In honor of Oscar Night, which has just passed, and for all the newcomers, I reprint this, my first ever

Live from The Chicago Municipal Opera House, bequeathed to the city by Charles Foster (Citizen) Kane, it’s Oscar Night! Tonight is a special ceremony, wherein we honor the Best Pictures to NOT win Best Picture. At what other venue could we possibly hold this auspicious event? Citizen Kane is more than just a great film that got snubbed by the Academy. It is widely regarded as one of, if not THE, greatest motion pictures ever made. In fact, so laden with accolades is Orson Welles’ groundbreaking triumph, it seems unnecessary to award it with something as trivial as an Oscar at this point. Better perhaps to allow the film that bested it, How Green Was My Valley, that one link to immortality. Leaving “Kane” aside, let us now focus our attention on some of the other masterpieces of film that were robbed of their Art Deco paperweights.

Goodfellas (1990); When The Departed won Best Picture in 2007 (it was released in 2006), most movie fans considered it to be little more than a face saving way to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to its director, Martin Scorsese. It may have been his goriest crime drama, but it was hardly his greatest picture. This is the man who gave us Taxi Driver andRaging Bull, after all. Both of those films merited an Oscar, but it isGoodfellas that must be looked upon as the master director’s greatest epic. The best gangster movie ever made? With its release in 1990, it certainly muscled its way into that conversation alongside Oscar winners The Godfather Parts I and II. Goodfellas is a cinematic tour-de-force, dazzling us with one unforgettable scene, camera angle, and performance after another. Surely every movie fan has riffed on Tommy’s (played by Joe Pesci) “Funny How?” monologue at least once. So, what movie did the Academy decide to laud as the year’s best in its place? Kevin Costner’sDances With Wolves. While not a bad movie, Costner’s politically correct Western amply demonstrates that the freshman director knew less about making grandiose, sweeping epics than Scorsese had forgotten (which would be confirmed by later Costner “epics” The Postman andWaterworld). Early in Goodfellas, when the narrator, mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), introduces us to his mentor Jimmy Conway (Robert Deniro), one of the first things he tells us is that “Jimmy loved to steal!” One cannot but wonder how Jimmy feels when the shoe is on the other foot, because he, along with his wiseguy cohorts, wuz robbed!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Here we have a movie so unusual, so utterly unique, so creative, so visionary, so unlike any other movie ever made that it basically changed our perception of the medium. To be sure, there were “art films” before (and no doubt inspiring) 2001. But it was 2001 that first dazzled us with the technology of filmmaking, the “special effects” that opened up doors undreamed of to directors and studios. If Jaws (1975) was the movie that ushered in the era of the summer blockbuster, it was2001 which revealed the potential of what such films could look like, and the impact that makes on an audience. You don’t watch 2001, youexperience it, which was exactly what director Stanley Kubrick was intending. Plot? Secondary. Performances? Who needs ’em? The best lines, every single one of them, went to the disembodied, hollow voice of a malfunctioning supercomputer. What supplanted all of that was a VISION; Kubrick was out to entertain our subconscious minds, not the part of us that decides to get up and buy some popcorn. So, what beat out this cinematic work of the finest art? Well, it wasn’t even nominated (though Kubrick was nominated for, and lost, Best Director), so you could say that all the nominees did. The award went to Oliver!, but Funny Girl and The Lion in Winter were also picked as better films. HAL 9000 wasn’t the only thing malfunctioning in movie-land that year, it seems.

May I have the envelope, please? We now come to my personal pick for Best Picture Not to Win Best Picture, Sunset Boulevard (1950): Director Billy Wilder was firing off on all cylinders with this masterpiece, directed from the height of his powers. Combining black comedy and noir mystery with a subject he knew all too well about (Hollywood, with its egos and fantasy worlds), this, among all his works, seems his most personal statement. Did Wilder see himself as the writer played by William Holden, losing his soul to the gaudy seductress Norma Desmond (played to perfection by Gloria Swanson) who represented, better than any other role in history, Tinseltown itself? When Norma haughtily proclaims, “I’m still big! It’s the pictures that got smaller!”, is it her ego Wilder is poking fun at, or his own? Perhaps he himself didn’t know for sure, but with this claustrophobic, surreal tragi-comic nightmare, he gave Hollywood its most searing and unflinching look at itself. Nevertheless, it’s hard to fault the Academy this time. “Sunset” was bested by another great movie, featuring another stellar performance by the female lead. All About Eve is perhaps Bette Davis’ finest film (and performance), and unquestionably deserved its Oscar. The only problem is that Sunset Boulevard deserved it too, even more.

Clearly, the Academy has made some dumb, historically indefensible decisions. Worst Picture to Win Best Picture? Hard to be objective in such matters. Some people see art where others are left shaking their heads. DidTitanic deserve its Oscar? This movie, perhaps seen by more people in the world than any other motion picture ever made, certainly delivered the goods in terms of spectacle and scale. But with its two dimensional lovers, and one dimensional villain, it is doubtful that it will be talked about in years to come as a masterpiece. Preachy Crash is a movie whose Oscar provokes many a temper tantrum by serious movie lovers. But for me personally, the “honor” can only go to Chicago!, which won in 2003 (released in 2002). Chicago! is a soulless, unabashedly amoral piece of doo doo. In Roxie Hart (played with neither charm nor sex appeal by Renee Zellweger) Hollywood gave us perhaps its most annoying anti-heroine ever. Featuring unwatchable dance numbers (literally, because they are shot so dark or cut so rapidly), pathetic lyrics, lousy performances, and an utterly bleak and sneeringly cynical viewpoint, in its defense I can only say that some of the costumes are nice. Kind of. But Best Picture? Fugeddaboudit!

Maybe Norma Desmond was right. The movies really did get smaller. Consider that in 1970, Cabaret, a movie musical far superior to Chicago! in every conceivable way, lost Best Picture to an even greater film, The Godfather (consider also the competition between Sunset Boulevard andAll About Eve). 2001 would never conceivably be released by a major studio in this day and age. Hollywood is in a pretty bleak state right now, content to crank out superhero movies one after the other, or gory splatter-fests, or Will Smith special effects extravaganzas – noisy movies lacking the intelligence or wit of the films mentioned above. Great movies are still being made, just not with the regularity with which they once were. They are like oases in the desert, rare respites, refreshing reminders of the possibilities of filmmaking for we, as Norma puts it, “wonderful people, out there in the dark…..”

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Khirad
Member

Here’s my abbreviated Foreign commentary.

1998 was tough. Life is Beautiful won, as it should have, but Iran’s Children of Heaven was the more subtle, affecting and artsy movie nominated.

2001 Bosnia and Herzegovina’s No Man’s Land deserved to win, even if I also liked Frances’ Amélie and India’s Lagaan.

In 2002 Devdas was India’s entry, but didn’t even make it to be nominated. I think they were robbed of even contending. No matter, Nowhere in Africa from Germany was excellent and also deserved that win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT7O_sZgxSc

I treat 2009’s sweeps by Slumdog Millionaire as an apology to the nation of India, of sorts (never minding it was directed by Danny Boyle).

2005 Palestine’s entry Paradise Now was nominated. I didn’t see any of the other films that year so I can’t judge, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

But it is 2006 that was really tough. I saw three of the five that year. Mexico’s Pan’s Labyrinth, Canada’s Water and Germany’s The Lives of Others. I would have awarded them all a joint Oscar if it were possible.

2008 is like 2005. I only saw one entry, but by god see Israel’s Waltz with Bashir.

Khirad
Member

Oh yeah, Salaam Bombay! should have totally won in 1988.

Seeing as it was one of the influences of Slumdog though… India had it coming.

escribacat
Member

Khirad, No Man’s Land is a fantastic movie. One of my favorites.

PocketWatch
Member

Khirad, have you seen “Secret Ballot” (2001)? I really like that movie.

Khirad
Member

Yup, I have, in fact PW. And it’s fairly typical of Iranian New Wave.

Darius Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi are the really big names (some in the news the past couple years, for unfortunate reasons). If you liked that movie, I could recommend more. Quite a few are offered on Netflix if you have that.

The irony is that the same restrictions of the Islamic Republic actually make them better.

This one won the Palme d’Or in 1997:

(though I thought the mise-en-scène minimalism was a wee pretentious and I liked his next film better)

KQµårk 死神
Member

WTS you know I love love movies and your artwork is incredible again.

Stanley Kubric is one of my favs and I think he still made the best Sci Fi and parody (Dr. Strangelove) movies of all time.

My favorite movie of the past couple decades was Avatar. I know James Cameron is a bit heavy handed and his moral messages are a bit too literal but really Avatar literally made me feel like I was on an alien world. I don’t think any other modern director puts you in the world they make as much as Cameron. As far as using the full effect of modern film media no one leverages technology better than Cameron IMHO.

PocketWatch
Member

KQ, I liked Avatar as well. The plot was pretty standard, but that was a good choice, I think. There was so much going on visually in that movie that to have a complicated plot or totally incomprehensible aliens would have been too much for the everyday movie goer. I saw it a couple of times in 3D Maxx, and it was superb.

KQµårk 死神
Member

As a pure visual experience nothing to me anyway comes close to Avatar for sure.

Haruko Haruhara
Member

Questina, I was actually in a big movie.

They slapped a big, curly wig on me and made me wear a really tight corset.

Yup, I was a hobbit.

If you look close, you might see me at the 1:46 mark

choicelady
Member

Haruko – well it’s a cute scene and the Hobbits are adorable, but I will NEVER figure out which one is you since, well, I have NO template with which to work.

How’d you get in the scene? Frizzy wig or no, that must have been a ton of fun! Do you do this professionally or was it a one-time thing? Was this your first film? Do tell the background – sounds fascinating!

Haruko Haruhara
Member

All I did was answer a casting call. They wanted women under 5-foot-3 (155 centimetres) and I was about 4-foot-9 or 4-foot-10 at the time (about 145 centimetres), and they said “no acting experience necessary.” So they took one look at me and hired me on the spot and I spent several days in Matamata, running around at night and pretending a dragon was chasing me while wearing fake feet, this poofy wig and ridiculously tight bodice.

No one had ANY idea that we were in the Biggest Movie Ever made. Everyone thought it was just going to be a little Kiwi movie. We were all quite gobsmacked … and chuffed … when it came out two years later.

Mightywoof
Member

I have to confess – I’m a huge LOTR fan – my book is falling to pieces from too many readings – I loved the movies and I’m green with envy that you got to be a Hobbit 😆

Haruko Haruhara
Member

I was 16 years old and it was quite fun. It was filmed at Matamata.

Chernynkaya
Member

Mighty– A funny story re LOTR. I used to buy a lot of books on tape and the Ring was one. I used to play it all day and in bed before sleep. When I was dating my now-husband, whenever I played it at bedtime, he fell asleep instantly. (The reader had a soothing mellifluous voice.)

He actually bought that tape as a sleep aid. And all he ever heard of the story was, “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.” The end.

escribacat
Member

Another great image, wts. I agree with a lot of your picks. Sunset Blvd is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. And I thought Chicago was so boring I just popped it out of the player and took it back. I don’t do that very often. And it’s embarrassing that Citizen Kane didn’t win. I thought Goodfellas was good too but I’m not a big fan of gangster movies. If I must have blood and gore (ugh) I’d go for Pulp Fiction or Fargo — at least the brilliant dialogue makes it worth the effort of coping with the blood and gore. But, I think every male movie buff I know thinks either the Godfather or Goodfellas is one of the best movies ever made (a guy thing?) My favorite flicks are all weird German (Werner Herzog) movies. I’ve got a thing for that crazy guy. Aguirre, the Wrath of God is utterly brilliant. Herzog (and his muse, Klaus Kinski) had a physicality and madness that made their films almost shattering. I think David Lynch had some of that same touch.

Questinia
Member

Today, filmed near my office…Law and Order:

[img]http://planetpov.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/photo-2.jpeg[/img]

Khirad
Member

Is that Vincent D’Onofrio?

I liked him in The Cell, btw.

That movie almost made me forget how lame JLO’s music is.

Mightywoof
Member

The best performance I’ve ever seen from D’Onofrio was in a Homicide: Life on the Streets episode where he played a man trapped between a train and the platform – the performance was so utterly moving and the play between him and Andre Brauer sublime.

…… and his funniest performance that I’ve seen was a The Bug in Men in Black.

choicelady
Member

OMG – I did not remember he was the man between the trains. That was one of the most heart-pounding and ultimately emotionally-wrenching episodes on television EVER. He was, indeed, amazing. He made you project – what if it was YOU waiting for the inevitable? Wow.

PocketWatch
Member

The recruit who committed suicide in “Full Metal Jacket”… the transformation in that bathroom was totally terrifying.

When I was in boot camp, we had three people commit suicide in our company over the course of 12 weeks of training. They were draftees. I don’t even know what to say about that…

Khirad
Member

Tony Shalhoub was funny in MiB, too.

Mightywoof
Member

Oh yes Khirad – but then, the whole danged movie was hilarious 🙂

escribacat
Member

How fun, Q!

Questinia
Member

One couldn’t tell the real cops from the actors. It looked at first like a terrorist attack.

escribacat
Member

When I lived in LA years ago, they were making a horror film in a house down the street from me. The house never seemed the same after that!

ADONAI
Member

Most years, my favorite movie of the year doesn’t get nominated.

First off, Goodfellas is such a great movie. I’ve seen it a hundred times and it never gets old. I still think Godfather is the best American mafia movie ever overall but Goodfellas is by far the best for pure entertainment value. The bits of levity and comedy are layered in so well. My favorite Scorsese movie is still The Color of Money.

Which brings me to one of my favorite nominees to not win Best Picture:

The Hustler. One of my all time favorite movies. I grew up with a pool hall right down the street and, though I never got very good, I always enjoyed the game. And if you were looking for something more exciting, someone was always ready to put money on the line. But not a lot of hustlers in a small town. I was accused of it a few times but it was never anything more than a brief encounter with incredible luck.

Anyways, Paul Newman is just so fantastic in it. But he’s fantastic in everything. He’s Paul fucking Newman. I still cringe during the scene with the breaking of the thumbs. It’s not graphic but you KNOW what they are doing and the sound is enough. It lost to West Side Story. WTF?!

But as I scanned the list of Best Picture winners over the years, I found myself saying that a lot. 1962 was kind of a toss up for me because I like Lawrence of Arabia,it’s a great film. A true classic. But To Kill a Mockingbird, in my opinion, was the best film made that year. And I really like Mutiny on the Bounty too.

Doctor Zhivago losing to The Sound of Music was kinda silly for me too. But I’m biased against musicals and I understand they use to be HUGE in this country. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is another one of my favorites. I love westerns. But the meta-insane tour de force that was Midnight Cowboy is hard to beat. Rocky beating Taxi Driver is debatable for me. I LOVE Rocky.

Apocalypse Now should have beaten Kramer vs, Kramer. Apocalypse Now is better than good and greater than the best. Kramer vs. Kramer is an hour and a half of Dustin Hoffman yelling at Meryl Streep with ten minutes of a kid looking sad padded around it. I didn’t wanna get into this one because I haven’t seen The Last Emperor, but it can’t be as good as Broadcast News.

Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan is one of the great travesties in the history of the Oscars. I will say no more. 2000 is another toss up year for me. Gladiator was an awesome action flick and a pretty damn good movie. But so was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That’s a tough one for me. Chicago beating Gangs of New York is another WTF?! moment for me. Does the Academy hate Scorsese?

2007 is another toss up year. No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood are both equally awesome.

I haven’t seen How Green Was My Valley, but Citizen Kane was fucking boring. I still don’t get the fascination with that Orson Welles stroke-fest.

Chernynkaya
Member

I loved both No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood, but to give Javier Bardam the Best Oscar winner for that role?? Talk about travesty! Against Daniel Day Lewis in Blood?? Bardam was a one-note part. Kee-ryst!

escribacat
Member

Both great movies, Cher. I dunno though … I thought Bardem was purdy scary down to the bones.

ADONAI
Member

That I could agree with. Lewis definitely turned in the best acting performance that year.

choicelady
Member

The Shop on Main Street (1965 Czech film). Best ever. Maybe the ending is sappy, but it was the only way to deal with the ultimate heartbreak of it all. Tiny film about little people dealing with the horrors of the Nazi holocaust. Amazing.

escribacat
Member

Choicelady, that sounds really good. Will put that on my list.

choicelady
Member

You want REALLY depressing, the “Bandits of Orgosolo” set in 1960 Sardinia is the most overwhelming study of abject hopelessness, desperation, and ruthless competition for survival I’ve ever seen. It’s not particularly violent so much as it is a study in what poverty and hopelessness drive people to do to one another. Hadn’t thought of it in years, but that’s only because I’ve supressed it.

KillgoreTrout
Member

whatsthatsound, nicely done. I couldn’t agree more. There is a definite lack of creativity in Hollywood, regarding story and plot and great dialogue.
The really strange thing about Cabaret/Godfather, was that Cabaret won 8 Oscars and Godfather only two, yet the Godfather won best picture. Maybe deservingly so, I am not quite sure.
Cabaret was an excellent picture, without doubt. So was The Godfather.
I think 2001 failed to get best picture because, I believe, that so many people failed to understand it. Woody Allen said that the first time he watched it, he didn’t care that much for it, but several years later, he watched it again and realized that it was a great achievement.
It is hard to understand just how these awards are decided.

Haruko Haruhara
Member

Ordinary People won over Raging Bull?

Has anyone even seen Ordinary People? I never have!

choicelady
Member

I like it. But I like a lot of stuff other people don’t and dislike films other people love. That’s why I read instead. I think I’m weird.

Chernynkaya
Member

I saw it HH. Ordinary People was a big hit and it’s a very good movie. But Raging Bull was better! although I can see how Ordinary won too. Also it was the first (and only?) time Mary Tyler Moore played a not-at-all-nice person.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081283/

choicelady
Member

But she had great hair.

Chernynkaya
Member

C’Lady– 😆 Yeah, but only on the MTM Show. Not so much in Ordinary Peeps:

http://www.homevideos.com/freezeframes/ordinary88.jpeg

Tight as her butt!

choicelady
Member

Yeah, Cher – I’ve been trying to get that Ordinary People “do” for years. I liked it a lot more than her hairspray do on Dick Van Dyke and pretty much more than MTM. I’m resigned to having whatever I get – like it or not. I often think I look like a refugee from another great film “The Snake Pit”. Wonder who teaches hairdressers that look? Can’t get big tips…

Chernynkaya
Member

OH, WHATS! I LOVE this piece and this ART!!! I couldn’t agree more.

Where to start?

Sunset Boulevard was far superior to All About Eve–which I just watched again last night. I have watched Sunset dozens of times and each time find something new. The opening scene of Holden floating in the pool, with his voice over is black comedy and so innovative! The final scene of Desmond–equally hysterical and dark. And between those two scenes is fabulous dialogue and grit and pathos.

And Yes, Kane is perhaps the greatest, but I don’t begrudge How Green. They were totally different of course, but I can see why Green won.

And I agree that Goodfellas was a freakin’ masterpiece. In every way.

Chicago? One of the Worst. Movies. Ever.

And the fact that Funny Girl won over 2001 is ludicrous. I also just watched that stinker recently and it’s worse than I remember.

BTW, Whats, who is the baby in the little coffin?

choicelady
Member

Nah – All About Eve beats Sunset any day of the week, IMHO. I can watch it over and over, and Sunset makes me cringe. It’s just too damned ugly. You know, like Hollywood. Used to work in that area, and seeing the Norma Desmonds of the world – curdled and dyed black hair, too much make up, out of focus eyes, the smell of desperation – just creeped me out. Eve fought back against the stereotpying and ageism. Desmond just went nuts and pretended it wasn’t happening. I like Eve! Hate Desmond. Ick. AAE respects women. SS does not.

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

You forgot the movie about my life, which definitely should have won an Oscar.

Because it is just a matter of time before Hollywood starts giving out awards for movies that were never made, considering how many movies that never should have been made have gotten awards.

Chernynkaya
Member

2nd– when I first got my iPod, and walked around doing my thing while listening to music, I honestly felt as if I was living in my own movie. And it WAS Oscar worthy. 😉

Khirad
Member

Hold on, I’ve had this problem before:

kesmarn
Admin

As much as I have total sympathy for you, WTS, and can’t wait to read your post — to Khirad, I must say:

😆 😆 😆

That one gets me every time. Mr Tech Glitch is too funny.

Kalima
Admin

There is nothing but the title, there is no content. I suppose I could take a peek at the autosave. If there is nothing there either, I have no idea where it could have gone.

jkkFL
Guest

Kalima, thought you caught that gremlin yesterday?
HA! I know, they multiplied, now we have gremlins, gremlinchildren, and grand-gremlins :/

Khirad
Member

Well, if there is no draft, that’d be a real tragedy.

Kalima
Admin

Couldn’t see one, and wts published it, that’s why it’s showing up in the Recent Post sidebar.

I’ll see if I can take it off the Front Page until AdLib can check it again, but at the moment, there is no content or image, except for the featured which is showing up on the FP.

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

Kalima are you able to see the post in the dashboard at all?

I am assuming you are either Admin or Editor, yes?

Kalima
Admin

I have no idea Khirad, but I hope so, or at least a copy as I know that he uses a Mac.

Anyway, I’ve checked high and low, it’s not there, I can’t move it off the FP, so I’ll drop Adlib an email before I sleep, which will be soon. In fact I should email wts too.

Have a good day.

Khirad
Member

Please tell me he had it in Word.

Kalima
Admin

Admin, and the content of the post is empty, 0 words, so is the autosave. Nothing I can do right now.

Kalima
Admin

Wts, I just checked, and nothing is showing of your post except for the title and the featured image. Your post isn’t there. Did you work on it, then forget to save it in Draft, or did you publish it as soon as you finished it?

You have a post in Autosave, did you check that?

Sorry, I’ve checked autosave too, and word count is at 0.