Michael-Corleone

Michael in both the darkness and the light in The Godfather (1972) – still the best film to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Here we have 85 years of Oscar winners.  Though, because of the two winners in 1928 there are actually 86 winners that are ranked.

This list covers a complete ranking of all 86 of those films, from the very worst to the very best.  This will be followed by two more lists: a complete ranking of all the Best Picture years and a complete ranking of all 503 films that have earned Best Picture nominations (not including the 3 that can’t readily be seen).

A brief note, which will be repeated in the next two posts:  In the course of this project, in which the first post went up on 9 March 2010 and the last went up on 6 March 2013, we had three more years of Oscar races.  So 28 more films got added to the Best Picture mix, which now has 506 films, 3 of which I haven’t seen.  Therefore, the rankings on each individual post has fluctuated.  Aside from that, because I was ranking them as I went, not knowing that some films would go up and others would go down, I was doing the best approximation I could do at the time, waiting for the eventual full list.  But something else happened as well.  I would re-watch the films (or watch for the first time, for the last few years) and then rate the film.  So those ratings were fresh from watching the films.  Sometimes that can change.  I found, at least twice, when writing the actual reviews, that I had to adjust my rating based on the actual review I was writing (Five Easy Pieces and Fatal Attraction).  And twice, since the reviews have been posted, I have had comments on specific films that suggested my review implied a lower rating than I had given the film (Wilson and The Towering Inferno).  So, before doing this ranked list of the winners (and the other two), I have gone back and re-read all 503 of my reviews.  And then I re-ranked all 503 films based on what I feel my actual review said about the film.

some stats – changes in ranking are in relation to my original ranked list of all Best Picture nominees, but the numbers refer to their ranks just among the winners:

Biggest Drop:  My Fair Lady  (down 20 spots)

Films that Dropped 10 or more Spots:

  • The Sound of Music  (19)
  • Gentleman’s Agreement  (18)
  • Crash  (18)
  • Patton  (17)
  • An American in Paris  (13)
  • The Great Ziegfeld  (13)
  • Platoon  (10)
  • Chariots of Fire  (10)
  • Gladiator  (10)

Biggest Leap:  Sunrise  (up 18 spots)

Films that Leapt up 8 Spots or More:

  • Ordinary People  (13)
  • In the Heat of the Night  (11)
  • Marty  (11)
  • The Life of Emile Zola  (8)

Worst Film to Still Rate #1 in its Year:  The Deer Hunter

Best Film to Not Rate #1 in its Year:  Annie Hall

Years I Agree with the Academy Awards (20):  1929-30, 1943, 1945, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1972, 1978, 1984, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008

Years where the Academy Awards chose the Best Nominated Film (but not the best film):  1946, 1963, 1983, 1996, 1998, 2000

Years where the Academy Awards chose the Worst Nominated Film:  1928-29(*), 1930-31(*), 1952, 1958, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005

note:  –  The two years with an asterisk both have a film which I have not seen.

Years where the Academy Awards chose a film that was 5th or worse (but not the worst):

  • 1932-33  (8th of 10)
  • 1936  (7th of 10)
  • 1939  (5th of 10)
  • 1941  (6th of 10)
  • 1942  (5th of 10)

Winner ranked lowest in its individual year:  Braveheart  (98th out of 125)

Decades, by average finish:

  • 1920’s  –  54.0
  • 1930’s  –  57.4
  • 1940’s  –  43.4
  • 1950’s  –  48.0
  • 1960’s  –  38.2
  • 1970’s  –  34.8
  • 1980’s  –  48.6
  • 1990’s  –  35.5
  • 2000’s  –  42.7
  • 2010’s  –  31.0

There are three fantastic streaks.  From 1960-62, we have three winners in the Top 20, and then from 1990-93 we have four straight in the Top 28.  Aside from those stretches, you never have two consecutive films in the Top 20.  By far the worst is the back-to-back years of 51-52 (#76 and #84).

All the quotes that follow are from my original reviews.

The Bad Films  (**):

broadwaymelody#86  –  The Broadway Melody  (1928-29, dir. Harry Beaumont)

“Even if the dialogue and story weren’t as stupid as they are, it would still be difficult for anyone to be as bad as the rest of the cast.”

Cimarronposter#85  –  Cimarron  (1930-31, dir. Wesley Ruggles)

“And the question isn’t, why is it a bad film, but rather, how do we begin listing all the reasons it’s bad?”

The Mediocre Films  (**.5):

greatest_show_on_earth_ver3#84  –  The Greatest Show on Earth  (1952, dir. Cecil B. DeMille)

“What is Gloria Grahame doing in this film?  I can understand James Stewart.  He’s just relaxing, enjoying himself, and besides, he’s hidden under all that makeup.  But Grahame is a real actress and shouldn’t be anywhere near crap like this.  In fact, in the same year that she starred in this, she was winning Best Supporting Actress for her amazing performance in The Bad and the Beautiful.”

braveheart-poster-copy#83  –  Braveheart  (1995, dir. Mel Gibson)

“The acting is terrible, all throughout, and most especially with Gibson.  It is true that he didn’t originally want to star but that was the only way to get the studio money.  But did he have to be so awful?”

gigi-movie-poster-1958-1000525914#82  –  Gigi  (1958, dir. Vincente Minnelli)

“It must have seemed creepy even then, a lecherous old man singing “Thank Heaven For Little Girls.”   How could that possibly feel right?  I mean, we are talking about Maurice Chevalier here.  He’s not exactly the kindly old Grandpa type.”

cavalcade_poster#81  –  Cavalcade  (1932-33, dir. Frank Lloyd)

Cavalcade is the second lowest ranked Best Picture on the IMDb and that’s not quite fair.  It’s not a bad movie, like Broadway Melody or Cimarron (the only one ranked lower).  It’s not even a vastly over-rated mediocre film like Gigi or Braveheart.  What it is, is an exceedingly boring film.  It takes everything that can be dull about a play and makes it worse by expanding it for the film.”

The Good Films  (***):

africa#80  –  Out of Africa  (1985, dir. Sydney Pollack)

“I spent the whole film, both the first time I watched it and this time waiting for Streep, Brandaeur and the gorgeous cinematography to rise above the story itself.”

driving_miss_daisy#79  –  Driving Miss Daisy  (1989, dir. Bruce Beresford)

“I remember being confused when the Golden Globe nominations were announced and Driving Miss Daisy was in the Comedy / Musical category.  It seemed like a dry, stuffy drama, the kind of thing people love on stage but doesn’t really come to life as a film.  Rewatching it for the first time in over 20 years, I see it now.  It’s a comedy.  Not a laugh-out-loud comedy or even a comedy of manners, but a human comedy about two very different people and how they actually mesh.  I think even less of it now then I did then.”

Poster - Great Ziegfeld, The_02#78  –  The Great Ziegfeld  (1936, dir. Robert Z. Leonard)

“It’s one of those films that won Best Picture because of the size of the production, because it was a big money-maker, and of course, because it was an MGM film at the time when they ruled everything.”

gladiator#77  –  Gladiator  (2000, dir. Ridley Scott)

“But in the end, it is too long, too much of a mess, too badly written and there just isn’t enough to hold it together.  It vexes me.  But I’m not terribly vexed, because that’s just a stupid thing to say.”

american_in_paris_ver2#76  –  An American in Paris  (1951, dir. Vincente Minnelli)

“Leslie Caron is decidedly odd-looking and that she should so inspire the fierce passions of Gene Kelly, Louis Jourdan and Horst Buchholz in two Best Picture winners and a Best Picture nominee is outside of my scope of understanding.  But then, there are many things about this film that kind of boggle my mind.”

crash#75  –  Crash  (2005, dir. Paul Haggis)

“That this film could be taken seriously, as either a portrait of Los Angeles, or a look at racism, seemed strange at the time and only more so after it actually won the Oscar. “

sound movie poster#74  –  The Sound of Music  (1965, dir. Robert Wise)

” “So, now I’m up to 1965 which means I have to watch The Sound of Music,” I said.  “But you’ll get all those wonderful songs,” my mom replied.  “Mom, I hate the songs in The Sound of Music.” “

goingmywayposterb#73  –  Going My Way  (1944, dir. Leo McCarey)

“It’s just a nice little film about a fairly nice guy who has to replace the older fella at work and is going to help out some people along the way.”

beautiful_mind#72  –  A Beautiful Mind  (2001, dir. Ron Howard)

“Clearly they were trying to bring us into empathy with Nash’s issues, but I reacted violently against the way they did it.  And once that spell was broken, it was easy to see the other parts of the film that clearly weren’t really happening and any suspension of disbelief was gone, fading away into mist like the hallucinations don’t ever seem to. “

around_the_world_in_eighty_days_ver2#71  –  Around the World in 80 Days  (1956, dir. Michael Anderson)

“For all the disdain it is not a bad film like Cimarron or The Broadway Melody, nor is it a mediocre film like The Greatest Show on Earth or Braveheart.  It is an enjoyable film, a solid *** film that is most certainly too long and has no need to be so (the novel itself is a scant 192 pages).”

Chariots_Of_Fire_(1981)#70  –  Chariots of Fire  (1981, dir. Hugh Hudson)

“If it didn’t open with that wonderful Vangelis score as the young men run across the beach, would it have won Best Picture?  Would it have even been nominated?”

titanic_ver1#69  –  Titanic  (1997, dir. James Cameron)

“There is a fascinating human drama in the story of the Titanic.  It isn’t the one that James Cameron tells, but you can see it there, peeking out around the edges.”

1994-gump#68  –  Forrest Gump  (1994, dir. Robert Zemeckis)

“If you watch Forrest Gump, you get a small little Idiot’s Guide to Recent American History and learn absolutely nothing.  And if it didn’t want to be so damn sincere about it all it really could have been a wicked good time – a satire on the modern era.  Instead, it’s a chance for everyone to feel good.”

oliver_ver2#67  –  Oliver!  (1968, dir. Carol Reed)

“But the biggest problem, right at the heart of the film, is Mark Lester as Oliver.  If he had been cast for his voice, then that would have made sense, for he is quite terrible.  He embraces all the problems with child actors – he stands around and lets things happen to him, reacts pathetically, doesn’t ever seem to realize the film he is in and is just generally irritating.”

miniver#66  –  Mrs. Miniver  (1942, dir. William Wyler)

“It’s well-made, it’s thoughtful and was made with a very specific purpose, which it fulfilled.  It’s not a great film, but let’s not try to say it’s one of the worst Best Picture winners of all-time.”

wings#65  –  Wings  (1927-28, dir. William Wellman)

“That Wings is considered the first Best Picture winner when the category it won was “Best Production” rather than “Artistic Quality of Production” says something about what the Academy Awards stand for.”

lifeofemilezolaposter#64  –  The Life of Emile Zola  (1937, dir. William Dieterle)

“But as a film, it never quite rises above, never really earns its Best Picture win.  It’s still just a standard biopic, a good film, but not a great one.  It’s so hard to really make a great biopic, even when the performances are good.”

marty-poster#63  –  Marty  (1955, dir. Delbert Mann)

Marty, as the poster says, is a fine film.  It is warm and it is rich.  It is a very sweet film.  But that’s it.  It’s not great.”

The Very Good Films  (***.5):

grandhotelposter#62  –  Grand Hotel  (1931-32, dir. Edmund Goulding)

“This, I suppose, is what MGM did best.  They used to boast about how they had more stars than were in the heavens.  So they would take a whole bunch of them and put them in a film together.”

gandhi#61  –  Gandhi  (1982, dir. Richard Attenborough)

“In short, it was everything the Academy loves to reward – especially since it is not exactly the kind of thing that hauls in buckets of cash and this kind of prestige makes the Academy look like they are rewarding art instead of just the popular thing of the moment.”

rocky_ver1#60  –  Rocky  (1976, dir. John G. Avildsen)

“Watching it today on DVD, it’s interesting to note the ways in which the film shines and the flaws that permeate throughout.  On the one hand, Stallone’s script feels very real; the characters talk like actual people and they really seem like they are from the neighborhood that they are in.  On the other hand, it is cliche-ridden from start to finish.”

how_green_was_my_valley#59  –  How Green Was My Valley  (1941, dir. John Ford)

“According to Tag Gallagher’s book on John Ford, two of the key ideas on the film came from Darryl F. Zanuck.  Those two ideas, the idea of a narrator and the notion that Huw shouldn’t age through the course of the film, mean that we can forgive Ford the two biggest problems with watching the film today.”

allthekingsmen#58  –  All the King’s Men  (1949, dir. Robert Rossen)

“So what we have here is a very good film, not a bad choice for Best Picture, but not a great choice either and in the same year as The Heiress, it certainly isn’t the best choice.”

The Great Films  (****):

patton_ver2#57  –  Patton  (1970, dir. Franklin J. Schaffner)

“There’s the great scene where Patton directs his driver to an ancient Roman battlefield and talks about the life that he lived before, the wars he had already fought.  If only we got a bit more of that.  That Patton seems so much more interesting.”

gentlemansagreementposter#56  –  Gentleman’s Agreement  (1947, dir. Elia Kazan)

“It works because no one is better at playing this kind of righteous part than Gregory Peck.  There was never a whole lot of depth to Peck’s performances and that was why he was never particularly effective in his few roles as villains.  But he is perfect to play the hero, the man struggling to right the wrongs of the world.”

1988-rainman#55  –  Rain Man  (1988, dir. Barry Levinson)

“Watching this film at 14, just beginning to have a true, deep love of film, I never could have imagined that twenty years later I would be living out some of this film in my own life.”

gone_with_the_wind_ver1#54  –  Gone with the Wind  (1939, dir. Victor Fleming)

“So what do we have overall?  A film that barely achieves greatness, that really has had greatness thrust upon it, that was a magnificent triumph for its producer of hard work, talent and acting.  It’s simply too bad that it’s wasted on such a ridiculous story with such thinly written characters set in a period that is better left in the past.”

benhur#53  –  Ben-Hur  (1959, dir. William Wyler)

“Then there is of course, the chariot race.  It is a triumph of film spectacle even if it does go on for too long.  But it is well directed, well paced.  We can keep track of all the action and we are at the edge of our seats.  While Ben-Hur might not make it into the top 50 of the Best Picture winners, it is well crafted entertainment.”

youcant take it with you movieposter#52  –  You Can’t Take it With You  (1938, dir. Frank Capra)

“But I guess it doesn’t matter how it ends.  It matters how you get there.  And the journey is enjoyable, filled with warm, wonderful characters and charm.”

last_emperor#51  –  The Last Emperor  (1987, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)

“The film lags in considerable parts and you can’t help wondering if the film could have been significantly shorter and tightened up without losing any of the majesty or beauty.”

midnight_cowboy#50  –  Midnight Cowboy  (1969, dir. John Schlesinger)

Midnight Cowboy is far from a perfect film, but in its performances, in the new style of film-making that captured the underside of New York City, in the moments that instantly established it as a film to be remembered (“I’m walkin here!”), it does become a great film.”

milliondollarbaby_poster_1024#49  –  Million Dollar Baby  (2004, dir. Clint Eastwood)

Million Dollar Baby takes a lot of things which are bad ideas and somehow manages to put them all together and overcome them.”

my_fair_lady_ver5#48  –  My Fair Lady  (1964, dir. George Cukor)

“The problem is that Eliza begins as this dumpy little guttersnipe and ends up a lady.  Audrey Hepburn, of course, is perfectly believable as a lady.  Not so much as a guttersnipe.”

Poster - It Happened One Night_03#47  –  It Happened One Night  (1934, dir. Frank Capra)

“What it comes down to is this.  This is a great film.  It is funny, charming and endearing.  The scene where Colbert stops the car is still one of the most famous scenes in film history.  The ending is perfect, doing exactly what was possible under the code.  It is well written, well acted, well directed.  It works just as well now as it did in 1934.  What more do you need?”

kramer_vs_kramer_ver2#46  –  Kramer vs. Kramer  (1979, dir. Robert Benton)

“So many child actors, especially boys, are so awful, but he really is quite good in all of his scenes – especially the scene where he asks a co-worker of Ted’s if she likes fried chicken.  That scene, unbelievably funny, seems like exactly what would happen in that circumstance.  So does much of the film, for that matter, and perhaps that is the key to its success.”

one_flew_over_the_cuckoos_nest_ver2#45  –  One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest  (1975, dir. Milos Forman)

“His performance is much like his favorite team – the Showtime Lakers of the 1980′s – run and gun and run and gun and wear down the opponent until they can’t do anything else except try to keep up and fail.  But Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, well, she is something else all together.  She is much more like Riley’s Knicks of the mid-nineties – her defense will keep you from doing anything until you are so frustrated you just want to shoot yourself.”

sting_ver3#44  –  The Sting  (1973, dir. George Roy Hill)

“Is it the best film of 1973?  Not even close.  It is a great film and it is great entertainment – one of the most enjoyable of all the Best Picture winners.  But even if we were to ignore the fact that Cries and Whispers and The Exorcist are better films (both nominated) as is Mean Streets (not nominated), even if we were to think of it in pure entertainment value (and there is a measure of that in the Oscars), it still wouldn’t quite be able to match up to American Graffiti.  But it is a great film, well-made, well-directed, well-written, well-acted and it is a lot of fun and it isn’t that often that the Academy chooses something that encompasses all of that.”

chicago_ver5#43  –  Chicago  (2002, dir. Rob Marshall)

“It has great acting, it looks amazing and it never fails to entertain.  So what if it’s only the seventh best film of the year.  So what if that makes it, in the best year ever for Best Picture nominees, the weakest film of the year. “

Poster_-_Mutiny_on_the_Bounty_(1935)#42  –  Mutiny on the Bounty  (1935, dir. Frank Lloyd)

“The heart of this film is the remarkable performance by Laughton.  Because who else could have gotten any sympathy out of the audience by that point in the film.”

deer_hunter_ver2#41  –  The Deer Hunter  (1978, dir. Michael Cimino)

“The film isn’t really about Vietnam.  Vietnam just provides a useful frame for exploring what happens to these men.”

HamletLobby#40  –  Hamlet  (1948, dir. Laurence Olivier)

“The film is a success.  There is no doubt about it.  Olivier gives Shakespeare the depth and power the Bard deserves and his films all work.”

in_the_heat_of_the_night#39  –  In the Heat of the Night  (1967, dir. Norman Jewison)

“In 1967, when filmgoers got to the point where Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger go to confront the rich man in town that they feel might be mixed up in the murder they are both investigating and the rich, old racist slaps Poitier across the face and Poitier slaps him back, hard, it must have been shocking.  Today, it is less shocking then exhilarating.  And while contemporary viewers must have been waiting for an explosion (certainly the man himself wishes he could explode, telling Poitier how he could have had him hung for that), what’s more interesting today is his reaction once the two officers leave.  He breaks down.  He can not believe that the world has changed so much that his old ways no longer hold sway.  I love seeing that look and I look forward to more people who still hold on to their ignorant beliefs having that look cross their face as they look around the world and can no longer act the way they used to be able to.”

tom_jones_ver2#38  –  Tom Jones  (1963, dir. Tony Richardson)

“Perhaps only in 1963 could Tom Jones have won Best Picture.  It is one of those rare Comedy winners (it wouldn’t happen again for another 10 years), but it was so clearly the best of the nominees that even the Academy couldn’t screw this one up.”

manforallseasons#37  –  A Man for All Seasons  (1966, dir. Fred Zinnemann)

“It is a great film, well-written, well-made with excellent acting, most notably the Oscar winning performance by Paul Scofield as Thomas More, a performance filled with immense dignity and clarity.  But it seems to lack passion.  In a sense it wants to be too cerebral.  Perhaps it is good that Robert Shaw comes in to the middle of the film to liven things up a bit.”

lost_weekend#36  –  The Lost Weekend  (1945, dir. Billy Wilder)

“If you have any doubts about Billy Wilder as a director, just look at this film.  Look at the amazing performance by Ray Milland, the first one to win the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics, the Golden Globe and the Oscar and wouldn’t happen again for another decade.  Then look at it in comparison with the entirety of Milland’s career.  Did Milland, ever, in all those decades in film, do anything even close to this?”

1980-ordinary_people#35  –  Ordinary People  (1980, dir. Robert Redford)

“Look at many of the camera shots.  They start out from farther away, and only slowly move in towards the characters and the action.  This is much like the film itself – by the time we start, not only has the older brother already died, but the suicide attempt and the following hospitalization of the younger brother has also already past.  We start from farther away and slowly move towards the characters.”

hurt_locker_ver5#34  –  The Hurt Locker  (2009, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

“And if he can’t function in the world, is incapable of being father or husband, and if he finds happiness where he needs to be, out with death in the desert sands, then isn’t really the best place to end and can’t we call that a happy ending and at least have some measure of happiness for one person – that he is doing what he loves where he wants to be?”

artist_ver2#33  –  The Artist  (2011, dir. Michel Hazanavicius)

“This film covers some of the same ground as Singin in the Rain.  And if it weren’t so good, that would be infuriating.”

shakespeare_in_love_ver4#32  –  Shakespeare in Love  (1998, dir. John Madden)

“We are reminded this time of Casablanca and how the only proper ending is not the one with love reunited.  That is the brilliance of it all.  We got both the ending we want and the ending it should have and neither side feels cheated. “

argo_ver7#31  –  Argo  (2012, dir. Ben Affleck)

“It is a measure of how good Argo is that I knew exactly what the outcome of the opening scenes was going to be and I was still riveted to my seat.  In fact, as Veronica said, “I don’t think I could have watched the film and dealt with it if I hadn’t known that all those people came out of there alive.””

rebecca-laurence-olivier-joan-fontaine-1940#30  –  Rebecca  (1940, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Rebecca is one of the greats in the long treasured Hitchcock film library (I rank it third behind Strangers on a Trainand Rear Window), a magnificent film that is at once a romance, a drawing room mystery and a thriller.”

kings_speech_ver11#29  –  The King’s Speech  (2010, dir. Tom Hooper)

“Had The King’s Speech come out in 2011, I not only think it would have won the Oscar, but it probably would have won without a lot of argument about its quality.  Though The Artist, Hugo and The Descendents are great films, I would rank The King’s Speech above all of them and I suspect, if critics were to stop and think about the film for what it is, rather than what they perceive it to be in relation to Social Network, then they would too.”

dances_with_wolves_ver4#28  –  Dances with Wolves  (1990, dir. Kevin Costner)

“Still, we can just count ourselves lucky that Dances is that rare film that actually was deserving of its accolades, even if it was only the second best film of 1990.”

#27  –  The French Connection  (1971, dir. William Friedkin)

“What do the following films have in common:  The Best Years of Our Lives, All About Eve, The French Connection, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall, Terms of Endearment, Platoon, Dances with Wolves and The English Patient all have in common?  Well, they all won Best Picture, of course.  And none of them were my own personal choice for Best Picture (Children of Paradise, Sunset Boulevard, A Clockwork Orange, Chinatown, Star Wars, Fanny and Alexander, Hannah and Her Sisters, GoodFellas and Lone Star were).  But what they really have in common is that I can’t really complain that much that any of them won.  They all reached a certain level of quality above where I draw the line for Best Picture winner.  Even if they weren’t the best film of the year, they were at a good enough level that winning the Oscar is justifiable.”

slumdog_millionaire#26  –  Slumdog Millionaire  (2008, dir. Danny Boyle)

“We move through that train station, and interspersed with the credits (with them showing us the actors as they list them, which should be demanded by law) we get that wonderful dance number to the song “Jai Ho”, one of the single best original songs written for a film in the last 20 years.  And that stays with you and stays and stays.  It is written.”

departed_ver5#25  –  The Departed  (2006, dir. Martin Scorsese)

“And then we get that plea, “Do it for me,” as one man asks another to go through hell because it’s the only chance they have, and then, just as we finally get that title, we also get the Boston music, the music of this city, the music that inspires thoughts of the Irish, of drinking, of violence, of everything Boston that this film entails.”

unforgiven_ver1#24  –  Unforgiven  (1992, dir. Clint Eastwood)

“When Little Bill is lying on the ground, complaining that he doesn’t deserve to die like this, it was Eastwood the director who told Eastwood the actor not to smile, not to give even a hint of satisfaction like Dirty Harry would have had when he gives that fateful line and pulls that trigger, the line that sums up so much about this film: “Deserve’s got nothin to do with it.” “

TERMSOFENDEARMENT1983bq120#23  –  Terms of Endearment  (1983, dir. James L. Brooks)

“It runs up against Fanny and Alexander so it doesn’t take home Picture or Director from me, but damn if it isn’t close.  It’s still enjoyable, still brilliant, even after all this time.  And I still seem to fall in love with Debra Winger.”

no_country_for_old_men_ver2#22  –  No Country for Old Men  (2007, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)

“And the dream doesn’t go anywhere, and then he woke up and then the film ends, just as the book ended, and we are reminded that sometimes there is a lot of sound and a lot of fury and it doesn’t signify anything.  But with writing like this, directing like this, incredible acting like this, phenomenal editing (the construction of the story requires great editing), great cinematography, everything can fit together and it doesn’t have to signify anything.  Sometimes you just wake up”

from_here_to_eternity_ver2#21  –  From Here to Eternity  (1953, dir. Fred Zinnemann)

“It’s a great film, through and through, a magnificent triumph of the best that Hollywood had to offer in terms of story-telling, direction, acting and technical film-making.  It deserved those Oscars.  After all, the Academy does get things right sometimes.”

Godfather-Part-2-movie-poster-1020314552#20  –  The Godfather Part II  (1974, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)

“There is a wonderful moment with the brothers – Tom, Fredo, Sonny, Michael – all sitting around arguing about Michael’s announcement of having joined the Marines.  Soon, it will only be Michael, alone in his decision and we move forward some 25 years and there is Michael, still alone in his decisions.”

platoon_ver4#19  –  Platoon  (1986, dir. Oliver Stone)

“So many films make the excitement, the adrenalene of war obvious.  There are few films that truly make apparent the waste and insanity of war and perhaps only All Quiet on the Western Front does this as well as Platoon.”

apartment#18  –  The Apartment  (1960, dir. Billy Wilder)

“In the published version of the screenplay, it then says “And that’s about it.  Story-wise.”  And that’s right.  We don’t need a sentimental kiss or even an acknowledgment.  It’s gone as far as it should and it ends.”

english_patient_ver2#17  –  The English Patient  (1996, dir. Anthony Minghella)

“Which brings us back to the desert, back to that tender moment that the two of them share, lit only by a flare in the desert night sky, bringing them help and security.  He believes that this touch is all he has, until after they return to Cairo and she returns to him, beautiful and angelic in a white dress and their passion for each other overwhelms their senses.”

1999-americanbeauty#16  –  American Beauty  (1999, dir. Sam Mendes)

“This is the shadow of American suburbia: the jobs that make us feel trapped, the marriages that feel dead and make us search for what made them alive in the first place, the alienation between generations, the breakdown of communication, yet all of it hidden behind that facade of the beautiful house with the beautiful roses out front. “

AllAboutEve1950hs2000#15  –  All About Eve  (1950, dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

“Is there a more deliciously snarky character in all of film history than Addison DeWitt?  As he is so sublimely played by George Sanders, he comes in and takes over All About Eve (actually, he had it from the beginning, seeing as how he is the opening narrator) and never lets go. “

best_years_of_our_lives#14  –  The Best Years of Our Lives  (1946, dir. William Wyler)

“Though it doesn’t win any of my awards, not a single one of its seven Oscars could be said to be undeserved.  It is one of the great films in American history and one of the the few films that really fit the bill for a Pulitzer Prize.  How many films say this much about American life?”

amadeus_ver2#13  –  Amadeus  (1984, dir. Milos Forman)

“That is why this film works so well.  Because it doesn’t just give us a typical film.  It does it in a new and interesting way and when Salieri is wheeled through the room at the end, we can feel some absolution from his plea: “Mediocrities everywhere, I absolve you.” “

silence_of_the_lambs_ver3#12  –  The Silence of the Lambs  (1991, dir. Jonathan Demme)

“That brilliant ending, with that brilliant line is nowhere to be found in the book.  We can thank the makers of the film for giving us that eternally happy, yet disturbing ending, of Hannibal walking down the street after his old nemesis having uttered one of the great lines in movie history: “I’m having an old friend for dinner.” “

sunrise movie poster 4#11  –  Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  (1927-28, dir. F.W. Murnau)

Sunrise is the first true marriage of German artistry and the studio system.  So, of course, it was a financial failure and was the impetus for Fox to clamp down on Murnau and his creativity.”

waterfront#10  –  On the Waterfront  (1954, dir. Elia Kazan)

“How good is On the Waterfront?  It was nominated for 12 Oscars and it won 8 of those Oscars and I think the Academy under-rated it.”

allquiet#9  –  All Quiet on the Western Front  (1929-30, dir. Lewis Milestone)

“Is there any Best Picture winner which has aged as well as All Quiet on the Western Front?  It is still as vibrant and powerful today as it was in 1930.”

#8  –  West Side Story  (1961, dir. Robert Wise)

“It is so entrenched as in institution today that it hard to imagine what a ground-breaking film West Side Story is.”

annie_hall_ver2#7  –  Annie Hall  (1977, dir. Woody Allen)

“You might not like Woody Allen much, or his acting style, or even his New York, Jewish, left-wing, liberal, intellectual style of humor.  But we all do go through these relationships and unless we get lucky (like I have), we keep going through them again and again no matter how irrational, crazy or absurd they might seem.  Because, let’s face it.  Most of us need the eggs.”

Schindlers List 1993 Hindi dubbed movie poster 1#6  –  Schindler’s List  (1993, dir. Steven Spielberg)

” “The list is life.”  That is what Schindler is told early on and that is the counter to those who would criticize the film.  Yes, as some critics put it, only Spielberg would have women go into the showers at Auschwitz and actually have water come out rather than gas.  But they are missing the point.  This film is not about the 6 million who died.  It is about the 1100 who lived.”

bridge-on-the-river-kwai-1957#5  –  The Bridge on the River Kwai  (1957, dir. David Lean)

“Many Oscar winners really aren’t all the great.  Lean’s films were. “

lord_of_the_rings_the_return_of_the_king_ver6#4  –  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  (2003, dir. Peter Jackson)

“And yet, with the destruction of the ring, not all is over in the film.  Because part of what is so important here is that Frodo sets out to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for him.  So we need that final scene, the real ending of the film, on the shores of Middle Earth, those cleansing tears, not evil ones.”

lawrence-of-arabia#3  –  Lawrence of Arabia  (1962, dir. David Lean)

“It is a triumph of pure film-making, made at a time when people were willing to go see it.  It was made in 70 mm and it looks it, every inch.  It is a reason to go see films in the theater and if you don’t have the patience to sit through 216 minutes of this film in the theater then really, how much do you love the movies?”

Poster - Casablanca_13#2  –  Casablanca  (1943, dir. Michael Curtiz)

“It is filled with more great and memorable quotes than any film ever made, even more than The Princess Bride.”

1972-godfather_ver1#1  –  The Godfather  (1972, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)

“This is the heart of the film – the light of Kay and a life away from the family that Michael was striving towards and the life of darkness, inherited from his father, the inheritance that he now claims, and when the film ends with those haunting words “Don Corleone” and the final shot is of his wife having the door shut upon her, the darkness has completely claimed him.”