Sunset Boulevard (1950) - the greatest film ever made

Sunset Boulevard (1950) - the greatest film ever made

Here we have it. Oscar day is upon us. And for those of you who have been reading these posts for the last month, thanks, and I hope, if you like film, you’ll keep reading. For the next year, I’ll be doing a countdown of the 100 Greatest Directors of All-time, doing one every few days or so. I’ll also continue to do regular film posts and the Family News page will come back to the front, if you’re here to read about Thomas, Veronica and me.

Okay, so that was last year.  The Top 100 Directors are now all completed as can be seen here. This next year involves further work on my Year in Film series, my Top 100 Novels and, starting this week, an in-depth look at all the Best Picture nominees.

Anyway, for the last post, since I have seen 461 475 of the 468 478 films that have been nominated for Best Picture, I am giving a comparative ranking of all the films nominated for Best Picture.

The first seven three films are simply listed in chronological order as those are the ones I haven’t seen. The winners are in blue.

I’ve gone ahead and marked how many stars the films have to give an idea of how good I think the films are. For the record, I begin the Best Picture conversation with ***.5 films. So, if it gets ***, it’s a good film, but a bad choice for a Best Picture nomination.

For those who have looked at my list of 100 Best Films That Weren’t Nominated for Any Oscars, you probably noticed that the top two films on the list (Touch of Evil and The Seventh Seal) were both from the same Oscar year (1958). They are so close that I am tempted to just call it a tie. There are five years like that on this list – where my top two films from that particular year are so dead even, I want to call it a tie. In this case all ten of those films were nominated for Best Picture, and in all five cases they appear back to back on the list. So, while Star Wars, Amadeus, Platoon, Unforgiven and Munich may be my Best Picture winners for 1977, 1984, 1986, 1992 and 2005 respectively, consider Annie Hall, A Passage to India, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Crying Game and Brokeback Mountain to be co-Best Pictures.

A quick note on the number of films here (478). This includes the three films nominated in 1927-28 for Best Artistic Quality of Production (Sunrise – which won the Oscar, Chang and The Crowd). What it does not include is The Last Command (which would rank about 208) and The Way of All Flesh (like The Patriot, a lost film). Those two films for years were included on the initial list of Best Production (which the next year was renamed Best Picture). Many books refer to them as Best Production nominees, including Inside Oscar and Movie Awards by Tom O’Neil (at least the 2001 version that I have). But at some point the Academy decided they were not nominees and took them off the list. More recent books do not include them and the IMDB does not list them as nominations for the films (though there is a note about it on the page for the initial Academy Awards).

Hope any readers have enjoyed all this. I have to think what to write about for next year’s Oscar season.

Okay, so here is next year’s Oscar season and I have updated all of these, adding notes on various categories with facts and trivia about the nominees.  Now, for this list I have not updated it.  The reason is that, for my upcoming in-depth look at all the Best Picture nominees, year by year, I will be re-watching every single nominee.  So, I want to wait until I’ve seen them all again and had a fresh look before I re-rank them all.  I’ve already watched some and I already know that some films will be going down the list (In Old Arizona comes to mind) and some films will be going up (Sunrise goes up considerably).  So, the only changes for this year are fitting in the four films that I hadn’t seen last year and the 10 nominees for this year.  But by this time next year, I will add a whole new list.

I will be adding it to the end of this post for two reasons.  One, I want to have the comparison there so people can see how my opinion might have changed.  The second is because this post has been far and away the most successful thing I have ever put on the blog.  These days this post alone averages more hits per day than the whole blog was getting before I started my whole History of the Academy Awards series in January of last year.

So here’s my small update.  And if you whole-heartedly disagree with some of my rankings, check in on the individual years as they come out, because I’ll actually discuss each film in depth and feel free to slam my choices all you want.

haven’t seen

The Patriot – 1928-29
Skippy – 1930-31
East Lynne – 1930-31
State Fair – 1932-33
The House of Rothschild – 1934

The White Parade – 1934
Hold Back the Dawn – 1941

*.5
461 – Cleopatra – 1963

Cleopatra (1963) - far and away the worst film ever nominated for Best Picture

Cleopatra (1963) - far and away the worst film ever nominated for Best Picture

**
460 – Love Story – 1970
459 – Airport – 1970
458 – The Divorcee – 1929-30
457 – Scent of a Woman – 1992
456 – She Done Him Wrong – 1932-33
455 – The Champ – 1931-32
454 – The Broadway Melody – 1928-29
453 – 42nd Street – 1932-33
452 – All This and Heaven Too – 1940
451 – Nicholas and Alexandra – 1971
450 – The Crowd – 1927-28
449 – The Mutiny on the Bounty – 1962
448 – The Broadway Melody of 1936 – 1935
447 – Naughty Marietta – 1935

**.5
446 – Doctor Dolittle – 1967
445 – Viva Villa – 1934
444 – The Towering Inferno – 1974
443 – In Old Chicago – 1937
442 – Hollywood Revue of 1929 – 1928-29
441 – Cleopatra – 1934

440b – Skippy – 1930-31
440 – Three Coins in the Fountain – 1954
439 – Flirtation Walk – 1934
438 – Zorba the Greek – 1964
437 – San Francisco – 1936
436 – Braveheart – 1995
435 – Fatal Attraction – 1987

Just remember this: according to Oscar voters in 1987, Fatal Attraction was a better film than Full Metal Jacket, Empire of the Sun or The Princess Bride.

434 – Cimarron – 1930-31
433 – Alibi – 1928-29
432 – Boys Town – 1938
431 – Trader Horn – 1930-31
430 – Alamo – 1960
429 – Love is a Many Splendored Thing – 1955
428 – Imitation of Life – 1934
427 – Ship of Fools – 1965
426 – The Nun’s Story – 1959
425 – Gigi – 1958
424 – The Greatest Show on Earth – 1952
423 – Blossoms in the Dust – 1941
422 – Peyton Place – 1957
421 – The Big House – 1929-30
420 – The Good Earth – 1937
419 – The 10 Commandments – 1956
418 – Captains Courageous – 1937
417 – Nashville – 1975
416 – Shane – 1953
415 – The Razor’s Edge – 1946
414 – Out of Africa – 1985
413 – Anthony Adverse – 1936
412 – Quo Vadis – 1951

***
411 – Sayonara – 1957
410 – Here Comes the Navy – 1934

Here Comes the Navy (1934) - which I was finally able to see this past summer thank to Turner Classic Movies

Here Comes the Navy (1934) - which I was finally able to see in the summer of 2008 thank to Turner Classic Movies

409 – Four Daughters – 1938
408 – In Old Arizona – 1928-29
407 – Father of the Bride – 1950
406 – Wake Island – 1942
405 – Love Affair – 1939
404 – One Hour With You – 1931-32
403 – One Night of Love – 1934
402 – Jezebel – 1938
401 – Auntie Mame – 1958
400 – How the West Was Won – 1963
399 – 100 Men and a Girl – 1937
398 – Madame Curie – 1943
397 – Hello Dolly! – 1969

396b – The Blind Side – 2009
396 – Norma Rae – 1979
395 – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – 1954
394 – Kitty Foyle – 1940
393 – The Turning Point – 1977
392 – A Touch of Class – 1973

391b – The House of Rothschild –  1934
391 – Born Yesterday – 1950
390 – The Love Parade – 1929-30
389 – Wilson – 1944
388 – The Longest Day – 1962
387 – The Green Mile – 1999

Thanks to The Blind Side, The Green Mile (1999) is no longer the weakest nominee since Braveheart.

386 – The Human Comedy – 1943
385 – Three Smart Girls – 1936
384 – The Racket – 1927-28
383 – Twelve O’Clock High – 1949
382 – The Bells of St Mary’s – 1945
381 – Working Girl – 1988
380 – The Song of Bernadette – 1943
379 – Alexander’s Ragtime Band – 1938
378 – Dark Victory – 1939
377 – Disraeli – 1929-30
376 – Friendly Persuasion – 1956
375 – The 49th Parallel – 1942
374 – Cavalcade – 1932-33
373 – The Pied Piper – 1942
372 Smilin Through – 1932-33
371 – The Smiling Lieutenant – 1931-32
370 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – 1967

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) - the weakest Best Picture nominee in 9 years

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) - the weakest Best Picture nominee from 2000 to 2008

369 – Becket – 1964
368 – Romeo and Juliet – 1968
367 – Battleground – 1949
366 – King Solomon’s Mines – 1950
365 – Romeo and Juliet – 1936
364 – Bad Girl – 1931-32
363 – On Golden Pond – 1981
362 – Tender Mercies – 1983
361 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – 2008
360 – Our Town – 1940
359 – Since You Went Away – 1944
358 – America America – 1963
357 – The Robe – 1953
356 – Anne of the Thousand Days – 1969
355 – Fiddler on the Roof – 1971
354 – A Beautiful Mind – 2001
353 – Dead End – 1937
352 – A Farewell to Arms – 1932-33
351 – Alice Adams – 1935
350 – Sergeant York – 1941

349b – Hold Back the Dawn – 1941
349 – Chocolat – 2000
348 – One Foot in Heaven – 1941
347 – Test Pilot – 1938
346 – Marty – 1955
345 – Arrowsmith – 1931-32
344 – The Story of Louis Pasteur – 1936
343 – Ivanhoe – 1952
342 – Lilies of the Field – 1963
341 – Driving Miss Daisy – 1989
340 – Erin Brockovich – 2000
339 – Giant – 1956
338 – The Sand Pebbles – 1966
337 – An Unmarried Woman – 1978
336 – Coal Miner’s Daughter – 1980
335 – Five Star Final – 1931-32

Five Star Final (1931) will make a big jump up in the 2011 update.

334 – Chang – 1927-28
333 – Awakenings – 1990
332 – Julius Caesar – 1953
331 – The Red Shoes – 1948
330 – Ghost – 1990
329 – The Sundowners – 1960
328 – Alfie – 1966
327 – Goodbye Mr. Chips – 1939
326 – The Barretts of Wimpole Street – 1934
325 – The Life of Emile Zola – 1937
324 – Random Harvest – 1942
323 – Titanic – 1997
322 – The Dresser – 1983
321 – Ninotchka – 1939
320 – Around the World in 80 Days – 1956
319 – Mrs. Miniver – 1942

The Dresser (1983) - a fairly forgotten Best Picture nominee

The Dresser (1983) - a fairly forgotten Best Picture nominee

318 – Places in the Heart – 1984
317 – The Yearling – 1946
316 – Room at the Top – 1959
315 – Sounder – 1972
314 – The Citadel – 1938
313 – Mildred Pierce – 1945
312 – Going My Way – 1944
311 – The Lives of a Bengal Lancer – 1935
310 – Shanghai Express – 1931-32
309 – The Bishop’s Wife – 1947
308 – Julia – 1977
307 – Gladiator – 2000
306 – Fanny – 1961
305 – The Snake Pit – 1948
304 – Rachel Rachel – 1968
303 – The Prince of Tides – 1991
302 – Shine – 1996
301 – Forrest Gump – 1994
300 – Separate Tables – 1958
299 – The Talk of the Town – 1942
298 – Johnny Belinda – 1948
297 – Libeled Lady – 1936
296 – Ruggles of Red Gap – 1935
295 – The Front Page – 1930-31
294 – Funny Girl – 1968
293 – Seabiscuit – 2003
292 – Judgment at Nuremberg – 1961
291 – The Great Ziegfeld – 1936
290 – Wings – 1927-28

Wings, the first Best Picture (1928) might be a buddy war film, but it's Clara Bow I always remember the most.

289 – The Long Voyage Home – 1940
288 – An American in Paris – 1951
287 – Oliver! – 1968
286 – The Mission – 1986
285 – Sons and Lovers – 1960

284b – State Fair – 1932-33
284 – Children of a Lesser God – 1986

***.5
283 – The More the Merrier – 1943
282 – Lady for a Day – 1932-33
281 – David Copperfield – 1935
280 – The Private Life of Henry VIII – 1932-33
279 – Lost Horizon – 1937
278 – Watch on the Rhine – 1943
277 – Little Miss Sunshine – 2006
276 – Heaven Can Wait – 1943
275 – Foreign Correspondant – 1940
274 – Moonstruck – 1987
273 – The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming – 1966
272 – The Rose Tattoo – 1955

Chariots of Fire (1981) - one of the most surprising Best Picture winners

Chariots of Fire (1981) - one of the most surprising Best Picture winners

271 – Little Women – 1932-33
270 – Grand Hotel – 1931-32
269 – Chariots of Fire – 1981
268 – Life is Beautiful – 1998
267 – Stage Door – 1937
266 – The Letter – 1940
265 – Bound for Glory – 1976
264 – Barry Lyndon – 1975
263 – Decision Before Dawn – 1951
262 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 1935
261 – The Godfather Part III – 1990
260 – Gandhi – 1982
259 – Here Comes Mr Jordan – 1941
258 – The Fugitive – 1993
257 – The Pride of the Yankees – 1942
256 – Anchors Aweigh – 1945
255 – Rocky – 1976
254 – The Goodbye Girl – 1977
253 – Dodsworth – 1936
252 – The Little Foxes – 1941
251 – Crash – 2005
250 – The Defiant Ones – 1958
249 – The Cider House Rules – 1999
248 – Babel – 2006
247 – Seventh Heaven – 1927-28
246 – Anatomy of a Murder – 1959
245 – Babe – 1995
244 – The King and I – 1956
243 – Apollo 13 – 1995
242 – Elizabeth – 1998

Cate Blanchett should have won the Oscar for Elizabeth (1998)

241 – A Few Good Men – 1992
240 – Of Mice and Men – 1939
239 – Moulin Rouge – 1952
238 – Ray – 2004
237 – Letters from Iwo Jima – 2006
236 – Frost/Nixon – 2008
235 – The Piano – 1993
234 – Elmer Gantry – 1960
233 – How Green Was My Valley – 1941
232 – The Sound of Music – 1965
231 – The Emigrants – 1972
230 – The Guns of Navarone – 1961

229b – Avatar –  2009
229 – Gone with the Wind – 1939
228 – As Good as It Gets – 1997
227 – Witness – 1985
226 – Suspicion – 1941
225 – A Thousand Clowns – 1965
224 – The Full Monty – 1997
223 – Prizzi’s Honor – 1985
222 – Secrets and Lies – 1996
221 – Darling – 1965
220 – Top Hat – 1935
219 – A Soldier’s Story – 1984
218 – Coming Home – 1978
217 – Dead Poets Society – 1989

Dead Poets Society (1989) - still one of my favorite films

Dead Poets Society (1989) - still one of my favorite films

216 – The Thin Red Line – 1998
215 – All the King’s Men – 1949

****
214 – Capote – 2005
213 – Lenny – 1974
212 – The Country Girl – 1954
211 – Heaven Can Wait – 1978
210 – Kramer vs Kramer – 1979

209b – Precious – 2009

209 – E.T. – 1982
208 – The Reader – 2008
207 – Ben Hur – 1959
206 – My Left Foot – 1989
205 – The Color Purple – 1985
204 – Crossfire – 1947
203 – Five Easy Pieces – 1970
202 – The Miracle on 34th Street – 1947
201 – Finding Neverland – 2004
200 – The Quiet Man – 1952
199 – Stagecoach – 1939
198 – The Awful Truth – 1937
197 – Good Will Hunting – 1997
196 – Witness for the Prosecution – 1957
195 – Roman Holiday – 1953
194 – Kings Row – 1942
193 – Pygmalion – 1938
192 – Captain Blood – 1935
191 – Breaking Away – 1979

A Best Picture nominee that's a sheer joy to watch: Breaking Away (1979)

190 – In the Heat of the Night – 1967
189 – The Heiress – 1949
188 – Picnic – 1955
187 – Missing – 1982
186 – Tess – 1980
185 – Jerry Maguire – 1996
184 – The Insider – 1999
183 – The Accidental Tourist – 1988
182 – Rain Man – 1988

181b – Up – 2009
181 – The Caine Mutiny – 1954
180 – The Remains of the Day – 1993
179 – Mississippi Burning – 1988
178 – Ordinary People – 1980
177 – The Sixth Sense – 1999
176 – Juno – 2007

175b – District 9 –  2009
175 – The Last Emperor – 1987
174 – Bugsy – 1991
173 – It Happened One Night – 1934
172 – The Mutiny on the Bounty – 1935
171 – Tootsie – 1982
170 – Midnight Cowboy – 1969

169b  –  Up in the Air –  2009
169 – Il Postino – 1995
168 – I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang – 1932-33
167 – You Can’t Take It With You – 1938
166 – The Gay Divorcee – 1934

The Gay Divorcee (1934) - the best of the Astaire / Rogers musicals

The Gay Divorcee (1934) - the best of the Astaire / Rogers musicals

165 – The Hustler – 1961
164 – The Right Stuff – 1983

163b –  An Education –  2009
163 – Million Dollar Baby – 2004
162 – Michael Clayton – 2007
161 – Wuthering Heights – 1939
160 – A Place in the Sun – 1951
159 – The Ox-Bow Incident – 1943
158 – A Tale of Two Cities – 1936
157 – The Verdict – 1982
156 – Tom Jones – 1963
155 – Patton – 1970
154 – For Whom the Bell Tolls – 1943
153 – Les Miserables – 1935
152 – The Thin Man – 1934
151 – Spellbound – 1945
150 – Atlantic City – 1981
149 – Howards End – 1992
148 – The Magnificent Ambersons – 1942
147 – Four Weddings and a Funeral – 1994
146 – The Graduate – 1967
145 – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – 1936
144 – Gaslight – 1944
143 – Dog Day Afternoon – 1975
142 – Saving Private Ryan – 1998
141 – Chicago – 2002

2002 was such a great year that Chicago, while the weakest of the nominees, still finished up at #141.

140 – Master and Commander: Far Side of the World – 2003
139 – Gosford Park – 2001
138 – Broadcast News – 1987
137 – Mr. Roberts – 1955
136 – Gentleman’s Agreement – 1947
135 – In Which We Serve – 1943
134 – Midnight Express – 1978
133 – Deliverance – 1972
132 – The Sting – 1973
131 – Cabaret – 1972
130 – Reds – 1981
129 – One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest – 1975
128 – Hamlet – 1948
127 – Quiz Show – 1994
126 – All That Jazz – 1979
125 – The Diary of Anne Frank – 1959
124 – A Letter to Three Wives – 1949
123 – Great Expectations – 1947
122 – Hope and Glory – 1987
121 – Dangerous Liaisons – 1988
120 – 12 Angry Men – 1957
119 – Sideways – 2004
118 – High Noon – 1952
117 – American Graffiti – 1973
116 – The Big Chill – 1983

115b –  A Serious Man –  2009
115 – The Killing Fields – 1984
114 – The Kiss of the Spider Woman – 1985
113 – The Conversation – 1974
112 – The Deer Hunter – 1978
111 – The Informer – 1935
110 – In the Name of the Father – 1993
109 – Beauty and the Beast – 1991

Beauty and the Beast (1991) - still the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture

Beauty and the Beast (1991) - still the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture

108 – Shakespeare in Love – 1998
107 – The Hours – 2002
106 – The Last Picture Show – 1971
105 – Z – 1969
104 – The Adventures of Robin Hood – 1938
103 – A Star is Born – 1937
102 – Taxi Driver – 1976
101 – In the Bedroom – 2001

100b – The Hurt Locker –  2009
100 – The Exorcist – 1973
99 – A Man for all Seasons – 1966
98 – The Lost Weekend – 1945
97 – Rebecca – 1940
96 – Yankee Doodle Dandy – 1942
95 – Henry V – 1946
94 – Sunrise – 1927-28
93 – There Will Be Blood – 2007
92 – A Room with a View – 1986
91 – My Fair Lady – 1964
90 – The Pianist – 2002
89 – The Queen – 2006
88 – Lost in Translation – 2003
87 – Jaws – 1975
86 – The Departed – 2006
85 – Milk – 2008
84 – Gangs of New York – 2002
83 – JFK – 1991
82 – The French Connection – 1971
81 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – 1969
80 – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – 1958
79 – The Great Dictator – 1940
78 – The Philadelphia Story – 1940

Network (1976) - 33 years old, yet still relevant today

Network (1976) - 33 years old, yet still relevant today

77 – Network – 1976
76 – The Music Man – 1962
75 – Mary Poppins – 1964
74 – The Lion in Winter – 1968

73b –  Inglourious Basterds –  2009
73 – Sense and Sensibility – 1995
72 – Terms of Endearment – 1983
71 – Apocalypse Now – 1979
70 – From Here to Eternity – 1953
69 – Good Night and Good Luck – 2005
68 – Slumdog Millionaire – 2008
67 – Atonement – 2007
66 – Dances with Wolves – 1990
65 – Born on the Fourth of July – 1989
64 – Traffic – 2000
63 – The Godfather Part II – 1974
62 – All the President’s Men – 1976
61 – The Grapes of Wrath – 1940
60 – No Country for Old Men – 2007
59 – Doctor Zhivago – 1965
58 – Mystic River – 2003
57 – Moulin Rouge! – 2001
56 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – 1939
55 – The Best Years of Our Lives – 1946
54 – It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
53 – American Beauty – 1999
52 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – 2002
51 – Pulp Fiction – 1994

A brilliant film with one of the most brilliant posters: Pulp Fiction (1994)

50 – The Crying Game – 1992
49 – Unforgiven – 1992
48 – The Elephant Man – 1980
47 – All About Eve – 1950
46 – Double Indemnity – 1944
45 – All Quiet on the Western Front – 1929-30
44 – Fargo – 1996
43 – The Aviator – 2004
42 – Brokeback Mountain – 2005
41 – Munich – 2005
40 – The English Patient – 1996
39 – The Shawshank Redemption – 1994
38 – Field of Dreams – 1989
37 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – 1966
36 – The Apartment – 1960
35 – West Side Story – 1961
34 – To Kill a Mockingbird – 1962

Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - the epitomy of integrity on film

Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - the epitomy of integrity on film

33 – The Silence of the Lambs – 1991
32 – M*A*S*H – 1970
31 – A Passage to India – 1984
30 – Amadeus – 1984
29 – Hannah and her Sisters – 1986
28 – Platoon – 1986
27 – Annie Hall – 1977
26 – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – 1977
25 – On the Waterfront – 1954
24 – Lawrence of Arabia – 1962
23 – Raging Bull – 1980
22 – L.A. Confidential – 1997
21 – A Clockwork Orange – 1971
20 – Treasure of the Sierra Madre – 1948
19 – Schindler’s List – 1993
18 – The Maltese Falcon – 1941
17 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – 2001
16 – Bonnie and Clyde – 1967
15 – A Streetcar Named Desire – 1951
14 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000
13 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – 2003
12 – Raiders of the Lost Ark – 1981
11 – GoodFellas – 1990
10 – Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – 1964
9 – Casablanca 1943
8 – The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957

The Godfather (1972) - the best of the Best Picture winners

The Godfather (1972) - the best of the Best Picture winners

7 – Cries and Whispers – 1973
6 – The Godfather – 1972
5 – Citizen Kane – 1941
4 – Chinatown – 1974
3 – The Wizard of Oz – 1939
2 – The Grand Illusion – 1938
1 – Sunset Boulevard – 1950

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