We say a fond farewell to the Olympics here at the Cru Jones Society for two reasons: 1) For two weeks every other year, the country comes together and watches the same thing allowing for collective conversation unparalleled in the dry desert of fractured experience that happens in the interim; and 2) Generating daily content that everyone can relate to for two weeks is ridiculously easy. We’ll miss that.
Thankfully, right on the heels of these enormously entertaining Olympics is the cultural juggernaut known as the Oscars. Vacuous, petty, borderline evil people will debate about which celebrities looked worst on the red carpet while the film industry gives itself a big fat self blowjob on national television for all the great work it’s done this year (All About Steve notwithstanding). So, to kick your anticipation into high gear, we asked you to look back at Academy Award history and share with us: What is your favorite Best Picture recipient of all-time? We got outstanding turnout in this week’s Confessional, so let’s not delay any further. Here are your picks for the best of the best.
E Dagger: I really like a lot of the movies that have won Best Picture, but I love very few of them. The answers we received below cover nearly all of the ones that I like, but the two that I love more than all the others are Rain Man and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I love these two movies because of what they represent, and oddly enough, I believe what they represent stand in contradiction to each other.
Rain Man is a story about a man who changes his worldview for the better while One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a story of a man that refuses to change for the sake of improving his own situation because that would mean kowtowing to unjust and tyrannical authority. In their own unique way, each movie is a triumph of the human spirit. We work hard to make ourselves better people all the time, but Rain Man gives us the rare chance to see it happen materially in the span of two hours. And although R.P. McMurphy is ultimately defeated at the end of his movie, standing up to tyranny is its own reward.
I know we said to choose one, and while I almost invoked the timeless rule of “This is my website, and I’ll break the rules if I want to,” I decided to play fair and choose my favorite. I had been leaning toward Cuckoo’s Nest, but thinking about Nurse Ratched triumphing over our rebellious hero and seeing his ultimate fate just bummed me out too much. It’s true to life that the system almost always wins as it does in Cuckoo’s Nest, but real life sucks and sometimes you’d rather see things as they ought to be rather than as they are. So, my favorite best picture winner of all-time is Rain Man.
It’s hard to believe that a movie this good fits into the tired old road movie genre, but the characters function so well and play off one another so flawlessly, keeping them moving throughout the country gives us rich avenues to explore them. And sometimes I’m just a sucker for the happy ending. Time to wrap up my response because as you all know – three minutes to Wapner.
Lee S. Hart: This is such a great list. I had to look it over several times before making a final decision. Forrest Gump is great on many levels. The Godfather redefined what cinema is. And Lord of the Rings was just epic and probably the best adaptation of a book I have seen, sorry One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, you came close though.
But when all was said and done I chose American Beauty. Everything about this movie seems to click and work right for me. The story, the characters, the acting are all just perfect. I wasn’t really aware of how much I truly loved this movie until it was on TV a couple of weeks ago. I turned it on just to kill some time and before I knew it I was watching the whole thing, edited and all. It has the same effect on me that Speed tends to have. No matter what’s going on, it’s always a good time for American Beauty.
What I think also helps make this my favorite Academy Award Winner is every time I watch I pick up on one little thing I never noticed from the previous viewing. And a lot of the time it is some minor thing that makes me look at my own life in a new and different way. This is by far the one movie on this list I could watch over and over again and never grow tired of it. It also appears to be one of only three on the list I own.
Dzayson: I have a short list of my absolute favorite films that I can instantly recite should I be given occasion to do so. They are, in no particular order: The Shawshank Redemption, A Clockwork Orange, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Schindler’s List, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Godfather. The final three all won Best Picture at the Oscars. Now, I really can’t say which I enjoy most of the three, but luckily that isn’t the question. The question is which deserved its win the most. (Ed. Note: That’s not actually the question, but whatever.) Schindler’s List is an amazing film- unquestionably Spielberg’s finest crafted work- but I have to eliminate it first because its win helped pave the way for many inferior Holocaust dramas. And I’ll never get back the seven hours I wasted sitting through that pretentious Oscar-bait tripe named The Reader. Similarly, Silence of the Lambs is punished both for the subsequent bastardization of the Hannibal Lecter character and an influx of shitty serial killer films in general. I’m glad that its success helped Seven get greenlit. Copycat (an ironic title if there ever was one), not so much. That leaves The Godfather. Hey, I’m not saying the Mafia genre doesn’t have its share of stinkers (hello, Knockaround Guys!), but The Godfather helped redefine a genre that would come to include other classics such as Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs (yeah, I know- Tarantino is a genre unto himself, but still), American Gangster, and, oh yeah, the greatest sequel of all-time in The Godfather Part II. Not to mention “The Sopranos,” perhaps the finest drama series in history. Thanks, Coppola family! Not so fast, Sofia… One last thing: I may have to revise this list in a couple of weeks. The Hurt Locker or Inglourious Basterds my well spoil the James Cameron party, which would be fantastic in my book. And hey, I enjoyed his nature porn as much as the next guy, but both the aforementioned films are fantastic and well worth the time of the fine CJS readers. Check em out! That’s it for me. Gotta go replace the parenthesis keys on my laptop. I’m on a horse.
Deuce: Well, this is a tough one. There are several good movies and I actually needed to look the list up to make sure I didn’t forget one. I really enjoyed Amadeus when I watched it and The Godfather is very well done. I’m a sucker for musicals so the Sound of Music is high on the list and it’s hard to say no to The Departed… (And since Tombstone never won an Oscar), I will go with Gladiator. I remember watching this movie and thinking, “Wow, that was so much more than just an action movie.” The action is obviously very good but beyond that I feel that it is a timeless plot and is well acted with great heroes and equally great (?) villains.
Brad: At first I thought I wouldn’t have an answer for this since the movie I most enjoy each year never seems to win Best Picture, but after looking up the list I actually had a tough time choosing between Rocky, Amadeus, Unforgiven, and The Godfather for favorite Best Picture winner. Actually, there were a few other older choices I wanted to include too. I guess it’s only the recent stuff that I’ve disagreed with. But in the end, I made my choice for Amadeus. With a lavish production design, deeply woven story with moral and intellectual complexity, and enthralling music score, it’d be the first one I’d turn to to watch if only these films were on my shelf.
Jitterrawks: This was a tough one, as I’ve actually enjoyed many of the recent winners. I absolutely loved Slumdog Millionaire the first time I saw it…but it doesn’t hold up with multiple viewings. I really dig Rain Man, but only for the pop culture references it has left behind. The Departed was great, but I feel that it may be the Boston in me cheering it on…and to be honest, it only won because they made Mark Wahlberg completely unattractive. Million Dollar Baby was also amazing…but again, it really doesn’t hold up once you know the ending. To pick my favorite of all of the movies, it has to have a few things going for it. First, it has to be something I can watch again and again. Second, it can’t be damaged by the hype it gets (the reason my parents didn’t dig Slumdog when I brought it home). Thirdly, it has to be the kind of movie that I’ll watch if it’s on TV no matter where it is in the movie. Dagger mentioned ages ago how men and women differ in watching movies, where guys can pick up a movie at any point in the plot, but women prefer the beginning to end method. I usually agree, with few exceptions. That is how I can label Lord of the Rings as the best movie to win the award. It’s beautifully shot, has some sci-fi, romance and action rolled into one…it’s awesome. Plus, I haven’t had an event of going to the movies like I did when the trilogy came out…it was a planned event with several friends and family members. Now, I usually just catch it on Netflix.
Gutter: I am going to go with a movie that I am guessing most people wouldn’t pick from this list and that movie is Braveheart. I don’t think it is necessarily the best movie on the list, hard to compete with movies like, The Godfather, The Sting, and Rocky, hell you could probably make a pretty good argument that Gladiator is a better movie than Braveheart and I don’t think I would completely disagree. But the reason Braveheart stood out to me is 1) I had no idea it won best picture and more importantly 2) The movie stirs up memories from my past that make me smile and sad all at the same time. I guess it is not so much the actual movie that I think is so great (don’t get me wrong I think it is a really good movie) it is just one of those movies that when I watch it, it brings back memories of watching it with my Dad. It was HBO one night and he wasn’t all the interested in watching it, I am sure 60 minutes was on or something, but we talked him into watching it anyway, when the movie was over, he was really glad we made him watch the movie and really enjoyed it. A few months later he passed away and now every time Braveheart comes on TV it brings back the great memory of watching the movie with my dad, bitter sweet for sure, but sometimes those are the best memories and most vivid. It is funny how sometimes a movie or song will just bring back a certain memory in your life and no matter what it is or where you are it stops you in your tracks and you are transported back in time to that memory, for me that movie is Braveheart.
Lady E: Wow, it is sad at how few of these movies I have seen! It helps me to narrow down my list though! I am torn between two of the movies and I think they are the best for very different reasons. First, I pick Shakespeare in Love. I love this movie, it is so sweet and I can watch it over and over. It has it all, pretty costumes, great story and Gwyneth Paltrow. It is a win-win movie! Second and on a very different side of the movie spectrum is Silence of the Lambs. This movie really is the best of the ones I have seen, but really, this isn’t a movie I am going to just throw on while making dinner (gross) or on a lazy Sunday. It is scary, gross and one that I like abstractly, but again, not one that I will watch even once a year. Based on watchability I pick Shakespeare in Love, based on general movie quality, the winner is Silence of the Lambs.
Corriander: My favorite movie of all time happens to be an Academy Award winner in 1944. It’s Casablanca. It’s such a great, classic movie. It’s one movie I watch over and over. I know most of the lines, and man, does it have some great lines. My favorite is “of all the gin joints in all the world…”. Think I’ll have watch it tonight actually.
This week, the CJS is headed to Tucson once again for its yearly rendezvous. Unfortunately we’ll be one member short this year, which sucks on a number of levels. Since we started this site nearly two years ago, we’ve always penciled in sometime in March for a Tucson rendezvous where we drink beers, watch delightfully pointless Spring Training baseball games, and escape the stupid cold weather in Denver for a bit during our shittiest month.
So, with that in mind, and in the spirit of this trip, this week’s Confessional topic is: Where do you visit every year without fail and why? We all have a place we’re drawn to, and whether that’s because of family, the weather, or legalized gambling and prostitution, we always try to carve out some time on the calendar and save a few Shekels to get there. So what’s your place? Tell us what it is, and feel free to share a memory from that place to give us a taste of what it’s like.
We want to know more about all our readers. So don’t hold back. If you haven’t confessed, or it’s been awhile, or even if you did it last week, we want to hear from you. Confession is good for your soul. Don’t be shy and send us your response, along with your posting name to email@example.com and we’ll put them up next week.
Dagger & Hart
01 Mar 2010 CJS Staff