Reviewing the Ceremonies

Here’s where I look at the runners and riders of each Oscar ceremony and decide whether or not the victor deserved that year’s Best Picture Award. The year next to each group of nominees relates to when the specific ceremony took place rather than when the films themselves were released.

 

Ceremony 1: 1929
Winner: Wings
Nominees I’ve Watched: Seventh Heaven and The Racket
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
The first year only three films were nominated and luckily I’ve been able to watch all three. While I didn’t think much of The Racket, Seventh Heaven was a fairly good film however it felt a little disjointed and overall Wings had the better structure so it was the right choice to win the first Best Picture award.

Ceremony 2: 1930 (I)
Winner: The Broadway Melody
Nominees I’ve Watched: Alibi, Hollywood Revue of 1929 and In Old Arizona
Not Available: The Patriot
Did The Right Film Win: Probably
The first of two ceremonies from 1930 and the first winner in sound. The Broadway Melody was by far the film that had the best structure however both Alibi and In Old Arizona played around with more filmic techniques. But overall I think Broadway Melody has stood the test of time out of the four I’ve watched. Meanwhile I will never get to see the fifth film – The Patriot as there is no full print of the film.

Ceremony 3: 1930 (II)
Winner: All Quiet on The Western Front
Nominees I’ve Watched: The Big House, Disraeli, The Divorcee, The Love Parade
Did The Right Film Win: Yes
After the advent of sound the films at the third ceremony started to draw on controversial themes such as what prison life was like – The Big House and the break-up of marriages – The Divorcee. We also had biopics and Maurice Chevalier musicals but that year’s eventual winner still stands up as one of the greatest war films of all time.

Ceremony 4: 1931
Winner: Cimarron
Nominees I’ve Watched: The Front Page Skippy and Trader Horn
Not Available: East Lynne
Did The Right Film: Yes
As you’ve just read my review of Cimarron then you know there’s not much choice in the way of an alternate winner. East Lynne is the other film that would be in contention but saying that I still think at the time with its epic backdrops and relevant themes – Cimarron would’ve been a hard film to beat.

Ceremony 5: 1932
Winner: Grand Hotel
Nominees: Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, The Champ, Five Star Final, One Hour With You, Shanghai Express, The Smiling Lieutenant
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
The year that the number of nominees went up from five to eight. Although I did enjoy the realistic nature of Bad Girl, the father/son relationship in The Champ and the plotting of Shanghai Express, Grand Hotel was able to do it on a bigger scale and had some top notch performances to boot.

Ceremony 6: 1934
Winner: Cavalcade
Nominees: 42nd Street, A Farewell to Arms, I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Lady for A Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII,She Done Him Wrong, Smilin’ Through, State Fair
Did The Right Film Win: Yes
Oscar took a year off and returned with two more nominees with the total going up to ten. Again two films stand out for me – I am A Fugitive and 42nd Street were both favourites of mine but the multi-layered narrative and historical accuracy of Cavalcade marked it out as an original piece of film-making and deserved of a best picture prize.

Ceremony 7: 1935
Winner: It Happened One Night
Nominees I’ve Watched: The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cleopatra, The Gay Divorcee, Here Comes The Navy, The House of Rothschild, Imitation of Life, One Night of Love, The Thin Man, Viva Villa
Not Available:  Flirtation Walk, The White Parade
Did the Right Film win: Yes
For those of you who can count 1935 gave us twelve nominees which was just a little bit silly as films such as the fluffy Gay Divorcee and offensive Here Comes the Navy made the cut. Claudette Colbert was in three of the films and although I really enjoyed Imitation of Life I will concede that It Happened One Night was the best overall.

Ceremony 8: 1936
Winner: Mutiny on The Bounty
Nominees: Alice Adams, The Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The Informer, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Les Miserables, A Midsummers Nights Dream, Naughty Marietta, Ruggles of Red Gap and Top Hat
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
Sticking with twelve nominees again saw a lot of musical and comic nonsense and some long sprawling epics make the cut. Mutiny on The Bounty wasn’t a perfect picture but it was the best from this group of nominees

Ceremony 9: 1937
Winner: The Great Ziegfeld
Nominees: Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, Libelled Lady, Mr Deeds Goes to Town, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, The Story of Louis Pasteur, A Tale of Two Cities and Three Smart Girls
Did The Right Film Win: No
Back to ten nominees we still have a couple of non-starters but a lot more strong contenders. Now that we’re getting towards the end of the decade film making has become more elaborate as is seen in the adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and the disaster movie San Francisco as well as that year’s winner The Great Ziegfeld. However I feel that Ziegfeld was too long and basically just a vaudeville stage show on the big screen. I think in terms of film-making both San Francisco and Dodsworth did it better and told a better story so, in my mind, one of those two films should’ve won.

Ceremony 10: 1938
Winner: The Life of Emile Zola
Nominees: The Awful Truth, Captain Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and A Girl, Stage Door and A Star is Born
Did The Right Film Win: Yes
I wasn’t sure about The Life of Emile Zola in terms of sustaining the narrative over the length of time the film was on screen. But it was a poor year in terms of nominees and only Stage Door and A Star is Born were on the same level but neither of those had the level of gravitas that Emile Zola had.

Ceremony 11: 1939
Winner:
You Can’t Take It With You
Nominees: The Adventures of Robin Hood, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Boys Town, The Citadel, Four Daughters, La Grande Illusion, Jezebel, Pygmalion and Test Pilot
Did The Right Film Win: No
As much as I enjoyed Frank Capra’s second screwball comedy to win the Best Picture award I feel it didn’t deserve Best Picture as much as two of the other films on the list. First of all The Adventures of Robin Hood which was the first film out of the ones I’ve watched that really knew what to do with the use of Technicolor and was a very good swashbuckler. While La Grande Illusion was just a fantastically made piece of gripping film and one of Renoir’s finest. When you’ve got two films that have defined the history of cinema a comedy about a rich and poor family doesn’t really seem that important.

Ceremony 12: 1940
Winner: Gone with the Wind
Nominees: Dark Victory, Goodbye Mr Chips, Love Affair, Mr Smith Goes to Washington,Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
Although I do think Gone with the Wind waffles on a bit it’s still an epic and rightly viewed as a classic plus the only real competition comes from The Wizard of Oz and possibly Stagecoach and Mr Smith but in terms of story and more importantly filmic qualities Gone with the Wind wins hands down.

Ceremony 13: 1941
Winner: Rebecca
Nominees : All This and Heaven Too, Foreign Correspondent, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Kitty Foyle, The Letter, The Long Voyage Home, Our Town, The Philadelphia Story
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
This was a tough one as I really enjoyed The Great Dictator and felt that it was really ahead of its time in terms of satire and pastiche but I do love a bit of Hitchcock and as Rebecca is the only Hitch film that ever won an Oscar I feel that its win is justified and it is a brilliant film anyway.

Ceremony 14: 1942
Winner: How Green Was My Valley
Nominees: Blossoms in the Dust, Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion
Did the Right Film Win: No
I know in the early days of the Academy there was a lot of love for John Ford but I think they’d be forced to admit that the Welsh mining drama wasn’t his finest hour. I think the award rightfully should’ve gone to a little movie called Citizen Kane which has had much more of a lasting effect than the winner that year.

Ceremony 15: 1943
Winner: Mrs Miniver
Nominees: 49th Parallel, King’s Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pied Piper, Pride of the Yankees, Random Harvest, The Talk of the Town, Wake Island, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Did the Right Film Win: Maybe
This is another case of a film winning in a year where there isn’t a clear film better than the victor however there are a lot that would match Mrs Miniver personally I enjoyed Random Harvest more as a Greer Garson vehicle and as Welles lost the year before maybe The Ambersons should’ve taken it this year however there isn’t one film that jumps out as an alternative winner so I’ll let Miniver have it this time around.

Ceremony 16: 1944
Winner: Casablanca
Nominees: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Curie, The More the Merrier, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Song of Bernadette, Watch on the Rhine
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
Nothing much to say here while there are some strong contenders Casablanca still stands up today as a brilliant film.

Ceremony 17: 1945
Winner: Going my Way
Nominees: Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Since You Went Away, Wilson
Did the Right Film Win: No
This ceremony saw the field slimmed down to five nominees which would stay that way until 2010 and while I’m aware that in the final year of the war it was nice to have a Bing Crosby film to cheer everyone up however Going my Way is such a cheesy film that just looks a bit dated as compared to the classic that is the gripping Double Indemnity or the ensemble wartime drama Since You Went Away both of which would’ve made ideal replacements for Crosby’s singing priest.

Ceremony 18: 1946
Winner: The Lost Weekend
Nominees: Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary, Mildred Pierce, Spellbound
Did the Right Film Win: Maybe
I do feel that The Lost Weekend had a lot going for it in terms of style and message however, from a cinematic point-of-view Hitchcock’s Spellbound was better while Mildred Pierce had a more interesting story. But as Billy Wilder lost the year before I think he deserved a win and The Lost Weekend is by no means an average film it just doesn’t have that quality about it that I feel a Best Picture winner should.

Ceremony 19: 1947
Winner: The Best Years of Our Lives
Nominees: Henry V, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Razor’s Edge, The Yearling
Did the Right Film Win: Yes
There are probably a lot of people that are startled here that I didn’t pick It’s a Wonderful Life as this year’s worthy winner however I feel The Best Years of Our Lives is a film that a lot of people forget about which is a shame as it is full of stunning performances and a good overall feel to it, it has that big film quality to it that a Best Picture Winner deserves.

Ceremony 20: 1948
Winner: Gentleman’s Agreement
Nominees: The Bishop’s Wife, Crossfire, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street
Did the Right Film Win: No
Again this is a year in which the winner just doesn’t cut it for me and as a replacement surely David Lean’s adaptation of Great Expectations is worthy full of elegance and cinematic brilliance this is one Lean that didn’t get the love that Lawrence of Arabia or Bridge on the River Kwai did but deserves it just as much.

Ceremony 21: 1949
Winner: Hamlet
Nominees: Johnny Belinda, The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Did the Right Film Win: No
A year in which there are two films which better deserved the award. I would call out The Red Shoes as it is one of the first films to use the Techincolor concept to its advantage, as one of these films however the best film from this year has to be The Treasure of the Sierra Madre which uses a very slight story to build up into a tense psychological drama and all three leads are terrific.

Ceremony 22: 1950 
Winner: All the King’s Men
Nominees: Battleground, The Heiress, A Letter to Three Wives, Twelve o’clock High
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
It seems that Broderick Crawford’s political corruption drama was definitely the best of the bunch from the 1949 selection. Of the others The Heiress was a dreary melodrama and the two war films Battleground and Twelve O’Clock High had their moments but were ultimately unmemorable. Only A Letter to Three Wives stood out as a possible contender hence director Joseph L Mankiewicz winner the prize for Best Director and winning the Best Picture prize the year after.

Ceremony 23: 1951 
Winner: All About Eve
Nominees: Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Sunset Boulevard
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Not a lot of discussion here either All About Eve garnered a lot of nominations and they were all richly deserved in one of the best films of all time. If we’re splitting hairs then Sunset Boulevard would be the only other real contender but Eve wins it for me every time.

Ceremony 24: 1952
Winner: An American in Paris
Nominees: Decision Before Dawn, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire
Did the Right Film Win?: No
Though a charming musical film I don’t feel that An American in Paris has the lasting effect that some of the other nominees do. While it’s probably better than espionage yarn Decision Before Dawn or biblical epic Quo Vadis it is a toss-up between the other two films for Best Picture. A Place in the Sun did have a great star-making turn from Liz Taylor but A Streetcar Named Desire just edges it for me as it grabs you from beginning to end and had three of the four acting categories sown up only a certain Mr Brando was left out in the cold.

Ceremony 25: 1953 
Winner: The Greatest Show on Earth
Nominees: High Noon, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man
Did the Right Film Win?: No
Possibly the first case of the Academy giving a ‘last chance’ Oscar to someone who won’t have another chance to win one was the fact that Cecil B Demille’s film won Best Picture this year. It’s true that its live circus atmosphere stays with you but apart from that I’m struggling to remember many details about it. Of the other nominees it is a bit more of a dead cert this year as I would’ve probably chosen High Noon if I’d been picking as it is the best of a mediocre bunch has a clear storyline and some great performances.

Ceremony 26: 1954
Winner: From Here to Eternity
Nominees: Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday, Shane
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Sort of a mixed bag this year with another big epic, a Shakespeare adaptation, a romantic comedy and a Western as the contenders however it is this Hawaiian war film that is still the iconic piece thanks in no small part to that beach kiss.

Ceremony 27: 1955
Winner: On the Waterfront
Nominees: The Caine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
There’s no going against Elia Kazan’s brilliant tale of union corruption and lost dreams with Marlon Brando not a contender but an actual winner. Of the others both The Caine Mutiny and The Country girl showed promise but there was no matching this brilliant film on the night.

Ceremony 28: 1956
Winner: Marty
Nominees: Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Mister Roberts, Picnic, The Rose Tattoo
Did the Right Film Win?: Maybe
It honestly depends on your taste in films but for me Marty was the best of this bunch thanks to Ernest Borgnine’s performance as the unlucky in love butcher. Mister Roberts and Picnic were also good films with one being a great war film and the other featuring possibly William Holden’s greatest turn. But for me the fact that Marty was set over only 24 hours and the great ensemble cast means that it was my favourite from those on offer.

Ceremony 29: 1957
Winner: Around the World in Eighty Days
Nominees: Friendly Persuasion, Giant, The King and I, The Ten Commandments
Did the Right Film Win?: No
Personally another poor year with this overlong mess stunning Academy members with its exotic locations, slapstick comedy and numerous cameos. Of the other three that I have seen it is Giant that I would pick for a strong turn from Liz Taylor and also from James Dean although for a musical The King and I is also captivating. For me though I’d go for Giant as an alternative winner to this overblown epic.

Ceremony 30: 1958 
Winner: The Bridge on the River Kwai
Nominees: Peyton Place, Sayonara, Twelve Angry Men, Witness for the Prosecution  
Did the Right Film Win?: Not for Me
So my reasons for saying that the River Kwai wasn’t the right winner is because my favourite film of all time 12 Angry Men was up against it. It didn’t really stand a chance as it was shot in black-and-white and predominantly stayed in the same set but ultimately people have remembered it more fondly than Kwai. Witness for the Prosecution is also worth a mention for Charles Laughton’s great turn as the lawyer and Marlene Dietrich for playing the sultry femme fatale so well.

Ceremony 31: 1959
Winner: Gigi
Nominees: Auntie Mame Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones, Separate Tables
Did the Right Film Win?: No
Another musical set in France starring Leslie Caron wins again however the other three nominees in this category were deserved winners. I think for me I would pick Separate Tables due to the ensemble nature of the piece and the fact that it got two of the four acting awards that year. Paul Newman and Liz Taylor sparkle together in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof while Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis have a great chemistry in The Defiant Ones whilst I also loved Rosalind Russell’s overblown turn in Auntie Mame. For me though it’s all about the British hotel drama and some great turns from Niven, Kerr, Lancaster and Hayworth.

Ceremony 32 (1960) 
Winner: Ben-Hur
Nominees: Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nun’s Story, Room at the Top
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Even though I really enjoyed Anatomy of a Murder, I have to concede that Ben-Hur was the right film to win Best Picture. It’s probably the film whose iconic scenes still hold up today, most notably the chariot race which is still a thrilling watch in 2013.
Ceremony 33 (1961) 
Winner: The Apartment
Nominees: The Alamo, Elmer Gantry, The Sundowners, Sons and Lovers
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
I don’t think there’s much to say here as The Apartment stands head and shoulders above its rivals in this category. The film is still a charming and witty romantic comedy while the only major competition is Elmer Gantry but that’s mainly due to Burt Lancaster’s tremendous central performance
Ceremony 34 (1962) 
Winner: West Side Story
Nominees: Fanny, Guns of Navarone, The Hustler, Judgment at Nuremberg
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
I feel that this was a tossup between West Side Story and The Hustler, but I’ve given it to the former just because it’s the strongest of the four musical winners of the decade. The Hustler also has a dodgy middle section while West Side Story is a joy to watch throughout
Ceremony 35 (1963) 
Winner: Lawrence of Arabia
Nominees: The Longest Day, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Possibly the strongest of David Lean’s films, Lawrence of Arabia does suffer from being over long but is still visually spectacular and contains a great central performance from Peter O’Toole. The list of fellow nominees only includes one possible contender, in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I feel that Lawrence is definitely the stronger of the two films.
Ceremony 36 (1964) 
Winner: Tom Jones
Nominees: America America, Cleopatra, How the West Was Won, Lilies of the Field
Did the Right Film Win? No
I feel that Tom Jones is definitely one of the weakest Best Picture winners thus far and found it to be quite a silly comedy that didn’t really have much of a structure. Looking at the nominees, there are definitely two stronger picks the first being Lilies of the Field which is bolstered by a great performance by Sidney Poitier. But my personal pick is America America, a film that I had no idea about prior to watching it, and one that completely blew me away. This authentic tale of a young Greek man trying to find his way to America was just captivating and definitely benefited from its use of unknown actors to create a sense of realism.
Ceremony 37 (1965) 
Winner: My Fair Lady
Nominees: Becket, Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins and Zorba the Greek
Did the Right Film Win?: No
This again was a tough one to sort out but I personally wasn’t a massive fan of the characters in My Fair Lady despite the film itself being visually stunning. Personally I think Dr. Strangelove is the most interesting pick of the five, but its subversive nature possibly wouldn’t let itself to the Best Picture accolade. Instead, as a film musical did win this award, I’m going to pick Mary Poppins which I feel is still as watchable as it was in the mid-1960s. Maybe it’s because I have a certain affection for the film, but I still feel it’s an incredibly charming movie with some great songs.
Ceremony 38 (1966) 
Winner: The Sound of Music
Nominees: Darling, Doctor Zhivago, Ship of Fools, A Thousand Clowns
Did the Right Film Win?: Maybe
This is one of those years in which the winner is probably of the same standing as some of the other nominees. I could definitely make the case for why The Sound of  Music should’ve won but at the same time I would say that Darling was a better social portrait of the time and Doctor Zhivago was probably more stunning to look at. I also personally enjoyed A Thousand Clowns and found it to be the most charming film of the five.
Ceremony 39 (1967) 
Winner: A Man for All Seasons
Nominees: Alfie, The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming, The Sand Pebbles, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Did the Right Film Win?: Maybe
Again this is a year where I’m torn between a very worthy winner and a film that I personally enjoyed in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Though A Man for All Seasons is probably more visually impressive, Virginia Woolf had the emotional edge and was bolstered by the pairing of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I’m still not sure who should’ve won the award but I’m not disputing the fact that A Man for All Seasons was the ultimate victor.
Ceremony 40 (1968) 
Winner: In the Heat of the Night
Nominees: Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Did the Right Film Win?: No
This is a year where you could make a case for any film apart from Doctor Dolittle winning. In my eyes there are two films stronger than In the Heat of the Night. The first of these is Bonnie and Clyde, which employed some really interesting visual techniques and was definitely a risque film for the time. But my personal favourite is The Graduate which is just a joy to watch and, unlike a lot of the films from the decade, never outstayed its welcome.
Ceremony 41 (1969) 
Winner: Oliver!
Nominees: Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel Rachel, Romeo and Juliet
Did the Right Film Win?: No
As much as Oliver! was one of my favourite films as a kid, I can concede that there was another film that deserved to win Best Picture. That film is The Lion in Winter which is a well-acted and well-shot film that has a great story and was just simply a joy to watch.
Ceremony 42 (1970) 
Winner: Midnight Cowboy
Nominees: Anne of the Thousand Days, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Hello Dolly, Z
Did the Right Film Win?: No
This line-up of nominees perfectly demonstrates the state of the Oscar selection process at the start of the decade. Whilst there are traditional choices like Anne of The Thousand Days and Hello Dolly there are also more interesting picks such as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and Midnight Cowboy. My initial pick for the win was Midnight Cowboy however after recently catching up with Z I feel that Costa-Garvas’ film was ahead of its time and ultimately deserved the recognition more than John Scheslinger’s Best Picture winner.
Ceremony 43 (1971) 
Winner: Patton
Nominees:  Airport, Five Easy Pieces, Love Story, M*A*S*H
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
A very interesting collection of nominees were chosen this year, but I don’t think any of them make a suitable Best Picture choice. So, despite my reservations about the film, I do still think that Patton was the most impressive film of the bunch.
Ceremony 44 (1972) 
Winner: The French Connection
Nominees: A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Picture Show, Nicholas and Alexandra
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
As much as I enjoyed both A Clockwork Orange and The Last Picture Show, The French Connection is an incredible piece of work and deserved to be honoured.
Ceremony 45 (1973) 
Winner: The Godfather
Nominees: Cabaret, Deliverance, The Emigrants, Sounder
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Some incredibly diverse choices once again but there’s no doubt in my mind that The Godfather should have won and in fact may be the best Best Picture film of all time.
Ceremony 46 (1974) 
Winner: The Sting
Nominees:  American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist, A Touch of Class
Did the Right Film Win?: No
Although it’s fantastic to look at, I didn’t think The Sting had much going on beneath the surface. A much worthier winner was Bergman’s surreal Cries and Whispers but, in a way, I can understand why that didn’t triumph. However my personal pick for Best Picture would be The Exorcist, a stunningly made film that poses a lot of questions and really highlights how effective the horror genre can be.
Ceremony 47 (1975) 
Winner: The Godfather Part II
Nominees: Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno
Did the Right Film Win?: Maybe
I know it’s a controversial choice, but personally I feel that The Conversation is a better, more interesting film than the second Godfather. At the same time, The Godfather Part II is a great film and this one is purely a matter of opinion.
Ceremony 48 (1976) 
Winner: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Nominees:  Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Nashville
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Not much to say here as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is just an outstanding piece of work.
Ceremony 49 (1977) 
Winner: Rocky
Nominees: All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory, Network, Taxi Driver
Did the Right Film Win?: No
Even though I like Rocky, there are three other films on this list more deserving of a Best Picture film win. Though Taxi Driver is an influential and innovative piece of work, to me this should have been a two horse race between Network and All the President’s Men. I feel that Sidney Lumet’s television satire was slightly better than the political thriller but I would have been happier if either had won.
Ceremony 50 (1978)
Winner: Annie Hall
Nominees: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, Star Wars, The Turning Point
Did the Right Film Win?: Maybe
There is a case to be made that Star Wars should have won the Oscar, but this is based purely on hindsight. Star Wars definitely went on to be one of the most influential films of all time and provided several groundbreaking techniques. But watching the films purely as the academy would have done in the 1970s, I feel that Annie Hall was the strongest of the five.
Ceremony 51 (1979)
Winner: The Deer Hunter
Nominees: Coming Home, Heaven Can Wait, Midnight Express, An Unmarried Woman
Did the Right Film Win?: Yes
Another year where there isn’t a suitable alternative for the film that won the award. I did feel that The Deer Hunter was incredibly baggy, but at the same time it was an epic film that looks like an Oscar winner. Of the five, I probably enjoyed An Unmarried Woman the most, but that was mainly due to the well-written scripts and central performance from Jill Clayburgh. The Deer Hunter is the most spectacular-looking film so ultimately I begrudgingly accept that it should have won the Oscar.
Ceremony 52 (1980)
Winner: Kramer Vs Kramer
Nominees: All that Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away, Norma Rae
Did the Right Film Win? No
I really enjoyed Kramer Vs Kramer but at the same time I do feel that Apocalypse Now should have won as it’s a modern classic and is definitely a better made film. From a purely personal standpoint I believe that Breaking Away was ultimately a more entertaining movie and out of the five is the one that I’d like to rewatch the most.

Ceremony 53 (1981)
Winner: Ordinary People
Nominees: Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, Tess
Did the Right Film Win? No
As a film, Ordinary People is incredibly disjointed and the best thing in it, Donald Sutherland’s performance, wasn’t even Oscar-nominated. From it’s fantastic opening sequence onwards, Raging Bull is a terrific film and I believe deserved to win Best Picture this year.

Ceremony 54 (1982)
Winner: Chariots of Fire
Nominees: Atlantic City, On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds
Did the Right Film Win? Maybe
Chariots of Fire was a pleasant enough film but, to me at least, it didn’t have the feel of a Best Picture Winner. That being said there isn’t one film that stands out as a potential alternative however the epic Reds does feel more like an ideal candidate. I personally would’ve gone with the rather sedate but incredibly well-acted On Golden Pond which may be cheesy but does include some fine final performances from both Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.

Ceremony 55 (1983)
Winner: Gandhi
Nominees: E.T, Missing, Tootsie, The Verdict
Did the Right Film Win? No
Gandhi was definitely one of the better epics to win the Oscar but at the same time it was incredibly baggy and included a lot of superfluous scenes. Whilst Gandhi has aged over the past thirty years one film that still feels as exciting as it did in 1983 is E.T. a delightful tale of friendship and family that should have triumphed at that year’s awards.

Ceremony 56 (1984)
Winner: Terms of Endearment
Nominees: The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff, Tender Mercies
Did the Right Film Win? No
Granted Terms of Endearment did have its moment but I personally didn’t sympathise with the characters and found the whole thing quite saccharine. If a relationship drama was going to win I would’ve selected The Big Chill which was a lot more enjoyable and had characters I actually believed in. But I personally would’ve given the award to The Right Stuff, a modern epic with a great story and some incredible technical achievements.

Ceremony 57 (1985)
Winner: Amadeus
Nominees: The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in the Heart, A Soldier’s Story
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
I really did enjoy the anarchic decadence of Amadeus which contained plenty of visual splendour and a couple of fine performances. The only other film strong enough to challenge Amadeus was A Passage to India but I’ve got no problem with Foreman’s Austrian adventure winning Best Picture this year.

Ceremony 58 (1986)
Winner: Out of Africa
Nominees: The Colour Purple, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Prizzi’s Honour, Witness
Did the Right Film Win? No
I do find it ridiculous that The Colour Purple holds the record for the most nominations without a single win. It does feel like a film that should win the Best Picture prize and is a lot more deserving than the dreary Out of Africa. In fact all of the nominees are more interesting than the eventual winner which I found to be an incredibly long-winded epic.

Ceremony 59 (1987)
Winner: Platoon
Nominees: Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Mission, A Room with A View
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
Although I did enjoy aspects of the majority of its fellow nominees, Platoon is an excellent film about the horrors of war and deserved to be recognised by the Academy.

Ceremony 60 (1988)
Winner: The Last Emperor
Nominees: Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Hope and Glory, Moonstruck
Did the Right Film Win? No
Whilst I can understand why The Last Emperor won the Best Picture Award I don’t agree with this tiresome epic scoring the big prize this year. I feel the best film of the five was Broadcast News and this look at the media and what makes a good news anchor was an incredibly relevant picture. In fact The Last Emperor was the least entertaining of the five nominees with the other four having more to say about relationships and life in general.

Ceremony 61 (1989)
Winner: Rain Man
Nominees: The Accidental Tourist, Dangerous Liaisons, Mississippi Burning, Working Girl
Did the Right Film Win? Maybe
With the possible exception of The Accidental Tourist, I did feel all of the nominees did have some sort of merit. There definitely can be an argument made for Dangerous Liaisons winning as it redefined what the costume drama could be and was a thoroughly enjoyable watch. That being said I don’t really have a problem with Rain Man winning as it dealt with a major issue in a relatable way and had two fine performances from both Hoffman and Cruise.

Ceremony 62 (1990)
Winner: Driving Miss Daisy
Nominees: Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot
Did the Right Film Win? No
Quaint as it was, Driving Miss Daisy was an unremarkable drama that was memorable purely for its performances. The fact that director Bruce Beresford wasn’t even nominated for helming the film tells you all you that nobody expecting Miss Daisy to win the award in the first place. I’d probably say that Born on the Fourth of July deserved to win the most due to its fantastic visuals and Cruise’s central performance. However my favourite film of the five was My Left Foot which felt like the underdog film that should have triumphed against the more famous competition.

Ceremony 63 (1991)
Winner: Dances with Wolves
Nominees: Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, Goodfellas
Did the Right Film Win? No
I personally found Kevin Costner’s Civil War epic to be tiresome and lacking in any real tension to speak off. Despite not considering it the classic that most do, I think that Goodfellas is the most accomplished film here and should have been given the Best Picture award at this year’s ceremony.

Ceremony 64 (1992)
Winner: The Silence of the Lambs
Nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
By process of elimination I think that Jonathan Demme’s psychological thriller was probably the most worthy winner this year. The Prince of Tides was too soppy, JFK was too long-winded and Bugsy was an enjoyable romp but nothing special. An argument can be made for Beauty and the Beast but I feel that the Academy saw it as too much of a children’s film to grab the prize. Ultimately The Silence of the Lambs’ win was a refreshing change as creepy films like it rarely get nominated let alone win.

Ceremony 65 (1993)
Winner: Unforgiven
Nominees: The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howard’s End, Scent of a Woman
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
Of the five films nominated this year Clint Eastwood’s measured and thoughtful western stands head and shoulders above the rest. Although A Few Good Men was well-paced and Howard’s End had its moments this was definitely the year to honour the excellent work Eastwood had done throughout his career.

Ceremony 66 (1994)
Winner: Schindler’s List
Nominees: The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
As much as I enjoyed all of the nominees in different ways there’s no denying that Schindler’s List is oneo f the best films of all time.

Ceremony 67 (1995)
Winner: Forrest Gump
Nominees: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption
Did the Right Film Win? No
It’s fair to say that I enjoyed Forrest Gump more than I thought I would but to me it ranks third on the most deserving films nominated this year. Pulp Fiction was such an original concept at the time that I’m surprised it was nominated but a win would’ve shown that the academy were progressive. But if you were going to choose a feelgood winner then The Shawshank Redemption had the heart of Forrest Gump plus a lot of the grit that the ultimate winner didn’t possess. Ultimately this award should have gone to Frank Darabont’s prison drama rather than Robert Zemeckis’ modern day fable.

Ceremony 68 (1996)
Winner: Braveheart
Nominees: Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility
Did the Right Film Win? No
I didn’t have as much of a problem with Braveheart as a lot of others have although the acting, particularly from Gibson was over the top. Still, I found Apollo 13 to be a lot more compelling and felt that a drama focusing on more modern history should have been given a win. In fact any of the nominees, with the exception of Babe, would’ve been a worthy alternative to Gibson’s Scottish epic. On a personal note this is the first Oscar ceremony I remember watching pieces of probably due to the fact that I’d seen two of the nominated films.

Ceremony 69 (1997)
Winner: The English Patient
Nominees: Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets and Lies, Shine
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
As much as I liked Fargo and Secrets and Lies there was only obvious choice to win Best Picture this year. With its sumptuous location shooting and brilliant ensemble cast, The English Patient was more than a deserving winner of Oscar’s top accolade.

Ceremony 70 (1998)
Winner: Titanic
Nominees: As Good as it Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential
Did the Right Film Win? Maybe
In some ways Titanic’s place as the seventieth Best Picture winner makes sense. The film was full of groundbreaking technical advancements and contained some gripping moments. But in terms of storytelling and character development it was the weakest of the five films nominated that year. In its place I would’ve put L.A. Confidential; a stylish, well-written and well-acted piece which harks back to the style of earlier decades whilst at the same time feeling utterly modern.

Ceremony 71 (1999)
Winner: Shakespeare in Love
Nominees: Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line
Did the Right Film Win? No
While Shakespeare in Love was an enjoyable romp, it was nowhere near the masterpiece that Saving Private Ryan was. Spielberg’s war epic should have won Best Picture this year and it’s down to a number of dirty tactics that saw Shakespeare in Love triumph instead.

Ceremony 72 (2000)
Winner: American Beauty
Nominees: The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense
Did the Right Film Win? Maybe
There’s no denying that American Beauty is an accomplished, well-written film filled with fine performances and therefore it’s one of the better films to win Best Picture. At the same time, in my opinion, The Insider is the better film overall and ultimately deserved the win more.

Ceremony 73 (2001)
Winner: Gladiator
Nominees: Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
I think from an overall stand point Gladiator succeeded in combining stunning visuals, fine performances and a well-paced story. The only film that came close to equally Gladiator was Traffic I think that was a little much of a contemporary tale for the Academy to honour.

Ceremony 74 (2002)
Winner: A Beautiful Mind
Nominees: Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge
Did the Right Film Win? No
This was one of those rare occasions where all four films were in some way better than A Beautiful Mind. My pick would be the emotionally gripping In the Bedroom or the incredibly unique Moulin Rouge but any of the four would’ve been better than the long-winded biographical affair that ultimately clinched the prize.

Ceremony 75 (2003)
Winner: Chicago
Nominees: Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist
Did the Right Film Win? No
Don’t get me wrong I like Chicago but there are at least two superior films in this list of nominees. Whilst overblown, Gangs of New York is at least a worthier candidate however I’d select The Pianist as a great historical film with real heart. I suspect the only reason that it didn’t win on the night is that the Academy didn’t want to bestow two awards on the infamous Roman Polanski.

Ceremony 76 (2004)
Winner: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Nominees: Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
I feel that Oscar had to honour the Lord of the Rings trilogy at some point and it was fitting that it was the franchise’s final instalment that swept the board. That being said this ceremony featured a rather strong field with the possible exception of racehorse saga Seabiscuit.

Ceremony 77 (2005)
Winner: Million Dollar Baby
Nominees: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
Did the Right Film Win? Maybe
This is one of those years were I’m completely undecided on what film should have won the prize. In my opinion Sideways is the best film of the five but at the same time it doesn’t feel like an Oscar winner. Whilst Million Dollar Baby was a worthy winner it’s last act was a little too mawkish for my liking and it’s nearest competition, the opulent The Aviator may just have edged it out in terms of quality. But I have no problem with Million Dollar Baby being that year’s Best Picture recipient as it still stacks up nicely against previous winners.

Ceremony 78 (2006)
Winner: Crash
Nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
Did the Right Film Win? No
While not, as some claim, the worst Best Picture winner ever it’s true to say that Crash wasn’t the most accomplished nominee that year. In a year that was packed full of serious ‘issue-based’ films I’m going to have to go with the majority and say that Brokeback Mountain was the film that stuck with me the most. However, I also believe that Good Night and Good Luck felt more like an Oscar winner than Crash and would’ve been happy if either that or Brokeback had clinched the title in 2006.

Ceremony 79 (2007)
Winner: The Departed
Nominees: Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
Whilst there are no dud nominees this year I feel that Martin Scorsese’s crime epic was the rightful winner from this group of five. It was also great to see him pick up his long-awaited Best Director Oscar after many prior nominations.

Ceremony 80 (2008)
Winner: No Country for Old Men
Nominees: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
Did the Right Film Win? Maybe
I really like No Country for Old Men but Oscar’s eightieth ceremony had one of its best field of contenders ever. I personally think that There Will be Blood is the better film and feels more like a Best Picture winner than No Country but at the same time I do feel that the Coens did deserve their awards.

Ceremony 81 (2009)
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
It’s fair to say that, after the strong field of nominees the year before this was a rather weak offering in comparison. Despite its faults, Slumdog’s feelgood ending and superb visuals best any other of its rival with Milk being the next best film on the list.
Ceremony 82 (2010)
Winner: The Hurt Locker
Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
The Hurt Locker felt like a timely winner in the Best Picture category primarily due to what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time. Although some of the fellow nominees have their plus points I feel that The Hurt Locker’s win is more than justified.

Ceremony 83 (2011)
Winner: The King’s Speech
Nominees: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone
Did the Right Film Win? No
As much as I love the story in The King’s Speech, it feels like a film that doesn’t truly reflect the time period in which it was made. Instead I would of rather had The Social Network or Inception as the winner this year as both have something to say about modern technology and both are more visually spectacular that this year’s eventual victor.

Ceremony 84 (2012)
Winner: The Artist
Nominees: The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
I feel like this was a year of right place, right time for The Artist which is a film that I had problems with but was the best of a rather tired bunch of nominees. Of the alternatives I would say that The Descendants is possibly a better film and The Help feels more like classic Oscar bait. But in the end I’m glad that this movie about movies won over the academy as it is still a joy to watch.

Ceremony 85 (2013)
Winner: Argo
Nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
Did the Right Film Win? Yes
Not as good of a collection of films as the past couple of years but a couple of gems in amongst the more obvious Oscar picks. Argo for me was a quality selection for the win with only Amour or possibly Beasts of the Southern Wild being adequate replacements.

Ceremony 86 (2014)
Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street
Did the Right Film Win? No
Although some people loved 12 Years a Slave I think it’s possibly Steve McQueen’s worst film to date. Meanwhile the brilliant Gravity shone from a technical standpoint and was also an incredibly easy watch given its reduced time limit. Additionally I think that Captain Phillips would’ve been another fine alternative as I was gripped from beginning to end by Paul Greengrass’ fraught tale.

Ceremony 87 (2015)
Winner: Birdman
Nominees: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
Did the Right Film Win? No
Although Birdman was an enjoyable enough film I thought that it won primarily due to the fact that it focused on older actors and the movie business as a whole. Compare that with Boyhood, a film that documents the first years of the 21st century and prevents a tale that is truly universal. More than that I can’t believe that Richard Linklater was overlooked for directing a film that took him a massive twelve years to complete.

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