Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oscarfever! 2012: Best Picture Lists

In honor of tomorrow's big show, here's a couple big Oscar-related lists for the day.  First, I've ranked all 76 of the Best Picture winners I've seen:

1. Casablanca   
2. Annie Hall
3. Sunrise
4. All About Eve
5. An American in Paris
6. Gone With the Wind
7. My Fair Lady
8. Unforgiven
9. The Godfather Part II
10. Lawrence of Arabia

11. Amadeus
12. On the Waterfront
13. The French Connection
14. The Godfather
15. It Happened One Night
16. The Best Years of Our Lives
17. Rebecca
18. All Quiet on the Western Front
19. The Apartment
20. How Green Was My Valley

21. The English Patient
22. The Departed
23. West Side Story
24. Patton
25. Wings
26. Gigi
27. The Sting
28. No Country for Old Men
29. Going My Way
30. Out of Africa

31. Mutiny on the Bounty
32. Hamlet
33. Midnight Cowboy
34. The Bridge on the River Kwai
35. The Silence of the Lambs
36. Platoon
37. The Return of the King
38. The Last Emperor
39. Schindler's List
40. The Deer Hunter

41. All the King's Men
42. Rocky
43. The Hurt Locker
44. Titanic
45. Marty
46. Ordinary People
47. Ben-Hur
48. You Can't Take It With You
49. In the Heat of the Night
50. Slumdog Millionaire

51. Terms of Endearment
52. Shakespeare in Love
53. Braveheart
54. The Broadway Melody
55. Oliver!
56. Grand Hotel
57. Dances with Wolves
58. A Man for All Seasons
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
60. The King's Speech

61. Kramer vs. Kramer
62. American Beauty
63. Gandhi
64. The Lost Weekend
65. Cimarron
66. Forrest Gump
67. Million Dollar Baby
68. Chariots of Fire
69. The Sound of Music
70. Rain Man

71. Gladiator
72. Cavalcade
73. A Beautiful Mind
74. Gentlemen's Agreement
75. Driving Miss Daisy
76. Crash

 The seven winners I haven't seen yet are: The Great Ziegfeld, The Life of Emile Zola
Mrs. Miniver, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Tom Jones,  and Chicago.

Second, a list of all the actual winners in chronological order, followed in parentheses by the actual nominee I would have picked (limited of course by the films I've seen) and my personal choice as Best Picture.  I'm following as best I can the Oscar eligibility rules for Hollywood films (foreign film release dates are too complicated, so for the sake of this exercise, let's just assume that films have been released simultaneously in all parts of the world).  

Looking at this list, it's reassuring how many great movies have been nominated for Best Picture, even if the eventual winners were lackluster.  18 times my favorite of the year was one of the nominees, with my favorite winning six times (Sunrise, Casablanca, All About Eve, An American in Paris, Annie Hall and Unforgiven).  If The Tree of Life pulls off a huge upset tomorrow, it'll be the seventh.

27/28: Sunrise/Wings (Sunrise, Sunrise)
28/29: The Broadway Melody (The Broadway Melody, The Docks of New York)
29/30: All Quiet on the Western Front (All Quiet on the Western Front, The Man with a Movie Camera)

30/31: Cimarron (The Front Page, City Lights)
31/32: Grand Hotel (Shanghai Express, Trouble in Paradise)
32/33: Cavalcade (42nd Street, Duck Soup)
1934: It Happened One Night (The Thin Man, L'Atalante)
1935: Mutiny on the Bounty (Top Hat, Top Hat)
1936: The Great Ziegfeld (Dodsworth, Swing Time)
1937: The Life of Emile Zola (The Awful Truth, Make Way For Tomorrow)
1938: You Can't Take It with You (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bringing Up Baby)
1939: Gone with the Wind (Stagecoach, The Rules of the Game)

1940: Rebecca (The Philadelphia Story, The Shop Around the Corner)
1941: How Green Was My Valley (Citizen Kane, Citizen Kane)
1942: Mrs. Miniver (The Magnificent Ambersons, Cat People)
1943: Casablanca (Casablanca, Casablanca)
1944: Going My Way (Double Indemnity, A Canterbury Tale)
1945: The Lost Weekend (The Bells of St. Mary's, Children of Paradise)
1946: The Best Years of Our Lives (It's a Wonderful Life, The Big Sleep)
1947: Gentlemen's Agreement (Crossfire, Black Narcissus)
1948: Hamlet (The Red Shoes, The Red Shoes)
1949: All the King's Men (A Letter to Three Wives, The Third Man)

1950: All About Eve (All About Eve, All About Eve)
1951: An American in Paris (An American in Paris, An American in Paris)
1952: The Greatest Show on Earth (The Quiet Man, Singin' in the Rain)
1953: From Here to Eternity (Roman Holiday, Ugetsu)
1954: On the Waterfront (On the Waterfront, Seven Samurai)
1955: Marty (Mister Roberts, Night of the Hunter)
1956: Around the World in 80 Days (The Ten Commandments, The Searchers)
1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai (Witness for the Prosecution, Funny Face)
1958: Gigi (Gigi, Vertigo)
1959: Ben-Hur (Anatomy of a Murder, North by Northwest)

1960: The Apartment (The Apartment, Psycho)
1961: West Side Story (West Side Story, A Woman is a Woman)
1962: Lawrence of Arabia (Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance)
1963: Tom Jones (How the West Was Won, The Birds)
1964: My Fair Lady (Dr. Strangelove, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)
1965: The Sound of Music (Dr. Zhivago, Pierrot le fou)
1966: A Man for All Seasons (A Man for All Seasons, Au hasard Balthazar)
1967: In the Heat of the Night (Bonnie & Clyde, Playtime)
1968: Oliver! (The Lion in Winter, Once Upon a Time in the West)
1969: Midnight Cowboy (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, A Touch of Zen)

1970: Patton (Patton, Claire's Knee)
1971: The French Connection (The French Connection, Two-Lane Blacktop)
1972: The Godfather (Cabaret, Cabaret)
1973: The Sting (The Sting, F for Fake)
1974: The Godfather Part II (Chinatown, Celine & Julie Go Boating)
1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Jaws, Jaws)
1976: Rocky (Taxi Driver, Taxi Driver)
1977: Annie Hall (Annie Hall, Annie Hall)
1978: The Deer Hunter (The Deer Hunter, Days of Heaven)
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer (All that Jazz, Manhattan)

1980: Ordinary People (Raging Bull, The Empire Strikes Back)
1981: Chariots of Fire (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
1982: Gandhi (The Verdict, Fitzcarraldo)
1983: Terms of Endearment (The Right Stuff, Sans soleil)
1984: Amadeus (Amadeus, Stranger than Paradise)
1985: Out of Africa (Out of Africa, Ran)
1986: Platoon (Hannah and her Sisters, Hannah and Her Sisters)
1987: The Last Emperor (Broadcast News, The Princess Bride)
1988: Rain Man (Dangerous Liaisons, Dangerous Liaisons)
1989: Driving Miss Daisy (Field of Dreams, Do the Right Thing)

1990: Dances with Wolves (Goodfellas, Miller's Crossing)
1991: Silence of the Lambs (JFK, Slacker)
1992: Unforgiven (Unforgiven, Unforgiven)
1993: Schindler's List (In the Name of the Father, Three Colors: Blue)
1994: Forrest Gump (Pulp Fiction, Chungking Express)
1995: Braveheart (Sense & Sensibility, Dead Man)
1996: The English Patient (The English Patient, Transpotting)
1997: Titanic (Titanic, Boogie Nights)
1998: Shakespeare in Love (The Thin Red Line, The Big Lebowski)
1999: American Beauty (The Insider, Eyes Wide Shut)

2000: Gladiator (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
2001: A Beautiful Mind (The Fellowship of the Ring, Millennium Mambo)
2002: Chicago (The Two Towers, Punch-Drunk Love)
2003: Return of the King (Master and Commander, Kill Bill Vol. 1)
2004: Million Dollar Baby (The Aviator, 2046)
2005: Crash (Munich, The New World)
2006: The Departed (The Departed, The Wind that Shakes the Barley)
2007: No Country for Old Men (There Will Be Blood, I'm Not There)
2008: Slumdog Millionaire (Milk, WALL-E)
2009: The Hurt Locker (Inglourious Basterds, Inglourious Basterds)
2010: The King's Speech (True Grit, Certified Copy)
2011: ??? ?????? (The Tree of Life, The Tree of Life)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This Week in Rankings

Where the movies I've watched and rewatched over the last week line up on The Big List.

The Floorwalker - 3, 1916
The Rink - 2, 1916
Bardelys the Magnificent - 3, 1926
Cimarron - 16, 1931
Cavalcade - 27, 1933
Comrade X - 14, 1940
Once Upon a Honeymoon - 5, 1942

Cimarron - 19, 1960

Cedar Rapids - 2011
The Adventures of Tintin - 2011
The Guard - 2011
Winnie the Pooh - 2011

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On The Adventures of Tintin

I really enjoyed this and I'm not sure why it doesn't seem to be as popular as it should.  I fear it's because Tintin isn't a typical Hollywood hero in that he doesn't have some kind of psychological crisis he overcomes through his adventure.  Capt. Haddock has his addiction arc, but not a whole lot of melodrama is wrung out of that, and Tintin's relation to it is simple disapproval.  Tintin doesn't have a "character" that "develops" in the way we're used to seeing, even kids' movies invariably have some lame redemption or parental anxiety story grafted onto them.

This is, I think, why it hearkens back to the first Indiana Jones film as much as in Spielberg's brilliantly designed action set pieces.  Raiders of the Lost Ark doesn't have character to speak of: Indiana Jones and Marion are types out of 40s Hollywood (the first a combination of Bogart and Flynn, the second a classic Hawksian woman) and their rudimentary romance merely serves to break up the action sequences.  They don't develop, they are entertainment devices that are run through a plot in the manner of classic serials and adventure films.

This, then, is the truly old fashioned Spielberg film of 2011, not the thoroughly modernist War Horse.  The two films make an interesting pair, as inevitably happens when Spielberg releases two films in the same year, always opposing versions of himself (Schindler's List and Jurassic Park in 1993, Munich and War of the Worlds in 2005, Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can in 2002, Amistad and The Lost World in 1997, Always and The Last Crusade in 1989).  In almost every one of those years, I prefer the Genre Spielberg to the Prestige Spielberg.  2005 is pretty close: both Munich and WotW are very good movies with really awful scenes near the end.  War Horse has more greatness in it (the last hour or so), but also more terribleness (the first hour or so).  Tintin is consistently good throughout, but it feels like it's missing something.

It's the work of a master, with beautifully conceived and executed action sequences and it is always entertaining.  Formally, the film is a wonder, not just in managing to (barely) overcome the inherent uncanny valley issues of its medium.  Spielberg creates some of the most clever and beautiful dissolves seen in years, and there's a visual motif of reflective surfaces (mirrors, glass, water, etc) that is unmatched in any animation I've seen.  To what end I'm not sure: why is Tintin hounded by so many distortions of reality?  Is it merely because it looks really cool?  I think so, and that gets to what I think the film is missing.  It's a well-told story that is all surface; it lacks the inspiration, the edge, the danger of genius.  It's a more accomplished film than something like Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Carribean films, but I prefer the crazy energy of those films, the willingness to go completely off the rails to risk making a great movie.  War Horse comes close to that, Tintin plays it safe.