination for Nicholas and Alexandra, this was a strong year and I can make a case for each other four remaining nominees. I love The Last Picture Show but, a few years ago, I saw a showing of The French Connection at the Alamo Drafthouse and it still wowed me, even though I knew everything that was coming. In this case, I agree with the Academy. The French Connection deserved its victory.
Should Have Won: Every time I watch The Sting, I discover that it’s actually better than I remembered. American Graffiti is another personal favorite of mine. That said, I’m a Catholic girl who loves horror movies so there’s no way I’m not picking The Exorcist here.
Should Have Won: This is a great lineup of nominees, with all five deserving a nomination and deserving to win as well. As for which film would get my vote, my mind says Nashville but my heart says Jaws. In this case, I’ll go with my heart.
Should Have Won: This one is difficult for me. For me, the race comes down to All The President’s Men, Network, and Taxi Driver. (I no longer feel as negatively about Rocky as I once did but I still feel like it shouldn’t have been nominated for Best Picture, much less won.) In the end, my love of horror films leads me to vote for Taxi Driver. So, even if I am taking away Rocky’s victory, I’m still voting for a film where an inarticulate man gets a job working for Joe Spinell.
Should Have Won: Ugh, I can’t stand Kramer vs. Kramer. Beloved by some, this is a film that makes me want to throw a shoe at the screen whenever I see it. (It’s that smug little smile that Dustin Hoffman gets on his face while talking to Jane Alexander that pushes me to my breaking point.) Though I love Breaking Away, All That Jazz is the film that gets my vote.
Ah, the 60s. Both the studio system and the production code collapsed as Hollywood struggled to remain relevant during a time of great social upheaval. The Academy alternated between nominating films that took chances and nominating films that cost a lot of money. It led to some odd best picture lineups.
Should Have Won: Again, of the films nominated, the Academy made the right decision. West Side Story earned that victory. When you’re a Jet, you’re the best. That said, I do so wish that Breakfast at Tiffany’s had been nominated. (Of course, if I had the power to go back and change the nominees, I would also have the power to remove all of the scenes with Mickey Rooney as Holly’s neighbor. That’s the good thing about having power.)
Should Have Won: Now, this was a great year for films! With the exception of Mutiny on the Bounty, all of the nominees deserved to be there. There were a lot of other films released that year that probably deserved to be nominated as well: Advise and Consent, The Manchurian Candidate, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Days of Wine and Roses, Lolita, David and Lisa, The Miracle Worker, and so many others. It’s so hard for me to pick between Lawrence of Arabia and To Kill A Mockingbird. In the end, and this should not be taken as criticism of Lawrence of Arabia at all, I probably would have voted for To Kill A Mockingbird.
Should Have Won: If 1962 featured one of the strongest best picture lineups, 1963 features one of the weakest. In a unimpressive field in which only two best picture nominees also received nomination for best director, Tom Jones seems like the obvious winner. That said, Cleopatra is such an amazing disaster that I’d probably have to vote for it just to make sure that the world never forgot it. From Russia With Love was released in the UK during this year but it wasn’t released in the U.S. in time to qualify for the ’63 Oscars. Still, I’m going to pretend that it was and name it the best film of 1963.
Should Have Won: While international cinema was breaking boundaries and challenging audiences, the Academy was honoring My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music. The 1965 best picture line-up is not a particularly strong one and A Thousand Clowns is somehow even more annoying than The Sound of Music. (“Yessir, that’s my baby” — SHUT UP!) That said, for me, Darling is the clear winner.
Should Have Won: Another weird lineup. A Man For All Seasons isn’t bad but it still feels more like homework than cinema. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was a groundbreaking film and featured Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton at their best. Alfie made a star out of Michael Caine. That said, the more I thought about it, the more I liked The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. It’s a likable comedy. It’s a bit lightweight. But, of all the nominees in this admittedly imperfect lineup, it’s probably the one I would want to watch more than once.
(That said, if I was in charge of the ’66 nomination, the Best Picture lineup would have been: Blowup, Juliet of the Spirits, Seconds, Kill Baby Kill, A Man and A Woman, and The Oscar, just to mess with people. The ratings for my Academy Awards would be so low that the Oscars would probably never be televised again.)
Should Have Won: What a weird line-up! Consider some of the eligible films that were not nominated: Petulia, Pretty Poison, The Good The Bad and the Ugly, 2001, Planet of the Apes, Rosemary’s Baby. Oliver! is better than My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music but it still feels like a film that won largely because it was a big production. Out of the nominees, I guess I would vote for …. Romeo and Juliet. I know The Lion in Winter is great but Romeo and Juliet brought Shakespeare to vibrant life.
Should Have Won: The Academy was really struggling to find itself in 1969. Here are some of the eligible films that were not nominated: Once Upon A Time In The West, The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider, Medium Cool, Alice’s Restaurant, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, Last Summer, and Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice. Instead, the best picture lineup was made up of: an international political thriller, a buddy comedy, an X-rated film about New York hustlers, an overproduced musical, and an old-fashioned historical drama. That said, out of the nominees, I think the Academy made the right choice. Though the film has a few pretentious moments, Midnight Cowboy remains an effective portrait of life on the fringes of society.
Now, put on your bell bottoms. Do a line of coke. Turn on the Bee Gees. Coming up in about an hour — it’s the 70s!