Thought it would be fun to have a couple of guys who have seen EVERY single Best Picture winner to chime in on what the best and worst of them were. I had them each submit 5 of their favorites and five of their worst. We start with the best. These are the two films they both picked. I’ll post the other films they picked a little later today, and I’ll post the worst films on Monday.
About the writers: Junior is a regular at Mike Minion’s Westbury quiz, and a HUGE movie buff. He has seen pretty much every Hollywood film ever made, including every film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Mike Minion has also seen every Best Picture winner except one, which he will explain later. They came back with separate lists, but they agreed on two films being one in the Top 5, and three films made both of their lists for Bottom Five. I then chimed in because, well, it’s my website, damnit. Here are the two films they agreed were among the 5 best:
CASABLANCA. Junior’s take: One of the most iconic movies ever. Loads of memorable lines: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Round up the usual suspects,” “Louie, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” etc. A great cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Dooley Wilson, etc. Withstands the test of time. Warner Bros. has a great history and this is one of their best efforts. Could be one of the most quoted films of all time. The screenplay won an Oscar, too. A true classic.
Mike’s Take: So many movies seem dated and stale 5 years after their release. But Casablanca holds up incredibly well. The dialogue is witty and sharp and the love story is one for the ages. Great side characters (especially Claude Rains) help make this tale of a man “torn between love and virtue” one of my favorites.
JGT’s Take: I reviewed it a while back. I thought it was pretty good, but a bit overrated. (Continue reading below)
ROCKY. Junior’s Take: The ultimate underdog who wins his shot at the title. A feel-good movie that builds to an exciting finish. Stallone created an eternal South Philly character which has now become as much a part of Philadelphia as soft pretzels and cheese steaks. He may have lost the fight, but he won his self-respect, dignity and the girl. Great location shots of Philadelphia. 35 years later, visitors are still running up the Art Museum steps Rocky-style. How many other Best Pictures have a statue of their main character prominently displayed in their city? I’m fairly sure there must be a bunch of people out there who forget that Rocky Balboa is fictional. Despite a slew of inferior sequels, the legacy endures.
Mike’s Take: If you’re gonna make a sappy, sentimental movie, make one like this. Forget what came after, this film is charming and so understated (until the final fight scene) you can’t help but root for the underdog. Even better: it avoided the cliché of having him win. My favorite scene: Rocky taking Adrian ice skating on Thanksgiving and explaining the term “southpaw”. Fun fact: In some kind of “underdog” serandipity, it was made for about $1 million, and grossed over $225 million.
JGT’s Take: Agreed. A terrific film in an excellent year in movie history (1976). While I like it better than Taxi Driver (also up for Best Pic that year), was it as it as good as Network that same year? Not sure. That’s a tough one. Sidney Lumet sure as hell doesn’t think so.
Coming later: Mike and Junior’s other picks for Best Best Picture films.