Tag Archives: Film classics

Ranking the Best Picture nominees, 1980s edition

“Don’t say ‘penis’ in this house!” Ron Kovak’s mom could not have known that her command epitomized a decade in which the good and great sometimes looked merely sound and solid, and, indeed, mainstream cinema passed itself off as sound and solid when it was often dreadful or worse. Continue reading

Ranking the Best Picture nominees, 1990s edition

It’s rare that a decade produced three lapses in taste, intelligence, pace, and morality as complete as the first three films I recommended for prosecution at The Hague International Criminal Court. In this company Ghost looks benign.

The Hague

The Green Mile
Forrest Gump
Braveheart
Life is Beautiful
The Shawshank Redemption
Awakenings
The Cider House Rules
As Good as It Gets
Ghost
American Beauty
A Few Good Men
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Scent of a Woman

Meh

Good Will Hunting
Apollo 13
The Full Monty
Jerry Maguire
Titanic
The Godfather Part III
Shine
Shakespeare in Love
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Il Postino
Beauty and the Beast
Elizabeth
Dances with Wolves
The Prince of Tides

Sound, Solid Entertainments

The Fugitive
The Thin Red Line
The Sixth Sense
Bugsy
Quiz Show
Unforgiven
Sense and Sensibility
Fargo
The English Patient
The Silence of the Lambs
The Remains of the Day

Good to Great

Goodfellas
In the Name of the Father
The Insider
Schindler’s List
Secrets & Lies
The Piano
Howards End
L.A. Confidential
Saving Private Ryan
JFK
Babe
Pulp Fiction
The Crying Game

Ranking the Best Picture nominees: 2010s

Anticipate more wink-wink farragoes like Vice, more distillations of the Liam Neeson ethos like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, more spirited defenses of American intelligence services like Argo. The over-quoted line from Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte was wrong, or he at least suffered from a want of imagination.

Oscar devotees know about the expansion of the Best Picture category, approved so that voters could appease an audience less interest in telecasts by including box office smashes. The results are mixed. I see more small critical hits like The Favourite, Nebraska, and Brooklyn — guaranteed finalists in the eighties, by the way — than Avatars and Black Panthers. Indeed, winners The King’s Speech and Spotlight are ideal dinner-and-movie fare, 1986.

But despair not. Nomadland and Parasite are two of the worthier winners in recent years.

The Hague

Vice
Argo
Hacksaw Ridge
The Help
Jojo Rabbit
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Joker
Dallas Buyers Club
Midnight in Paris
Green Book
Silver Linings Playbook
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Imitation Game
Zero Dark Thirty
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Big Short

Meh

The King’s Speech
127 Hours
Roma
American Sniper
La La Land
Black Swan
The Fighter
Moneyball
Nebraska
Lion
1917
Inception
Hidden Figures
Django Unchained
American Hustle
Birdman
The Descendants
Captain Phillips
The Martian
Whiplash
Promising Young Woman
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
12 Years a Slave
A Star is Born
Life of Pi
Room
Philomena
The Shape of Water
Sound of Metal
Her
The Theory of Everything
Dunkirk
Room
The Revenant
Ford v Ferrari
War Horse
Mank
The Artist
The Post
The Wolf of Wall Street
Hugo

Sound, Solid Entertainments

Boyhood
Minari
The Favourite
Winter’s Bone
The Irishman
Bridge of Spies
Manchester by the Sea
BlacKkKlansman
Gravity
Black Panther
Brooklyn
Fences
Judas and the Black Messiah
Selma
Hell or High Water
Toy Story 3
Marriage Story
Arrival
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Father

Good to Great

Little Women
Lincoln
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Phantom Thread
The Kids Are All Right
Parasite
Call Me by Your Name
Mad Max: Fury Road
Moonlight
Lady Bird
The Social Network
Nomadland
True Grit
Get Out
Tree of Life
Spotlight
Amour