4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Orson Welles Edition


4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

As I mentioned previously, the great Orson Welles was born 106 years ago today. And that means that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Orson Welles Films

Citizen Kane (1941, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Gregg Toland)
The Stranger (1946, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Russell Metty)
Touch of Evil (1958, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Russell Metty)
The Trial (1962, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Edmond Richard)

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For April


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!

Best Picture

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

The French Dispatch

A Journal for Jordan

King Richard

The Last Duel

Nightmare Alley

Respect

Soggy Bottom

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Wes Anderson for The French Dispatch

Guillermo Del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal for Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Nightmare Alley

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Andrew Garfield in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Bill Murray in The French Dispatch

Forest Whitaker in Respect

Best Supporting Actress

Chante Adams in A Journal for Jordan

Judi Dench in Belfast

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Audra MacDonald in Respect

Marlee Matlin in CODA

The Shattered Lens Live Tweets Oscar Sunday


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:

Here Are The Oscar Winners!


Best Picture — Nomadland

Best Director — Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Actor — Anthony Hopkins In The Father

Best Actress — Frances McFormand in Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor — Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Supporting Actress — Yuh-jung Youn in Minari

Best Adapted Screenplay — Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for The Father

Best Original Screenplay — Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman

Best Animated Feature — Soul

Best Documentary Feature — My Octopus Teacher

Best International Feature Film — Another Round

Best Live Action Shot Subject — Two Distant Strangers

Best Animated Short Subject — If Anything Happens, I Love You

Best Documentary Short — Collette

Best Original Score — Soul

Best Original Song — “Fight For You” from Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Cinematography — Mank

Best Costume Design — Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Editing — Sound of Metal

Best Makeup and Hair Styling — Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Production Design — Mank

Best Sound — Sound of Metal

Best Visual Effects -Tenet

The Best Picture Race In Review: The 2010s


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!

2010

Black Swan

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The King’s Speech

127 Hours

The Social Network

Toy Story 3

True Grit

Winter’s Bone

Won: The King’s Speech

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.

2011

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Won: The Artist

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.)

2012

Amour

Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Won: Argo

Should Have Won: “Argo fuck yourself!” Yes, I can see why this won! Actually, Argo‘s victory has always struck me as weird. Argo is a rather forgettable winner. My vote goes to Life of Pi.

2013

12 years A Slave

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

The Wolf of Wall Street

Won: 12 Years A Slave

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.

2014

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Won: Birdman

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.)

2015

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Won: Spotlight

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.

2016

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester By The Sea

Moonlight

Won: Moonlight

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.”

2017

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Won: The Shape of Water

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.

2018

Black Panther

BlackKklansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourtie

Green Book

Roma

A Star Is Born

Vice

Won: Green Book

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.

2019

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

1917

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Parasite

Won: Parasite

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!

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019, dir by Quentin Tarantino)

The Best Picture Race In Review: The 2000s


Lost In Translation (2003, dir by Sofia Coppola)

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.

2000

Chocolat

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Erin Brockovich

Gladiator

Traffic

Won: Gladiator

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.

2001

A Beautiful Mind

Gosford Park

In the Bedroom

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Moulin Rouge!

Won: A Beautiful Mind

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.

2002

Chicago

Gangs of New York

The Hours

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Pianist

Won: Chicago

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.

2003

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Lost in Translation

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Mystic River

Seabiscuit

Won: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

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.

2004

The Aviator

Finding Neverland

Million Dollar Baby

Ray

Sideways

Won: Million Dollar Baby

Should Have Won: Million Dollar Baby is good but The Aviator is Scorsese at his best. It also features Leonardo DiCaprio’s first legitimately great performance.

2005

Brokeback Mountain

Capote

Crash

Good Night and Good Luck

Munich

Won: Crash

Should Have Won: Oh God, don’t get me started on Crash. What should have won? Anything other than Crash. I’ll go with Brokeback Mountain.

2006

Babel

The Departed

Letters From Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

The Queen

Won: The Departed

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.

2007

Atonement

Juno

Michael Clayton

No Country For Old Men

There Will Be Blood

Won: No Country For Old Men

Should Have Won: No Country For Old Men. The Academy got it exactly right.

2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Won: Slumdog Millionaire

Should Have Won: Of the nominees, I have to go with Slumdog Millionaire. This, of course, is the year that The Dark Knight was not nominated and the internet lost its mind as a result.

2009

Avatar

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

A Serious Man

Up

Up In The Air

Won: The Hurt Locker

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!

The Best Picture Race In Review: The 1990s


Goodfellas (1990, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Ah, the 90s. Some would say that this was the last good decade that the world would ever experience. It was certainly a good decade for films!

1990

Awakenings

Dances With Wolves

Ghost

The Godfather, Part Three

Goodfellas

Won: Dances With Wolves

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.

1991

Beauty and the Beast

Bugsy

JFK

The Prince of Tides

The Silence of the Lambs

Won: The Silence of the Lambs

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.

1992

The Crying Game

A Few Good Men

Howards End

Scent of a Woman

Unforgiven

Won: Unforgiven

Should Have Won: Unforgiven. It’s one of the few intelligent films ever to be made about what violence does to the soul.

1993

The Fugitive

In The Name of the Father

The Piano

The Remains of the Day

Schindler’s List

Won: Schindler’s List

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.

1994

Forrest Gump

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Pulp Fiction

Quiz Show

The Shawshank Redemption

Won: Forrest Gump

Should Have Won: Pulp Fiction. “But, Lisa, what about The Shawshank Redemption….” Seriously, don’t even start with me. Pulp Fiction for the win.

1995

Apollo 13

Babe

Braveheart

Il Postino

Sense and Sensibility

Won: Braveheart

Should Have Won: Casino! Oh wait, it wasn’t nominated. Okay, Sense and Sensibility then.

1996

The English Patient

Fargo

Jerry Maguire

Secrets & Lies

Shine

Won: The English Patient

Should Have Won: “Just stop telling your story and die! DIE!” I have to agree with Elaine Benes on this one. My vote goes to Fargo.

1997

As Good As It Gets

The Full Monty

Good Will Hunting

L.A. Confidential

Titanic

Won: Titanic

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.

1998

Elizabeth

Life Is Beautiful

Saving Private Ryan

Shakespeare in Love

The Thin Red Line

Won: Shakespeare in Love

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.

1999

American Beauty

The Cider House Rules

The Green Mile

The Insider

The Sixth Sense

Won: American Beauty

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!

The Sixth Sense (1999, dir by M. Night Shyamalan)

The Best Picture Race In Review: The 1980s


The Elephant Man (1980, directed by David Lynch)

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!

1980

Coal Miner’s Daughter

The Elephant Man

Ordinary People

Raging Bull

Tess

Won: Ordinary People

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.

1981

Atlantic City

Chariots of Fire

On Golden Pond

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Reds

Won: Chariots of Fire

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.

1982

E.T. — The Extra Terrestrial

Gandhi

Missing

Tootsie

The Verdict

Won: Ganhdi

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.)

1983

The Big Chill

The Dresser

The Right Stuff

Tender Mercies

Terms of Endearment

Won: Terms of Endearment

Should Have Won: Terms of Endearment is good but I still would have voted for another Texas film, Tender Mercies.

1984

Amadeus

The Killing Fields

A Passage to India

Places in the Heart

A Soldier’s Story

Won: Amadeus

Should Have Won: While Once Upon A Time In America is my pick for the best film of 1984, Amadeus is the best of the nominees.

1985

The Color Purple

Kiss of the Spiderwoman

Out of Africa

Prizzi’s Honor

Witness

Won: Out of Africa

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.

1986

Children of a Lesser God

Hannah and Her Sisters

The Mission

Platoon

A Room With A View

Won: Platoon

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.

1987

Broadcast News

Fatal Attraction

Hope and Glory

The Last Emperor

Moonstruck

Won: The Last Emperor

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.

1988

The Accidental Tourist

Dangerous Liaisons

Mississippi Burning

Rain Man

Working Girl

Won: Rain Man

Should Have Won: Rain Man is actually pretty good but, of the nominees, my vote goes to Dangerous Liaisons.

1989

Born on the 4th of July

Dead Poets Society

Driving Miss Daisy

Field of Dreams

My Left Foot

Won: Driving Miss Daisy

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.

Coming up in one hour — it’s time for the 90s!

The Best Picture Race In Review: The 1970s


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.

1970

Airport

Five Easy Pieces

Love Story

M*A*S*H*

Patton

Won: Patton

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.

1971

A Clockwork Orange

Fiddler on the Roof

The French Connection

The Last Picture Show

Nicholas and Alexandra

Won: The French Connection

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.

1972

Cabaret

Deliverance

The Emigrants

The Godfather

Sounder

Won: The Godfather

Should Have Won: The Godfather. No question.

1973

American Graffiti

Cries and Whispers

The Exorcist

The Sting

A Touch of Class

Won: The String

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.

1974

Chinatown

The Conversation

The Godfather, Part II

Lenny

The Towering Inferno

Won: The Godfather, Part II

Should Have Won: Sorry, Chinatown. You’re great but The Godfather Part II cannot be denied.

1975

Barry Lyndon

Dog Day Afternoon

Jaws

Nashville

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Won: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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.

1976

All The President’s Men

Bound for Glory

Network

Rocky

Taxi Driver

Won: Rocky

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.

1977

Annie Hall

The Goodbye Girl

Julia

Star Wars

The Turning Point

Won: Annie Hall

Should Have Won: Annie Hall. Yeah, I know everyone’s pretending like they never liked any of Woody Allen’s films now. Annie Hall is still a charming bittersweet comedy.

1978

Coming Home

The Deer Hunter

Heaven Can Wait

Midnight Express

An Unmarried Woman

Won: The Deer Hunter

Should Have Won: This is a year in which all of the nominees were flawed. An Unmarried Woman gets my vote, despite the fact that the film has its share of “It’s so tough being rich” moments.

1979

All that Jazz

Apocalypse Now

Breaking Away

Kramer Vs. Kramer

Norma Rae

Won: Kramer vs. Kramer

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.

Up next, in about an hour, the 80s!

The Best Picture Race In Review: The 1960s


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.

1960

The Alamo

The Apartment

Elmer Gantry

Sons and Lovers

The Sundowners

Won: The Apartment

Should Have Won: The two best and most influential films of 1960 — Hitchcock’s Psycho and Kubrick’s Spartacus — went unnominated. Of the nominees, The Apartment deserved its victory.

1961

Fanny

The Guns of Navarone

The Hustler

Judgment and Nuremberg

West Side Story

Won: West Side Story

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.)

1962

Lawrence of Arabia

The Longest Day

The Music Man

Mutiny on the Bounty

To Kill A Mockingbird

Won: Lawrence of Arabia

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.

1963

America, America

Cleopatra

How the West Was Won

Lillies of the Field

Tom Jones

Won: Tom Jones

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.

1964

Becket

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Mary Poppins

My Fair Lady

Zorba the Greek

Won: My Fair Lady

Should Have Won: My Fair Lady is a good example of a film that won because the Academy was trying to pretend that it was still the 1950s. I would have voted for Dr. Strangelove.

1965

Darling

Doctor Zhivago

Ship of Fools

The Sound of Music

A Thousand Clowns

Won: The Sound of Music

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.

1966

Alfie

A Man For All Seasons

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

The Sand Pebbles

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Won: A Man For All Seasons

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.)

1967

Bonnie and Clyde

Dr. Doolittle

The Graduate

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

In The Heat of the Night

Won: In The Heat of the Night

Should Have Won: In The Heat Of The Night isn’t bad but it’s also not The Graduate. The Graduate gets my vote, even though I know Benjamin and Elaine probably broke up as soon as they got off that bus.

1968

Funny Girl

The Lion in Winter

Oliver!

Rachel, Rachel

Romeo and Juliet

Won: Oliver!

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.

1969

Anne of the Thousand Days

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Hello, Dolly!

Midnight Cowboy

Z

Won: Midnight Cowboy

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!

Midnight Cowboy (1969; Dir by John Schlesinger)