Rank ‘Em: Academy Award Best Picture Winners

I know Kurt promised last week we were done with all the Academy Award related stuff, but I was already working on this, which took me longer than I’d hoped to finish. But then, this is by far the most epic and most difficult Rank ‘Em I have ever attempted. Not only are there a great many more Best Picture winners than there usually are films in an individual director or actor’s filmography (on average; of course there are prolific exceptions), but they’re also extremely diverse. We’re not dealing with the specific themes, genres or stylistics that a single director or actor tends to work with, nor even the limited amount of time that usually constrains a director or actor’s output, but with 84 years of cinema history going back to the silent era. I didn’t even attempt to rank these in “best” order – this is not a ranked list of the objectively best films to ever take the Academy’s top prize, but instead a personally biased ranking of Best Picture winners according to my own preferences. In fact, while making the list, I wasn’t even thinking “which of these films deserved to win Best Picture the most,” but simply, “which of these films do I like the most.” Some things are going to be surprisingly high, others surprisingly low. Feel free to quarrel with my placements, and even with my memory – some of these films I saw long ago. But enjoy it for what it is – a largely arbitrary list honoring what is a largely arbitrary award.

I’ve split the post up into pages to mitigate load times a bit. Continue clicking through to get to my favorites. Also, there’s a handful of Best Picture winners I have not seen yet: All the King’s Men (1949), Marty (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Rocky (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Ordinary People (1980), Terms of Endearment (1983), Platoon (1986), The Last Emperor (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and A Beautiful Mind (2001). So they won’t be included on the ranked list. The listings of my favorite films are just that, purely my favorites, with no thought as to whether they could’ve actually won the award or not (i.e., no American or prestige bias). The bolded nominee is the one of THOSE films I like the best; if none are bolded, I would’ve gone with the Academy choice – based on that set of nominees (or I haven’t seen enough of the other nominees to vote, which is the case with some of the earliest years).

“Did it deserve to win” legend:
Yes = the right film won the award this year
Sure = I might’ve liked another film this year better, but this is an excellent choice
Maybe = I won’t argue with it winning, either because it’s pretty solid or I like it personally
Not really = it’s not the worst choice, but it doesn’t really deserve it
No = a different film absolutely should’ve won this year

#72: Crash (2005)

If you know me at all, you’ll know the abiding hatred I have for Crash. In fact, a lengthy thread about this movie is even to blame for my presence at Row Three. What was initially just disappointment and dislike moved to hatred after the film gathered critical acclaim and eventually an Oscar win – in my opinion, the most egregiously misplaced Oscar win in the history of the Oscars, and not even because I was passionate about another film in the race. I’m not a particular Brokeback Mountain fan, either, as were most people who thought Crash should’ve lost. No, I just dislike this film that much. It’s well-made enough, I guess, but it’s so manipulative and heavy-handed in getting across a message that we all know, whether or not we necessarily put it into practice. Racism is still a problem, I realize this. Telling me racism is still a problem in the didactic and condescending way that this movie adopts is not effective. There, now that this one is out of the way, pretty much all the rest of the low-ranking films aren’t films I dislike, just ones that are unmemorable or unremarkable.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
My favorite film that year: Brick

#71: The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

I’m sure there’s a good story in this biopic of writer Emile Zola, focusing on his rise to literary fame and his involvement in the political machinations of the Dreyfus Affair, but it failed pretty spectacularly to either entertain or interest me. Paul Muni became kind of the go-to guy for biopics in the mid-30s, hiding behind makeup and facial hair to win an Oscar for The Story of Louis Pasteur in 1936; he doesn’t get another here, but the film did. I’ll take him in Scarface any day.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door, A Star is Born
My favorite film that year: Stage Door

#70: Cavalcade (1932-1933)

Films that span multiple generations tend to be a tough sell for me, both because the aging makeup applied to the older generation is often not convincing, and also because the sprawling stories generally lack the narrative structure that keeps me engaged. Cavalcade suffers from both these problems, as well as some fairly stilted acting and very few charismatic actors to latch onto as the plot meanders along. It follows a British family from 1899 through 1933, a decently interesting time in English history, with the shift from the Victorian to the Edwardian era, the Second Boer War, World War I, etc. in the background, but the family simply isn’t interesting enough to carry the film.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: A Farewell to Arms, 42nd Street, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Lady for a Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII, She Done Him Wrong, Smilin’ Through, State Fair
My favorite film that year: King Kong

#69: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Charles Laughton playing the villainous Captain Bligh sounds like a slam dunk, and he’s definitely not bad – sporting a much trimmer figure than he’s generally known for and sneering with the best of them. But other than this literary adaptation gets dull very quickly, especially for something that ought to be a high-seas adventure. Compare to the same year’s Captain Blood…or don’t, because there’s no comparison. Plus Clark Gable doesn’t have a mustache in this one, and that’s just…weird.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The informer, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Miserables, Naughty Marietta, Ruggles of Red Gap, Top Hat
My favorite film that year: Top Hat

#68: The Broadway Melody (1928-1929)

In one way, it’s kind of hard to fault this film. It’s the first year of sound, they’re still struggling to know what to do with it and decide that musicals would be the most awesome thing (and they’re not wrong, in theory), and why not start with the tried and true backstage story that’s a mainstay on Broadway. Problem is, this film just isn’t very good. It’s stage bound and creaky, with silent actresses not sure yet how to act for sound, and stage transplants who don’t know how to act on screen, and clunky dancing all around. It has a certain quaint charm, but not even that goes very far.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Alibi, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, In Old Arizona, The Patriot
My favorite film that year: The Man with a Movie Camera

#67: The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Musical biopics in the studio era were excuses to mount an ungodly amount of musical numbers at extravagant expense. This film is the epitome of that tendency, and even though many of the production numbers are amazing to behold (far bigger than would ever have fit on any of Broadway impresario Ziegfeld’s actual stages), the film as a whole is hopelessly unwieldy, trying to balance the extravagance with the details of Ziegfeld’s love life. Luise Rainer won the first of two consecutive Academy Awards as Ziegfeld’s doomed first wife, and she’s solid, but when his second wife is played by Myrna Loy (in one of nearly a dozen films opposite William Powell), it’s hard to compete, at least for me.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, Libeled Lady, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, The Story of Louis Pasteur, A Tale of Two Cities, Three Smart Girls
My favorite film that year: Modern Times

#66: Going My Way (1944)

Going My Way is a case of the well-intentioned meeting the hopelessly sentimental. A genial Bing Crosby is the new young priest in the parish who mentors the wayward kids with baseball games, helps a confused young woman find her path, and livens up the crotchety older priest – all pretty much accomplished by Bing crooning “Swingin’ on a Star” (which also won a Best Song Oscar) and “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral.” Ah, the good old days when a bit of the American sport and some singing can stop juvenile delinquency, cure loneliness, and solve all sorts of other problems. It’s a decent film, really, unless you’re a terrible cynic like me, but it’s no classic, especially compared with some of the other films of the year.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Since You Went Away, Wilson
My favorite film that year: Double Indemnity

#65: Out of Africa (1985)

Okay, I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember this film all that well, and it could be that I saw it when I was too young to really appreciate sweeping Colonial memoirs about marriages of conveniences and doomed affairs. Or it could be that this is precisely the kind of period film I don’t like – I just read through the Wikipedia entry to refresh my memory, and I think that’s likely the case. Lush and gorgeous-looking it may be, and Meryl Streep may be as convincing as ever, but my memories of this say it’s all the staid, boring sides of Merchant-Ivory, even though it isn’t actually Merchant-Ivory.

Did it deserve to win? Maybe
Other nominees: The Color Purple, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Prizzi’s Honor, Witness
My favorite film that year: The Breakfast Club

#64: Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump is a very well-beloved movie, but it’s not one I care for all that much. It’s not particularly bad, and it does provide a generally enjoyable history lesson, but it definitely falls into the maudlin side of things a bit much for me, with Forrest managing to be connected with almost every major event of the 20th century despite (because of? regardless of?) his lower-than-average IQ. It’s more than a bit fantastical (which is intentional), a bit condescending, a nauseating amount of heartwarming, and not a little manipulative. I’ve heard the original book was a bit more cynical and satirical, which would’ve done wonders for this film.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Remeption
My favorite film that year: Three Colors: Red

#63: Dances with Wolves (1990)

I suppose I should give this film credit for inspiring James Cameron’s Avatar, along with every other “man goes native, learns to be better person, and we all get the anti-civilization message” film. I’m sorry, that’s not fair. Dances with Wolves is a fine-looking movie that suffers from overlength and the type of political correctness that grates on me a bit more than it probably should. This is another one that it’s been awhile since I saw, and I remember it being solid enough, but not great.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, Goodfellas
My favorite film that year: Goodfellas

#62 Gandhi (1982)

Another biopic. Sigh. I feel like I ought to like these things more than I do – after all, Gandhi was an immensely important figure in the 20th century, not only in terms of the history of India and the British Empire, but in terms of all subsequent civil rights movements everywhere. And this is a well-made, well-acted treatment of his life, and I was bored stiff throughout just about the entire thing. I honestly enjoy reading history textbooks more than I do watching most highly-regarded historical biopics. There’s nothing wrong with the film, really, but it did nothing for me.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, Tootsie, The Verdict
My favorite film that year: Blade Runner

#61: Midnight Cowboy (1969)

I can’t claim a faulty memory on this one – I saw it as part of my New Hollywood marathon just a couple of years ago. And it was one of the few from that series that left almost no impression on me. I didn’t even review it, as I recall. It’s forever associated with the trivia fact that it’s the only X-rated film to ever win Best Picture (largely because X and its follow-up NC-17 fell out of favor as a rating almost immediately, which is the topic for a different post), but there’s not anything particularly explicit here, though the themes are definitely adult. Dustin Hoffman’s ailing con-man connected with me more than Jon Voight’s naive wanna-be hustler, but neither one really captured me, and in a character-driven film like this, you’ve really got to be on-board with them to get anything out of it. It just didn’t quite work for me.

Did it deserve to win? Not really
Other nominees: Anne of the Thousand Days, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hello Dolly!, Z
My favorite film that year: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

#60: The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

This film is often cited when people talk about the least deserving Academy Award winners ever, and yeah, it’s a weaker entry in the collection – especially when you note some of the films it was up against. It’s not even the best of Cecil B. DeMille’s spectacles, focusing on the trials, tribulations and love lives of a bunch of a circus troupe rather than, say, the parting of the Red Sea. Still, I can’t quite hate on this movie, because taken apart from its status as “Academy Award Best Picture Winner,” it’s a pretty fun film, with some great supporting turns from Gloria Grahame and Dorothy Lamour, an unrecognizable but moving James Stewart as the clown with a past, and a really impressive climactic train crash. Eat your heart out, Super 8. If I were judging this strictly on whether they deserved to win Best Picture, this might be lower, but just based on how much I enjoy the films, this one’s not too bad.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: High Noon, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man
My favorite film that year: Singin’ in the Rain

#59: Grand Hotel (1931-1932)

When you’re MGM and you have the most glamorous stars in the world under contract, it’s almost impossible to resist putting them all in the same movie. They did these ensemble films to one degree or another with some frequency, but Grand Hotel is definitely the grandest example of it, boasting two Barrymores (John and Lionel), Greta Garbo, Wallace Beery, Joan Crawford, Lewis Stone, and Jean Hersholt among many others. The format became popular, too, with several stories intersecting in a central location, in this case, the titular hotel. Generally, I like that story format, and while things are a bit creaky here, it’s fun to see all these folks strut their stuff, especially Garbo as a baroness who just wants to be left alone. I also like the circular narrative, with the film both opening and closing with the observation “Grand Hotel. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens” – a sentiment that is both false (lots of things happened) and true (the hotel never changes, and there will always be more stories to replace the ones we just saw). Corny, maybe, but that’s my kind of corn.

Did it deserve to win? Maybe
Other nominees: Arrowsmith, The Bad Girl, The Champ, Five Star Final, One Hour with You, Shanghai Express, The Smiling Lieutenant
My favorite film that year: Love Me Tonight

#58: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

I’m quite torn on this film, to be honest. When watching it, I really enjoyed the old-fashioned feel that Eastwood brought to it. In narrative setup and visual style, I could easily imagine this film having been made forty years earlier (that’s a positive aspect for me, yes). But there were other things I didn’t like at all – the voiceover doesn’t really make sense, and I found the ending both manipulative and off-putting, enough to color the whole rest of the movie, which I’d by and large enjoyed watching. This one could very well be up for re-evaluation at some point, but as of right now, I can’t call myself a big fan.

Did it deserve to win? Not really
Other nominees: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
My favorite film that year: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

#57: Cimarron (1930-1931)

Another early ’30s pick that’s fairly low down because it hasn’t aged well. It also suffers from the multi-generational issue that knocks Cavalcade down a few notches for me, but there are still things I like about Cimarron. For one thing, it’s a western, and somewhat untypically, I love me some westerns. The Oklahoma Land Rush is depicted quite well, as the main character wants to stake his claim further west, but ends up not getting as far out as he intends – only the beginning of a conflict between his wanderlust and his wife’s more settled sensibilities. Modern-day viewers often focus on the negative racial stereotypes, especially of Native Americans, but at the time, the film was almost progressive – doesn’t necessarily make it easier to watch now, nor does the conflict in acting styles between the over-the-top Richard Dix (still transitioning from silent film acting) and Irene Dunne, whose more understated performance shows why she would soon become one of the better actresses of the 1930s and 1940s. An uneven film, but not without interest.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: East Lynne, The Front Page, Skippy, Trader Horn
My favorite film that year: Frankenstein

#56: The King’s Speech (2010)

This film is pretty much the epitome of Oscar bait, and it did its job perfectly – it’s impeccably-made, well-acted, looks good, ticks all the “Oscar favorite” checkboxes. But it’s so unbearably safe and predictable that it just kind of sits there like a bump on a log. I actually watched this the day of the Oscar ceremony last year, just because I knew it was going to win, and it was exactly what I expected it to be. Films like this are why the Oscars are becoming exasperating to some degree – it’s not that they’re picking terrible films. They’re picking well-done, highly calculated films that have no stakes, take no risks, and thus have no ability to surprise and overwhelm the way great films always should. And there were at least three or four other films nominated in 2010 that did just that.

Did it deserve to win? Not really
Other nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids are All Right, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone
My favorite film that year: The Social Network

#55: Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

Director Elia Kazan is often associated with social message pictures, and he won awards for a few of them because, guess what, the Academy LOVES social message pictures. I do not, but as such things go, this one isn’t too bad. Gregory Peck is a reporter who pretends he’s a Jew to uncover anti-Semitism, which apparently runs rampant, though there’s a “gentleman’s agreement” to just not bring it up. John Garfield impresses in the second lead as a character who actually is Jewish, while Celeste Holm somehow won a Supporting Actress award for a role I hardly even remember was in the film. It’s decent, but not that memorable.

Did it deserve to win? Maybe
Other nominees: The Bishop’s Wife, Crossfire, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street
My favorite film that year: Monsieur Verdoux

#54: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Lauded as one of the first films to treat divorce and child custody from both parents’ point of view, Kramer vs. Kramer is unusual in basically siding with the father as a single parent when Meryl Streep leaves Dustin Hoffman, at first going off by herself leaving him to care for their son alone, then returning to claim custody of the child. It’s a highly character-driven film, as we watch all three Kramers adjust and grow in their new situations. It’s a bit on the nose, but solidly made.

Did it deserve to win? Not really
Other nominees: All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away, Norma Rae
My favorite film that year: Manhattan

#53: Wings (1927-1928)

This picture and the most recent winner have something very major in common – they’re both silent, the only two silent films to ever win Best Picture. This may be the only year that’s true. Coming right at the cusp of the sound era, Wings may not stand as one of the greatest silent films ever made, and indeed, is largely forgotten except by Academy Award completists and Clara Bow aficionados, but in 1927 it was the pinnacle of big budget silent cinema. The love triangle is a bit hokey now, but the WWI battle scenes remain impressive, as does the touching if somewhat overwrought friendship between the two boys who go off to war.

Did it deserve to win? Maybe
Other nominees: The Racket, Seventh Heaven
My favorite film that year: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

#52: Patton (1970)

My dad isn’t much of a movie person, but he knows what his all-time favorite movie is. This is it. And it’s frankly a little difficult for me to think about this movie without thinking of him, because I likely wouldn’t have seen it at all if not for him, certainly not by the age of twelve or so, as I did. I don’t like it as much as he does, that’s true, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit his influence makes me like this biopic a little more than most others, with its semi-heroic depiction of a man who was the consummate soldier, but sometimes struggled with being a human being.

Did it deserve to win? Maybe
Other nominees: Airport, Five Easy Pieces, Love Story, MASH
My favorite film that year: Le cercle rouge

#51: Oliver! (1968)

Another film that often gets name-checked when talking about Oscars worst choices, and I’ve gotta admit, when you think some of the other films this year, it is kind of a WTF choice. I haven’t seen Rachel, Rachel, but all the other nominees are probably better than this film, and 2001 wasn’t even nominated. Still, I have a soft spot for Oliver!. It has a solid Dickens-based story, witty and memorable songs, a rather dark edge, a fantastic turn by Ron Moody. Its major fault to my mind is an over-indulgence in unnecessary production numbers (seriously, does every song need the cast of thousands treatment?), but I’m a musical fan, so I still enjoy them even as I realize they’re overblown.

Did it deserve to win? No
Other nominees: Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel Rachel, Romeo and Juliet
My favorite film that year: 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Kurt Halfyard
Admin

MONSTER POST!

Andrew James
Admin

This has got to be the largest post ever for RowThree. By quite a long shot I have to imagine.

It’s four pages long! I didn’t even know this site did that. Was that automatic Jandy or did you set that up?

Marina Antunes
Admin

I was just thinking that this is EPIC. I’m not sure where to start but GWTW would definitely be higher up on my list mind you, I haven’t seen all of these titles (though surprising myself, I’ve seen about 80%) but GWTW is one of my all time favourites πŸ™‚

Ross Miller
Member

Holy crap Jandy! Epic post indeed! That must have taken you ages.

Only ones that that stood out as contentious for me are Crash (sorry, I LOVE that film) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest being so low.

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[…] on that at some point. Anyway. The whole post, with all 72 Best Picture winners I’ve seen, is here on Row Three. Here’s just a sampling of films culled from throughout the […]

Mythical Monkey
Guest

Love the “Yes, Sure, maybe, no” way of rating the films — a choice of awards look so final and decisive but some years it’s really a case of well, I guess this one rather than that one.

You won’t get any arguments from me re: Crash or Shakespeare in Love — the former just made me mad, while I’ve thought the latter was sublime from the moment I first saw it in a theater to the last time I saw it on DVD.

Jonathan
Guest

Holy. Freaking. Moly.

toro913
Guest

I saw Gigi very recently and found it to be by far the worst Oscar Best Picture winner I’ve seen so far (Crash is 2nd). I have no issues with musical, if there are a few decent songs or some good dance sequences I can usually give them a pass. This lacks all of that, but it does have some lavish design (Andrew will love the pagentry). Leslie Caron is as cute as a button, so there’s that.

David Brook
Admin

That’s mightily impressive Jandy. As with many others, I’d have Cuckoo’s Nest much higher. I agree on Crash though, I didn’t hate the film, but I didn’t particularly like it either.

My disagreements though: Slumdog Millionaire – that’s probably my least favourite of the list (I haven’t seen many of the pre-70’s films to be honest). I’ve always thought The Departed was overrated too. I thought Shakespeare in Love was nice enough, but not amazing.

Also, how good a year was 1974/5?! Godfather Part II, The Conversation and Chinatown are all top ten/twenty material for me.

Gerry
Guest

Forrest Gump heartwarming?

You seem to be missing the fact that it’s about a little girl who gets abused by her father and as a result spends most of the rest of her life compulsively seeking out men to abuse her.

When she comes to terms with her abuse she discovers she has AIDs and dies.

Forrest Gump is an entertaining and great film, totally, in my opinion, deserving of it’s best picture oscar.

Andrew James
Admin

+1

Gerry
Guest

Fair enough.

Forrest, while perhaps not understanding the psychology of the situation, recognised that the abuse had a major effect on Robin Wrights character and had her fathers house bulldozed, seeming sad and angry while this was happening.

Gerry
Guest

Appreciation of film, like any other art form, is subjective Kurt. I thought Contact was garbage.

You’re right Jandy, the Forrest bits were heartwarming, e.g. his first winning run on the football field was rousing and emotionally affected me (as well as making me laugh). I just wouldn’t call the film as a whole heartwarming, because of poor Robin Wrights character.

Engaging the audience emotionally is the goal of most good screenwriters and Forrest Gump emotionally engaged me big time.

I really enjoyed your article, and your pro Hitchcock bias Jandy.

What do you think of Billy Wilder?

Andrew James
Admin

While I agree with Kurt that Contact is awesome, I think Gump is pretty great too. Hating on that movie just proves you’re an asshole.

πŸ˜‰

David Brook
Admin

I think Contact is underrated, but I don’t think it’s amazing. It starts very well, but the ending gets very sentimental with her father and everything. That opening shot is phenomenal though even though it’s been ripped off since.

Derek Armstrong
Guest

I got a tingle down my spine when I arrived at #1 and saw what it was. I just watched All About Eve for the second time about three weeks ago, and my oh my, is that a great film.

I also love your unabashed appreciation of such films as Braveheart and Titanic.

I am making my way through the best picture winners myself. I believe my total is somewhere in the 50s. I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet on it for several years now, but I seem to be knocking off only one or two movies a year. I guess that’s what happens when there’s so much else to see and you have a young child.

I would love to steal this idea for my own blog, but a) there’s no way I’m going to do all that work, and b) it’s your idea, you did it very well, and probably no one else needs to repeat it. πŸ™‚

Stevee
Guest

Wow. What a post. Maybe when I’m like, 97 and have seen every film in the Academy’s existence I might do one just like it.

No seriously, good job. And fine choice for #1, too! Brilliant movie. Although in terms of my choice, I’d put Schindler’s List at #1. After all, it is my second favourite movie of all-time.

Nat Almirall
Guest

Wow. Damn. Expletive that has yet to be invented. Well done! Glad to see you young’ns appreciating All Quiet on the Western Front and The Thin Man. Likewise I applaud your ballsiness (ovariness?) in putting No Country so high up.

I do think you vastly underrate Patton, which, aside from Scott’s amazing performance, the iconic opening scene, and the score, is a surprisingly gorgeous film.

You also need to see A Man for All Seasons and Rocky, stat. Rocky may seem like an overly “guy” film, but, as my sister wonderfully observed, it has a much bigger appeal.

And Tom Jones! is, to me, the best comedy ever filmed. I can’t stand Henry Fielding’s writing, but I think Richardson’s direction is incredibly creative, from the opening silent sequence (and switch to silence at certain points) to the use of stills to trick photography to breaking the fourth wall (“Did you see her take fifty pounds from my pocket?!?”) some 15 years before it became fashionable.

Of course everyone’s going to quibble with your choices, but, above all, kudos to you for making this list. I may intensely disagree with a lot of your selections, but this is awesome.

Nat Almirall
Guest

And Night of the Hunter wins 1955.

David
Guest

What a list!!

I did a much simpler version on my blog,and we have one thing in common,our favorites are always different from the choices of the Academy.

SJHoneywell
Guest

Impressive list. I know I haven’t seen this many winners. By my count, there’s close to 500 films that have been nominated for Best Picture. I’ve seen about 40%.

By rough count, I’ve seen 50 of these.

Of course, my order would be very different. West Side Story would be nowhere near my top 10, for instance. Neither would It Happened One Night, mainly because I agree with you on The Thin Man.

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[…] I just got finished defending How Green Was My Valley‘s Oscar win a week or so ago in my Oscars Rank ‘Em post, and here’s Kristen Thompson doing the same thing, only far more eloquently and in greater […]

ruth
Guest

I haven’t seen so many of these but since I just saw All About Eve for the first time last week, I could see it being on the top 10 at least. No qualms that you put it as #1 though, it’s certainly a masterpiece. I’ll be seeing Sunset Boulevard soon!

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