I am not going to go all the way back, so I will set the cap for the past 25 years, including this year. So this list will span from 1988 to 2013. Also, I will keep my nominated films confined to “commercial” films that Hollywood can stomach. No foreign exotics in the running here; just lame, generic “Best Pictury” films.
1988: Rain Man
Who actually won: Rain Man
Mississippi Burning may be the more important film, but I think they got it right with Rain Man. I think Rain Man holds up better as well, I didn’t realize that Mississippi Burning was from the late 80’s! Gene Hackman always screams 70’s. A weak year for sure. May personal favorite contender for that year was Working Girl, but it is a silly movie and should not be in the running for Best Picture. Overall, 1988 was an average year for film.
1989: Do the Right Thing
Who actually won: Driving Miss Daisy
Driving Miss Daisy was a beautiful film. It pretty much trumps all of the competition except Do the Right Thing. Do the Right Thing is more creative, more cinematically bold, and more important. 1989 was an underwhelming year, saved by Do the Right Thing and Driving Miss Daisy. I suggest you watch Do The Right Thing, and then cheer yourself up by watching Driving Miss Daisy. Overall, 1989 was an average year for film.
1990: Dances with Wolves
Who actually won: Dances with Wolves
I always loved Goodfellas, but not in a best picture kind of way. It is certainly the more satisfying film, but I believe that there is a lot more to Dances with Wolves than Goodfellas. I always felt detached when watching Goodfellas. The persistent music, cursing, violence and narration is very repetitive. Don’t get me wrong; I like the film. Overall, 1990 was an average year for film.
1991: The Silence of the Lambs
Who actually won: The Silence of the Lambs
It boils down to JFK and Thelma and Louise not being better than The Silence of the Lambs. JFK was your typical Oliver Stone melodrama, and Thelma and Louis is a film I just never understood. Maybe friendship films get an unfair bias (Driving Miss Daisy, Shawshank Redemption). This is was a weak year. Overall, 1991 was a poor year for film.
Who actually won: Unforgiven
A very easy choice, it’s not even close. There were a bunch of mediocre films, and one modern classic. Overall, 1992 was a poor year for film.
1993: Schindler’s List
Who actually won: Schindler’s List
Again, not even close. Schindler’s List is truly one of the greatest films ever made in my opinion. On the whole, the year was not very strong. Overall, 1993 was a below average year for film.
1994: Pulp Fiction
Who actually won: Forrest Gump
Unlike Godfellas, I feel no detachment with Pulp Fiction. I feel like I am in the journey, the dialogue holds up well and there is much more to this film than over the top sensation. I love the camera work, lighting, and editing in Pulp Fiction. This was a strong year: Three Colors: Red, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Lion King could have all been my runner up. I loved Forrest Gump as a child, it has a particular way of dealing with tragedy in a warm and light way. Overall, 1994 was an extremely strong year for film.
1995: Apollo 13
Who actually won: Braveheart
Braveheart is more epic, but a bit too personal. Mel Gibson has a way of making epic films that are obviously personal to him and gritty, but don’t feel as emotional or epic as they should. I kind of got the same vibe with Apocalypto. Apollo 13 is flat out solid. I recently watched the ever so overrated Gravity and kept thinking to myself how much better Apollo 13 is. Overall, 1995 was an above average year for film.
1996: The English Patient
Who actually won: The English Patient
I feel wrong choosing Pulp Fiction over Forrest Gump and then doing it again by choosing Fargo over the The English Patient. I love the The English Patient, it’s one of my favorite films; beautifully shot and wonderfully directed. The film is unambitious and just nice. I don’t know how to put it into words. I initially picked Fargo as the winner, but the more I think about it the more fitting it is to sell out and pick The English Patient. The Coens made something very special. The score is amazing, the cinematography is creative and wonderful, and the performances by the entire cast are cohesive and hilarious. Overall, 1996 was an above average year for film.
Who actually won: Titanic
It seems as though picking anything other than Titanic would be a sin. I don’t like giving best picture awards out to films that are considered “best” because of technical achievements or grand scale. If I was not a coward I would pick Good Will Hunting. But… Titainc is a solid beyond the CGI. The story is very engaging, and it’s a mandatory cinematic experience. Overall, 1997 was an above average year for film.
1998: Life Is Beautiful
Who actually won: Shakespeare in Love
1998 is a funny year because you had Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, and The Thin Red Line all losing to Shakespeare in Love in the category of Best Picture. My personal favorite film in the running is The Thin Red Line but that’s because I am a cinematography nut. The best film this year, without question was Life Is Beautiful. Saving Private Ryan is one of the most overrated films of all time by my calculations. Life Is Beautiful is the best acted film in the running, and it really lingers with you. The color grading is superb, not over the top like in Saving Private Ryan. I will never forget Roberto Benigni marching over-dramatically, reminding his son that it is just a game. Overall, 1998 was an extremely strong year for film.
1999: American Beauty
Who actually won: American Beauty
Nothing comes close to touching this film. Easy year for American Beauty, let’s move along. Overall, 1999 was an average year for film.
2000: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Who actually won: Gladiator
I’m not hot on any of the films from this year. Recently watching Traffic and Gladiator I feel neither are as good as I initial felt, Erin Brockovich sucks, therefore leaving Chocolat or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chocolat is not best picture material, therefor I must settle with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This is how my logic would have gone had O Brother, Where Art Thou? not been made. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an unimportant but excellently well made film. That is kind of how most Ceon Brothers’ films are, unimportant thematically but excellent. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a pure gimmick, and if you have never seen foreign films maybe you were impressed by it. Overall, 2000 was an average year for film.
2001: Gosford Park
Who actually won: A Beautiful Mind
This was a bizarre year where you could literally pick whoever you want to win: Gosford Park, Amélie, Black Hawk Down, Mullholand Dr., The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, or A Beautiful Mind.. Gosford Park is flat out better filmmaking than A Beautiful Mind, so I chose it over A Beautiful Mind. Amélie is a bit too… I don’t know, innocent? My personal favorite film of the bunch (and one of my favorite films in general) is Mullholand Dr. Overall, 2001 was a slightly above average year for film.
2002: The Pianist
Who actually won: Chicago
I think Road to Perdition and The Pianist are the best films of this year, Road to Perdition being only marginally better than the competition. Chicago is a kid’s movie and the Lord of The Rings Series sucks more or less. The Pianist is so much better than Road to Perdition and I don’t understand how it got snubbed. Overall, 2002 was a slightly below average year for film.
2003: City of God
Who actually won: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003 was truly awful year for films and so it is not surprising that an awful film won best picture. City of God isn’t particularly excellent, I prefer the actual television series (City of Men). Overall, 2003 was an awful year for film.
2004: The Aviator
Who actually won: The Aviator
2004 was a particularly weak year as well. I feel Million Dollar Baby is a bit of a gimmick. Often times when women are lead roles, or the script contains tragic twists people get excited for reasons other than the film being good. I think the Aviator is a better film. Overall, 2004 was a moderate year for film.
2005: Brokeback Mountain
Who actually won: Crash
Another awful year. Brokeback Mountain was decent marginally better than Crash. I enjoyed Crash way more. Brokeback Mountain was far too depressing, cold and empty. The biggest sin, however, is that despite being set in the scenic Midwest, Ang Lee made very little effort to make Brokeback Mountain visually beautiful. The Midwest doesn’t feel grand, lonesome or beautiful the way it should – it was merely a backdrop. Munich felt far too sensational, and I felt it should have been gritty. Obviously Spielberg is not a gritty director. Overall, 2005 was a poor year for film.
2006: Pan’s Labyrinth
Who actually won: The Departed
The Departed is one of the most over the top and utterly idiotic “Best Picture” films I have ever seen. When I was young and watched it in the theater I though it was amazing. Now I am a bit wiser and it’s just a silly film. This year was an awful one and maybe granting The Departed the award for best picture was actually an indirect life achievement award for Martin Scorcese. Pan’s Labyrinth was unique, well shot, dark, and the definition of what films should strive to be. Children of Men and Little Miss Sunshine are more deserving then the Departed. Overall, 2006 was an above average year for film.
Who actually won: No Country for Old Men
After the awe of one of the greatest villains wore off, and a few years passed, I was not as impressed with No Country for Old Men. Quite the opposite happened with There Will Be Blood upon a second watching. Neither film is amazing, and Atonement may have been the most fundamentally solid/non-gimmicky film of the bunch. Overall, 2007 was an excellent year for film.
2008: Slumdog Millionaire
Who actually won: Slumdog Millionaire
Sleek, unique, and chic. Slumdog Millionaire was awesome and The Reader was a distant second. This year has a bunch of mediocre films, and so the year was not strong. Overall, 2008 was a below average year for film
2009: Nothing deserved to win
Who actually won: Don’t know, don’t care.
I would say 2009 is one of the weakest years in the history of the Academy Awards. Overall, 2009 was one of the worst years of all time for film
2010: The King’s Speech
Who actually won: The King’s Speech
I hate picking this film because I felt it was extremely plain and underwhelming. Take for instance Children of a Lesser God, which covered a similar theme. Now that is what I call a beautifully acted and emotional film. The King’s Speech is hollow and uninspiring when compared to Children of a Lesser God. The Social Network was very entertaining, but Sorkin is so pretentious that I can’t take this film as anything beyond Web 2.0 antisocial nerd fiction. I assume the creation of Facebook was not this entertaining, and I think eventually I will see this film as a convoluted fantasy about a bunch of douche bags. Overall, 2010 was an awful year for film.
2011: The Tree of Life
Who actually won: The Artist
Another turd of a year if you ask me. Malick is a bit too extreme with The Tree of Life so I can’t pick him. You know what? The Artist is even more extreme and more artsy than The Tree of Life. #&%$# The Artist. I’m picking The Tree of Life. Overall, 2011 was a poor year for film.
Who actually won: Argo
I don’t see how you pick a pointless film like Argo over Lincoln. I really don’t understand it. Lincoln was so well directed I could not believe it. It was a film I was not looking forward to watching initially, but minutes into it I was enthralled. Overall, 2012 was an average year for film.
2013: 12 Years a Slave
Who actually won: I better Goddamn be 12 Years a Slave
Lets see, Argo won Best Picture last year. Had it not won Silver Linings Playbook probably would have, which means this year American Hustle will probably take the honors. I need to disclose that I hated American Hustle with a passion. I hope it wins nothing and is forgotten about forever. 12 Years a Slave is one of the better films of the last decade. Overall, 2013 was a below average year for film.
I disagreed with 14 of the 24 winners, the dissent fell primarily towards the more recent years raising a question. Will I eventually agree with the Academy’s recent choices after a certain period of time? I must say the recent decade has been very weak and I doubt very many films will emerge as timeless classics. Anyway, 10/24 results in an agreement percentage of 41.7% which means I don’t like my odds for 12 Years a Slave winning.