The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Picture (1970-1989)

To run down the intro quickly — this is a series of articles about what I would nominate in every single Oscar Quest category if I had a ballot. I always felt I should do them, but didn’t want to pull that shit everyone pulls of, “Here’s what I’d nominate,” even though it’s all the same five films they add on and they haven’t even seen half the stuff that was nominated. I know my stuff’s legit, because I’ve seen all the films, but I refused to start this discussion unless I was going to do it with the ability to tell people how to do it the right way, since unless you keep them honest, it’s fucking chaos.

So I decided to, along with picking what I’d vote for, create what I’m calling a Compromise List. The Compromise List is — aside from my personal nominations (which on the whole are pretty close to what would fit the typical notion of “Oscar,” since I’ve seen everything and know what is and what isn’t an “Oscar” movie and actually respect the precedents in place even though I don’t always agree with them enough to not be like, “I vote for Star Trek!”), a list of films that are basically a mix of my nominees and their nominees that I think everyone could live with. The idea is to make a list that works for everyone that’s great, and to cut out all the shit that so clearly shouldn’t be there.

The things to keep in mind: 1) if a category has five nominees, I’m only nominating five films. 2) The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. 3) Don’t bother me with your opinion unless you’re gonna go the full nine and do every single year. 4) If you’re going to attempt something like this — be honest. Don’t get too subjective, and DO NOT take off a film you haven’t seen just to put on a film you have seen. And most importantly, 5) YOU CANNOT take off a Best Picture winner. You can not vote for it on your list, but on your compromise list, the Best Picture winner MUST BE THERE. If it won, you have to include it. No exceptions.

Okay, let’s get to the next set of Best Picture years:

1989

Actual Nominees:

  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Dead Poet’s Society
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Field of Dreams
  • My Left Foot

My Vote: Field of Dreams

I don’t like Dead Poet’s as a nominee, and I have films I like more than Driving Miss Daisy. I’d also love to put on a second animated film and vote for Kiki’s Delivery Service, but I won’t. We’ll leave it at two changes.

My Nominees:

  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Field of Dreams
  • The Little Mermaid
  • My Left Foot

Compromise — this is where we need to mediate some shit. Do the Right Thing has to go on. And for me, the only film that comes off is Dead Poet’s. So that’s pretty much that.

Compromise List:

  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Field of Dreams
  • My Left Foot

My Vote: Do the Right Thing

1988

Actual Nominees:

  • The Accidental Tourist
  • Dangerous Liaisons
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Rain Man
  • Working Girl

My Vote: Rain Man

Well, I’ll tell you right now, The Accidental Tourist is a fucking terrible choice, and Working Girl doesn’t hold up at all. The rest I’d change would be for personal reasons.

My Nominees:

  • Dangerous Liaisons
  • Die Hard
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Rain Man

My Vote: Rain Man

I’m cool with 3/5 of the list. Again, I say Working Girl and The Accidental Tourist are the problems. I don’t know if Die Hard would have worked as a nominee (though we’d all have loved it, and, historically, it would be a good choice, it being one of the best action movies of all time), but we also have The Accused this year, as well as Last Temptation of Christ. So… can we just put on Die Hard and leave it at that? But fuck it — we’ll have to leave one movie on. Based on nominations, I should probably leave Working Girl, but I absolutely refuse. Fuck! I hate 1988 as an Oscar year.

Compromise List:

  • The Accidental Tourist
  • The Accused
  • Dangerous Liaisons
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Rain Man

My Vote: Rain Man

1987

Actual Nominees:

  • Broadcast News
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Hope and Glory
  • The Last Emperor
  • Moonstruck

My Vote: Hope and Glory

I don’t really like Moonstruck. That’s really all I’d change.

My Nominees:

  • Broadcast News
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Hope and Glory
  • The Last Emperor
  • The Untouchables

My Vote: Hope and Glory

We have to keep it. There’s nothing that can be changed. I’d love to change stuff, but — I don’t think The Untouchables is enough of “their” type of film, and Full Metal Jacket is amazing, but it goes nowhere after Platoon.

Compromise List:

  • Broadcast News
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Hope and Glory
  • The Last Emperor
  • Moonstruck

My Vote: Hope and Glory

1986

Actual Nominees:

  • Children of a Lesser God
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • The Mission
  • Platoon
  • A Room With a View

My Vote: Platoon

Honestly — I hate this year. I’m the biggest opponent of putting Aliens on the list, but I have to put it on mine because the year is so bad. But I refuse to keep it on a Compromise List. God, I hate 1986.

Fuck it.

My Nominees:

  • Aliens
  • Blue Velvet
  • Children of a Lesser God
  • Hoosiers
  • Platoon

My Vote: Platoon

Compromise list —Blue Velvet would be a weird, but fun choice. So fuck it. It’s better than A Room with a View. I can’t, despite wanting to, change Hannah and Her Sisters.

Honestly, fuck 1986. I hate it.

Compromise List:

  • Blue Velvet
  • Children of a Lesser God
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • The Mission
  • Platoon

My Vote: Platoon

1985

Actual Nominees:

  • The Color Purple
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • Out of Africa
  • Prizzi’s Honor
  • Witness

My Vote: The Color Purple

I hate 1985 too. The 80s are everything I hate, Oscar-wise. And because of that, I’m actually going to vote for some shit I’d never vote for. Because it’s just so boring.

My Nominees:

  • Back to the Future
  • The Color Purple
  • Prizzi’s Honor
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo
  • Runaway Train

My Vote: Back to the Future (because why the fuck not?)

Awful decade, this. Look — we have to keep Out of Africa, we have to keep The Color Purple. I say we keep Prizzi’s Honor, because it gives the category a pulse. I don’t like Witness, but I can accept it since hey, it’s more interesting than the other stuff. But we have to take off something. I take off Witness, but I think we can take off Kiss of the Spider Woman. That doesn’t need this. Actor, Director — that’s all it needs. So let’s put on Purple Rose of Cairo. Because fuck it. At least it’s fun.

Compromise List:

  • The Color Purple
  • Out of Africa
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo
  • Prizzi’s Honor
  • Witness

My Vote: The Color Purple

1984

Actual Nominees:

  • Amadeus
  • The Killing Fields
  • A Passage to India
  • Places in the Heart
  • A Soldier’s Story

My Vote: Amadeus

Jesus. I don’t want to pick nominees here. Let’s just get a Compromise List.

What do we do? All the good shit is fun shit. The Natural‘s not that great as a nominee, but it livens shit up. Once Upon a Time in America was a disaster when it came out, the studio cutting it all to hell, so you can really only say that after the fact. We kind of have to leave it. There’s actually nothing.

Compromise List:

  • Amadeus
  • The Killing Fields
  • A Passage to India
  • Places in the Heart
  • A Soldier’s Story

My Vote: Amadeus

Fuck 1984. (Fuck this decade.)

1983

Actual Nominees:

  • The Big Chill
  • The Dresser
  • The Right Stuff
  • Tender Mercies
  • Terms of Endearment

My Vote: The Right Stuff

Jesus. Well, fortunately, we have good shit to work with for most lists.

One thing I’m gonna tell you flat out — I love Scarface. To put it on any list is to destroy any reputation it has. It’s not a good movie. But it’s a great movie. You know what I mean? Don’t do this to it. Even I’m not doing that to it, and this year is the worst for great Oscar films.

My Nominees:

  • The Big Chill
  • Educating Rita
  • The King of Comedy
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • Terms of Endearment

My Vote: The King of Comedy

Compromise — what the fuck do we do? Terms, Right Stuff, Big Chill stay. The Dresser should not be there. Tender Mercies — I’ll allow it. We need to change one. I say no to Fanny and Alexander, though that would make it easier to not say shit for the year. Personally, I say give me Silkwood. He got the Director nomination, so why not?

Compromise List:

  • The Big Chill
  • The Right Stuff
  • Silkwood
  • Tender Mercies
  • Terms of Endearment

1982

Actual Nominees:

  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Gandhi
  • Missing
  • Tootsie
  • The Verdict

My Vote: The Verdict

Not a bad list. I’d go a different way on my list, but theirs is pretty good.

My Nominees:

  • Das Boot
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Tootsie
  • The Verdict
  • The World According to Garp

I like the category, like I said, so I’m mostly gonna leave it alone. I’m taking Missing off, though, since literally all the films I swapped onto my list have held up better than that. Not to mention An Officer and a Gentleman and Sophie’s Choice also being there. Pick one. All of those are better nominees. Personally, I say – –Das Boot. Great film, got a Director nomination. Why not? Either way, I think we can agree it’s mostly set, this category.

Also, if you say Blade Runner or The Thing here for a Compromise List, fuck you.

Compromise List:

  • Das Boot
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Gandhi
  • Tootsie
  • The Verdict

My Vote: The Verdict

1981

Actual Nominees:

  • Atlantic City
  • Chariots of Fire
  • On Golden Pond
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Reds

My Vote: Raiders of the Lost Ark

My list is gonna be totally personal, though not actually that far off from theirs.

My Nominees:

  • Arthur
  • On Golden Pond
  • Pennies from Heaven
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Reds

My Vote: Arthur (Why not? It’s a top 20 all-timer for me)

This is a pretty easy one. We’re keeping at least four of them. And honestly, the year is terrible, so fuck it, we’re leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Atlantic City
  • Chariots of Fire
  • On Golden Pond
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Reds

My Vote: Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980

Actual Nominees:

  • Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • The Elephant Man
  • Ordinary People
  • Raging Bull
  • Tess

My Vote: Raging Bull

This is easy. Tess should not be there, and I wouldn’t vote for Coal Miner’s Daughter.

My Nominees:

  • The Elephant Man
  • Raging Bull
  • The Shining
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • The Stunt Man

My Vote: Raging Bull

That’s pretty simple. Now, as for the actual list — I still say we can change up to two: Coal Miner’s Daughter and TessTess for certain. And I know we’d all love to see The Shining on there, but, honestly — at the time, nobody really liked that movie. At least we can make a case for The Stunt Man. And honestly, we could make a case for Empire too, but let’s stick with just that one, since Coal Miner’s Daughter makes sense as a nominee.

Compromise List:

  • Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • The Elephant Man
  • Ordinary People
  • Raging Bull
  • The Stunt Man

My Vote: Raging Bull

1979

Actual Nominees:

  • All That Jazz
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Breaking Away
  • Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Norma Rae

My Vote: Apocalypse Now

Jeez. I don’t even want to change this at all. I will, since I have two films and one spot that can be flexed. (And no to Alien. I love it, but no.)

So Norma Rae is off. Great film, but I have two ones I like better. And the answer is either The China Syndrome or Being There. And if you just said, “That’s not even a choice,” you’re right.

My Nominees:

  • All That Jazz
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Being There
  • Breaking Away
  • Kramer vs. Kramer

Compromise List — fucking leave it. I mean, I put my list on there, but Norma Rae is a big film. So fuck it. It works. Why change it?

Compromise List:

  • All That Jazz
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Breaking Away
  • Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Norma Rae

My Vote: Apocalypse Now

1978

Actual Nominees:

  • Coming Home
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Heaven Can Wait
  • Midnight Express
  • An Unmarried Woman

My Vote: The Deer Hunter

Well, shit. This is a fucking great list, too. And there’s really only one change that can be made to make it better.

My Nominees:

  • Coming Home
  • Days of Heaven
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Heaven Can Wait
  • Midnight Express

My Vote: The Deer Hunter

Compromise List — why not leave it? Well, actually — An Unmarried Woman didn’t need the Picture nomination. So let’s put Days of Heaven on there. It works. Nobody would question it.

Compromise List:

  • Coming Home
  • Days of Heaven
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Heaven Can Wait
  • Midnight Express

My Vote: The Deer Hunter

1977

Actual Nominees:

  • Annie Hall
  • The Goodbye Girl
  • Julia
  • Star Wars
  • The Turning Point

My Vote: Star Wars

This is easy as shit. I love the 70s.

My Nominees:

  • Annie Hall
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • The Goodbye Girl
  • Julia
  • Star Wars

My Vote: Star Wars

And you know what? Nobody remembers The Turning Point. It’s a shitty 80s decision made in the great 70s. Let’s keep my list. You know it’s better.

Compromise List:

  • Annie Hall
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Julia
  • The Goodbye Girl
  • Star Wars

My Vote: Star Wars

1976

  • All the President’s Men
  • Bound for Glory
  • Network
  • Rocky
  • Taxi Driver

My Vote: Rocky

Look, we all recognize this year is close to perfect, but I just don’t love Bound for Glory. Problem is, what do I put on instead. Carrie is a weak choice, Marathon Man doesn’t hold up as well. So, while I will be leaving the category, I’m gonna put one of my favorite films on there for my list, because I can.

My Nominees:

  • All the President’s Men
  • Network
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • Rocky
  • Taxi Driver

My Vote: Rocky

Gotta keep it the same. Got to.

Compromise List:

  • All the President’s Men
  • Bound for Glory
  • Network
  • Rocky
  • Taxi Driver

My Vote: Rocky

1975

Actual Nominees:

  • Barry Lyndon
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Jaws
  • Nashville
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

My Vote: Jaws

I’m not the biggest fan of Nashville, so I just put on a movie I like more.

My Nominees:

  • Barry Lyndon
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Jaws
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Three Days of the Condor

My Vote: Jaws

Why touch it?

Compromise List:

  • Barry Lyndon
  • Jaws
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Nashville
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

My Vote: Jaws

1974

Actual Nominees:

  • Chinatown
  • The Conversation
  • The Godfather Part II
  • Lenny
  • The Towering Inferno

My Vote: The Godfather Part II

There’s really only one film you swap out here.

My Nominees:

  • Chinatown
  • The Conversation
  • The Godfather Part II
  • Lenny
  • A Woman Under the Influence

My Vote: The Godfather Part II

Honestly, I think my list is better. I love The Towering Inferno, but I think the only reason it’s there is because it’s a big movie. I’m keeping mine as the compromise. I think it’s better.

Compromise List:

  • Chinatown
  • The Conversation
  • The Godfather Part II
  • Lenny
  • The Towering Inferno

My Vote: The Godfather Part II

1973

Actual Nominees:

  • American Graffiti
  • Cries and Whispers
  • The Exorcist
  • The Sting
  • A Touch of Class

My Vote: The Sting

I don’t like Cries and Whispers at all and think it’s a terrible nominee, and A Touch of Class doesn’t belong there. It’s like An Unmarried Woman. Strong female performance, but otherwise, not a great picture altogether. So, we put on stuff I like better for my list and wait to deal with the Compromise List.

My Nominees:

  • American Graffiti
  • The Exorcist
  • Paper Moon
  • Papillon
  • The Sting

My Vote: The Sting

The question now is — what goes on instead? Does everyone honestly think Cries and Whispers deserves to be there? That, to me, is a pretentious choice that only serves to weaken the category because there’s no way they vote for it. So why the fuck nominate it? Best Director is where you nominate it and leave it at that. I hate when they pull this shit. And A Touch of Class just shouldn’t be there.

But — what goes on instead? The films that seem to be the most obvious choices, based on all the stuff that year, are: Last Tango in Paris, Serpico and Paper Moon.

You’re high if you think Badlands should be on there, even though it’s a great movie. The Last Detail — also amazing, but no. Mean Streets — fuck you. Personally, I say put both Serpico and Paper Moon, but that’s me. So I’ll make you a deal. We’ll split the two. I’ll give you one, you give me one.

Compromise List:

  • American Graffiti
  • Cries and Whispers
  • The Exorcist
  • Serpico
  • The Sting

My Vote: The Sting

Still don’t like it, but I can live with it, since we have enough shit I like to make me not think about the one I don’t like.

1972

Actual Nominees:

  • Cabaret
  • Deliverance
  • The Emigrants
  • The Godfather
  • Sounder

My Vote: The Godfather

The Emigrants and Sounder were such terrible choices.

My Nominees:

  • Cabaret
  • Deliverance
  • The Godfather
  • The Poseidon Adventure
  • Sleuth

My Vote: The Godfather

This is me making it up to The Towering Inferno by getting the blockbuster on there.

Honestly — for a Compromise List — I say Sleuth should really be there. Based on all the stagy shit they nominated after this — it got all the other nominations, and The Emigrants — seriously. The only other question is what to do with Sounder. I don’t like it, I don’t think anyone even knows about this movie anymore. And we can’t put on The Poseidon Adventure. So what do we do? I’ll leave it for now, but I say we should just leave my list. That shit would be one of the most awesome Best Picture lists of all time, my way.

Compromise List:

  • Cabaret
  • Deliverance
  • The Godfather
  • Sleuth
  • Sounder

My Vote: The Godfather

1971

Actual Nominees:

  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • The French Connection
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Nicholas and Alexandra

My Vote: The French Connection

I have nothing. I think this list works as it is. I’m even gonna leave it as my own. I don’t need Willy Wonka on here, nor do I need McCabe & Mrs. Miller. I don’t need any changes to this, so let’s just leave it. Personally I don’t vote for Last Picture Show, but who needs to make up something else? Just leave it. It works.

Compromise List:

  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • The French Connection
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Nicholas and Alexandra

My Vote: The French Connection

1970

Actual Nominees:

  • Airport
  • Five Easy Pieces
  • Love Story
  • MASH
  • Patton

My Vote: Love Story

My Nominees:

  • The Great White Hope
  • Little Big Man
  • Love Story
  • MASH
  • Patton

My Vote: Love Story

Obviously my list can’t work. Little Big Man never gets on, and Great White Hope — while I’d put it on instead of Five Easy Pieces, it’s pretty clear which of those (fairly or unfairly) has held up as the better film. So we’ll just leave it. they have my favorite film of the year on there anyway, so I don’t need to complain about anything.

Compromise List:

  • Airport
  • Five Easy Pieces
  • Love Story
  • MASH
  • Patton

My Vote: Love Story

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One response

  1. BlueFox94

    Pretty good as always, although the F U’s are getting irritating.

    Again, only one complaint: “RAN” should have ended up in one of the 1985 Best Picture lists because not only does it have a Best Director nom, but YOU voted for it, regardless of the circumstances with the established nominees. (Obviously, I’m not including Spielberg in this at all)

    September 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm

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