Best Picture- An Introduction

The problem I, and many other movie fans have with the Oscars, is that it appears to be repressed and has an upper class selective nature rather than one based on ‘upper quality’. All this means is that it is likely that you’re favourite film of any given year will likely not win or receive any awards. I, and many others are big movie fans but we grew up on a diet of action movies, horror movies, science fiction, and comedy- in other words the genres which The Oscars would not touch with a 20 metre rolled up red carpet. We are wise enough (or at least some of us) to recognize that many of our favourite films are not Oscar worthy, but that is not to say they are inferior.

There are two types of non Oscar Worthy film I would like to mention here- the first is the type of film that we absolutely love, which entertains thoroughly, but doesn’t particularly have anything original, doesn’t progress a genre, and doesn’t have any standout plot, dialogue, or performances. Imagine Commando– one of my favourite films which I absolutely love and will defend to the death- it is a great film, but it is not Oscar Worthy in the traditional sense. The second type is that film which we know is a classic of the genre- one which few fans can argue over and is generally agreed by all to be perfect. Usually this type of film will have originality in a few areas, as well as having 5 star plot, acting, and everything else which films which win Oscars should have. These films however cannot be considered Oscar worthy because of their genre, because of their tone, or because of a myriad of other small details. It is on a rare occasion that these films are recognized by the Oscars committee, but are usually relogated to ‘minor’ awards such as effects, sound, editing etc. It is as if they know the film is good but are too embarrassed, too scared to put them in with the big boys- this would upset the decorum. Most of the time though these films are passed over, even when it is clear they are more than just popcorn gobblers. Take Die Hard for example- similar in most ways to Commando except that it has a relatively big name cast, original plotting, fast dialogue. Unfortunately it has guns and swearing too.

I won’t get into how it’s all subjective, the fact remains that there have been some very good films in these forgotton genres, some which truly are Oscar worthy, but which were and are completely overlooked. Since the Oscars began there have been clear genre favourites- Musicals, costume epics, biographies, and heartwarming character pieces. Understandably these were the norm back in the twenties and thirties, and these types of films were big budget extravagances with all the top stars, and genuinely did break boundaries, while horror and action movies were mostly cheap and created cult stars. This bias though has held over for reasons absurd- you can be sure that anytime a musical is released that it will be top of the Oscars list, regardless of quality- the unofficial rule would appear to be that a poor musical must be nominated over a flawless horror movie. A follow up rule to this is that Oscar loves his ‘big issue’ movies- a movie which deals with one taboo or subject- racism and homophobia have been the two big ones recently. This explains why otherwise average movies such as Crash and Brokeback Mountain clean up at the awards. Sure they’re decent movies, but for an already enlightened audience they don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. Racism is bad, there are still many racist people about from all walks of life, nothing is (sorry) balck and white. Well done for spouting the obvious, I proclaim thee best film of the year.

Anyway, what do I know? I’m just a fan- a popcorn gobbler who enjoys seeing things go boom as much as he enjoys Capra and Fellini. Perhaps I’m blinded by my love of horror, action, etc because that’s what I was weened on- but if that is true then it follows that The Oscars are equally selective. The only difference is I give everything a chance and give credit where credit is due. So there follows my selections of Best Film winners, from those which were nominated, and from my own nominations. For each award I’m going to start with 1960 and work my way from there- simply because I’ve seen more films since that date than before. I’ll update as I go along. If anything is missing it’s because I haven’t seen the film, but I’ll try to cover every year anyway- you can entertain yourself by picking your own! Chump.

 

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