Film Spotlight, In My Opinion, movies, oscars

Oscar Best Films

Many of us have read posts and articles pertaining to predictions and rankings. Because of BAFTA and SAG results, most claim to know how Oscar night will pan out tonight for the winner of Best Film.

Why do the classic winners seem so much better than winners in recent years? How far back do you go before it’s considered a classic? Twenty years? 1990s? 80s? 70s? before 1960?

The answer is I’ve grown up with the classic winners. I’ve seen On the Waterfront, West Side Story, Casablanca, All About Eve, Cabaret, and Ben Hur more times than I can count for most of my life. Are they better than today’s films or are they better because there is an emotional imprint that makes them meaningful? Have people under the age of 40 even seen the classic greats I’ve mentioned? If not, their favorites are relative to their age bracket. When they are 60, what film will they say is the best?

Articles like to speculate about the Best Film nominees that did not win but should have. For me, that would be films such as Rear Window, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, The Professional, The Shining, Psycho, Shawshank Redemption, and The Big Lebowski to name a few.

What about Best Film winners from the last twenty years? Can you think of many? It was hard to recall but a few. I had to look them up.

2022 – CODA

2021 – Nomadland

2020 – Parasite

2019 – Green Book

2018 – The Shape of Water

2017 – Moonlight

2016 – Spotlight

2015 – Birdman

2014 – 12 Years A Slave

2013 – Argo

2012 – The Artist

2011 – The King’s Speech

2010 – The Hurt Locker

2009 – Slumdog Millionaire

2008 – No Country for Old Men

2007 – The Departed

2006 – Crash

2005 – Million Dollar Baby

2004 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2003 – Chicago

Best films are an emotional response. They tap into the hearts of different groups, genders, and ethnicities. I’m a fan of universality. That is, the more universal the story, the longer it stands the test of time. A well-made film transcends boxes. Also, I squirm at the thought the Best Film of the year is supposed to “say something.” Several of the best films do not try to persuade you of anything. They are compact, simple stories. A story of survival. Characters moving from point A to B. Love in its various forms. Themes of friendship, loyalty, revenge, and hope. I hate politics. Yet, I sure enjoyed All the President’s Men.

Whether the non-nominated should have been or the nominated were robbed, one aspect is certain: you may scoff at my favorite Best Film Oscar choice, and I shrug with indifference at your choice. You might even think the Oscars are ridiculously rigged and not worth thinking about. I get that.

I’d still like to know.

What are some of your top favorites who won Best Film?

What are some nominated films that should have won Best Film but did not?

Why are the classics better than films from the last 20 years? Disagree?

How is it possible that Cool Hand Luke wasn’t nominated for Best Film?

60 thoughts on “Oscar Best Films”

  1. I find it incredible (and quite sad) that Marvel Comics films are even nominated, though I am pleased to see less mainstream blockbusters and some foreign language films on the recent lists.
    Favourite Oscar winning films? I have many. (In any category)
    Lawrence of Arabia.
    Doctor Zhivago.
    Bonnie and Clyde.
    I could go on all day.
    Ones that should have won?
    The list is also too long.
    I have not watched the Oscars for over 20 years. Once politics and political correctness took over, I lost interest. Now it is almost like an election. Money is thrown at the promotion of films, and people complain about the race/colour of winners. It makes me lose interest in even bothering to watch the nominated films. There is also too much CGI in many winning films. The acting ability takes second place to the visual effects. (As you know, I am a grumpy old film fan)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wings, All Quiet on the Western Front, How Green Was My Valley, On the Waterfront, Bridge on the River Kwai, West side Stry, The Apartment, Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather, No coutry for Old |Men (these are the winners who might have received my vote)


      1. it did win. and so did all the others in that comment. those were movies i agreed deserved their oscars. one reason movie are not as good today is that release dtes are often confirmed even before production begins. so those last days before opening are usually rushed and there is never enough time to complete a perfect final edit. this is also why so many movies exceed the two hour limit. they just dont have time to do a proper edit.


          1. i dont understand. my closest guess is that you are asking if it is me or the wofe who chooses what to watch? the answer is that i watch everything, and , knowing her tastes, try to get her to watch with me the oes i hoped she would like. or does your question not intened as a domestive one?


        1. Editing. Such an underrated skill. Speaking of dogs such as The Fabelmans, there was a fun scene when teeanger Spielberg gets to meet John Ford. The advice he gave Spielberg about pointing the camera so the centered object is not in the middle. It would be more interesting. Anyway, how awesome at 15 years old to meet an auteur! I know you’ve met a lot of stars over the years. I am curious which directors you liked or not.


          1. the directors i have met that i liked the most were sam peckinpah, samuel fuller, gabrielle muccini, johnnie to, craig brewer, frederick wiseman, david mamet, john carney, billy bob thornton, haskell wexler, robert altman, and jamaa fanakaa, . i would also count norman mailer, as he directed four films the directors i havent liked include gavin hood, oliver stone, and quentin tarantino.


          2. I can’t remember. How did you find yourself on the lots of Hollywood? That must have been an awesome time of your life before you became a film critic. Your book, I remember, had a Hollywood fringe or music fringe type of existence. You were involved in both industries. Amazing!


          3. i was in Hollywood to write some songs with a friend of mine who had a contract with Chappell music. My landlord was Jeffrey Morris, a character actor who worked extensively with Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson, and my neighbor was the actor Virgil Frye, father of Punky Brewster and friends with Marlon Brando, with whom he had toured Southern churches with talks on civil rights. Then I became friends with Chuck E Weiss who was Tom Waits best friend so I got to know him and was part of that crowd. In The goners, Wayne Wahzee and Willie Wahoo are based on Tom and Chuck, Then I met Gary busey who had just been nominated for an oscar for the buddy Holly story. I had helped charros drummer set up his equipment at the troubador and afterwards went with him to Garys sisters birthday party, where he showed up with the crickets of the movie and they played a buddy holly set. One person leads to another it seems, I wrote the goners to keep those people alive, and now most of them are dead so im glad i wrote the book,

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing. We listen to Tom Waits and I thought Gary Busey did a great job in the role of Buddy Holly. How did you become a film critic? Did you go to school for it?


          5. i became a professional film critic by first becoming an unpaid amateur film critic, and during that time i had amassed a large portfolio of published reviews. but actually the story is a little more circuitous. While managing a venue in boston for three years. I had booked loads of new york jazz musicians and got to know them pretty well. when i moved back to seattle, my best friend there had been boasting about me to the publisher of eardhot jazz, seattles jazz magazine and hpw i knew all these guys and could get interviews. so i started writing for earshot jazz and time passed and the jazz critic on the daily newspaper was quitting and the guy who hired me for earshot was pffered the job. he turned it down because he had more freedom at earshot, and he recommended me.. so i started as a jazz critic, then they discovered my history in the local music scene and started giving me assignments for rock concerts, then came the corker. whenever a movie came out that had to do with music, i was sent to cover it. when the seattle internatioal film festival came around, they needed more writers to cover the over 200 movies over a three week period, so i got to review movies outside of the music sphere, and they liked my film reviews so much that soon i was covering both music and film, and in the end, until the paper went out of business, i was focusing primarily on film reviewing, i had no education, but people with journalism degrees were proofreading my stories, for a masters degree, all you need to do is write 10,000 word thesis which is then read by half a dozen people. I was writing more than 10,000 words every year for ten years for a newpaper with a circulation of 250,000. writing is one of those jobs that a person can either do it or cannot do it, and if you can do it, you can get a job doing it, but if you cant do it, it doesnt matter what kind of degree you have. the same goes for acting.


  3. nominees that should have won, Imitation of Life, The Informer, Mr Deeds Goes to Town, A Star is born, The adventures of robin Hood, The Wizard of Oz, Grapes of Wrath, Pride of the Yankees, the Ox Bow Incident, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, Its a Wonderful Life, Great Expectations, The Red Shoes, Battleground, Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, The Quiet Man, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Anatomy of a Murder, Mutiny on the Bounty, Dr Strangelove, Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bonnie and Clyde, Rachel Rachel, Five Easy Pieces. Clockwork Orange, Cries and Whispers, Nashville, Annie Hall, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, The Verdict, Tender Mercies, The Mission, Goodfellas, In the Name of the Father, Secrets and Lies, The Thin Red Line, Brokeback Mountain

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  4. Cindy, we have seen so many different directions for Best Picture: so many don’t age well, and of course all of those that deserved it but didn’t receive the honor…as for some of the best? In The Heat Of The Night. The Godfathers 1 and 2 – my favorites! Sadly in the past 20 years there have been a few too many films that won and simply don’t hold up…”Crash” probably the one people point to most, but certainly not alone! Happy Oscar night!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I do believe the original movies were best. I think we can prove that by asking – How many remakes or sequels have ever gotten an Oscar?
    Plus, the actors and actresses back then were bigger than life, today – ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. there have been good and bad periods throughout the century of the movies. i used to think the 80s sucked, now the 80s strike me as a last gasp of a dying hollywood. a new generation that wanted to make films like the classics, but didnt know how to do it. but compared to the idiots at the helm in the 2010’a, they look like masters.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. the oscars are industry awards, like naming the employee of the year in each department of the film industry. they are neither critics nor audience awards. they have sucked in the last 29 years because there is scant industry left. movies are not made by union run studions, but by scad of private investors. but things are looking up. this is the first year in many that some excellent movies have been nominated,,,,,tar, everything everywhere all at once, the banshees, all quiet on the western front, women talking… then there are the dogs, avatar, elvis, fabelmans top gun, and triangle of sadness. .


    1. I see your points and agree especially with the last that there are several excellent choices this year signaling the hope there will be a rebirth in cinema.

      What countries besides the States do you think are making exciting cinema? Do they have studios?


      1. i have been mostly re-watching comlete filmographies of my favorite directors. unfortunately most all of those directors are dead, and i have seen nobody eothy of replacing thyem.. except for the daughter of my dear friend marianna from grece. her first film, holy emy has been winning best picture, director, and actress awards all over the world. i told her (araceli is her name) that her film compared favorably with those of carl dreyer, and she ansered that she had been thinking of ordet throughout the shooting of holy emy. im pretty sure films are still being made in rome’s cinecitti, and any indoor shoot can be identified as studio shot. but when i say studio i am talking about the classic holywod set up, with genius producers, unstable directors, crews who know their jobs, and actors under contract to do whatever they are tolsd. _


          1. canada and australia have an infrastructure that supports film=making, they dont have the hollywood studio system though. Russia probably has the most well developed and run film industry, each country in europe has its own organization and tends to leave the directors alone to make the film they want.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t be much help, I have never followed the oscars and I don’t know if any of my favourite films have ever received one. I know a couple of years ago someone mixed up the winner when announcing it, and last year Will Smith slapped someone, and that’s about the full extent of my knowledge!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Since I haven’t watched many of the films this century, I can’t comment on them As far as favorite films, I totally agree with your likes, Cindy.
    There are two foreign films watch over and over, The Third Man and also, Seven Samurai.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cindy, I shall answer your questions as best as I can in three replies 🙂 As for the first question, here are my answers below:

    All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) (Dir: Lewis Milestone)
    It Happened One Night (1934) (Dir: Frank Capra)
    Rebecca (1940) (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
    How Green Was My Valley (1941) (Dir: John Ford)
    The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (Dir: William Wyler)
    All About Eve (1950) (Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
    The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) (Dir: David Lean)
    Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (Dir: David Lean)
    The French Connection (1971) (Dir: William Friedkin)
    The Deer Hunter (1978) (Dir: Michael Cimino)
    Unforgiven (1992) (Dir: Clint Eastwood)
    No Country for Old Men (2007) (Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen)
    The Hurt Locker (2009) (Dir: Kathryn Bigelow)
    Moonlight (2016) (Dir: Barry Jenkins)
    The Shape of Water (2017) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
    Parasite (2019) (Dir: Bong Joon-ho)


    1. That’s a solid list. I’m okay with the classics you mentioned, but get to the recent ones, and I swear I can barely remember their plots.
      My theory is that the films you grew up with are covered with the emotional ties of one’s life and therefore, they matter more. But are they better than films from the last twenty years?


  10. As for question number 2 Cindy, here goes:

    7th Heaven (1927) (Dir: Frank Borzage)
    Cleopatra (1934) (Dir: Cecil B. Demille) (though I was equally satisfied with It Happened One Night)
    Dodsworth (1936) (Dir: William Wyler)
    The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) (Dir: Orson Welles)
    The Red Shoes (1948) (Dir: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
    A Letter to Three Wives (1949) (Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
    The Quiet Man (1952) (Dir: John Ford)
    Anatomy of a Murder (1959) (Dir: Otto Preminger)
    The Hustler (1961) (Dir: Robert Rossen)
    Cleopatra (1963) (Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
    Dr. Strangelove (1964) (Dir: Stanley Kubrick)
    12a. American Graffiti (1973) (Dir: George Lucas)
    12b. Cries and Whispers (1973) (Dir: Ingmar Bergman)
    12c. The Exorcist (1973) (Dir: William Friedkin)
    The Conversation (1974) (Dir: Francis Ford Coppola)
    14a. Barry Lyndon (1975) (Dir: Stanley Kubrick)
    14b. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) (Dir: Sidney Lumet)
    14c. Nashville (1975) (Dir: Robert Altman)
    Taxi Driver (1976) (Dir: Martin Scorsese)
    16a. All That Jazz (1979) (Dir: Bob Fosse)
    16b. Apocalypse Now (1979) (Dir: Francis Ford Coppola)
    Raging Bull (1980) (Dir: Martin Scorsese)
    Reds (1981) (Dir: Warren Beatty)
    E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) (Dir: Steven Spielberg)
    The Right Stuff (1983) (Dir: Philip Kaufman)
    Goodfellas (1990) (Dir: Martin Scorsese)
    The Piano (1993) (Dir: Jane Campion)
    Pulp Fiction (1994) (Dir: Quentin Tarantino)
    Babe (1995) (Dir: Chris Noonan)
    25a. Fargo (1996) (Dir: Joel Coen)
    25b. Secrets & Lies (1996) (Dir: Mike Leigh)
    L.A. Confidential (1997) (Dir: Curtis Hanson)
    The Insider (1999) (Dir: Michael Mann)
    Gosford Park (2001) (Dir: Robert Altman)
    Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) (Dir: Clint Eastwood)
    Hugo (2011) (Dir: Martin Scorsese)
    Zero Dark Thirty (2012) (Dir: Kathryn Bigelow)
    32a. Her (2013) (Dir: Spike Jonze)
    32b. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) (Dir: Martin Scorsese)
    33a. American Sniper (2014) (Dir: Clint Eastwood)
    33b. Boyhood (2014) (Dir: Richard Linklater)
    33c. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) (Dir: Wes Anderson)
    Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) (Dir: George Miller)
    Black Panther (2018) (Dir: Ryan Coogler)
    36a. Drive My Car (2021) (Dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
    36b. Licorice Pizza (2021) (Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson)
    36c. Nightmare Alley (2021) (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)
    36d. The Power of the Dog (2021) (Dir: Jane Campion)


  11. Your third question about whether films from twenty years ago are better than the ones today is too subjective for me to give a credible answer to. For example, I look up to the Classical Hollywood era (the Silent era to the mid-to-late 1960’s) first before anything else because everything we love about cinema began there. My advice for those viewing what are considered to be great films not only after that, but those made after 2002 would be to try loving a film because of reasons other than it was an Oscar favorite. I hope that helps 🙂


  12. Thank GOD you never put Rocky in there. I only lasted for 10 minutes in that one.
    ‘Cool Hand Luke’? Let me tell you Cindy, some of greatest Film Classics ever made never won an Oscar. And some that have, I wouldn’t watch twice.
    And don’t forget that Peter O’Toole (nominated 8 times) never won and Oscar either.
    Sometimes Oscars are handed out political reasons or to Box Office champs. Don’t forget, it’s all subjective.
    I really have to say that I haven’t been able to sit through an Academy Awards ceremony for years. I find them too pretentious.
    Films can glorious, uplifting, and inspiring Works of Art. No doubt about that. But most fall far short.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to see you here jcalberta 🙂 I actually love Rocky – I am an unapologetically huge fan of Sylvester Stallone – I love Schwarzenegger as well 🙂

      I agree with you that some of the greatest films ever made were not nominated for Best Picture. For example, The Wild Bunch got I believe a screenplay and score nomination If I am not mistaken, but was not nominated for Best Picture – shamefully overlooked. Another example is Billy Wilder’s 1951 scathing take on the press entitled Ace in the Hole. How is it that a film that electrifying fails to get nominated for major awards? 🙂


      1. Hey John !
        Though I don’t like Rocky I have to confess that it’s a Classic. People watch it over and over. That’s my definition.
        Some Best Picture Oscar winners don’t become Classics however. They fade away. And we may never watch them more than once.
        Equally interesting is that some Movies that didn’t win anything become Classics. Like Field of Dreams. It’s on TV every week!!!
        I’m picky for sure, but I do like to go to a Movie about once a month. Just saw Avatar 2 and enjoyed it. Yet when I watch Movie previews, I’m lucky if l’m interested in even one Movie out of 10. Most are not aimed at me that’s for sure. If they are, they missing badly. LoL!


  13. Before I retired, I ran a film course for 17 and 18 year olds, two lessomns a week. Eventually, the entire course became my attempts to broaden their film watching horizons. A worrying number of students had never seen a foreign film, or a film in black and white or a silent film, all the way to its end. Many of them would even switch a film off if they suddenly realised that it was in one of the three categories listed above.


    1. That’s sad. As a teacher myself, I have tried to enlighten my students — in German class, I felt compelled to teach German Expressionism and show Metropolis. They liked it to a point. What’s worse is I showed a film from 2004 and they snobbily rejected the CGI as ancient. Ha!


      1. the only difference between artiificial intelligence and the people making films today is that the latter have no intelligence, but, but they have been quite successful in their artificiality . and cindy, in answer to your question as to whether i miss any of my past careers, the answer i miss all of it and none of it. i aman obsolete 20th Century man,


        Liked by 1 person

  14. here in peru, we only received the awarding segments of the oscars, and were regaled with ten minutes of commercials between each double category. so i dont know how the whole show played, but for the movies themselves this was the best lineup in many a year. half of the nominees were inconsequential, but of the other half, i had my predictions but no real favorites. i was surprised cate blanchett lost, but was happy for michelle yeoh. for actor, i was rooting for colin farrell, and didnt think fraser was deserving (it was a sentimental underdog win) but at least that kid didnt win for his atrocious imitation of elvis’ all the songs were terrible and the winner one of the worst, going for a gangham style phenomenon and failing badly, i rooted for brendon gleeson in banshees, also thought banshees should get best picture and best original screenplay, , but i was happy for all the wins for everything everywhere all at once, even though it was a political move, with its we can be friends with china statement and if we work together, we will defeat those awful russians. i was thrilled when women talking won adapted screenplay. a wonderfully intelligent movie that addressed many more issues than were on the surface. jamie lee curtis. another sentimental favorite. so what?


    1. We share the same opinions this round. Fraser did not deserve to win, but everyone loves a comeback. Blanchett should have won, but this was the Oscars for Asians this year. It was a charming Oscars ceremony for a change. Who isn’t captivated with JLCurtis? I loved her call out to her famous folks. I doubt she deserved it either, but I’m happy she did over others. I could not get through the Elvis movie. Seriously, I had high hopes, but it was atrocious for me. Banshee was a stretch to win because of its regional appeal and not global one. Women Talking is the rare one I did not see. I’m glad to hear you approve. I’ll watch it. Maybe do a review.
      Now that the award season is over, I feel quasi depressed. I know there will only be shit to look forward to until next November. What’s to look forward to?
      I wonder when they will pick a new James Bond…


  15. It would be nice if Renfield with Nick Cage was clever.
    I have a guilty pleasure for the Mission Impossible series.
    I don’t think you like Chris Nolan movies, but I like Cillian Murphy and Oppenheimer might be interesting. I hope Nolan doesn’t get to bogged down in riddles.
    David Fincher and Michael Fassbender in The Killer might be good.
    I am the most excited to see Maestro starring Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein.


  16. A thought-provoking post. I agree with you. I don’t think classic winners only seem better than the recent ones – they were better. I am in my mid-30s, have seen the classics you mention and love all of them far more than the recent Best Picture winners. It’s all about numbers and conditions. Perfection was the standard because flop was not an option and more was at stake with each picture in those past times. Few films to the highest quality possible was the only thing conceivable for major studios given the resources. For the majority of time, it produced wonderful results.

    Isn’t it hard finding that sweet spot between emotion and entertainment, on the one hand, and the film’s core technical achievements in terms of originality & other contributions to cinema, on the other? I think Awards also struggle with that. I don’t think Psycho was even a Best Picture nominee, and certainly if it were, it didn’t have a chance because of how this type of horror was perceived.

    I feel the Cannes reflects my taste in films better, but my favourite Oscars’ Best Picture winners – and these are very personal and “emotional” choices – are Gone with the Wind, All About Eve, The Apartment, West Side Story, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Schindler’s List and The English Patient. After 1999, I don’t know to be honest, The Departed and Gladiator are also good, but too male-centric, I believe. As for films that should have won, well, many will agree that Shakespeare in Love should not have won – any films in its category was better, including Elizabeth and Life is Beautiful. The Pianist should have won, too. I am more indignant, to be honest, about all the international films that were not even nominated, but submitted for the Academy’s consideration, including Ivan’s Childhood, Wings of Desire, The Seventh Seal and In the Mood for Love, for example.


    1. Welcome! I’m happy to hear you are young and have a love for films and are able to reflect upon the history of the medium.
      You and I share similar tastes with the classics. Shirley M. and Jack L. were marvelous actors and I loved them both in The Apartment. Yes, the studio system had its flaws–just act any actress who had to lie on the couch for a job — but the titans sure made outstanding films.
      As far as foreign films go, I’m not very experienced. I do like the Italians. Especially Federico Fellini, and Nights of Cabiria (1957). I’m so glad you stopped by!


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