Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guest Columnist: John's Oscars by Decade: The Best and the Worst of the Best

1927-1939 Rank – 4th

Best Best Picture: It Happened One Night

Worst Best Picture: Cimarron

Sure, this decade gave us some monumental films, but also a lot of mediocre ones (The Life of Emile Zola). (Jami's Note - You used to own Emile Zola!) “It Happened One Night” is perhaps the most perfect romantic comedy ever devised, while “Cimarron” is a dull movie with a great opening sequence. Why not “Gone With the Wind”? It’s overrated and overproduced. Take that Mr. O. Selznick! (Jami’s note – that is categorically untrue)

1940-1949 Rank 2nd

Best Best Picture: Casablanca

Worst Best Picture: Gentleman’s Agreement

It’s hard to find a bad film in here. It was a race between “How Green” and “Gentleman’s”. Although the first is long a tedious, the second aged very badly, hence my pick. (Jami’s note – Gregory Peck is rolling over in his grave!) Also, “Valley” is gorgeously shot. For the rest of the movies, most are incredible Hollywood classics, and “Casablanca” is perhaps the Best Best Picture of all time.

1950-1959 Rank – 6th (tie)

Best Best Picture: On the Waterfront

Worst Best Picture: Around the World in 80 Days

The 50’s were hit and miss. 5 films were brilliant, 5 were terrible. I had to go with “On the Waterfront” over “Eve” for sheer iconography. Although “Greatest Show” is one of the three very worst, “Around the World” is almost unwatchable. It even has a Three Stooges cameo! At least “Greatest Show” you can get drunk to. (Jami’s note – Ben Hur is the crappiest piece of crap ever and Around the World is somewhat enjoyable. He’s crazy)

1960-1969 Rank – 3rd

Best Best Picture: Lawrence of Arabia

Worst Best Picture: Oliver!

Once again, it’s a decade where not much went wrong. Many people hate “Tom Jones”. I don’t, and Jami must deal with that. (Jami’s note - OK) “Oliver!” is decent, but not really impressive. However, I had a hard time going with “Lawrence” over “Apartment”, “West Side” or “Cowboy”, but I think it’s the right call.

1970-1979 Rank – 1st

Best Best Picture: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Worst Best Picture: Kramer vs. Kramer

Holy crap! What a decade! The 70’s may not be good for much, but it’s a goldmine of movies. My choices were purely gut instincts. “Cuckoo” beat out everything else because it’s the only one that moves me on many emotional levels. “Kramer” drops away because it doesn’t age as well as the others. But choosing between “Patton”, both “Godfather”s, “Sting”, “Connection”, “Cuckoo”, “Annie Hall”, “Deer Hunter”, “Rocky” and “Kramer”, your guess is as good as mine. (Jami’s note – no, my guess is better. Kramer is still awesome and the painful Derr Hunter is a snooze fest)

1980-1989 Rank – 5th

Best Best Picture: Amadeus

Worst Best Picture: Chariots of Fire

The worst was a real close call between “Chariots” and “Miss Daisy”, but at least Daisy was entertaining. This decade had a lot of overlong prestige pictures (Gandhi, anyone?), but at least one biopic got is solidly right: “Amadeus”. This also is on a short list of the Best Best Pictures Ever.

1990-1999 Rank – 6th (tie)

Best Best Picture: Schindler’s List

Worst Best Picture: The English Patient

“Schindler” would have probably won it anyway, but it didn’t have a lot of competition. Like the 50’s, the decade was half good (“Shakespeare”, “Lambs”), half bad (“Dances with Wolves”, “Braveheart”). Ultimately “English Patient” won out (or lost) for being the most boring of the bunch. I still don’t get why it won.

2000-2008 Rank – Last

Best Best Picture: The Return of the King

Worst Best Picture: Crash

This decade could have been one of the best of all, but it was constantly upended by ridiculous choices. This was the hardest to pick a worst (so many to choose), but ultimately “Crash” was crappier than “Baby” or “Gladiator”. It was also hard to pick a best, even with the recent additions. The reason I went for “Return of the King” is because I ultimately think is will be regarded as more of a “classic” to the general movie-going public than others like “Departed”, “No Country” or “Slumdog”. To illustrate what could have been, imagine this possible Best Picture list, replacing some winners with other nominees in the same year.

2000 Traffic (or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

2001 A Beautiful Mind (or In the Bedroom, or Moulin Rouge) (Jami’s note- Moulin Rouge? … Seriously???)

2002 The Pianist (or Gangs of New York) (Jami’s note – Not Gangs of New York! Anything but that!)

2003 The Return of the King

2004 Sideways (or the Aviator, or Finding Nevereland)

2005 Brokeback Mountain (or Good Night and Good Luck, or Capote)

2006 The Departed

2007 No Country for Old Men (or Juno)

2008 Slumdog Millionaire

Kind of makes you cry, doesn’t it?


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