I should probably preface today’s Top 5 by saying I haven’t seen every single Best Picture winner. I’ve seen probably 90%, though, so I think that’s enough of a basis to create this list. I also want to say it’s based on personal tastes and several films, including All About Eve, No Country For Old Men, Amadeus and several others came close to making the list. Even though the Oscar often goes to the wrong film (this year included, still pissed about Boyhood‘s loss), these 5 (technically 7) picks are all great reasons why the Oscars holds at least a little sway.
Return of the King
In terms of Oscar winners this century it was a toss up for me between No Country and Return of the King. I chose King because it possesses an overall broader appeal, and is also an outstanding example of the sort of ambitious filmmaking the Oscars can sometimes lack for. It took them 3 years to recognize the ridiculous amount of work and heart that went into the now legendary trilogy, but it was better late than never when Return of the King went on an 11-award streak. The movie may not be the single best told story, or have the deepest written characters, but it’s a profound technical achievement that earned all the awards it accumulated. It will be some time before we see the likes of this series again.
The Godfather Parts 1 and 2
The first of my two cheats in this Top 5. Instead of trying to choose between these two amazing films, I decided to put them together. Not only because it’s near impossible for me to pick which I like better, but because combined these two movies create possibly the single greatest American film in history. Some movies are the product of their own hype and reputation but The Godfather 1 & The Godfather 2 are testaments to the very foundations of film as art. Recently, getting to see them on the big screen was an amazing treat. If ever the opportunity arises, I advise everyone to do the same.
Lawrence of Arabia/The Bridge on the River Kwai
And the second of my two cheats. These two films from director David Lean are two of the finest films to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. Not only within the nomination, but these films were amongst the best of their respective years on an international level as well. Lawrence of Arabia has my favorite cinematography of all time, coupled with one of the most well told stories in cinema history.
The Bridge on the River Kwai still stands to me as one of the top 5 greatest war films of all time, influencing countless films after it both in the prison and war genres. David Lean may be the single director (along with Coppola, I suppose) to truly deserve multiple Best Picture wins.
Marty is on my personal list of 20 favorite films. When compiling this list, it was the one that had a guaranteed spot before I even put the fingers to the keys. I don’t want to spoil anything about this low key romantic comedy from the 50’s. It’s one of only 2 films in history to win not only the Best Picture award, but also the Palme D’Or at Cannes. Thats a huge accomplishment that hasn’t happened since and may not ever happen again. If you like character-driven films, then this movie is a must watch. It’s also on Netflix instant watch, so if you have that, there is no logical reason to skip this one.
The Best Years of Our Lives
The final film on today’s Top 5 is another war film. The catch, however, is that it takes place after the war is over, following three veterans as they attempt to assimilate back to civilian life. Of course, each has his own memories and difficulties to face after the war. The film runs nearly three hours, but utilizes every minute to tell one of the most deeply complex and beautiful war films of all time. What makes it even more engaging is the fact that it doesn’t actually feature any war time action. Don’t let that dissuade you, however. This film has a stark realism that I think holds up incredibly well after nearly 70 years.