This week’s Ten on Tuesday asks for your favorite winners of the Best Motion Picture prize at the Oscars. I’ve seen many of the winners from the past 50 years, some from the earlier years as well.
So here are my top ten, in descending order:
- Casablanca (1943) Possibly my second-favorite film of all time*, this is a wonderful film with great characters, excellent writing and gorgeous cinematography. So many lines of this film are part of the common lexicon these days, and for good reason: the film is simply awesome.
- Chariots of Fire (1981) An uplifting-yet-bittersweet film about Olympic runners, beautifully filmed and acted. This is one of the first films I remember seeing and then saying to myself afterward “film can be art.” I was 8 at the time. Go fig.
- The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) As many state, this award was likely given as acknowledgement of the triumph of the whole trilogy, and what a trilogy it is! Majestic, dark, foreboding – and yet whimsical (at times), accessible and engrossing. Peter Jackson shot for the moon, and oh how well he hit the mark. And no, I don’t miss the scenes with Tom Bombadil one bit.
- The Godfather, Part II (1974) Coppolla’s masterwork to this day, and one of a handful of sequels that thoroughly beat the original film in terms of achievement (and the first Godfather is one hell of a film).
- Schindler’s List (1993) Dark story matter, grippingly told by Steven Spielberg and the lens work of Janusz Kaminsky. The one shot of color – the girl in the red coat – codifies the sense that the victims of the Holocaust were reduced to nothing but numbers in the eyes of the Nazis. It’s a tough film to watch, but this is an essential film.
- The Sound of Music (1965) Julie Andrews at her finest, songs that stick to your craw like high-quality peanut butter, and the mountains – oh, the mountains! Sure, some of the material grates (“16 Going on 17” being the big clunker in these enlightened days), but the movie is grand and epic – to me, the best movie musical ever filmed.
- Amadeus (1984) Another film that gripped me as art, and the soundtrack was the sound of my childhood (I didn’t get to listen to much pop or rock music as a young child, as my folks wanted me to study to Mozart). This movie always entertains me.
- All About Eve (1950) Possibly Bette Davis’ best role. Ever.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) Ma favorite Jack Nicholson film, and a film that makes me laugh, cry and cringe every time I see it.
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991) A taut thriller with a superb cast, deserving of all accolades bestowed upon it. Hopkins and Foster are such perfect foils – and I’ll never think of fava beans the same way again (and yes, I like fava beans and a nice chianti, though not with the kind of liver that Hannibal Lecter suggests to Agent Starling).
* – for the record, my favorite film of all time is 2001: A Space Odyssey.