Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rankings: The Best Best Picture Winners I've Seen

There is a writer on Kitchenette, which is kind of a sub-blog of Gawker, who has been ranking various kinds of foods and things, and I have both enjoyed those rankings, and been inspired by them to start doing my own rankings from time to time.

Since tonight is the Academy Awards, which Sweetie is taping, and since I am sitting in a chair in our basement just inside the garage door while Mr F sits in the hatchback to my car-- sort of a long story -- I decided to rank Best Picture Winners I have seen.  Hence,

The Best Picture Winners I Have Seen, From Worst To Best

24. The Godfather: From time to time, people who really like a movie will tell you how great that movie is, and the more people tell you how great a movie is, the less likely I am to like it.  That is why I avoid nearly everything that captures pop culture, from Breaking Bad to... well, Breaking Bad, I guess.  The first Godfather movie I saw was The Godfather III, which I saw when it came to the theaters, and I liked it.  I was surprised to hear everyone say how terrible it was and how great The Godfather was, so one time about a decade ago I rented The Godfather and watched it and nearly fell asleep because it was so slow and boring and terrible.  I wish everyone would shut up about how great this movie is.  I'd rather go rewatch The Godfather III again, although odds are I am misremembering that movie and am thinking about The Devil's Advocate instead. No matter; either was better than this one.

23. Dances With Wolves: Back in the 1990s I lived in a studio apartment furnished with used furniture and my old bed from when I was a kid, and I bought a VCR from my friend Jimmie for something like $35, which was a lot of money to me then.  Then I rented Dances With Wolves and tried to watch it, but never made it through the whole thing.  All I remember is Kevin Costner running around a campfire or something.

22. The English Patient: I am about 90% sure Sweetie and I watched this on a date once because I remember spending most of the movie thinking why is his name pronounced "RAFE"?  The only reason this movie even ranks this high is because of how bad the other two were, and because it inspired a rarely-seen but great episode of Seinfeld:

I hope that in the future all the geezers who go on about how I Love Lucy die of senility and everyone realizes that Seinfeld should be one of the two things we try to preserve from the 20th century for future generations to know us by.

21. West Side Story: I like to have background noise while I work, so I usually have Netflix playing something; this prevents it from being too quiet in my office, because if it is to quiet I will be able to hear what my mind is thinking and I do not need to be introspective.  Usually I have sitcoms that I've seen on, but I went through this phase last year where I streamed musicals, thinking that was something I could do.  I couldn't.  Pirates of Penzance was nothing like The Simpsons promised, and this musical was awful.  Possibly the only reason for this to exist is so that schoolkids don't have to try to actually read Romeo And Juliet but could instead watch this play.  That would spare them the awfulness of Shakespearean English, while still allowing them to watch an incredibly dated, somewhat trite story.*

*In my 8th grade class we got to watch the 1968 version of the play, in which there was a fleeting glimpse of Juliet's boob.  Our parents were pre-warned about this in case they wanted to remove us from class.  I got to stay!
20. Crash: In terms of 'interlocking storylines that all come together,' Babel was a more interesting movie and Love, Actually had better looking women.

19. Shakespeare In Love: I remember liking this movie but now I don't know why.  I went to look up who played Shakespeare, and when I saw his picture I thought he was in Lost, too, but it turns out he played the Monsignor in American Horror Story: Asylum, which was by far the best of the three seasons of American Horror Story I've seen.

18. On The Waterfront: We watched this as a film in class in high school, or maybe grade school? For school, anyway.  I think we were learning about unions.  It probably shouldn't rank this high, but the movies above it were way worse and/or more forgettable.

17. The Hurt Locker: You know why people are so upset about American Sniper? Because in nearly every war movie the heroes are presented as either super-reluctant to be at war or are not even there to kill people.  Great war movies have them do both.  In Saving Private Ryan, for example, the troop is trying to rescue a guy.  In this movie, the soldier doesn't try to kill people, he saves lives by disarming bombs.  I just went and looked at a list of the top 20 greatest war movies of all time, and 5 of them flat-out are about rescue missions, or other feel-good-ish types of topics  A bunch of the rest of them have people killing only clear-cut bad guys -- generally Nazis and the Japanese during World War II.  So it's okay to have your guys be cold-blooded killers if the people they're cold-bloodedly killing are cold-blooded-er.  Fun fact: Jeremy whatshisface was also in Avengers, as a hero who never fights anyone either!

16. Gone With The Wind: Actually I never saw this movie but I read the book when I was in Morocco back in 1995 and it was one of the only English books at the used bookstore near the dorms.  I also read Les Miserable, and of the two, this one was better.

15. All Quiet On The Western Front: Since I'm counting movies if I read the book I thought I'd also count movies if I was supposed to read the book for school but didn't and still got an A on the test.  This one probably shouldn't rank this high but I didn't realize it was here until now and I'm too lazy to go back and re-number all these things, plus I want to make people mad by ranking a hundred-year-old movie higher than The Godfather even though I never saw the movie or read the book.

14. Titanic: Remember when movies used to be in theaters for, like, years? Sweetie and I took my mom to see this when it had been in the theater for nearly a year.  My mom had seen it once or twice already.  I liked the movie, but my enjoyment of it was somewhat diminished by the fact that I bought one of those 80-ounce sodas you can get, and developed a strong need to go to the bathroom right about as the ship started to go down, so for about 1/3 of the movie I was a bit distracted and at the end [SPOILER ALERT?] I just wanted Jack to let go of her stupid hand already.

13. The Silence Of The Lambs: This movie once seemed sort of destined for greatness but I think all the sequels and prequels and isn't there a TV show about it now? And then there was Dexter, which was ridiculous and which I avoided because: pop culture, and now I think of this movie and just sort of move on.

12. Gladiator:We watched this because my Dad recommended it; he said he liked it but (and I quote) he "didn't like all the sex." We watched it, noted the complete lack of sex scenes, and thought "Did we watch the same movie as Dad?"

11. American Beauty: Wasn't Kevin Spacey dead at the end? I think he was.  This movie was totally ruined for me by that cutaway from Family Guy.

10. A Beautiful Mind: I think I'm probably ranking this so high because I read the book and saw the movie and I can't remember whether I'm thinking all the good parts of the book were in the movie or not.  Also: Russell Crowe has two movies on this list? Remember when Russell Crowe was a thing, before Hugh Jackman became the only Australian we can like? Australians make it into American fame like warriors become The Highlander.

9. The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King: The first two movies were totally garbage, right, which is why this one is the only one that won best picture?  Think: if it hadn't been for this Academy Award, The Hobbit might not have become a bloated parody of itself, and I might have seen it.

8. Chicago: I have this soundtrack and listen to it all the time.  I like to sing along with it. I'm cool that way.  This is also the only movie musical worth watching, period.  Musicals on stage are great; we saw The Producers touring production in Chicago (which is the only musical I've seen by professionals, on stage, and is what I base that opinion on).  Musicals on film are awful and should not be allowed, but because this one worked we get about 1 or 2 a year.

7. Forrest Gump: I remember being mad, like really mad and for a long time, that this beat out Pulp Fiction. I remember when I used to have opinions about football games, too.  Now I look back and wonder how I ever cared so passionately about things that don't even matter while they're happening, let alone after they're done.  Once you've had actual things (good and/or bad) happen to you, you don't care about fake things like football ref's calls and Academy Awards.  Those things matter very much to the people competing for them, and not even the tiniest bit to fans.

6. No Country For Old Men: I liked this movie so much I wanted to read books by the guy who wrote the book this was based on, but then I heard that he writes kind of weird, so I'll probably just stick with having watched this movie.

5. Rain Man: I mean, I loved this movie long before I actually had two sons who are autistic, and now I can watch it and be amazed at just how much Dustin Hoffman actually nailed what autism is like, but even beyond that this is one of those rare movies that I can watch again and again even though I know the words by heart by now.  The scene where Tom Cruise has to talk his way into a house to let Raymond watch TV is heartbreaking, and I would absolutely do that for my boys, who might need it.

4. Platoon: I'm pretty sure Charlie Sheen wasn't rescuing anyone and didn't have any false modesty and there wasn't a single Nazi in it.  This was the second-best war movie ever made, right behind Three Kings.  I'd like to go watch it again, right now.  Charlie Sheen is amazing for his ability to make you like him; he's like the anti-Tom Cruise.  You like Tom Cruise despite the fact that every cell in your body is screaming at you not to like him, because Tom Cruise is an amazing actor who is superlikeable when he acts like Tom Cruise.  You like Charlie Sheen, because every cell in your body is saying Yeah we like him too forget all that crazy stuff because Charlie Sheen is the big brother nobody ever had and everybody should have, so that Christmas parties with our families will be chaotically fun again.

3. Argo: Think about this: How many movies have you seen that were based on a true story and you knew the ending and you still were tense as it was happening? Ben Affleck deserved two Oscars for that.

2. The Departed: I remember two specific things and one general thing about this movie.  The two specific things are that scene where Leonardo DiCaprio smashed the glass against that guy's head and I was like WOW I THINK HE REALLY SMASHED THAT GLASS, and then the ending scene.  The general thing I remember about this movie is thinking that every movie should be like this movie.

1. Schindler's List: I saw this movie in the theaters. The theater was packed, and at the end of the movie, the lights came up and the entire audience just sat there, stunned and silent, for about five minutes,but it felt longer.  Then everyone stood up and just walked out, silently.  There was no talking and no smiling and no laughing.  We didn't even start talking until about 10 minutes into the ride home.  Nearly three decades later, I can still feel how this movie was like a punch to the stomach, but one that you totally deserved.  Everyone should watch this movie.  I don't think I could watch it again.

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