Friday, July 8, 2011

Best Pictures #11-20

Okay, so now that I've seen every Best Picture winner available on DVD (the only exceptions are 1934's Calvalcade and 1929's Wings), I feel it's time to put some more movies in order. Especially since I've heard that Calvalcade is one of the worst movies ever to win best picture and Wings is the only silent film ever to win Best Picture (also the first winner of the award) which puts it in a category by itself. Anyway, here goes.

11. Schindler's List (1994)
Steven Spielberg's masterpiece. Black and white cinematography for the ages, acting that takes your breath away, music that moves you deeply and a story that you can't stop watching. The best Holocaust movie ever made, and made in the best way possible. It will live on forever, telling its story to all of those that must hear it.

12. Amadeus (1985)
Some incredible acting combined with a brilliant score taken and rearranged from the master himself of course. Dark and sinister at times, light and fluffy at others, though much of it may be historical fiction, it's one of the most entertaining I've ever seen.

13. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
One of only three movies to win the Big Five: Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Writing, Best Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins - one of my favorites), and of course Best Picture. All deservedly so. The plot makes your skin tingle, as does Hopkins' performance, and who could ever forget the fava beans quote?

14. The Sting (1974)
Some more brilliant acting by one of my favorite actors of all time Robert Redford combined with brilliant acting by a more widely accepted "great" actor Paul Newman and you've got it all. The story twists and weaves around, and I had to watch it twice when I was in high school to understand what had happened and why. Part of what makes it great is watching the story unfold time and again as I pick up more pieces each go around.

15. Rocky (1977)
This movie may seem campy and overdone today, but for its time it was original. No one could've guessed that Stallone would make eight, nine more or whatever it is. All they knew was that this movie was GREAT. It wasn't about winning, it was about showing you were man enough to go the distance with one of the greatest boxers of all time (Carl Weathers in a perfect role). To prove that you were somebody. To prove you didn't have to win to be the greatest, you just had to prove that you had it in you to stay with the greatest. Awesome. I also saw it when I was an impressionable teenager, and that's made it stick with me a little more as well.

16. The Godfather (1973)
I know this should probably be higher. It's widely thought of as the second-greatest movie of ALL-TIME, best picture winner or not (2nd to Citizen Kane of course). But I was a little slow getting around to watching it and didn't see it until just a few years ago, and that was the only time I've seen it. I feel I need to see it again to fully appreciate the beauty, the music, and the acting, which I could tell from the start was one of the greatest combinations in history.

17. On the Waterfront (1955)
This is also one I've only seen once, and one a lot of people probably haven't seen. But you need to see it. It was revolutionary for its day, taking in a subject not often breached about the slums and how hard it was working for the mob. A bit of a predecessor to Rocky, really. And none of it really surprised me or made an impression until the end, apart from Marlon Brando's usual superb acting. The end seen is one I will never forget, and one that totally caught me off guard. It captured the emotion and struggle that was unique for a movie made in the 50s and made my heart leap with pleasure and pain at the same time. Incredible.

18. Braveheart (1996)
Another amazing epic that was really a fore-runner to Gladiator, so of course how would I not like it? The same tune is played throughout, but it's done in a way you hardly notice that you're hearing the same thing over and over again and instead just enjoy it, and are even moved by it. Gibson's acting is at its best, and the story is as gut-wrenching as ever. Again, historical inaccuracies abound, but remember I did say it was a fore-runner to Gladiator...

19. No Country for Old Men (2008)
You're probably wondering what this movie is doing on here, as it is rather depressing and the story comes to a dissatisfying ending leaving many people complaining. But it left an impression on me from the very first time I saw it, and I've continued to dissect its nuances every time I watch. Apart from the intricate and life-contemplating plot, the acting and cinematography make this movie fantastic to watch as well.

20. West Side Story (1962)
What can I say, I'm a sucker for musicals, especially ones that were introduced to me at a youngish age. The music captured me from the beginning, as did the story. I've seen it played out a couple times on stage, but the movie does the most justice I feel, even though they fudged the singing a bit. "Maria," "Somewhere," and of course my favorite "Tonight" get me singing and feeling every time I watch.

So there ya go. Maybe I'll order to rest sometime in the future, but for now you have 1-20 to disagree with me about. As always, I'd appreciate any comments and feedback you all have. Thanks!