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February 05, 2012


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Colin Miller

My contenders in chronological order (along with caveats):

"All Quiet on the Western Front" (but I think that "Paths of Glory" is the definitive World War I movie)

"Mutiny on the Bounty" (I prefer the 1962 version with Marlon Brando)

"Gone With the Wind" (I saw it on pan-and-scan VHS when I had mono)

"On the Waterfront"

"The Bridge on the River Kwai"

"The Apartment" (I prefer other at least a couple of other Billy Wilder films, such as "Double Indemnity" and "Sunset Boulevard")

"Lawrence of Arabia" (I prefer David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai")

"The Godfather/"The Godfather Part II" (I prefer "Goodfellas")

"Rocky" (I prefer "Raging Bull")

"Annie Hall" (I prefer at least a couple other Woody Allen films, such as "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Sweet and Lowdown")

I guess for me, then, it comes down to "On the Waterfront" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai."

Jeff Lipshaw

The Rules of the Game
Citizen Kane
City Lights
Singin' in the Rain
Great Expectations
The Godfather I & II
The Lives of Others
It Happened One Night
The Best Years of Our Lives
Anatomy of a Murder
Red River
Some Like It Hot
The Terminator

Tim, you need a dose of the critic David Thomsen. "The Sound of Music"? Even Christopher Plummer hated it.

Jeff Lipshaw

Sorry. David Thomson.

Unworthy Conversant

(Note: All of the following is off-topic, so feel free to ignore it.)

Prof. Zinnecker's list is very interesting. In includes five films from the 1950s and four films from the 1960s, the two most-represented decades on the list. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of Prof. Zinnecker's list; but if it does prove to be largely true, it will reinforce the growing stereotype among my generation that the Baby Boomer generation considers itself to be both the pinnacle and the essence of American culture.

Of course, such a stereotype is all fun and games when it's about a list of greatest movies, or a chart of the release dates of popular Christmas songs; but it sadly veers into more disturbing territory when it makes an appearance in our legal system - such as through the implementation and enforcement of heteronormative declarations.

Many members of my generation often speculate about the positive changes we will be able to implement in society once the older generations pass on. In doing so, we show ourselves to be an iteration of a cycle through which every previous generation has passed - yearning for power and promising the world a paradise when we have it. Is that cycle a permanent fixture upon the landscape of human society? Or will there one day be (as my generation imagines itself to be) a generation which does not calcify its opinions and preferred regulations as it ages, but instead evolves with the culture? In imagining ourselves to be such paragons of liberality, do we make a mistake made by previous generations?

My training in law tells me that my generation is deluding itself; and my training in history tells me that every generation has done this. If my suspicions are correct, then I fail to see any redeeming value in our species.

Tim Zinnecker

Jeff, I like many of the films on your list (e.g., Some Like it Hot, Anatomy of a Murder and Notorious [my favorite Hitchcock film]), but I'm curious what your list represents. Few of these were actual Best Picture winners (although perhaps some deserved to be).

As for Sound of Music? It's my wife's favorite film (so some spousal deference there). If I narrowed my list to "top ten," it would be gone. But there are others on my list that would fall away more easily (e.g., Titanic and Annie Hall).

Jacqui Lipton

This is great, Tim. Thanks. Do they have to be Oscar winners or will Time consider films more broadly. I have to give some thought to what my own list would look like, so watch this space....

But here's my comments on your list FWIW...

It Happened One Night (1934) - didn't see it!

Gone With the Wind (1939) - can you believe it, I didn't see this either!

Casablanca (1943) - I didn't even see this one after it was mentioned in When Harry Met Sally (which in actual fact is one of the best romantic comedies ever and would probably be on my list along with How to Steal a Million)

All About Eve (1950) - Miss this one too

From Here to Eternity (1953) - And this one...

On the Waterfront (1954) - And this one...

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) - Argh. Don't like war movies. Great film, but wouldn't have any war films on my list

Ben-Hur (1959) - My mother was obsessed with Charlton Heston so I have to give this one a miss too!

West Side Story (1961) - YAY. Would probably put this on my list but I hated the overdubbing. I would probably add Funny Girl too in the musical area. Did it win a best picture Oscar?

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - Love Peter O'Toole, but wouldn't probably have this on my list

My Fair Lady (1964) - YEP, would definitely be on my list.

The Sound of Music (1965) - It's a girl thing (all deference to your wife, Tim) so I'd leave this on mine despite the fact that Christopher Plummer hated his own film..

The Godfather (1972) - NOT a Godfather fan

The Godfather II (1974) - see previous comment

Annie Hall (1977) - OK, but I'm in two minds about Woody Allen. Maybe I'd include this on my list. Not sure.

Gandhi (1982) - OK, in two minds on Gandhi too but I'd leave it in my list if I couldn't think of other films I liked more

Amadeus (1984) - OK I guess

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) - ARGH But great performances so would have to keep it on my list

Schindler's List (1993) - Didn't see it; kind of in the 'war movie' genre

Titanic (1997) - PLEASE!!! Can we drop the TITANIC!!! Sink it!! Whatever!!! I'd definitely take it off my list. James Cameron has enough accolades and this one was a bit of a yawn apart from the special effects and the music. If we must do James Cameron, I'd probably go with Avatar even though it also droned on longer than it needed to...

Jeff Lipshaw

Ah, I misread. The best BEST PICTURE. That's very frustrating because most of the great movies didn't win, and many of the winners didn't deserve to.

Okay, on my list keep:

The Godfather I & II
It Happened One Night
The Best Years of Our Lives


All the King's Men
All About Eve
Lord of the Rings
The Bridge on the River Kwai
On the Waterfront
From Here to Eternity
Schindler's List

The following I don't think deserved the Best Picture award (note winner) but they are guilty pleasures:

Gandhi (Tootsie)
Shakespeare in Love (Saving Private Ryan)
Ordinary People (Raging Bull)

Tim Zinnecker

For those looking, here's a link to the list of the Best Picture winners:

Colin Miller

A few scattered thoughts:

-I don't know that I would include "Return of the King" on my list of Best Best Picture winners, but if you take the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole, I could see having it on the list.

-Conversely,while I think that "The Godfather I" and "The Godfather II" are individually better than "The Return of the King," the entirety of The Godfather trilogy ranks lower than the entirety of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy because of "The Godfather, "Part III."

-I agree that "Shakespeare in Love" shouldn't have won Best Picture in 1999, but I think that the film that should have beaten it was another World War II movie: "The Thin Red Line," which was part of James Jones' war trilogy, along with "From Here to Eternity" and "Whistle." At one point, Sidney Lumet was attached to direct a David Mamet penned adaptation of the third book in the trilogy, "Whistle," but it never came to fruition.

-I also agree that "Gandhi" shouldn't have won in 1983, but I think that the film that shouldn't have beaten it was either the David Mamet penned and Sidney Lumet directed "The Verdict" or Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."

-I unequivocally agree that "Raging Bull" should have beaten "Ordinary People."

-"West Side Story" is my mom's favorite movie of all time, but it's hard for me to get past the overdubbing. My favorite 2 movie musicals of all time both came out in 2001: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "Moulin Rouge!"

-I just recently learned that Scorsese was originally supposed to direct "Schindler's List" and Spielberg was originally supposed to direct the remake of "Cape Fear." They then switched films, "Strangers on a Train"-style. I would love to see either of these alternate universe films.

-I loved "The Silence of the Lambs," but for my money the definitive big screen Hannibal Lecter movie is Michael Mann's "Manhunter."

-"Unforgiven" is probably my 4th favorite Western of all time behind "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," "Rio Bravo," and "Once Upon a Time in the West."

-I still contend that "The Abyss" is James Cameron's masterpiece.

-"The Bridge on the River Kwai" is probably the first serious movie that I ever watched. I watched the Tom Hanks vehicle "Volunteers" in the mid-1980s, and my dad then told me that it was a spoof on "Bridge." We then watched "Bridge," and it knocked my socks off. After "Bridge" and "Star Wars," Alec Guinness" was my hero. And so was Pierre Boulle, after I learned that he wrote the "Bridge" novel as well as "Planet of the Apes."

-"The Lives of Others" is an amazing film. Originally, I thought that "Pan's Labyrinth" deserved the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007, but then I saw "Lives."

Jacqui Lipton

Jeff - which Hamlet were you referring to, Lawrence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh? I might give you Lawrence, but not sure about Kenneth!
I had forgotten about Tootsie but would definitely add that to my list.
And I think Colin is right that The Abyss trumps Avatar. Stupid me - I was just reading about the Abyss in a scriptwriting book and it completely left my mind.
Oh, and Colin - also great picks re Hedwig and the Angry Inch + Moulin Rouge as musicals. Would have to add at least one of them to my list. If I had to pick, I'd say Moulin Rouge.
I also like Baz Luhrmann's take on ballroom dancing - Strictly Ballroom - but maybe that would only get 'best foreign film' on my list... (Good dancing and script but the acting wasn't the best).
I'm going to take a look at Tim's link to the actual best movie list and see what I come up with...

Lance McMillian

This should be fun. Top storylines to watch:

(1) Will The Godfather and The Godfather Part II face off head-to-head before the finals?

(2) When they do face-off (and I think it is inevitable that they will at some point), who will win?

Prediction: The Godfather since this is a broader popular vote.

(3) What are the 16 films that will make the Sweet Sixteen?

Prediction: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Casablanca, One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest, On the Waterfront, Schlinder's List, Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge On the River Kwai, The French Connection, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, Return of the King, Silence of the Lambs, Gone With the Wind, From Here to Eternity, and Titanic (see question #6).

(4) Who are the #1 seeds?

My guess: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Casablanca, and One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest/On the Waterfront/Schlinder's List.

(5) How many films from the 1970s will make the cut?

Candidates include: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest, Patton, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter. Even The Sting and Rocky could have outside shots.

(6) The rules of the contest state that "we’re pretty sure that one of [the final 16] will make you cry." Which movie is this?

Titanic? [Please, no.] Terms of Endearment? Something else?

(7) Which film will suffer the greatest upset?

Match-ups are everything, and we don't know the match-ups, but One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest and On the Waterfront are prime upset candidates because they are Top 5 films that not everyone has seen. And woe to the film that has to match-up against Return of the King. I think only the Godfathers, Casablanca, and Schlinder's List have the juice to defeat Return of the King. But perhaps Return of the King has lost some of its punch by this point. If this was 2005, Return of the King would probably win the whole thing since this is a popular vote.

(8) Which film will ultimately win?

The Godfather

(9) How much does this discussion highlight the tragic state of current filmmaking?

A lot. [But TV the last 10 years has been amazing. I think TV today is what the 1970s were to film.]

(10) What are the worst ten movies to win best picture?

Kelly Anders

A snow storm in Omaha delayed my response (we picked up 10 inches on Saturday). I like many of the films listed here, but some personal favorites that deserve to be considered include "Citizen Kane," "Some Like it Hot" (I saw it listed above, but it is on my personal top-10 best of all time, and Wilder is my favorite auteur), "The Best Years of Our Lives" (a great postwar picture that never gets old), "The Color Purple" (for providing an amazing snapshot into an element of history that has otherwise been untouched), "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Brando and Leigh are brilliant), "12 Angry Men," and "Judgment at Nuremberg." Another extraordinary film (and yet another great film released in 1939) is "The Wizard of Oz." Another modern film that deserves mention is "The Shawshank Redemption." "All About Eve" and "Casablanca" are superb, and I also greatly enjoyed "It Happened One Night," but I found "The Talk of the Town" to be even more entertaining. If foreign films are added, I would include "Avoir Les Enfants," "Flirting" (which won the Aussie version of the Oscar), and the "Jean de Florette" trilogy. All of the musicals Tim included are worthy of any "best of" list. I would also include "The Graduate" or "Midnight Cowboy" for their social significance, and something by Elia Kazan (perhaps "Splendor in the Grass").

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