Best Picture Countdown: A Mid-Point Review

Oscarthegrouch

Well folks, we’re just a hair over the halfway point, and it’s only taken me a year!  Time to reflect on my trek through the films of 1928—1970.

As of this point my favorite film on this list, without question, is 1969’s Midnight Cowboy.  No other film has affected me like this story of two loners/losers fighting for survival and dignity in a harsh, indifferent world.  The level of artistry surprised me in a film honored by the codgy ol’ Academy, but you know what…

…I’ve learned that perhaps I didn’t have the right idea about the Academy’s taste.  For one thing, I’ve enjoyed watching films that don’t exactly fit into the category of “prestige pictures.”  Films like Rebecca and All About Eve surprised me with their eerie tones and disturbing subject matter, something I hadn’t thought would suit the Academy’s palate.

At the same time, we’ve still got our fair share of predictable Academy fare (films like Mrs. Miniver and My Fair Lady, for example).  But as I move into the 1970s and beyond, I’ve learned not to expect a certain type of film simply because the Academy chose it.  They make great choices, bad choices, right ones for wrong reasons—but my focus ought to be on the films themselves, not on the Academy’s reason for picking them.

That said, I’m pleased to report that no film on this list, thus far, has been positively awful.  Yes, I complained quite a bit about Cavalcade (still my least favorite film on this list), but when you come down to it, the production values have never really stumbled.  No matter the budget, these were films made with the intention of being “good” or even “great.”  It means that no film has aspired to the awe-inspiring awfulness of Sharknado.

In fact, I’m surprised by just how many of these films I’ve enjoyed.  More than half these films have garnered three stars or above from me (23 to be exact), which I use as an indicator for a film that is certainly worth your time.  Below, I’ve ranked the 43 films along with my star rating for each—consider this a rough calculation for now (ranking all 85 films will be the real challenge).

 

  1. Midnight Cowboy (1969) ****
  2. Patton (1970) ****
  3. All About Eve (1950) ****
  4. The Apartment (1960) ****
  5. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) ***½
  6. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) ***½
  7. It Happened One Night (1934) ***½
  8. In the Heat of the Night (1967) ***½
  9. Rebecca (1940) ***½
  10. Casablanca (1943) ***
  11. West Side Story (1961) ***
  12. On the Waterfront (1954) ***
  13. Grand Hotel (1932) ***
  14. All the King’s Men (1949) ***
  15. Hamlet (1948) ***
  16. Ben-Hur (1958) ***
  17. You Can’t Take It With You (1938) ***
  18. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) ***
  19. Marty (1935) ***
  20. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) ***
  21. The Sound of Music (1965) ***
  22. From Here to Eternity (1953) ***
  23. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) ***
  24. How Green Was My Valley (1941) **½
  25. The Life of Emile Zola (1937) **½
  26. The Lost Weekend (1945) **½
  27. Gone with the Wind (1939) **½
  28. A Man for All Seasons (1966) **½
  29. The Best Years of our Lives (1946) **½
  30. Tom Jones (1963) **
  31. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) **
  32. Oliver! (1968) **
  33. My Fair Lady (1964) **
  34. Gigi (1958) **
  35. An America in Paris (1951) **
  36. Mrs. Miniver (1942) **
  37. Wings (1928) **
  38. Cimarron (1931) **
  39. Around the World in 80 Days (1956) *½
  40. Going My Way (1944) *½
  41. The Great Ziegfeld (1936) *½
  42. The Broadway Melody (1929) *½
  43. Cavalcade (1933) *½

 

And with that, back to the films!  Next up, The French Connection !

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