erik lundegaard

Friday February 24, 2012

From 'Godfather' to 'Crash': My Rankings of Most Every Best Picture Winner Since 1927

Meh.

That's what surprised me most. Not that I loved or hated most of the best picture winners since 1927 but that I didn't have much feeling one way or another. “The Departed”? “The English Patient”? “Rain Man”? “The Deer Hunter”? “In the Heat of the Night”? “From Here to Eternity”? “Lost Weekend”? Did I even see “Lost Weekend”? What do I really remember about it? Maybe better put that in the NOT SEEN group. Only fair.

In his discussion yesterday on the New Yorker site, critic Richard Brody said the switch from five best picture nominees to 10, or 9, or what have you, was a good thing, because it inspired passion among moviegoers. Which is something the Academy is generally good at tamping down. These films are sometimes an example of that.

I certainly have passion for my top 10. I have a different kind of passion for my bottom five. But the middle took a lot of rejiggering and soul-searching. How to rank this movie? By my feeling upon first watching it? By my feelings now? By how much I'd like to watch it again? By how deep it is, or how well it tells its story, or exemplifies its genre?

I wound up choosing an awkward mix of all of these criteria and it was still tough. I kept going back and forth. Am I putting this one low because so many people like it? Am I putting this one high because so many people don't? It's hard to separate your feelings from society's but you give it a go. In the end I thought “Would I rather watch 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King' right now or 'Driving Miss Daisy'?” I may be the only person this side of Bruce Beresford who would answer the latter. Probably not him, either.

Revelation: I like big and boldly drawn: “My Fair Lady” and “Gone with the Wind” and “Patton” and “Titanic.” Yes, “Titanic.” A friend of mine, a songwriter, always runs across contemporaries who disparage middle-of-the-road work, but he says that's what he strives for. He thinks of it like a mountain, where the middle is the highest point, and the hardest to attain. Some of these big movies do that.

Lesser revelation: I dig the '70s. It was the glory period of American filmmaking, easy riders and raging bulls and all that. It was also the period I first became aware of the Oscars. I was coming of age then. The Academy seemed important then. Maybe it was. Maybe it honored more important movies. And even when it didn't, as in '76, choosing “Rocky” over “All the President's Men,” “Network” and “Taxi Driver,” well, its choice was still a good movie. “Rocky” is another boldly drawn story but finely defined along the edges. It has patience and grit. It tells its tale really, really well. It's not its fault it had so many awful children.

Sometimes the titles get in the way. They're so storied, I think, “Shouldn't this be higher?” Then I think about what the film is, what it lacks, and go, “Meh.”

But, really, you can make your argument for No.s 25 through 60 and I'll probably buy it. To do this properly, I'd have to watch all of these movies again but who wants to do that? They're only best pictures.

Final note: I've also included a column on the greatest disparities between my opinion and the mass opinion on IMDb. No surprise: The movies I love and they didn't tend to be musicals. There's a +63 variance for “An American in Paris,” +41 for “West Side Story,” and +35 for “My Fair Lady.” The next one is “Titanic,” which feels like a musical. On the other side of the equation, movies they loved and I didn't, we have the recent and the blockbusty: “Forrest Gump” at -57, “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” at -52, and “Braveheart” at -50. We agreed on exactly two: “The Godfather” and “Cuckoo's Nest.”

Enjoy. Your results will vary.

MY RANK MOVIE IMDb RANK IMDb RATING IMDb VOTES ME v. IMDb
1 The Godfather (1972) 1 9.2 535,083 0
2 Annie Hall (1977) 25 8.2 87,916 23
3 Casablanca (1943) 6 8.7 209,989 3
4 The Godfather, Part II (1974) 2 9.0 336,575 -2
5 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 5 8.8 300,314 0
6 On the Waterfront (1954) 12 8.4 52,369 6
7 Amadeus (1984) 12 8.4 128,078 5
8 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 11 8.5 98,407 3
9 All About Eve (1950) 12 8.4 43,955 3
10 An American In Paris (1951) 73 7.2 11,808 63
11 Unforgiven (1992) 22 8.3 135,496 11
12 My Fair Lady (1964) 47 7.9 35,262 35
13 Gone With the Wind (1939) 25 8.2 106,428 12
14 The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957) 12 8.4 76,003 -2
15 No Country For Old Men (2007) 25 8.2 274,692 10
16 West Side Story (1961) 57 7.7 37,371 41
17 The Sting (1973) 12 8.4 85,891 -5
18 Rocky (1976) 34 8.1 143,362 16
19 The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 6 8.7 344,094 -13
20 Patton (1970) 38 8.0 49,384 18
21 The Sound of Music (1965) 47 7.9 68,810 26
22 The Last Emperor (1987) 54 7.8 33,160 32
23 American Beauty (1999) 10 8.5 389,392 -13
24 Schindler's List (1993) 3 8.9 375,193 -21
25 Hamlet (1948) 47 7.9 6,557 22
26 The French Connection (1971) 47 7.9 42,667 21
27 All Quiet On the Western Front (1930) 34 8.1 28,205 7
28 The Deer Hunter (1978) 25 8.2 117,540 -3
29 Midnight Cowboy (1969) 38 8.0 42,805 9
30 It Happened One Night (1934) 22 8.3 32,375 -8
31 Titanic (1997) 64 7.5 336,027 33
32 The Apartment (1960) 12 8.4 49,785 -20
33 Dances With Wolves (1990) 38 8.0 94,144 5
34 All the King's Men (1949) 62 7.6 5,597 28
35 A Man For All Seasons (1966) 38 8.0 14,614 3
36 Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979) 57 7.7 40,353 21
37 Platoon (1986) 25 8.2 145,818 -12
38 The Hurt Locker (2009) 57 7.7 137,683 19
39 In the Heat of the Night (1967) 38 8.0 26,928 -1
40 Rain Man (1988) 38 8.0 165,428 -2
41 Driving Miss Daisy (1989) 66 7.4 30,411 25
42 Gandhi (1982) 34 8.1 71,833 -8
43 Rebecca (1940) 12 8.4 45,011 -31
44 Million Dollar Baby (2004) 25 8.2 204,335 -19
45 Slumdog Millionaire (2008) 25 8.2 269,582 -20
46 Chariots of Fire (1981) 73 7.2 20,114 27
47 Chicago (2002) 73 7.2 99,936 26
48 Terms of Endearment (1983) 70 7.3 21,085 22
49 The English Patient (1996) 70 7.3 72,322 21
50 Gladiator (2000) 12 8.4 397,268 -38
51 You Can't Take It With You (1938) 38 8.0 10,500 -13
52 Shakespeare In Love (1998) 70 7.3 97,391 18
53 The Departed (2006) 9 8.5 368,308 -44
54 The King's Speech (2010) 25 8.2 155,972 -29
55 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 3 8.9 501,289 -52
56 How Green Was My Valley (1941) 47 7.9 8,993 -9
57 Ordinary People (1980) 54 7.8 20,192 -3
58 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 22 8.3 21,793 -36
59 From Here To Eternity (1953) 47 7.9 19,141 -12
60 A Beautiful Mind (2001) 38 8.0 202,651 -22
61 Gentleman's Agreement (1947) 66 7.4 5,688 5
62 Braveheart (1995) 12 8.4 327,548 -50
63 Forrest Gump (1994) 6 8.7 446,991 -57
64 Out of Africa (1985) 76 7.0 25,363 12
65 Going My Way (1944) 66 7.4 4,143 1
66 Tom Jones (1963) 77 6.9 4,857 11
67 Oliver! (1968) 64 7.5 12,026 -3
68 Around the World In 80 Days (1956) 80 6.8 9,129 12
69 The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) 81 6.7 5,186 12
70 Crash (2005) 38 8.0 217,777 -32
HAVEN'T SEEN IMDb RANK IMDb RATING IMDb VOTES
Wings (1927) 54 7.8 3,792
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1928) 12 8.4 15,384
The Broadway Melody (1929) 82 6.4 2,466
Cimarron (1931) 84 6.1 1,744
Grand Hotel (1932) 62 7.6 7,300
Cavalcade (1933) 83 6.3 1,426
Mutiny On the Bounty (1935) 47 7.9 9,276
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) 77 6.9 2,583
The Life of Emile Zola (1937) 66 7.4 2,376
Mrs. Miniver (1942) 57 7.7 6,058
The Lost Weekend (1945) 34 8.1 14,287
Marty (1955) 57 7.7 8,028
Gigi (1958) 77 6.9 7,472
Ben-Hur (1959) 25 8.2 76,925
Posted at 08:10 AM on Friday February 24, 2012 in category Movies - The Oscars  
« This Is Not a Film They Will Submit for an Academy Award: Richard Brody and David Denby on Oscar's Backward Foreign Language Award   |   Home   |   Lancelot Links: Oscar Edition »
 RSS

Twitter: @ErikLundegaard

ARCHIVES
LINKS