Oscar Sunday has always been like a second Super Bowl Sunday for me. While no event can out do the Super Bowl as a spectacle, the Academy Awards are close. I agree the Oscars are a little over the top, perhaps outdated and may not always get it right in the public’s opinion, but there is no higher honor in filmmaking than winning an Academy Award. Here are just a few of the awards that I would give out based on my interest and opinions of Oscar history.
Best Oscar Acceptance Speeches:
Joe Pesci: “Its my privilege, thank you” Simple and to the point, perfect.
Woody Allen: Has not been in person for any of the three Oscars he has won, the only time he showed up was in 2002 for a 9/11 tribute. I respect that.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon: Whether or not they each contributed an equal amount to the script is something people constantly question, however you cannot deny their pure excitement as they accept their Oscar.
Best Reaction to Presenting an Award:
2005 Jack Nicholson: “Crash…Wow”
Terribly Egregious Upsets:
Ordinary People over Raging Bull
Ordinary People is a fine movie, but best picture over Raging Bull? C’mon man. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both picked Raging Bull to be their choice of the best movie of the 1980s, the entire decade and it did not even win best picture in its individual year, ridiculous. Raging Bull is arguably Scorsese’s best film, (Id say Goodfellas) yet this was just one of the many times Marty was overlooked by the Academy until they finally gave him his due in 2006:
Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan
This upset for some reason, I take personally. It a travesty to think a movie like Shakespeare in Love would win over Saving Private Ryan. I’ve seen Shakespeare in Love once and was fine with it, Saving Private Ryan I am willing to watch almost every time it is on. The Academy gave Spielberg the Best Director for Saving Private Ryan, however that does not make up for the fact that his film was head and shoulders better than Shakespeare in Love. You may argue that as two very different styled and themed films that they are like apples and oranges. However, in my opinion its as simple as this, the history of modern cinema cannot be written/discussed completely without mentioning Saving Private Ryan, and Shakespeare in Love is easily forgettable in the same discussion.
1975 Best Director
I know many of you are probably tired of hearing me talk about Jaws, but how is Spielberg not even a nominee for Best Director in 1975? The filming went so overscheduled that he was nearly fired, and he still came up with a masterpiece. That’s its for Jaws and Spielberg, I swear.
Best Years of Best Picture Nominees:
1994:Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, The Shawkshank Redemption, Quiz Show, Four Weddings and a Funeral
Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, and Shawshank Redemption are three movies that are already classics in American cinema. While I believe Forrest Gump to be the weakest cinematically of the three (even though it won), they are all consistently re-watchable, especially Gump. Quiz Show and Four Weddings and a Funeral round out this year as very solid fourth and fifth nominees.
1976:Rocky, Taxi Driver, Network, All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory
Rocky, Taxi Driver, Network, and All the President’s Men are movies that will be remembered for a long time, and thats really all that has to be said. I have never seen or heard of Bound for Glory, however the strength of the other four films make up for that.
2009: Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man, The Blind Side, Up, Precious
This is perhaps one of the most diverse groups of movies ever nominated for Best Picture. 2009 was the first year that the Academy switched back to their old way of having ten nominees (instead of five) for Best Picture, leading to some unique nominations. In previous years, movies like Up, District 9, or The Blind Side would not have been nominated, but I do not think it makes this year weaker. In fact, it makes 2009 strong because of its diversity.
Best Decade of Best Picture Winners:
Without a doubt it is the 1970s: Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather, The Sting, The Godfather Part II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall. The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs Kramer in that order by year. I cannot pick one movie out of this group to be the weak link, thats how good of a field it is.
I see the 1990s as a distant second with: Dances with Wolves, Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love (should have been Saving Private Ryan), and American Beauty in that order by year.
Random Last Thought for the Conspiracy Theorists Out There:
The first Oscar ceremony was held in 1928 and honored Wings as its Best Picture, which was the only silent movie to win. However, this year The Artist became the second Best Picture winner to be a silent film. If the Mayans are correct and the world does end on December 21st, 2012 the first and last Best Picture winners will have been silent films. Random I know, its just how I think.
Thanks for reading.