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The Academy: on the losing side of history? 
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Post The Academy: on the losing side of history?
I'll keep this short. There are many cases throughout the existence of film when the Academy Award for Best Picture has gone to a movie that either time has forgotten or has since been superseded in reputation by a different movie from that year. We all know this. History is littered with cases in which the film that currently enjoys the highest classic status from its particular year is not the film that won the Best Picture Oscar.

My question is this: is this a chronic issue with the Academy? Are there cases in which the Academy has been prescient enough to give the Best Pic award an underdog nominee that went on to be vindicated by subsequent generations? Or is it the Academy's eternal burden to recognize the How Green Was My Valleys instead of the Citizen Kanes, the Rockys instead of the Taxi Drivers, the My Fair Ladys over the Dr. Strangeloves, and to let classics like 2001 and The Third Man go without a Best Pic nom altogether?

To oversimplify the question (and to invite endless side discussion on the subjectivity of art), when has the Academy gotten it right?

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:15 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
I'm not sure, this might be a very controversial opinion, but they got it right with THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II, didn't they? ;)

Sometimes it's just inevitable that time won't be kind to the BP winner. The awards process entirely reflects the atmosphere, the buzz, and the politics of the current year. I'm not sure a lot of thought is put into how each of these nominees will hold up decades from their release.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:12 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
Sometimes they get it right. Some I agree with:

All Quiet on the Western Front
It Happened One Night
Mutiny on the Bounty
Casablanca
The Lost Weekend
On the Waterfront
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Apartment
Lawrence of Arabia
Midnight Cowboy
The French Connection
The Godfather
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Deer Hunter
Rain Man
Unforgiven
Schindler's List
The Departed
No Country For Old Men
The Artist
Argo

On a whole, I think the voters tend to go with what they're feeling at the time, and they don't really think of what will be considered a classic in the future. It's really not that much different from the people who give out the Grammys, so I try not to get too worked up about it.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:13 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
One film for me that absolutely deserved to win is Hurt Locker, that one has held up much better then any of the other nominees that year.

Sometimes people remember best picture winners for the wrong reasons, like with Titanic, even those that like it are hesitant to say that it actually deserved to win over L.A. Confidential or Boogie Nights.

Same with Gladiator, most people remember that film now for being very historically inaccurate and for being Oliver Reed's final film role. Traffic should've won that year as it won every other award, making Gladiator's win highly questionable.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:58 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
I just thought of something else. Period pieces almost always score gold at the Oscars because of their self-important tone. But perhaps the fact that they look into the past plays an important role as well. Many-- although not all-- of those winners Sexual Chocolate mentioned are all set at least a decade or two before the year in which they came out. Could it be that they age well because they were never present-day stories to begin with?

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:43 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
I tend to have a more populist taste than the Academy so I think they seldom get it right. But, since it is not a popularity contest, I believe they probably get it right as well as any organization might.

These I agree with out of those I've seen:
Casablanca
Hamlet
All About Eve
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Patton
The Deer Hunter
Unforgiven
Braveheart
Gladiator

I really wanted to tweak you and put Rocky on the list, but couldn't do it in good conscience.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:10 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
The times where my favorite and their choice for best picture align:

The Departed
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
American Beauty
Braveheart
Schindler's List
Platoon


That's as far back as I'm comfortable going.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:36 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
I've heard it said, and I agree, that the Best Pictures WINNER is often a disappointment,

but the NOMINEES are almost always a terrific list. There are some exceptions (1989...oh God 1989) but the nominees list rarely disappoint. L.A. Confidential, Goodfellas, Z, Citizen Kane, Grand Illusion, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Psycho, Saving Private Ryan, Sunset Blvd, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Apocalypse Now, Chinatown

etc. etc.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:10 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
JamesKunz wrote:
I've heard it said, and I agree, that the Best Pictures WINNER is often a disappointment,

but the NOMINEES are almost always a terrific list. There are some exceptions (1989...oh God 1989) but the nominees list rarely disappoint. L.A. Confidential, Goodfellas, Z, Citizen Kane, Grand Illusion, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Psycho, Saving Private Ryan, Sunset Blvd, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Apocalypse Now, Chinatown

etc. etc.


1989 was the nadir of recent popular culture without a doubt; bad year for movies and music.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:45 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
Gwaihir wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
I've heard it said, and I agree, that the Best Pictures WINNER is often a disappointment,

but the NOMINEES are almost always a terrific list. There are some exceptions (1989...oh God 1989) but the nominees list rarely disappoint. L.A. Confidential, Goodfellas, Z, Citizen Kane, Grand Illusion, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Psycho, Saving Private Ryan, Sunset Blvd, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Apocalypse Now, Chinatown

etc. etc.


1989 was the nadir of recent popular culture without a doubt; bad year for movies and music.

I disagree, 1989 was a great year for both, Sex, Lies, And Videotape anyone?

For music there's NIN- Pretty Hate Machine

Sometimes the Academy overlooks great films by not even giving them nominations at all, like with Fruitvale Station this year.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:06 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
I've always thought that 1956 was the worst year for BP nominees. Seriously...Friendly Persuasion? The Ten Commandments? Around the World in 80 Days? And it won, too! Not that there weren't good films that year: The Searchers, Written on the Wind, Lust For Life, The Killing, Somebody Up There Likes Me...but none of them were nominated.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:07 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
One's I can't really argue with. In no order.

Platoon
Schindler's List
Braveheart
American Beauty
Annie Hall
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Argo
Million Dollar Baby
The Departed
No Country For Old Men
The Godfather Part 2
Casablanca
The French Connection
Silence Of The Lambs
Unforgiven

Among recent years, I doubt seriously that ANY of the 2011 BP nominees will hold up that well in 10 years. At the time I remarked that I didn't really care that The Artist won because it was okay as it was. But seeing how quickly it faded from my memory after watching it shows just how weak a year it was. There was better stuff released that year. They could have given a nod to Margin Call or pulled the broomsticks outta their asses and nominated Drive.

Vexer wrote:
1989 was the nadir of recent popular culture without a doubt; bad year for movies and music.



I disagree, 1989 was a great year for both, Sex, Lies, And Videotape anyone?

For music there's NIN- Pretty Hate Machine

Sometimes the Academy overlooks great films by not even giving them nominations at all, like with Fruitvale Station this year.


Agreed. Moviewise 1989 had that plus Glory, Do The Right Thing and Drugstore Cowboy. The blockbusters taht year were relatively good (Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade). The Abyss came out that year. There was a very good Bond film. However, the top two pick of that year (DTRT and DC) were overlooked for Oscars.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:20 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
Jeff Wilder wrote:

Agreed. Moviewise 1989 had that plus Glory, Do The Right Thing and Drugstore Cowboy. The blockbusters taht year were relatively good (Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade). The Abyss came out that year. There was a very good Bond film. However, the top two pick of that year (DTRT and DC) were overlooked for Oscars.


Do the Right Thing not being nodded in that terrible, terrible field is ridiculous. Still, if that's the best you got, then clearly 1989 was indeed an awful year. Because those movies are uniformly solid, but (with the exception of Drugstore Cowboy, which I haven't seen) none of them rise above "good" in my estimation. Casualties of War would be my BP of 1989, and even that has some flaws.

Sexual Chocolate wrote:
I've always thought that 1956 was the worst year for BP nominees. Seriously...Friendly Persuasion? The Ten Commandments? Around the World in 80 Days? And it won, too! Not that there weren't good films that year: The Searchers, Written on the Wind, Lust For Life, The Killing, Somebody Up There Likes Me...but none of them were nominated.


Wow you're not kidding. I have seen NONE of the nominated films. That's the only year after 1940 in which that's true.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:14 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
1981 was a pretty good year. The winner, Chariots of Fire, was maybe the weakest of the five and still holds up really well, and has a killer theme. 1986 was four fine films and The Mission.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:38 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
As much I disliked The Artist, I can't say I was too upset at Drive not being nominated, personally I think Only God Forgives was more deserving of nominations.

JamesKunz-You should definitely check out Drugstore Cowboy ASAP.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:57 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
1989 had Licence to Kill, so it could only be so bad. I also think Casualties of War is the best of that year. It may not be perfect, but it can easily hold its own against other Vietnam films and the psychology of it is really fascinating.

For me, 2010 was the nadir of recent years, though I think King's Speech was a decent choice for best picture and I think 2011 was the nadir for the Oscars, though a great year for movies. Nobody ever talks about Crash or Million Dollar Baby anymore. Or a lot of others. The Oscars seem to make their decisions in the moment, but those rarely end up being the films people continue to talk about years later. There's also a certain sense that once a movie wins best picture, there's not much need to talk about it anymore. Nothing left to defend.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:00 pm
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
MGamesCook wrote:
For me, 2010 was the nadir of recent years, though I think King's Speech was a decent choice for best picture and I think 2011 was the nadir for the Oscars, though a great year for movies. Nobody ever talks about Crash or Million Dollar Baby anymore. Or a lot of others. The Oscars seem to make their decisions in the moment, but those rarely end up being the films people continue to talk about years later. There's also a certain sense that once a movie wins best picture, there's not much need to talk about it anymore. Nothing left to defend.


I'd rank 2010 slightly ahead of 2011 which to me was the weakest cinematic year in recent memory (although the whole 2008-2011 period in general was weak coming off of the banner years that 2006-2007 were) although I agree on it being the nadir for Oscars (all of the choices were of the safe variety).

Agreed on the second part (although Million Dollar Baby was #2 on my top 10 of 2004). Indeed there are quite a few that were awarded Best Picture yet have since either been totally forgotten or come to be regarded as overpraised at the time. In addition to the aforementioned Crash we have:

Ordinary People
Gandhi
The English Patient
Shakespeare In Love
The Last Emperor
Rocky
Kramer Vs Kramer
Out Of Africa
Rain Man
Driving Miss Daisy
American Beauty
A Beautiful Mind

I strongly suspect both The Artist and The King's Speech will follow suit. The former will likely wind up regarded as a novelty picture that got lucky while the latter will be seen as the safe and conventional choice it was.

Even those that prove resistant to weathering often fall by the wayside. In some ways. getting the Academy Award is the cinematic equivalent of a book receiving the status of classic lit: it ends up as assigned reading in high school and college English classes which can be a form of death.

As far as the ones that are selected in the moment and end up becoming irrelevant as time goes on, I'm reminded of H.I's idea from a couple years ago.

Quote:
Honestly, the best-case scenario would be holding the Oscars like 10 years after the fact to truly shake all the proverbial excess leaves off the cinematic tree. Of course, then people would complain about why should they still care about movies that came out a decade ago? :| But at least it would avoid fluky, trendy, and safe Best Picture winners like the afore-mentioned "English Patient," "King's Speech," and "Ordinary People" as well as "Kramer Vs. Kramer," "My Fair Lady," "The Sting," "Driving Miss Daisy," etc.


Makes sense in a way when you think about it.

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Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:13 am
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
Quote:
Ordinary People
Gandhi
The English Patient
Shakespeare In Love
The Last Emperor
Rocky
Kramer Vs Kramer
Out Of Africa
Rain Man
Driving Miss Daisy
American Beauty
A Beautiful Mind


And these films are arguably decent or good but they don't capture any sort of zeitgeist of their times. I wouldn't look to them to learn anything about the years in which they came out. The Oscars have never gone for zeitgeist films.


Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:22 am
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
MGamesCook wrote:
And these films are arguably decent or good but they don't capture any sort of zeitgeist of their times. I wouldn't look to them to learn anything about the years in which they came out. The Oscars have never gone for zeitgeist films.


Right. That's likely why The Social Network lost. The only recent time I can recall them choosing a zeitgeist film was the aforementioned Crash. For the most part they prefer if the zeitgeist elements are subtly inserted through fiction (The Departed, No Country For Old Men) or in the realm of a genre film (The Hurt Locker).

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Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:47 am
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Post Re: The Academy: on the losing side of history?
1989 was a great year. Besides the movies already mentioned (Do the Right Thing, Glory, Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) there was also Born on the Fourth of July, Field of Dreams, Batman, The Little Mermaid, War of the Roses, Christmas Vacation, When Harry Met Sally.


Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:14 am
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