Listening to: "Told You So" by Barenaked Ladies
Reading: The Goon by Eric Powell
Drinking: Hard cider
Well folks, the Oscars came and went (an event that actually makes a difference in my life, if only meaning an increase of customer demand), so I thought I'd pay a little tribute and rank all the Best Picture Oscar winning films I've seen, to see how they stack up. This may be only 20 out of over 80, but I have better things to do than just listen to critics.
20. Chicago - If I'm going to be quite honest, this film wasn't all that memorable to me. I remember Renee Zellweger in a skirt singing and dancing with Catherine Zeta-Jones... but as much as I like musicals, this one just doesn't stand out. A lot of flash, little substance.
19. The Sound of Music - Again, I'm a fan of musicals, that's why I've seen most of the musicals that have one best picture (but I've never seen "Gigi"). I remember my old music teacher telling us that "The Sound of Music" has all of the right ingredients in the right portions for a musical, but it comes out bland because of this. It's pretty humorless, and has aged rather poorly.
18. My Fair Lady - To start off, Rex Harrison is way too old for Audrey Hepburn. Also the whole, stripping her of her fire and independence to turn her into a more acceptable woman plot never has jived well with me. Then there's the fact that Hepburn has a great voice (as evidenced in "Funny Face," which despite another bad pairing and similar plot line ends up being more enjoyable), yet doesn't sing any of the best songs. Harrison's character makes no concessions for his abominable manners, and ends up liking Hepburn because he's used to her? Despite all of these issues, I still find myself watching bits of this movie (or the whole thing) everyone once in a blue moon. It's not unwatchable, it's just beyond the realm of sense.
17. Titanic - I'm a fan of Kate Winslet, but I never enjoyed Leo when he was in this role. His hair cut is... just bad. I liked his friend much more. But the movie displays some of the best pacing for a film that long, the chemistry's there, and the luscious sets and gorgeous costumes are just awesome.
16. Crash - Most of the roles in this film were well cast, but it misses in a few places (notably Brendan Fraiser, who shouldn't ever step out of comedy if this is what happens). It's well put together, but it feels like it's trying a bit too hard. Definitely a "watch it once" sort of movie, I think.
15. Slumdog Millionaire - Really, a beautiful film. Some great moments of humor, and a rather impressive story. Not for those who detest the sentimental (of which I am not one), I really liked how the story wrapped together. Enjoyed the color, and most of the acting. I can't help but wonder when it comes to child actors who are speaking another language how good of a job I'd think they were doing if I could actually understand them, though. But certainly, cute kids.
14. West Side Story - Certainly one of the most famous musicals of all time. Great chemistry, great dancing, and some of the most catchy music ever. A bit dated, and easy to make fun of, especially if you have a friend named Maria.
13. A Beautiful Mind - Although I only saw this movie once, and that was recently after it came out, some parts of it still stick with me. It's pretty damn heartbreaking to watch. Terrific performance by Russel Crowe, this should be the one people remember him for.
12. Midnight Cowboy - Okay, I'll admit, when I first went to watch this movie I thought from the poster that it was Robert Redford in the lead... he just always looks like a cowboy to me. A really different subject matter than most movies (especially at the time), and some fine acting by Dustin Hoffman. Some of the gritty interiors are what stick with me most about this movie.
11. From Here to Eternity - I'm glad that Sinatra got an Oscar. I was surprised when I finally saw this movie last summer that a film with this message could get released (and so much money) during the age of HUAC. And to see infidelity portrayed so frankly? Deborah Kerr is so bitter in her role, and you can't help but feel for Montgomery Clift (especially when he starts to turn down the same road of bitterness). This movie deserves to stand the test of time as well as it has.
10. Kramer Vs. Kramer - So maybe people remember it's rival more than this film, but Dustin Hoffman really is working his hardest in this role. So much of his heart is put into this movie, and all the scenes he has with his son are so honest. I don't think that any film has really compared in the father/son relationship until "The Pursuit of Happyness" (and "Star Wars doesn't count!).
9. The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King - A fantasy film wins best picture? Maybe that's because the picture is literally awe inspiring. Breathtaking effects, stand-out performances, and a heart-wrenching delivery to the end of the sequel. Every time I watch Frodo leave to go into the west I start to mist up.
8. Silence of the Lambs - Arguably this film will be remembered as the defining moment in Jodie Foster's career. The movie is so bleak, and Anthony Hopkins so creepy. Although I never felt like I was watching a horror, this movie made me fear my fellow man more than most. Not my favorite of the series, but so well delivered on every end.
7. The Hurt Locker - This year's winner was one of my favorite movies that came out this year, and one that I continue to recommend to anyone who asks about it. More than almost any movie I've seen, this movie is absolutely terrifying! I spent most of the time clenching my fists thinking "They're gonna die, they're gonna die, they're gonna die..." Knock-out performances by both Jeremy Renner and under-appreciated Anthony Mackie. The film feels so extremely real, totally sucks you up.
6. The Sting - Why is it that the Best Picture winners are rarely funny? "The Sting" breaks the trend... or did, back when it one in the 70s. One of the few best pictures I like that you could watch with a seven year old, this movie is just plain fun. Paul Newman and Robert Redford were two of the most bankable stars in Hollywood at the time for a good reason. Not to mention it has one of the most fantastic themes. This is the sort of Best Picture that I can watch over and over again. Just, really good and fun.
5. American Beauty - Every time I see Chris Cooper, I think of his role in this movie. Generally that's where my mind puts Kevin Spacey as well (although half the time he's Keyser Soze). I enjoy the haunting message at the beginning in the film, the somewhat characature roles given to the actors, and the way it all fits together. If you haven't seen this film (and you're adult enough to handle it), you should go out and do so.
4. No Country for Old Men - One of the best written movies I've ever seen. The writing in this movie is so solid that there wasn't a single word or phrase out of place. Certainly haunting, especially the end, this is one of the bleakest Coen brothers movies (and that's saying something!). All the cast does a tremendous job, and the finally scene is just so well executed. Not a movie to see if you like everything spelled out for you, though.
3. The Apartment - I saw this a few months ago after I realized that it's ended up on pretty much every list of favored romance movies... ever. For something often labeled as a comedy, it's so dark, and doesn't hesitate to deal with some pretty heavy material for the 60s. Infidelity, suicide... this movie doesn't hold back. Jack Lemon lightens the mood somewhat, playing the sort of guy you can't help but fall for. This movie holds up pretty well, despite being over 40 years old. Great writing, great acting, great direction.
2. Unforgiven - Not to be confused with "The Unforgiven," a totally different western starring Audry Hepburn, Clint Eastwood's film is the perfect ending to his previous westerns. Instead of glorifying violence and gun-slinging, this kind of brings all the veneer of a movie like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" down to the level where it really stands, in the dirt. Eastwood's line "I don't do that anymore," just stands out in my head. Some of the most brutal action I've seen in a movie, "Unforgiven" is one of the best westerns I've ever seen.
1. Casablanca - There's a reason why this is one of the most famous films of all time. It's surprising that, despite everyone's initial reactions to the script, this film came out on the other end as so memorable and amazing. Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart are at their peaks. I've seen this movie over and over, and I still wish I could see it more. I love it more after each viewing. If you love a romance, if you love films, and you haven't seen this movie, you've got to be joking yourself. It's the sort of movie that you really have to devote yourself to every time you see it.