3 thoughts on “Vote: What was the Best Best Picture Winner of All-Time

  1. For sake of reference, “They Shoot Pictures Don’t They”, a website (http://theyshootpicture.com) that tries to aggregate hundreds of “best films of all times” polls by critics and filmmakers to come up with a definitive critical list of the best films of all time, gives us the following top 10 best picture winners. (Overall ranking among *all* movies in parentheses, with some commentary from me):

    1. The Godfather (#5) – I can’t say I’d argue. I really prefer the first Godfather to the second one, just because I’ve never found the young Vito stuff all that compelling. Yes, De Niro does a great Brando impression, and yes, it forms a nice contrast with Michael’s moral decay, but when watching I always want to get back to the Michael stuff. The more linear narrative of the first movie appeals to me more. I also kind of feel like the second movie, while excellent in its own right, is kind of unnecessary. Everything about Michael that needs to be said is already said in the first movie. Michael’s already lost at the baptism scene at the end of the first movie. As enjoyable and wonderful as the second movie is, does it really add that much to our understanding of the character?

    2. Lawrence of Arabia (#13) – I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned this one before. A pretty amazing movie – terrific performances and visually spectacular, although very, very long, and apparently can only be fully taken in on the big screen.

    3. The Godfather Part II (#15) – For all my criticisms, still a terrific film.

    4. Casablanca (#16) – Terrific script, great acting, just the Hollywood system at it’s best. Also neat that, with the exception of Bogart, Dooley Wilson, and, I think, the actress playing the Bulgarian girl, pretty much everybody in the film was an emigre from Europe. The tears during the Marseillaise scene (one of the greatest scenes in cinema, in my opinion) were apparently real for many of the actors.

    These four are basically way ahead of everything else. The next one is

    5. The Apartment (#58) which I’ve never seen, but should – every Billy Wilder movie I’ve seen is great.

    6. Gone with the Wind (#64) – I imagine this one is polarizing. It’s very, very racist, in particular. But a pretty remarkable film, nonetheless – surprisingly entertaining (although you probably have to enjoy melodrama to get into it) and occasionally visually stunning. While I can’t say it would necessarily be on my personal top 10, you have to respect the achievement.

    7. All About Eve (#68) – This is an excellent, excellent movie. Terrific performances, especially from Bette Davis (obviously) and George Sanders (who won the Oscar), and just very, very smart writing. What an amazingly tough call the 1950 Oscars must have been between this and Sunset Blvd., which is also great.

    8. On the Waterfront (#90) – I have to say, I basically don’t remember anything about this movie except for The Speech. The Speech is great, though.

    9. Annie Hall (#96) – I’m not particularly a Woody Allen afficionado, but this is certainly a very funny and enjoyable movie.

    10. The Best Years of Our Lives (#130) – I’ve not seen this one.

    The next two are One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (#132) and The Deer Hunter (#172). It Happened One Night (#197), Schindler’s List (#198), and Unforgiven (#200) round out the Best Picture winners in the top 200 films on TSPDT.

    On the whole, well, aggregating comes up with a pretty reasonable consensus list, I think. Local favorite Rocky, I’ll note, comes in at #447 overall. While I enjoy Rocky, and can understand why it might be someone’s favorite movie, but it’s probably not even one of the top 5 best picture winners of the 70s (both Godfather films, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Annie Hall are all better; Patton arguably so; I’ve not seen the Deer Hunter, but it certainly gets more respect from critics, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to rate even relatively lightweight offerings like The French Connection or The Sting above Rocky – only Kramer vs. Kramer seems clearly inferior), much less all time.

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