1941: How Green Was My Valley (beat Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Suspicion)

Citizen Kane, considered by many as perhaps the greatest film ever made!

1944: Going My Way (beat Double Indemnity, Gaslight)

Double Indemnity and Gaslight are two seminal films.  Not sure the same can be said for Going My Way.

1965: The Sound of Music (beat Doctor Zhivago)

Doctor Zhivago was pretty epic and I’d have leaned that way – but I’m sure my mom, who watches The Sound of Music whenever it airs, would disagree.

1976: Rocky (beat All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory, Network, Taxi Driver)

I mean, Rocky was a seminal film as well, but it wasn’t a better movie than any of the aforementioned.

1979: Kramer vs Kramer (beat Apocalypse Now)

Apocalypse Now is another film that makes many critics’ Top 10 lists.

1980: Ordinary People (beat Raging Bull, The Elephant Man)

With all due respect to perfectly Ordinary People, Raging Bull was a tour de force.

1981: Chariots of Fire (beat Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Chariots of Fire was perfectly fine, but Raiders was tremendous.

1985: Out of Africa (beat The Color Purple, Prizzi’s Honor, Witness)

This selection was a bit of a head scratcher.  I’d have gone Witness.

1990: Dances with Wolves (beat Goodfellas)

Goodfellas is not just one of the greatest gangster movies ever made, but certainly one great movie.  Dances with Wolves…meh.

1994: Forrest Gump (beat Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption)

Lotsa love for Forrest Gump.  I found it hokey but understand respect the opinion of those who enjoyed it…but The Shawshank Redemption is one of the greatest movies ever made.

1996: The English Patient (beat Fargo)

I thought I was the only one who found The English Patient insufferable until I saw that Seinfeld episode.  Fargo is magnificent.

1998: Shakespeare in Love (beat Saving Private Ryan)

Missed this one when I was putting together this list, but someone reminded me about this outrageous choice.

Agree?  Disagree?  What did I miss?

8 thoughts on “January 24, 2023: Controversial Best Picture Winners!

  1. I would agree except for one choice. I adore The Sound of Music and thought that it was appealing for so many reasons, making it worthy of the Best Picture honor. Costuming, performances, cinematic beauty, music. This movie has it all and it has stood the test of time. On the other hand, while I loved and appreciated Omar Sharif as an incredible actor, Dr. Zhivago bores me to tears. I have never made it all the way through without falling asleep – from seeing it in the theater when it was first released right up until a week ago on TV. I’ll keep trying if you think it’s that good because I respect your professional opinion, but I’ll need to nap beforehand and brew a very strong pot of coffee.

    In defense of Going My Way, the movie is charming with very broad appeal that has spanned generations. The acting was good for what it was and I doubt anybody would have voted against Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley, hence the win. Was the movie epic like Citizen Kane? Certainly not. You can’t compare Bing Crosby to Orson Welles. Apples to rutabagas. They we’re both brilliant at their incomparably different approaches to entertainment. As a side note, I’ve never made it through Citizen Kane without napping, either, but I watch Going My Way (and The Bell’s of St. Mary’s) every time it airs. Even after dozens of viewings, I still love every moment of the film. To me, that’s what makes a Best Picture. Having said that, Citizen Kane and Orson Welles deserve a class of their own and I fully acknowledge why you would choose it as the better picture.

    Where do you stand on Midnight Cowboy? It was a flabbergasting win at the time, as it was “X” rated. Of course, now it is regularly shown on TV and the “X” rating is no more. Did it win as a social statement, a kind of “Hollywood liberals” protest vote? Were the performances and content that good? Was it the best of the worst? Did it honestly belong on your personal list of best pictures?

    Great discussion! Please do a sequel.

  2. 1976: What a year for great movies!

    1994: Forrest Gump – Very hokey. Love Pulp Fiction. I am still yet to see Shawshank. Yes, I know, I am a bad person.

    1998: Shakespeare In Love – I kinda enjoyed that movie but, yeah, it’s no Saving Private Ryan! I was working in the industry at the time so we’d get occasional preview screenings in our private cinema and I remember 1998 we had both Shakespeare In Love and Saving Private Ryan previews (and Pleasantville, #2 on my list of favourite movies of all time). It was a good time!

    Most controversial for me:

    1999: American Beauty – What an overrated movie that is! Can’t stand it. It beat The Green Mile and The Sixth Sense.

  3. Some of my favorite movies probably aren’t up to your standards but here goes: The Sting, Jaws, Fargo, Galaxy Quest, Alien/Aliens, The Great Escape, The Lord of the Rings (Jackson), Train to Busan, The Sixth Sense, Princess Bride and The Matrix (the first one). If I think of any others, I’ll add them later.

  4. I definitely agree with your comments.

    Aside from your list and all… one of my top movies is still THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Like your mom who watches THE SOUND OF MUSIC whenever it airs ( my mom did too) I watch TPB probably every other year. I love the dialogue.

  5. 1980’s Ordinary People I did not see. Could not see. I remember I was 21 at the time. We had just lost my 22 year old brother. It was a devastating time for my family. I couldn’t understand how a mother or father could show favoritism to one child and grow apart when something like that happens. If anything, they should have banded together. My friends wanted to see the movie but I just couldn’t do it. Too soon, too raw. I think we went to a different movie instead. I like The Sound of Music. Every year. Me and your mom. Bring it on!

    1. So sorry to hear about what happened to your family. As an only child, I can only imagine what that’s like.

      I hadn’t been familiar with Ordinary People, but I looked it up after reading your comment. The family in the Buffy episode “Some Assembly Required” reacted similarly, and I was really mad at the mother for ignoring the younger son while obsessing over videos of the popular dead older son’s football games.

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