Play The Oscar Game

I’ve reviewed the Academy Award for Best Picture by decades, from the 1930s to the 2000s. Remembering many of my favorite films never won Best Film or were even nominated (The Wizard of Oz, The Hustler, The Matrix, Pride and Prejudice) it was still fun to cast my vote for film of the decade and then decide the final winner. I’d love to know which mighty one listed below would you pick?

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1930s. Gone With the Wind  – Can’t stay awake through it, but it’s too iconic to ignore from the decade.

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1940s Rebecca or Casablanca?

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1950s Ben-Hur, Bridge on the River Kwai or On the Waterfront?

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1960s The decade of musical winners like West Side Story plus Midnight Cowboy and Lawrence of Arabia. 

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1970s Strong, powerful men.  Patton? The Deer Hunter? One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? The Godfather?

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1980s If the 70s was a testosterone decade, the 80s featured heart-felt, estrogen stories. Even the war movies. My favorite, Platoon.

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1990s – This is my favorite decade in film. Every year was stellar. How could I pick one?

Shakespeare in Love? American Beauty? Unforgiven? Dances with Wolves? Titanic? Schindler’s List? What about all the others that weren’t winners like Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense? Elizabeth? Saving Private Ryan? Goodfellas? Being John Malkovich?

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2000s  One of my favorites from the decade would be the first Matrix, not nominated. There are a few winners I have always been fond of: Million Dollar Baby, Slumdog Millionaire, Chicago. Still, Gladiator has it all.

Which one from the last eight decades is my choice for Academy Award for Best Picture?

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Which film would you choose?

42 thoughts on “Play The Oscar Game

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    1. That’s a great idea! There’s still many I need to see. For example, I can’t believe I haven’t seen ‘From Here to Eternity’ a best film winner from the 50s. Are you watching the Oscars? I can’t wait. 🙂

  1. Good post (and conversation starter), Cindy, as always.

    I would take Casablanca from the ’40s. It would also be my winner for best ever. 🙂

    I would take Caberet from the ’70s, not any of the male driven stories.

    I do agree the ’90s might have been the best decade in film history, though. So many brilliant movies.

    1. Hi JOSH. Casablanca is perfect, no doubt. I picked OTW because I was mesmermized with the whole ensemble–while Casablanca’s acting all around was solid, OTW had more characters acting their hearts out. Also, I liked the story line better. Terry Malone’s struggle with his conscience and his waffling while one side pulled and the other pushed matched up perfectly with the black and white cinematography and his black and white decision. The morality issue is deeper than Casablanca and that’s why it’s better. Not to mention, I love Humphrey Bogart, but Marlon Brando gives a better acting performance. The scene with Terry and Charley in the car–“You should have watched out for me, Charley–I could have heen a contender” is more powerful than “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Oh, I could go on and on. 🙂

  2. Yeah, about GWTW. It now gets on my nerves, though.

    No question, Casablanca.

    Ben-Hur.

    Lawrence of Arabia.

    Again, easy pick: The Godfather.

    Platoon was a solid winner.

    For the 90s, every one of those for me, as well, except for those first two (I’ve railed on those two).

    Same for the 00s, except for Chicago!

    Hard to pick one for the last eight decades. So, Casablanca, The Godfather.

    Fun post, Cindy 🙂

    1. Hi Michael, the ones you disapprove of in the 90s– we will agree we disagree 😉 You didn’t like Chicago? Ohh, I loved that musical, the choreography, entertaining through and through (for me). Thanks for your input, 🙂

      1. That’s quite okay. With regard to Chicago, it comes down to what Rob Marshall takes credit for: Bob Fosse’s phenomenal work from the adapted stage play. Love the play and characters, just don’t like what Marshall did with it.

  3. Even a lot of films I love haven’t won or been even nominated sometimes.
    My pick (Might not be the best of the decade, but happens to be my favourite. So instead of Oscar wins, here are what I like from each decade, winner or not)
    30’s Gone with The wind
    40’s Casablanca
    50’s Roman Holiday
    60’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    70’s A Clockwork Orange
    80’s Rain Man
    90’s The Talented Mr. Ripley
    00’s Closer
    My all time favourite- Roman Holiday.
    Cheers
    Nuwan Sen

    1. Perfect! I was hoping you would substitute your own. Its fun to see what everyone’s response is. The Talented Mr. Ripley was great but not for the whole decade and I liked Closer, but again, it was a cold and sad film. Roman Holiday–awesome all time favorite. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I can’t resist playing the game. Here are my choices.

    1930s: Stagecoach – I haven’t watched Gone With the Wind for years so I’ll plump for this quintessential western classic.

    1940s: Citizen Kane – For so long the Sight and Sound poll No. 1, and certainly a great one.

    1950s: On the Waterfront – I totally agree with your thoughts on this one.

    1960s: To Kill a Mockingbird – A classic adaptation! Great cinematography and wonderful acting from Gregory Peck and the children.

    1970s: It’s been so long since I watched The Godfather or The Deer Hunter, I’ll choose Jaws which I often watch just for Robert Shaw’s monologue.

    1980s: I can’t choose between The Fabulous Baker Boys, Witness and When Harry Met Sally.

    1990s: The Thin Red Line. With Heat, Unforgiven, and Lone Star also being very personal favourites.

    2000s: No Country for Old Men. The only best picture winner from the decade I’ve seen.

    1. HI Paul! I’m not surprised a bit for your 80s with Meg and Michele. Nice call with Witness. It’s wonderful hearing about everyone’s favorites of the decade. You have excellent taste! 🙂

  5. GREAT question Cindy! I’m a big fan of GWTW (like you said it’s iconic), Casablanca, Ben-Hur (one of my ALL TIME fave), Gladiator, and Schindler’s List. Boy, the 90s certainly have such stellar movies. Well, to answer your question, I think I’d pick either Casablanca or Ben-Hur as the TOP from the last eight decades.

      1. Ahah well now that’d be biased 😀 No I think Ben-Hur and Casablanca are absolute masterpieces I don’t mind watching over and over again.

        Btw, I shared your post on Twitter.

  6. Yay! I’m here to play and it’s a great question, Cindy. You were almost right with my selections:

    50’s: Citizen Kane
    70’s: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
    80’s: Once Upon a Time In America.
    90’s: The Thin Red Line

    I’ll need to think about the rest.

    1. You’re the winner! I can’t believe I haven’t seen ‘The Thin Red Line’. I love Malick, too. That one just slipped by me. Of all the 90s, that’s your favorite favorite? Wow. Can’t fault your over decades. Excellent choices 😉

      1. Let me try again with more selections: forgot what year my favourite film was released, so unfortunately The Thin Red Line has been changed. 😦

        40’s: Citizen Kane.
        50’s: North By Northwest.
        60’s: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
        70’s: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
        80’s: Once Upon a Time in America.
        90’s: The Big Lebowski
        00’s: Memento

        This was actually really difficult to put together but I enjoyed doing so.

        1. I’m having a lot of fun seeing what you all come up with. Mark, I like your list! North By Northwest is such a great call. The Big Lebowski–just watched that last week. Still hilarious. I”m going home to have a
          White Russian.;)

  7. Hmm, if I had to pick 8 films from what you’ve listed from each of the last 8 decades : Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, Platoon, Goodfellas, Gladiator…I’d have to pick…ummm…Goodfellas with On the Waterfront as a close second! Great post, there’s so many great films I’m sure I could make a list infinitely long lol.

  8. i like the Oscar Game. it’s fun for me to try and figure out the psychology of the Academy – what drives these people … how they make their decisions/choices?? it’s not really a rational process all the time to my estimation. firstly i’d like to see a demographic of the Academy voters – im figuring most of them are well beyond their 50’s – a somewhat conservative lot. yet they often vote for upstarts and off beats … like Goldie Hawn. go figure?? (but i love Goldie). and they are concious of being credible – will vote for an Art film every other year. but can hold a grudge against someone (like Spielberg). about half of the Best Picture winners, i wouldn’t watch again – they aren’t Classics. meanwhile they will definitely Honour you if you are around for a while and have done a body of work: John Wayne. the whole thing is interesting – and now that they aren’t the only ‘kids on the block’, even more so.
    well Ben Hur wiped everybody out … i’m not Christian but thiis whole production was truly Spiritually inspired = the key factor in all great Art. amen.

    1. Hi JC! Love your comments. I, too, try to figure it out but it’s a lost cause. I hear all the time it’s political and based on marketing and who knows what else goes on behind closed doors–like making hotdogs, you don’t want to know how it’s done. I like Goldie, her effervensence–I bet you like the young Cameron Diaz….John Wayne is certainly an icon but never really made it as a serious actor, but I doubt he cared. He loved what he did and he’s a king in pop-culture world. I can think of a hundred films that weren’t awarded but should have been. I do like the ones that won over the decades, sure can’t think of any that were bad films. Like you said last week or so, a great film is one that moves the audience. Film critics think with their heads, but the audience their heart. I’d like to see Her win best picture, but I doubt that it will. It’s fun. It’s a game. 🙂

      1. I have a confession – I can’t stand to watch the Awards Show. I last about 10 minutes at most. I find it so pretentious. Yet it has magic moments too – like when Streisand sang Memories again. But it’s tough. Yup, the Academy got hoodwinked a time or two by clever campaigns – but savvied up. Cameron Diaz? … I did like her, but that school picture and The Counsellor REALLY turned me off. (I’d advise anyone against watching The Counsellor – unless your gut is stronger than your judgement). Wayne? could act – but after he become #1 at box office he never bothered. You’re right, a LOT of great films never even get nominated!!! It’s agonizing. Haven’t seen Her yet. (Just Ben Hur.) Will have to do that. Onward … !

        1. It’s an on-going tradition with my daughter and I since she was about fourteen. Now she’s 25 and for several years we buy champagne, analyze the dresses, and I watch until the final end.
          Cameron? I was thinking of Something about Mary and even Charley’s Angels when she did the ditzy blonde with lots of energy….

  9. LOVE this idea Cindy. I have to play! 🙂

    Here are my favorite Best Picture winners for each decade (Some are really tough choices):

    30’s – Gone with the Wind (It’s my wife’s favorite film of all-time)
    40’s – Casablanca – In my mind the greatest film ever. It’s the perfect movie.
    (The 40s were also known for the great films that were nominated but beaten out: Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, The Philadelphia Story, The Grapes of Wrath, Double Indemnity, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mildred Pierce, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Heiress – all nominated but no cigar)
    50’s – An American in Paris – controversial pick I know but I adore this film (and I’m not even a big musical guy). The film is more thought of as undeserving since it beat out “A Streetcar Named Desire”, another film I loved. This was also the decade when great foreign films started flourishing particularly from the French New Wave. Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows” is one of my favorite films of all time.
    60’s – The Apartment – It’s funny, my top five or so movies from the 1960s wouldn’t include any Best Picture winners. Still I really liked The Apartment. The 60’s were all over the map and cinema was beginning to the big change.
    70’s – The Godfather – It’s an obvious choice but also the right one in my eyes. The Godfather 2 and Deer Hunter would be a fairly close behind.
    80’s – Platoon – This was the decade of my teen years. Surprisingly none of the Best Bicture winners would be in my Top 10 list of 80’s movies. Many of them I liked but almost none of them are movies that I loved.
    90’s – Schindler’s List – This was the decade of the epics and the winners show that. Dances with Wolves is a close second even though it gets hammered for winning over Goodfellas. I love Costner’s film.
    00’s – Gladiator & No Country for Old Men – Yes, I’m cheating but these are two of my very favorite movies PERIOD. So I am cheating and proudly doing so. LOL

    1. Hi Keith, very happy you could stop by and put your two cents in. I agree totally that many of our favorite films didn’t win and it doesn’t make them any less a winner. I find it impossible to think that with so many nominations in a category, the odds of your favorite winning seems small. I don’t know how those-in-the-know decide. I was reading Mark’s post today and it’s something like %5 –well, I don’t begin to understand. I love your wife’s choice, GWTW–obviously as iconic as they get, but I love Wizard of Oz twice as much. I love Casablanca, but think that On the Waterfront is a better film. I love films just because the actor/actress is in it regardless if it’s good or not. Some decades are stronger than others (too me). You bring up the 40s and are absolutely right. I love The Apartment, but can think of 10 more from the decade I love better. Schindler’s List is an important, well made film, but it’s so depressing, it’s hard to “love” it while films like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or West Side Story I could (and have) wathed 30 times a piece. They are my comfort soul food.
      Aren’t films amazing?
      Can’t wait for Sunday!

  10. Hi, Cindy:

    Great, well detailed and informative list!

    1930’s : Gone With The Wind
    1940’s: Citizen Kane. With Casablanca close behind.
    1950’s: Bridge on the River Kwai
    1960’s: James Clavell’s King Rat. The flip side of Bridge on the River Kwai.
    1970’s: Patton. Even if the tanks on both sides were wrong. Still a splendid film!
    Followed closely by The Conversation, The Godfather and Save The Tiger.
    1980’s: The Ninth Configuration and Michael Mann’s Thief.
    1990’s: Goodfellas. Saving Private Ryan never struck me as more than an expanded
    episode of the superb ABC series ‘Combat!’ from the 1960s. Close, but not
    Oscar material.

    1. Hi Kevin! What a fun game, glad you stopped by to play!
      I’m getting the impression you are a massive war film fan and so I’m not suprised you like Bride on the River Kwai or Patton. I respect their greatness but they don’t warm the cockles of my heart. I’d watch West Side Story any day ;). I must say, I have not seen your 80s favorites. I think the decade was pretty weak compared to the 40s and the 90s. I need to watch something good from that decade. What about the 00s? Anything strike you there? Clint Eastwood reigned during that decade. Too sappy for you? Any of his war films you like?

      1. Hi, Cindy:

        Clint rocked the 00s with his double whammy of ‘The Unforgiven’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’. I think Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’ got short shrift. Though Cate Blanchette’s Katherine Hepburn was inspired.

        After 2005, the Oscars started becoming PC and political. With Hallie Berry being nominated for and winning an Oscar for ‘Monster’s Ball’. Despite her lack of talent.
        And Denzel Washington winning an Oscar for ‘Training Day’. A film that had a few neat twists, but was not up to Oscar standards.

        Clint was okay in ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and better in ‘Kelly’s Heroes’. Though I still enjoy his teaming up with George Kennedy in ‘The Eiger Sanction’ and ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’.

        1. I agree whole-heartedly regarding Hallie Berry and Denzel. I haven’t seen Denzel do anything remarkable in years. I love Geroge Kennedy. From Cool Hand Luke to one of my favorite war films, The Dirty Dozen. With regards to Clint, 2003 with Mystic River was powerful. I also appreciate 2008 Gran Torino–maybe because my dad was a Korean vet and his personality as the grumpy old man fits my dad to a tee. And, 2006, with Leters from Iwo Jima. I’m a big fan of Ken Watanabe.

      2. Clint is the John Ford and Jedi Master of film in Hollywood. Able to pick his own projects and often write the soundtrack, as he did for ‘Mystic River’. While also not taking himself too seriously, as he did in ‘Gran Torino’. And telling a very decent tale in the bargain.

        He knows young and seasoned talent will jump for a chance to work with him. And that once chosen, those who arrive bring their A-Game and best efforts. Mystic River, again.
        In return, Clint provides a relaxed as possible set. Doesn’t scream or holler. And usually gets more than he’d asked for from his cast.

        Clint also gets high marks for loyalty to past cast members. And maintains an Old School stable of secondary players within reach.

        His ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ and ‘Letters From Iwo Jima’ speak volumes, historically. And from enduring the Pacific War and Iwo from both sides.

        Also a fan of Ken Watanabe from his early ‘Gung Ho’ days. Lots of untapped potential there.

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