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
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