List: ‘Best Picture’ Oscar versus ‘Significant Cultural Value’

After skipping this years Academy Awards last weekend, but nonetheless reading a lot about them online the next day, I started thinking about how much I enjoyed Spotlight (it’s fantastic), but also how much we will be talking about the film in 5 years or so. The Oscars have the reputation amongst, well, everyone, that in the past decade (or three) of getting the Best Picture so utterly wrong. Now this argument may be extended all the way to the inception of Best Picture in the 1920s, and the primary question about the futility of ranking of art is: By what criteria makes any one movie the best one of the year? Not so easy, but films that resonate, have been lifted into significance over time, and otherwise tickle the popular culture in interesting ways.

Will all due respect to The Dew Over podcast, which had guests (including myself) on a panel re-assess each year (one per episode) of the past several deacades, typically -but not always- in the context of the 5 or so Academy nominations for Best Picture, I took some time to consider the innovation value, cultural imprint, the overall ‘force of contribution’ to the medium of film for any film released in that year, from any country. (This is, obviously, as I see it, of course, not by any ‘scientific or consensus metric.)

I took a look at 1980 up until 2011. These dates were chosen because they constitute my main personal time consuming movies, as well as me living during their release. I was 6 in 1980, and my parents started taking me to movies often (weekly) at about that time, especially to films that were inappropriate for my age, but I digress. I have omitted the last few years due to the need for a little time and space for things to percolate in the culture. Feel free to discuss in the comments section (Obvious Disclaimer: Clearly this is more a fun exercise than a definitive one — because that ultimately is a futile effort, there is so MUCH content in this art-form we call film to really pin anything down, but us humans like our reach to exceed our grasp.)

The format is simple. I list the film awarded by the Academy for Best Picture, then I list what I believe is the ‘best representative’ of that year (yes it is slanted towards American cinema, sue me) and I list a ‘dark horse’ choice to keep things interesting.

1980
The Best Picture Oscar – Ordinary People
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – THE SHINING
Dark Horse Pick – The Empire Strikes Back (Also: Raging Bull)

1981
The Best Picture Oscar – Chariots of Fire
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
Dark Horse Pick – Excalibur

1982
The Best Picture Oscar – Gandhi
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – BLADE RUNNER
Dark Horse Pick – Fitzcarraldo

1983
The Best Picture Oscar – Terms of Endearment
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – RETURN OF THE JEDI (Star Wars)
Dark Horse Pick – Tender Mercies (Also: The Right Stuff)

1984
The Best Picture Oscar – Amadeus
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – AMADEUS
Dark Horse Pick – Paris, Texas

1985
The Best Picture Oscar – Out of Africa
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – BRAZIL
Dark Horse Pick – Back To The Future

1986
The Best Picture Oscar – Platoon
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – BLUE VELVET
Dark Horse Pick – The Mosquito Coast

1987
The Best Picture Oscar – The Last Emperor
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – FULL METAL JACKET
Dark Horse Pick – Broadcast News

1988
The Best Picture Oscar – Rain Man
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
Dark Horse Pick – Grave of The Fireflies

1989
The Best Picture Oscar – Driving Miss Daisy
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – DO THE RIGHT THING
Dark Horse Pick – The Killer

1990
The Best Picture Oscar – Dances With Wolves
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – GOODFELLAS
Dark Horse Pick – The Sheltering Sky

1991
The Best Picture Oscar – The Silence of the Lambs
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – THELMA AND LOUISE
Dark Horse Pick – Barton Fink

1992
The Best Picture Oscar – Unforgiven
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – UNFORGIVEN
Dark Horse Pick – Raise The Red Lantern

1993
The Best Picture Oscar – Schindler’s List
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – NAKED
Dark Horse Pick – The Piano

1994
The Best Picture Oscar – Forrest Gump
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – PULP FICTION
Dark Horse Pick – Chungking Express

1995
The Best Picture Oscar – Brave Heart
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – SAFE
Dark Horse Pick – 12 Monkeys

1996
The Best Picture Oscar – The English Patient
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – FARGO
Dark Horse Pick – Trainspotting (Also: Crash)

1997
The Best Picture Oscar – Titanic
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – THE ICE STORM
Dark Horse Pick – Princess Mononoke

1998
The Best Picture Oscar – Shakespeare In Love
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – OUT OF SIGHT
Dark Horse Pick – The Big Lebowski

1999
The Best Picture Oscar – American Beauty
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – FIGHT CLUB
Dark Horse Pick – Eyes Wide Shut

2000
The Best Picture Oscar – Gladiator
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
Dark Horse Pick – Memento

2001
The Best Picture Oscar – A Beautiful Mind
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (LORD OF THE RINGS)
Dark Horse Pick – Mulholland Drive

2002
The Best Picture Oscar – Chicago
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Dark Horse Pick – City of God

2003
The Best Picture Oscar – Return of the King (Lord of the Rings)
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – MASTER & COMMANDER
Dark Horse Pick – Lost In Translation

2004
The Best Picture Oscar – Million Dollar Baby
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Dark Horse Pick – Birth

2005
The Best Picture Oscar – Crash
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Dark Horse Pick – Cache

2006
The Best Picture Oscar – The Departed
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – THE PRESTIGE
Dark Horse Pick – Children of Men

2007
The Best Picture Oscar – No Country For Old Men
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – ZODIAC
Dark Horse Pick – There Will Be Blood

2008
The Best Picture Oscar – Slumdog Millionaire
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – MAN ON WIRE
Dark Horse Pick – Synecdoche, New York

2009
The Best Picture Oscar – The Hurt Locker
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
Dark Horse Pick – Enter The Void (Also: A Serious Man)

2010
The Best Picture Oscar – The King’s Speech
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Dark Horse Pick – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Also: Melancholia)

2011
The Best Picture Oscar – The Artist
More Significant Film of Lasting Cultural Value – TREE OF LIFE
Dark Horse Pick – We Need To Talk About Kevin

Please chime in with something obvious wrong, or a key title(s) I missed for each year.

Row Three Favorite Films of 2015

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A weak year or a strong year? You tell us. With an eclectic group of favorites from so many different people there’s an argument to be made that 2015 was one of the strongest years in film in a long time… but was it really? Well, in box office numbers, there’s no two ways about it. 2015 was the best ever (thank you Universal Pictures and Disney).

Whether you loved or were disappointed in 2015, we all found plenty to love and these are each of RowThree’s contributors’ favorite films of the year along with some honorable mentions, notable misses and even some stinkers. Each contributor is listed below – just start scrolling – or you can jump directly to any individual member of the group with a click of their name provided below.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by the site, listened to any of the great podcasts hosted here and/or took the time to leave some comments in a post somewhere and some time throughout the year. We really appreciate each and every one of you. See you all in 2016!

Marina Antunes
Kurt Halfyard
Andrew James
Corey Pierce
Matthew Brown
Bob Turnbull
David Brook
Matt Gamble
Bryan Dressel
Chewie Darsow
Ryan James
Matt Price

Consensus

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Row Three Favorite Albums of 2015

2014-albums

You know what’s great about music? Well of course you do: an infinite amount of tangible and intangible things. But in the internet’s “need to list everything” context, what I like is that there’s very little overlap. Because there is so much music released in any given year and it’s so incredibly diverse and there are so many different tastes, everyone’s list is unique and interesting and inspiring and full of frisson.

So it is with much pleasure that Row Three presents all of our favorite music from the year. If you’re looking for something new to whet your ear’s appetite for resonance, I can all but guarantee you’ll find something great in the list of artists below…

Enjoy!


Bob Turnbull
Andrew James
David Brook
Jim Laczkowski
Corey Pierce
Scott Olson

 

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Friday One Sheet: Our Favourite Movie Posters of 2015

Each week in this column we highlight and discuss the design and details of movie posters in this column, this being the New Years Day holiday, and more about taking a day off than launching new things. Thus, going back through the last 52 weeks, in a not too objective, not overthinking it fashion, here is a list of 10 favourites.

10. Chi-Raq

9. Sicaro

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Hey Man, Nice Shot 2015

[post brought to you courtesy of Ryan McNeil from The Matinee.ca]

Film can do so much with one incredible scene, and often just as much with one amazing line. For my money though, film is often at its most powerful when it unleashes everything into one great shot.

It’s with that in mind that we return to an annual tradition at this site for the fifth year.

After a year dedicated to the abstract, this year the iconic imagery seemed to come back to the characters and the actors who portrayed them. Some of the best shots took us so far away a person was dwarfed by their surroundings; others brought us right up into their grill. A lot of pain and sorrow, but some profound joy dropped in for good measure.

Each photo can be identified by hovering your cursor, and clicking any of them will take you to a bigger version of the shot.

Toronto After Dark 2015 – A Preview

 

The 10th edition of the Toronto After Dark film festival kicks off later today and runs for a solid 9 days (Oct. 15-23). The fest seems to have settled into its niche – it doesn’t look to expand beyond its ~20 screenings per year and likely won’t compete for big World premieres, but year after year it puts together an interesting and eclectic lineup of solid genre fare. Granted, there are typically some odd choices and a rather insistent need to pick thematic pairings (I have to assume many people are getting slightly tired of the zombie double-bills every year – or is that just me?), but there’s little doubt that genre fans who don’t make the trip to Fantasia and Fantastic Fest are rabidly happy that TAD rolls in the numerous big genre titles of the year to the big screen here in Toronto. And many of us are also rabidly happy about the late night pub gatherings.

With the shift to the downtown Scotiabank location in recent years, the more anticipated screenings typically sell-out (several have already done that) so the fest has instituted some late night second screenings for the more popular titles. Consult the full lineup on the festival’s schedule page) which should include trailers for the films as well. Here’s a short run down of this year’s titles (with the proviso that I’ve not watched any trailers or read much about any of these films):

 

Thursday October 15th

 

Tales Of Halloween – Though my love for horror anthologies was challenged a few years ago when Trick R’ Treat was screened at After Dark (I seem to be in the minority in not liking that film though), I have higher hopes for this particular effort. The stories are shorter, the directors are more varied & interesting and there has already been some solid reviews of it. All the tales apparently take place on the same spooky evening, so we’ll see if they manage to do any crossover/merging of the stories or if they are all standalone. I’d love it if they could bring some of the feeling of the old Amicus anthologies from the 70s, but I think we’ll be in for a pretty rousing fest opener regardless.

The Hallow – To be honest, all I needed to see was that the film was from Ireland…Of late, there have been numerous really solid atmospheric horror films coming from that isle (or at least funded via their film fund) like Dorothy Mills, Citadel and the recent The Canal. Though there isn’t necessarily anything specifically in common between those films, there is an appreciation of atmosphere and a willingness not to rush to jump scares. Even though The Hallow is getting stuck with the “scariest film at the fest” moniker (which always sets expectations too high), I’m hopeful that it will tackle horror in my favourite way – the one that slowly envelops and squeezes the breath from you.

 

Friday October 16th

Synchronicity – Sci-fi can be a tricky bet at smaller festivals like this (especially when you hear them being compared to much larger budget and classic films like Blade Runner), but TAD has chosen a few good ones the last couple of years and with director Jacob Gentry’s track record of The Signal behind him, there’s at least some solid talent involved. Given the title and the knowledge that there are likely some time travel paradoxes involved, the film promises to be a head-scratcher in a good way. Also, Michael Ironside plays a baddie, so there’s always that.

Lazer Team – I’ll be honest…I have much less confidence that Lazer Team lives up to any of its billing. Goofy comedic sci-fi can be even more difficult to hit right especially when your protagonists are (apparently from the blurb) idiots. I’m not familiar with the filmmaking team’s web series (Rooster Teeth), so this one is a crap shoot.

Would you like to know more…?

2014 List of Lists [FINAL]

…And here they come down the final stretch. My obsession with lists has waned in the past couple of years, but that goes out the window this time of year. I like to stay in the know with popular opinion and keep all of these lists handy. I think some of the readers here do too. But rather than publish a daily “here’s another list from Mrs. X” post, I’ll periodically (about once a week) be on the lookout for new top ten lists from critics, directors, bloggers, podcasters, the wise old owl down the street and Joe Bob Briggs. At any rate, this will be the go-to place for a constantly updated source to where you can find all of the movie top ten lists that are being spurted all over the interwebz.

I’m trying something a little bit different this year. Rather than an epic, long list with periodic updates populating the list even further, I’ll just add a new section to the list with a date and the new entries. Perhaps towards the end of January as the list releasing slows down to a halt I’ll condense them all into one long list. But for now, each time this post is re-published, you’ll be able to see all of the new entries listed by date. It may not be as easy to find a specific list right away (ctrl + f is your friend), but for those that are keeping tabs, it will be easier to see the newest updates.

If you’ve got your own list or seen a list laying around that you don’t see below and think should be included, by all means email me the link or drop it in the comments below.


TODAY’S UPDATES (3/10):
(#1 film in parentheses if applicable)
Twitch (Todd Brown)  
Cinema Axis (Mommy)
Smashing Armadillos (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)
Thoughts on Film (Under the Skin)
Puke in Film (Hard To Be A God)
Examiner (Boyhood)
Film Pulse  

[over/under rated] The Playlist
[Best Cinematography] No Film School
[Best Horror] The Horror Section
[Best Horror] Film Pulse

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Row Three Favorite Films of 2014

A weak year or a strong year? You tell us. With an eclectic group of favorites from so many different people there’s an argument to be made that 2014 was one of the best years ever for film… but was it really? Either way, we all found plenty to love and these are each of the contributors here at RowThree favorites of 2014 along with some honorable mentions as well as notable misses and stinkers on the year. Each contributor is listed below, but you can click to any one of our lists with the links provided below.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by the site, listened to any of the great podcasts hosted here and/or took the time to leave some comments in a post somewhere and some time throughout the year. We really appreciate each and every one of you. Thanks and good job. Cheers.


Andrew James
Matthew Brown
David Brook
Bob Turnbull
Corey Pierce
Bryan Dressel
Kurt Halfyard
Marina Antunes
Matt Gamble
Matt Price

Consensus

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My Movie Moments of 2014

MovieMoments2014-LEGOMovie

 

A cobbled together list of some of my favourite moments from 2014’s films as well as older ones I saw for the first time this past year…

 

2014 films:

MovieMoments2014-Noah
  • – The story of creation in Noah – beautifully composed as it also worked in evolution and epic timescales into the mythology of the story.
  • – “SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP!! SPACESHIP!!” – The LEGO Movie.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – every perfectly centred frame.
  • – Those final credits of 22 Jump Street – they’re funny cuz their true…
  • – Being in the same theatre with Caroll Spinney (the puppeteer of Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch) and James Randi within the same week during Hot Docs.
MovieMoments2014-Nightcrawler
  • – The breathless car chase in Nightcrawler.
  • – The bracing last 10 minutes of Whiplash.
  • – The wonderful sing-a-long in A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence (more fully described here).
  • – And then followed later in the film by the gut punch…
  • – The docking scene and entry into the black hole sequence from Interstellar.

Would you like to know more…?