Everyone ready for part 3? Sure you are!
1976 – Winner: “Rocky;” Should Have Won: “Taxi Driver.” I know, I know, Rocky is your favorite sports film and its your inspiration for life in general. Taxi Driver is the 1970’s, sorry everyone.
1977 – Winner: “Annie Hall;” Should Have Won: “Annie Hall.” Star Wars is arguably more influential, but Annie Hall casts a shadow in its own right. What Star Wars was to special effects, Annie Hall was to dialogue.
1978 – Winner: “The Deer Hunter;” Should Have Won: “The Deer Hunter.” And so it was, America bore witness to the costs of the Vietnam War.
1979 – Winner: “Kramer vs. Kramer;” Should Have Won: “Apocalypse Now.” Kramer vs. Kramer hasn’t aged well now that we’ve accepted divorce as relatively commonplace in American life. Apocalypse Now, however, is still as haunting as the day it opened.
1980 – Winner: “Ordinary People;” Should Have Won: “Raging Bull.” Here’s another well publicized Oscar snub. It remains a shame that Scorsese’s only Oscar is for his fourth or fifth best film.
1981 – Winner: “Chariots of Fire;” Should Have Won: “Reds.” Chariots won largely due to its impressive score, and Reds is a more complete film.
1982 – Winner: “Gandhi;” Should Have Won: “Gandhi.” Blade Runner may ultimately prove to be a more influential film, but Gandhi, despite its flaws, is a more important one.
1983 – Winner: “Terms of Endearment;” Should Have Won: “Fanny and Alexander.” Bergman’s long, autobiographical film did win Best Foreign Language Film, but it should have won the big prize too.
1984 – Winner: “Amadeus;” Should Have Won: “Amadeus.” Amadeus’ narrative may be heavily fictionalized but it is a fantastic film nonetheless.
1985 – Winner: “Out of Africa;” Should Have Won: “Ran.” Ran is Kurosawa’s last great epic and possibly the greatest screen adaptation of King Lear.
1986 – Winner: “Platoon;” Should Have Won: “Platoon.” Platoon is Oliver Stone’s best film by a longshot and I couldn’t justify replacing it here, although it had some strong competition from Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.”
1987 – Winner: “The Last Emperor;” Should Have Won: “The Last Emperor.” Stone’s “Wall Street” is close second, but Bertolucci’s epic has more historical importance on a global scale.
1988 – Winner: “Rain Man;” Should Have Won: “Akira.” Rain Man is a fantastic, well acted movie, but it did not launch an entire genre into critical and global acceptance the way Akira did.
1989 – Winner: “Driving Miss Daisy;” Should Have Won: “Glory.” Glory is the greatest film about the American Civil War, although it should be said that 1989 is another tough year to call with “My Left Foot,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” also released.
1990 – Winner: “Dances with Wolves;” Should Have Won: “Goodfellas.” Dances with Wolves looked so great in 1990 but has lost its luster, while Goodfellas’ reputation has only improved over the years.
1991 – Winner: “The Silence of the Lambs;” Should Have Won: “The Silence of the Lambs.” I haven’t been giving enough due to amazing acting performances, and this film has two of the best.
1992 – Winner: “Unforgiven;” Should Have Won: “Unforgiven.” Clint Eastwood’s deconstruction of the Western myth continues to be an important film.
1993 – Winner: “Schindler’s List.” Should Have Won: “Schindler’s List.” Spielberg’s masterpiece in every respect.
1994 – Winner: “Forest Gump;” Should Have Won: “Pulp Fiction.” Yes “The Shawshank Redemption” is a fantastic film as well, making this as good as a three-way tie. The tiebreaker goes to Pulp Fiction, however, for its influential dialogue.
1995- Winner: “Braveheart;” Should Have Won: “Toy Story.” Could anyone have predicted what revolution Toy Story would launch in animation?
1996 – Winner: “The English Patient;” Should Have Won: “Fargo.” It was a bit of an upset at the time and it’s still a head scratcher as to why Fargo didn’t win. I would venture to suggest that The English Patient is a more conventional film.
1997 – Winner: “Titanic;” Should Have Won: “Titanic.” Titanic has been intensely criticized over the years, but it remains a popular and important film.
1998 – Winner: “Shakespeare in Love;” Should Have Won: “Saving Private Ryan.” It made no sense at the time and over the years it makes less and less sense.
1999 – Winner: “American Beauty;” Should Have Won: “American Beauty.” I almost put “The Matrix” here, but American Beauty is an important film in its own right.
2000 – Winner: “Gladiator;” Should Have Won: “Gladiator.” Although Gladiator has been criticized over the years I think it has aged well and it remains a worthy selection.
2001 – Winner: “A Beautiful Mind;” Should Have Won: “Amelie.” Peter Jackson’s first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is great too, but they really are one single film. Amelie is a landmark of French cinema and superior to A Beautiful Mind.
2002 – Winner: “Chicago;” Should Have Won: “Chicago.” It had been a while since a musical made the kind of impact on a year that Chicago had on 2002. It keeps its spot despite tough competition from “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers,” “Spirited Away,” and the underrated “Gangs of New York.”
2003 – Winner: “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King;” Should Have Won: “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” Lord of the Rings is basically one film, and its third part deserved all of the accolades in received in 2003.
2004 – Winner: “Million Dollar Baby;” Should Have Won: “Sideways.” I think Million Dollar Baby’s controversial ending pushed it over the top of Sideways at the time. Sideways remains a better film.
2005 – Winner: “Crash;” Should Have Won: “Brokeback Mountain.” I personally find Crash pretentious and pushy. Its victory over a superior and more important film is a testament to the power of good marketing.
2006 – Winner: “The Departed.” Should Have Won: “The Departed.” The Departed is far superior to its source material, “Infernal Affairs,” and one of Scorsese’s finest films.
2007 – Winner: “No Country for Old Men;” Should Have Won: “No Country for Old Men.” No Country remains the Coen brothers’ best film.
2008 – Winner: “Slumdog Millionaire;” Should Have Won: “Wall-E.” Slumdog Millionaire is a good film, but Wall-E somehow merges Chaplin with Kubrick to create possibly the best animated film of all time.
2009 – Winner: “The Hurt Locker;” Should Have Won: “The Hurt Locker.” It’s far too early to knock this movie out of this spot, although I would posit that someday a movie will prove itself to be more influential and important.
2010 – Winner: “The King’s Speech;” Should Have Won: “The King’s Speech.” A lot of people feel “The Social Network” should have won but I disagree. I think The Social Network is so much creature of its time and place that it will someday land in the category where “The Graduate” currently resides. The King’s Speech has more timeless qualities.
2011 – Winner: “The Artist;” Should Have Won: “The Artist.” Let me say that I have no idea what will turn out to be the best picture of 2011 and I don’t believe that anyone else does either. As I’ve said before, The Artist is essentially an homage to previous, better films and does nothing to move the artform of motion pictures forward. Still, I can’t justify replacing it just yet with another movie, although I hope that someday I will.
That’s a wrap! Thanks for reading!
(c) 2012 D.G. McCabe