Ocsar Also-Rans

The Celebration of the Movies Night is this Sunday: the awarding of the Oscars.  Why I like watching this show and always have when I cannot stand to sit through two minutes of any of the others, I cannot explain.

It has nothing to do with “seeing the stars,” because I really don’t care about that.  They are just a bunch of people who get paid way too much to do a job all of us wish we could do and the select few people wait to see are wearing clothes given to them to advertise the designers.  This is not sour grapes, some of them, like Pacino and Depp and Sarandon, Streep are very talented and most of us would have as much of a chance of performing at that level and we would doing Michael Jordan’s gravity-defying leaps.

The movies noted below have their fresh ratings by critics and viewers on Rotten Tomatoes in parenthesis (Critics/Viewers).

This year, the list of nominations is rather eclectic. I have seen four of the nine: The Artist (97%/91%), The Descendents (89%/81%), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (45%/64%) and Moneyball (94%/87%), and have heard people rave about The Help (76%/90%) and War Horse (77%/74%).

Personally, I think The Artist will win primarily because it is the type of movie that wins and because Melancholia (78%/72%) was not nominated. I like The Artist, and out of those nominated, I think it is the best, but it is a classic example of the Academy choosing something because it is the type of movie they pick.

There are a lot of “also-rans” that are probably better, or at least more popular and with more staying power than the selected winner—movies we want to watch again and again. Moneyball I can see watching again while I will probably never again watch The Artist. Melancholia, like 2001: A Space Odyssey (96%/86%), I will probably watch again when I am in a very odd mood late at night, and no, there were never any hallucinogenics involves with my enjoyment of Kubrick’s Odyssey or Melancholia.

This post started because I wanted to list movies that I think are better than the ones that won Best Picture.  The list is purely subjective and everyone will have different opinions, which is what makes lists like this fun.





For me, it begins with last year’s winner, The King’s Speech (95%/93%)—a classic Academy choice. It is a good film, but it won because it is precisely the type of film that should have won. The Black Swan (87%/86%) was at least as good and it had that something that works its way into you and bothers you and makes you think about the connection between insanity and creativity.




The year before, Avatar (83%/92%), I think should have won over Hurt Locker (97%/83%—largest critics over viewers in this listing). Even though the story was nothing new, it was epic and probably the best use of 3D ever, not to mention it irritated the heck out of the anti-tree-hugging crowd.




In 2003, Master and Commander (85%/75%) somehow lost to The Lord of the Rings—The Return of the King (94%/83%), in what seemed to be a reversal of the typical Academy choice. (It should be noted that I love any movie set on old sailing ships, so maybe that is why I think they muffed this one.)

Moulin Rouge’s (76%/88%) 2001 loss to A Beautiful Mind (78%/91%, I kind of get.  A Beautiful Mind dealt with the connection between genius and insanity and was just a very good move and I have watched it several times.  I also read the book on which the movie was based and believe this movie adaptation was in an odd class shared by the move Adaptation (91%/82%) based on The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean in that the only way to tell the story in the book was to tell a different story. [I will analyze this thought in another posting.] But Moulin Rouge is feast for the eyes and very clever and a whole lot more fun to watch over and over again. Also in this year was Blow (55%/88%— largest viewers over critics variance in this listing), which I think should be required viewing in every junior high school.




In 1996, the English Patient (83%/82%) beat Fargo (94%/91%). Classic Academy.

1994 had a strong series of movies: Forrest Gump (71%/93%), Pulp Fiction (95%/95%) and The Shawshank Redemption (90%/98%). Hard to pick the best, but the Academy gave it to Forrest. I cannot argue, but the other two probably would have won almost any other year.









In 1988, Rain Man (88%/88%) won over Mississippi Burning (89%/87%). Again, the Academy focusing on personal disability.  I cannot say anything bad about the winner, but Mississippi Burning just needs to be watched so we never forget.








The Chariots of Fire(87%/76%) win 1981 over Raider’s of the Lost Ark (94%/93%) is a classic Academy decision, and while it is not a bad movie, and it is moving and makes us consider what is really important, Raiders was a total and complete blast that made you lose track of time.  Isn’t that what going to the movies is all about?

Kramer vs. Kramer (88%/85%) was an ok movie, but how it beat Apocalypse Now (99%/93) in 1979 is mind-boggling. I have heard people who were in country say that this movie was maybe the best depiction ever of the insanity that was there. Always good and, the closer to the end of it, the more disturbing it is to watch.

Star Wars (94%/93%) lost to Annie Hal (98%/9%) in 1977. Very different movies, each with their own special qualities and while Annie Hall was a typical Academy pick over Star Wars, I do not disagree with it.

That is ten out of the last 34 years. Going back in time, it is hard to believe Citizen Kane (100%/91%), The Wizard of Oz (100%/82%) , Dr Strangelove (100%/94%), A Clockwork Orange (91%/92%) did not win.

So comment and add your favorite overlooked movie to the list.

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