Who joins the great Best Picture snubs this year?

Posted by · 1:52 pm · May 9th, 2008

It happens every year, a great film, in some cases destined to be remembered more than the eventual Oscar winner is snubbed for a Best Picture nod, or gets nominated and loses to an inferior film that happened to capture the public’s attention at that particular point in history.

Some of the greatest films of all time lost the top award, “Citizen Kane” among them, arguably the greatest of all time (though I disagree). “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, easily John Huston’s best work, joins the list, as does “The Searchers,” which is in my opinion the finest western ever made and contains the greatest John Wayne performance of all time.

Remember “Rocky” winning over “All the President’s Men,” “Network” and “Taxi Driver?” Or “Kramer vs. Kramer” over “Apocalypse Now?” In the last twenty years, Oscar has pulled some howlers, some choices that left me nearly putting my foot through the television upon the announcement. The first time I remember being really, truly angry at a lame decision was in 1981 when “Chariots of Fire” bested Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” which I believe to be among the best films of the 80s.

In 1988, Barry Levisnon’s “Rain Man” brought on some sort of love in at the Academy, winning Best Picture and Best Director over some great films that didn’t even manage a nomination, like “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which was bold and daring, and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” a hysterically funny merging of animation and live action. One year later “Driving Miss Daisy” satisfied the Academy’s need for conservative filmaking, winning Best Picture without the benefit of a director nomation. Certainly a better choice would have been “Glory,” which sadly was not even nominated, or Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”

No argument with either “Unforgiven” or “Schindler’s List,” but “Forrest Gump,” which I don’t understand over “Pulp Fiction,” one of the most sensational films of the last thirty years. The Tom Hanks performance is indeed superb, but the film was not better than Tarantino’s powerhouse flick. The very next year “Braveheart” somehow won top honors over “Apollo 13,” a vastly superior effort, and the sadly snubbed “Dead Man Walking.” I remember clearly the look of horror on Meryl Streep’s face when the Best Picture award was announced.

Never have I ben a fan of the vastly over-appreciated, uninvolving “The English Patient,” which managed to win nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. While watching the film at a critics screening, during the scene in the cave, I began to wish she would just die so we could go home. The critical acclaim stunned me, as did the Oscars.

Top honors that year should have gone to “Trainspotting” or “Fargo” or “The Crucible,” which had been touted as a frontrunner before Fox dropped the ball in releasing the film. How could a film in which Daniel Day-Lewis finishes second in voting for the New York Film Critics Circle award be totally ignored for the Academy’s top two honors?

One year later the Academy made one of the doozy moves, handing James Cameron’s spectacle “Titanic” a record-tying 11 Academy Awards over the sublime “L.A. Confidential,” which swept the critics awards, not to mention films that didn’t manage a Best Pic berth, like “Boogie Nights” and Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter,” which was the best picture choice of the L.A. Times and runner up in the Los Angeles and New York film critics’ voting.

How does the best directed, best shot, best edited and best sounding film proceed to lose Best Picture? How is that possible? In 1998, “Saving Private Ryan” lost best picture to “Shakespeare in Love,” a frothy little comedy that showcased the talents of Gwyneth Paltrow and writer Tom Stoppard. History has proven the Spielberg film to be the greater effort, but sadly it was robbed of a much deserved Oscar for Best Picture.

As much as I liked “American Beauty,” never for a moment did I believe it was the year’s best film. Not in a year that included “Fight Club,” “The Insider” and “Magnolia,” which I felt to be the year’s best. Cameron Crowe’s wonderful “Almost Famous,” like “American Beauty,” was first shown in Toronto at the festival, but lost momentum upon release.

“Gladiator” best picture of the year? Only in Hollywood. Again, “Traffic” is the best directed and best edited film, one of the best acted efforts, yet it loses the top prize to a sword-and-sandals blockbuster that is as deep as the paper it was written on.

I remember shaking my head in disgust when “A Beautiful Mind” won over Peter Jackson’s first installment of “The Lord of the Rings. But like everyone else, I was aware “they” were likely waiting until the end of the trilogy to honor Jackson. I had hoped there would be some Oscar love for Spielberg’s wonderfully daring “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” but audiences were left cold and the Academy did not notice.

2002 was a great movie year and yet the Academy chooses a film, “Chicago,” that was not even among the ten best films of the year!! How could this triumph win over “The Hours,” “Gangs of New York,” “Far from Heaven,” “Road to Perdition,” “About Schmidt,” “Minority Report” or “Catch Me If You Can?” To this day I cringe when I see any part of Rob Marshall’s film.

No argument that “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” stormed its way to 11 Academy Awards in 2003 — loved the film, never wanted it to end, and Jackson deserved to be honored for his astounding accomplishment. My only beef with the Academy is that they did not honor either Sean Astin or Viggo Mortenson for their performances in the films. And I always wondered why “Cold Mountain” failed to be nominated for Best Picture.

“Million Dollar Baby” is a brilliant American film that deserved to win, though I confess to loving “Sideways,” which was simply the finest American comedy since “Tootsie.” And “Crash?” Freakin’ “Crash” for Best Picture???? Over “Brokeback Mountain” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Over the nominationless “King Kong,” which I adored?? Come on, Oscar.

Tough to argue “The Departed,” and though I prefer “There Will Be Blood” to “No Country for Old Men,” I admit the Coen brothers made a superb film. It would have been nice to see “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” nominated for Best Picture, however. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Amen to that!!!)

So there.

By the way, I write this in Sunnybrook Hospital, on a laptop on the bed of my wife who is sleeping after her brain surgery to remove a tumor. To all those who sent best wishes, I want to let you know she is doing fine, resting peacefully. We are not out of the woods yet, but this part of the battle, we have won. We will know next week whether or not chemotherapy or radiation is going to become part of our lives, but the doctor thought not…yet anyway. Thanks again for the concern, it meant a lot.

→ 28 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

28 responses so far

  • 1 5-09-2008 at 2:55 pm

    Joseph said...

    “Chicago” is a PHENOMENAL film that deserved its awards completely. And yes, 2002 WAS an extremely strong year, and “Chicago” happened to be one of its 5 best films. For my money, it’s the second best winner this decade, only behind “The Return of the King.”

    As far as other years go, in ’81 I would have picked “Raider of the Lost Ark,” in ’82 would have picked “E.T.,” and in ’89 would have picked “Cinema Paradiso (unnominate),” “Crimes and Misdemeanors (unnominated) or “My Left Foot.”

    Oh, and “The English Patient” and “Titanic, “two films that get unfairly harped on, are masterpieces. Get over it.

  • 2 5-09-2008 at 4:47 pm

    Noah said...

    My thoughts are with your wife and I hope she has a speedy and healthy recovery.

    Amen to Do the Right Thing being snubbed and every time I watch 25th Hour or Jungle Fever, I’m amazed that the Academy didn’t recognize them. Those are masterpieces in my eyes.

  • 3 5-09-2008 at 7:52 pm

    Chad said...

    Call me crazy but I think Peter Jackson’s indulgent, repetitive, schlocky and boring Lord of the Rings trilogy will not be looked on favorably in 50 years. It’ll be the Around the World in 80 Days of our time. And Million Dollar Baby is as bad as Crash. Paul Haggis did not miraculously improve from one picture to the next. The only masterpieces of the last few years in my opinion are United 93 and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and neither was nominated but I’m just a dumb hipster.

  • 4 5-09-2008 at 8:28 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    ^^^Dems such fightin’ words on the nett — and I agree^^^

  • 5 5-09-2008 at 9:30 pm

    Proman said...

    Here are my favorite movies of the past few years:

    1999. Being John Malkovich
    2000. Memento
    2001. A.I. – Artificial Intelligence
    2002. Minority Report
    2003. Lost in Translation
    2004. Before Sunset
    2005. Munich
    2006. The Fountain

  • 6 5-10-2008 at 12:14 am

    rasgriz said...

    first i agree with you on “rocky” wining over “network” and the “taxi driver” it was weird. BUT “Rain Man” was best in his year.

    About “Driving Miss Daisy” wining well they chose it over “my left foot” and ” Being born on 4 of july” which won best director and ” glory” was not even nominated ???????

    In 95 “Forrest Gump” was a great movie and deserve it best actor win but wining over “Pulp Fiction” and “the shawshank redemtion” was over desering!!!!. In the year after “Braveheart” won. will i did not like this year that much so i do not care .

    i am with you about what you said about “The English Patient” . Now we come for the blockbuster of the history “titanic” i think if a movie make that kind of money it will win anything desrving or not.

    the 1999 award well just call it the 666 award i almost belive it was the end of mankind and satan was in the award “Shakespeare in Love” wining over Saving Private Ryan” THE HORROR ….. THE HORROR.

    “American Beauty” was great movie but there was “the green mile” ” fight club” ‘the insider” and ” FIGHT CLUB” for god sake.

    I disagree with you about “gladiator” win i think it was a close match with “traffic”. And i strongly disgree with you about “A Beautiful Mind” win it was beautiful and Russell Crowe should have won for his role.

    The year 2002, in this year i lost faith in the academy awards and in this year i think they made their worst mistake in their history. I am still looking for any sane reason why “Chicago” win over ” the pianist” which was about one actor and he won best actor over Daniel day-lewis. Won best director and best screenplay. so you tell me HOW IN THE $%K^&* HELL IT WON BEST PICTURE TELL ME

    the rest of the years was good choices expect “crash” win was weird but i liked it so no hard feeling their.

    And good luck for your wife

  • 7 5-10-2008 at 2:49 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Why are there suddenly people that blast LOTR? It’s the Star Wars of this (read: my) generation. It now seems kinda “cool” to hate those films just because they were succesful. At least the Academy had the guts to reward a film that everyone, critics and audiences, loved.

  • 8 5-10-2008 at 9:17 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It’s not a now thing for me, Jonathan. I always had a beef with the LOTR franchise. My favorite is the extended cut of the first flick. After that it’s just bloated self-indulgence, in my view.

    But it’s admittedly a view I don’t bother with announcing that often, given the rapid fandom that is the net. Usually it’s better to whistle and mosey on by.

  • 9 5-10-2008 at 11:45 am

    Chad said...

    My opinion on LOTR is also not new. But then I’m not crazy about any of the Star Wars films either. To further fan the flames, I think Rocky was the absolute right choice for 1976.

  • 10 5-10-2008 at 12:51 pm

    Neel Mehta said...

    Those of us who dislike LOTR were always around, but didn’t see the point in voicing our opinions. They’d just get drowned out.

    After enduring the first, I saw no point in continuing the trilogy, and have managed to lead a relatively happy life since then. From what I understand of the second and third movies, even from people who loved them, I feel I made the right choice.

  • 11 5-10-2008 at 1:57 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Chad, you killed me with the last sentence. I, too, struggle to find anything worth liking, to quote Plainview, in the Star Wars films. But “Network” is one of the greatest films of all time. Should’ve taken the ’76 Oscar, IMO.

  • 12 5-10-2008 at 3:40 pm

    Earl Cooper said...

    You mentioned many of the Oscar outrages that I share. I found it fascinating that when the AFI brought out their most recent top 100 films, there was not a single best picture winner from the 1980’s. Does that tell you something? That was the decade of disaster at the Oscars as far as I was concerned and it culminated with one you did not mention – Driving Miss Daisy which beat Born on the 4th of July. It is Do The Right Thing which we all knew at the time was a classic that did not even get nominated for BP. Frankly what about Ghandi beating E.T. As for Chariots of Fire, I had ranked it 5th among the nominations – nice music but please!
    I have never seen an 80’s best picture winner on any sort of critics list of great films except maybe Amadeus and rarely Platoon.
    I still think the animated film that started the modern wave of great animated films was ignored and I mean – Who Framed Roger Rabbit? How about the now acknowledged greatest Christmas film of all time – A Christmas Story. It got zilch and may turn out to be better remembered than any of the oscar winners. In my city they screened it at a movie theater last year at Christmas time for a new generation of fans.
    That’s 25 years after its release.
    You also forgot to mention the appalling Dances With Wolves beating Goodfellas. Not much doubt which movie has lasted there. Still I love the Oscars. I have watched for 45 years. It is always the hope they will get things right at least for me and the thrill when they do.
    If you had told me when I left the theater after seeing Chicago that it would win the BP Oscar, I would have laughed at you.
    Ok I do not get the wife thing???

  • 13 5-10-2008 at 4:12 pm

    Blake Rutherford said...

    1976 still pains me; no chance that “Rocky” was the finest film of the year. You can throw 1980 in there as well. As much as I like Robert Redford, “Raging Bull” was a far superior effort, and should have been Scorsese’s second Oscar. The formulaic “Ghandi” over “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” in 1982? Come on.

    But my biggest disagreement is the award to “Dances with Feathers” (I mean Wolves) over “Good Fellas” in 1990. What a joke.

    I wasn’t much impressed with “A Beautiful Mind” when compared to Robert Altman’s masterpiece “Gosford Park” in 2001.

    And, like you, “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” was one of the great mistakes of the Academy.

  • 14 5-10-2008 at 6:32 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    To answer the question of the headline, I wonder if “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (from a knockout script, by the way) might prove itself too much of a masterwork from a likely driven and dedicated David Fincher (as always) to gain Best Picture recognition.

    Of course — we must see the final product first. But that’s the one that leaps to mind.

  • 15 5-11-2008 at 9:53 am

    Silencio said...

    Well, it seems our opinions are 65% opposite, ha. The other films I’d defend (Chicago, Titanic, Gladiator) have already been discussed. But I will speak for Shakespeare in Love. I have yet to see SPR, but I do know the worth of SiL. It’s more than a frothy little comedy. It took a couple viewings to get this. I was surprised at the little things that moved me. It’s always the little things that make fantastic films for me. Like…

    when Will is walking past a religous guy cursing the crowd (a plague on both your houses!) and he silently marks it in his head.

    when Will and Viola (in disguise) are on the boat and she’s asking him to describe her, ending in that crazy ass kiss. That hilarious and strangely believable.

    when they’re performing R&J for the queen and Viola enters as Juliet, there’s a shot from Will’s POV backstage that shows the perfection of this moment. She’s playing the role she was supposed to all along. A quiet commentary on the gender discrimination of that time.

    when the stuttering guy nails his prologue, then exits and asks Will “was it g-g-good?” And that little smile afterward. That snuck up on me.

    and the ending. How cool. I love this movie.

  • 16 5-11-2008 at 5:37 pm

    aj said...

    “How does the best directed, best shot, best edited and best sounding film proceed to lose Best Picture? How is that possible?”

    I hate loving Shakespeare in Love more than Saving Private Ryan because for the most part everyone disagrees. But how does the best acted, best written, best scored, best art directed, and best costume designed picture of the year proceed to lose best picture? It doesn’t. SiL>SPR overall, not saying that SPR isn’t the best shot, sounding, and edited film of 1998 but it’s script makes me want to die. It’s painful. And personally I feel that neither SiL nor SPR is the best directed film of 1998 but I’ll save that for another argument. Getting back to how did SPR lose, the answer is simple, the director was tied to close to the project. Honoring Steven Spielberg was honoring SPR. Just like, albeit to a lesser extent, honoring Jennifer Hudson was honoring Dreamgirls. Honoring Ang Lee was honoring Brokeback Mountain, and Crash was a superior film but I don’t want to get into that here either. As you mentioned above, honoring RotK was honoring FotR.

  • 17 5-13-2008 at 5:34 pm

    Bradley said...

    Glad to hear she’s doing well! :)

  • 18 5-15-2008 at 5:20 pm

    Joel said...

    My opinion on the LOTR trilogy: it was groundbreaking. The Star Wars trilogy (the old one, I mean) made me who I am today. On the topic of trilogies, and discounting those two, the only completely satisfying one so far was the “Saw” franchise. The last “Matrix” movie was bogged down by style and “Attack of the Clones” was bogged down by Hayden Christensen (it was successful, but only mildly so. “Saw” to me was much more than torture porn, especially at the end of the third one.
    As for THIS year’s best pic snubs, we all know “Cloverfield” won’t be nominated, though it should be. It’s at the top of the five (count ’em: five) four star movies this year (along with “Horton Hears a Who”, “Iron Man”, “Penelope”, and “Son of Rambow”). Out of those four, I could only see “Rambow” being nominated, but I doubt it.
    I think “Curious Case” has a chance. The plot sounds incredible.
    But I think the REAL winner this year may be “Indiana Jones”. Really. No joking here. Spielberg showed with “Raiders” that he can make an action flick transcend itself, and the film looks fantastic. I think it’ll slip under everyone’s radar and be nominated for the big one.
    Of course this is all speculation.

  • 19 5-15-2008 at 5:22 pm

    Joel said...

    And on another note, I agree with Blake Rutherford that “GoodFellas” shoulda won. But Scorsese took a pinch like a man, what can I say?

  • 20 7-24-2008 at 10:15 pm

    Jeff said...

    I know it’s an old post, but whatever, I just found it. Nobody will read this, but I have to get my thoughts down.

    Yes and no….as in “yes and no” I completely agree with so many of your choices and yet am simultaneously aghast at some of the films that you believe did not deserve the award.

    First of all, yes Citizen Kane certainly deserved to win, and especially in retrospect this snub is to utterly disgusting. Similar feelings of mine go to Rocky winning, that film was fun but not Best Picture worthy.

    But man, Kris, do you hate epics or what. I guess I can buy Braveheart, even though I loved that film, but Gladiator??? Come on, it was a piece of such epic and philosophical beauty that it easily trumps the more finely crafted but far less reaching Traffic.

    Speaking of craft, I am probably in the most disagreement over American Beauty. It is easily one of my favorite films of all time, and by contrast to my last paragraph, this is where craft overcomes efforts. Magnolia was a bold and unorthodox effort, much like PTA’s Boogie Nights, but it ultimately fell short of greatness. American Beauty is an american beauty, no pun intended, mainly because of its perfect pace and tone, things mainly found in editing. The themes were wonderful as well.

    Chicago? How can you hate that movie I…just kidding, I agree, it was a wonderful piece of entertainment but just didn’t hold any water.

    I don’t think I even need to bring up Crash as a winner. I almost went to bed that night, assured that Brokeback was going to win, but I couldn’t sleep so I watched the rest of it. When Jack Nicholson said the word “Crash” I was in utter shock. Still am to this day.

    And finally, I think No Country for Old Men may very well be the best Best Picture winner since American Beauty. I hated it when I first saw it, but the second and third times made me realize that I had been duped due to my laziness, laziness common in filmgoers that invite you to have everything solved emotionally for you (I’m not even referring to the plot, but the themes). I wasn’t ready for it, and that’s why, in my opinion, it was so good.

  • 21 7-24-2008 at 10:16 pm

    Jeff said...

    Oh yeah, and Goodfellas is total masterpiece, ranking right next to the Godfather I and II for the crime genre. The loss Goodfellas endured was the biggest crime of all!

  • 22 10-11-2008 at 7:14 am

    hernan said...

    Everybdy saids that Saving Private Ryan is superior to Shakespeare… but don’t forgt The thin red line, wich i think is even superior to SPR, and probably one of my 90’s top-5.

  • 23 10-11-2008 at 9:01 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yep, I’m right with you there, Hernan. Saving Private Ryan looks very ordinary next to The Thin Red Line. Malick’s film is already aging so much better, I think.

  • 24 10-11-2008 at 10:53 am

    Dean Treadway said...

    The movies that should have won Best Picture, from 1927 on:

    1927: Napoleon (Abel Gance)
    1928: The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer)
    1929: Steamboat Bill Jr. (Buster Keaton)
    1930: Pandora’s Box (G.W. Pabst)
    1931: City Lights (Charlie Chaplin)
    1932: Scarface (Howard Hawks)
    1933: Duck Soup (Leo McCarey)
    1934: Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks)
    1935: The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale)
    1936: Fury (Fritz Lang)
    1937: Lost Horizon (Frank Capra)
    1938: The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz)
    1939: Gone With The Wind (Victor Fleming et al.)
    1940: The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford)
    1941: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
    1942: The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles)
    1943: Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock)
    1944: Meet Me In St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli)
    1945: They Were Expendable (John Ford)
    1946: It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)
    1947: Great Expectations (David Lean)
    1948: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston)
    1949: The Set-Up (Robert Wise)
    1950: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder)

  • 25 10-11-2008 at 12:43 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    1951: A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan)
    1952: High Noon (Fred Zinneman)
    1953: Shane (George Stevens)
    1954: Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock)
    1955: Kiss Me, Deadly (Robert Aldrich)
    1956: Giant (George Stevens)
    1957: Paths of Glory (Stanly Kubrick)
    1958: Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)
    1959: The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut)
    1960: Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
    1961: The Innocents (Jack Clayton)
    1962: Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)
    1963: Hud (Martin Ritt)
    1964: Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick)
    1965: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy)
    1966: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols)
    1967: The Graduate (Mike Nichols)
    1968: 2001 A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
    1969: The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)
    1970: M.A.S.H. (Robert Altman)
    1971: The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich)
    1972: The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)
    1973: American Graffiti (George Lucas)
    1974: Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
    1975: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman)
    1976: Network (Sidney Lumet) (note: all five of the nominees deserved to win–Rocky, All The President’s Men, Taxi Driver and Bound for Glory–also add Seven Beauties to the mix and you got a tough year).
    1977: Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
    1978: The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)
    1979: A Little Romance (George Roy Hill) (note: here are the 80 best/most notable films of 1979: A Little Romance, Manhattan, Breaking Away, Best Boy, Alien, Oblomov, Chilly Scenes of Winter, Apocalypse Now, Kramer Vs. Kramer, The Tin Drum, All That Jazz, Being There, Over The Edge, Mad Max, The Silent Partner, Norma Rae, Going in Style, The Black Stallion, The Onion Field, The Warriors, The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Hair, Escape from Alcatraz, Saint Jack, The China Syndrome, My Brilliant Career, Vengence is Mine, Rich Kids, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Stalker, That Sinking Feeling, Starting Over, 1941, Rock and Roll High School, Yanks, North Dallas Forty, The Muppet Movie, Quadrophenia, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Phantasm, Hardcore, The In-Laws, Richard Pryor Live in Concert, Time After Time, Real Life, Rocky II, The Kids Are Alright, 10, The Rose, Nosferatu The Vampire, The Europeans, La Cage Aux Folles, Murder by Decree, Scum, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, And Justice for All, Last Embrace, Woyzeck, The Changeling, The Brood, The Jerk, Meatballs, Love on the Run, The Legacy, Rust Never Sleeps, The Great Train Robbery, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, The Lady in Red, Star Trek The Motion Picture, David, Zombie, Caligula, The Cat and the Canary, The Champ, Driller Killer, Cannibal Holocaust, The Odd Angry Shot, To Forget Venice, Love at First Bite and The Black Hole. Unquestionably the best movie year of the last 50 years–something excellent for everyone.
    1980: Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese)
    1981: Reds (Warren Beatty)
    1982: Das Boot (Wolfgang Petersen)
    1983: Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman)
    1984: The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe)
    1985: Brazil (Terry Gilliam)
    1986: Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
    1987: Matewan (John Sayles)
    1988: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman)
    1989: Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee)
    1990: GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese)
    1991: Barton Fink (Joel and Ethan Coen)
    1992: Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
    1993: Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg)
    1994: Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
    1995: Toy Story (John Lasseter)
    1996: Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton)
    1997: The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan)
    1998: Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg)
    1999: Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson) (Another great movie year: Magnolia, Election, Toy Story 2, Eyes Wide Shut, The Insider, The Straight Story, Fight Club, Topsy-Turvy, The Matrix, Being John Malkovich, Titus, American Beauty, Sweet and Lowdown, The Iron Giant, The Celebration, American Movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Sixth Sense, Buena Vista Social Club, Hands on a Hard Body, The Cider House Rules, Analyze This, The Blair Witch Project, eXistenZ, The End of the Affair, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Boys Don’t Cry, Go, The Limey, Run Lola Run, Judy Berlin, Cookie’s Fortune, October Sky, Galaxy Quest, Girl on the Bridge, Happiness, All About My Mother, An Ideal Husband, Felicia’s Journey, The Red Violin, One Day in September, A Map of the World, Twin Falls Idaho, Sugar Town, Notting Hill, Ratcatcher, SLC Punk, East-West, South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut, Sleepy Hollow, The Hurricane, Stir of Echoes, Cruel Intentions, Any Given Sunday, Julian Donkey-Boy, Two Hands, Dogma, and the first season of The Sopranos.)
    2000: You Can Count On Me (Kenneth Lonergan)
    2001: Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luermann)
    2002: Russian Ark (Alexandr Sokurov)
    2003: Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
    2004: Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)
    2005: The New World (Terrence Malick–still the best movie of the decade)
    2006: Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt)
    2007: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominick)
    2008: ??? (The Fall, by Tarsem Singh, is still the one to beat)

  • 26 12-19-2008 at 7:58 pm

    Miguel said...

    I disagree with you on The Departed winning, it won just because it was directed by Scorsese, I don’t know why the Academy didn’t gave the award to either Babel (one of the best films of the decade) or The Queen or the unnominated Pan’s Labyrinth.

    And, Dean, I found The Fall to be a beautiful and charming visual orgy (yes, orgy) but it is boring as hell.

  • 27 2-01-2009 at 12:35 pm

    Dario said...

    Well, Titanic, Rocky and The Return of the King, while perhaps not the best films of their years, won because they were extreme cultural phenomenae, and won not only on their artistic merit, but as a way of the Academy trying to capture the zeitgeist; which is why I believe The Dark Knight might’ve snatched the Oscar were it nominated.

  • 28 2-20-2009 at 11:36 am

    Jason said...

    i’m with you on crash, braveheart, and chicago. i can take it when a moderately involving, decently crafted film like chariots of fire or driving miss daisy wins because at least they are what they are – simple, intimate, heartfelt… i truly think, however, that crash is a pretentious mess filled with ludicrous coincidences and arc overacting. braveheart is like an snl skit of an epic movie. it would’ve played better as a spoof. chicago has a few mildly diverting dance scenes, but to me, is shot terribly in a hyperkinetic style that instantly dates it. the year that crash beat brokeback mountains represents just how out-dated and out of touch the oscars have become. the new format and new producers show just how desperate the oscars are to recapture the attention of moviegoers.