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The Oscar Quest: Reconsidered (Best Picture, 1971-1972)

The Oscar Quest began in May of 2010. I finished about fifteen months later, and wrote it up for this site. That was essentially the first thing I did on here. Five years have passed since then. I’ve grown as a person. My tastes have changed, matured (or gotten more immature, in some cases). So it feels fitting, on the five year anniversary of the site and of the Oscar Quest, to revisit it.

I want to see just how my opinions about things have changed over the past five years. I didn’t do any particular work or catch-up for this. I didn’t go back and watch all the movies again. Some I went back to see naturally, others I haven’t watched in five years. I really just want to go back and rewrite the whole thing as a more mature person, less concerned with making points about certain categories and films than with just analyzing the whole thing as objectively as I can to give people who are interested as much information as possible.

This is the more mature version of the Oscar Quest. Updated, more in-depth, as objective as possible, less hostile. You can still read the old articles, but know that those are of a certain time, and these represent the present.

1971

A Clockwork Orange

Fiddler on the Roof

The French Connection

The Last Picture Show

Nicholas and Alexandra

Analysis:

A Clockwork Orange is one of the most famous films ever made.

This felt like the proper gif.

Everyone knows this movie. And if not, a synopsis isn’t going to help you.

This is a classic. I couldn’t really argue with people who wanted to take this. I’m not as enamored with this movie as most are. I think it’s great, and I love it, but I’m not automatically taking it just because it’s A Clockwork Orange. I much prefer another film in the category, and I might be able to argue myself into a second film over this in the end. But still, I don’t think I’d take this. I just don’t love it enough for it to be the choice.

Fiddler on the Roof is the quintessential Jewish musical. How many of those are there?

What a lovely movie. A classic musical. My least favorite film in the category, but that’s purely because there are three true classics here and one film I just happen to like by pure chance. This wouldn’t be a #5 any other year. This film is awesome.

Shouldn’t have won. They were moving away from films like this. But it wouldn’t have been the worst choice of all time, had it won. I wouldn’t take it, though. Between this and Clockwork, does anybody take this? That’s before we get into the next two choices.

The French Connection is just a fucking marvel. This contains, in my mind, the best car chase ever put to screen. A lot of people would say Bullitt. That’s fair. I prefer this one.

It’s about Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, two New York detectives trying to bust up a shipment of heroin coming into the U.S. It’s got everything you want from a cop film. Car chases, shoot outs, tense scenes where they’re tailing a suspect — it’s got it all.

This is a perfect film. I’m all for this having won Best Picture and I will take this movie in this category every time. This movie is so thrilling. How could you not get roused by that car chase?

The Last Picture Show is Peter Bogdanovich’s masterpiece. Immaculately made.

It’s life in a small town. We follow a bunch of characters going about their lives. But it’s so good. Jeff Bridges is captain of the football team. Timothy Bottoms is his best friend. Cybill Shepherd is the pretty girl of the town. Ben Johnson is the old mentor who happens to own half the real estate in town. Cloris Leachman is the lonely wife of the football coach. Ellen Burstyn is Cybill Shepherd’s mother. Eileen Brennan is the town waitress.

It’s so good. It really is. This movie feels like it almost should have won Best Picture. And no one would have questioned it. It’s between this and Clockwork for my second choice. Wouldn’t really take either, just because I love The French Connection so much, but they’re both incredible films worthy of being taken in their own right.

Nicholas and Alexandra is about Czar Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia. The film is about him and his wife, in the days leading to the Russian Revolution.

I liked this film a lot. It’s in line with those other films like Anne of the Thousand Days. It would have been a terrible winner, though I could have been okay with it, had it won. Maybe not over most of the other choices in the category, but on its own. It’s an all around fourth choice for me in the category. No way I take it over The French Connection, Clockwork Orange or even The Last Picture Show. But I do like it. So there’s that.

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The Reconsideration: The French Connection is always gonna be my choice in this category. That won’t change. The Last Picture Show and A Clockwork Orange are both great choices that could be taken without argument. The other two — ehh. You legitimately have three choices in this category, and mine will always be The French Connection.

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Rankings (category):

  1. The French Connection
  2. The Last Picture Show
  3. A Clockwork Orange
  4. Fiddler on the Roof
  5. Nicholas and Alexandra

Rankings (films):

  1. The French Connection
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. The Last Picture Show
  4. Nicholas and Alexandra
  5. Fiddler on the Roof

My Vote: The French Connection

Recommendations:

The French Connection is a masterpiece. An all-time film, Best Picture winner. 100% essential. May be in the top 100, even.

A Clockwork Orange is essential, and you only need the name to realize that. Gotta see this one, droogies.

The Last Picture Show is essential. One of those classics that everyone needs to see. It’s great.

Nicholas and Alexandra is a film I like a lot. Not essential at all and not something I’d push on anyone if they weren’t into it. I put it up there next to those 60s films like Becket in terms of watchability. But not all may feel that way. High recommend, but can be skipped.

Fiddler on the Roof is a classic musical. Probably not essential, but you might as well see it just to be able to reference it. It’s awesome. Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.

The Last Word: They made a terrific choice. Top 30 or so choice all time. A classic that seems to be getting better with age. Clockwork, despite many people considering it an all-time masterpiece, wouldn’t have held up as a winner. It’s better served as a nominee. The Last Picture Show is probably the only other film that could have won and looked okay, historically. I still think The French Connection is a better choice, but if there was another decent winner to be had, The Last Picture Show is the one.

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1972

Cabaret

Deliverance

The Emigrants

The Godfather

Sounder

Analysis:

Cabaret is an all-time musical. If not for The Godfather, this would have been a great Best Picture winner.

Michael York arrives in Berlin. He takes up with Liza Minnelli, an American cabaret singer, and they romp around Berlin right as the Nazis slowly start to take power.

It’s amazing. This movie is so good. Second choice here and would have been my no-brainer vote had it not been for The Godfather also being here.

Deliverance is one of those movies that’s… yeah. Either you know what it is or you need to experience it without having it spoiled.

I love that they nominated this for Best Picture. It’s certainly a visceral experience. Never gonna vote for it over The Godfather and Cabaret, but man, do I love this movie.

The Emigrants is, to me, one of the stranger Best Picture nominees. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 1971, and then they nominated it here again, a year later. I mean — okay. But why?

A Swedish family emigrates from Sweden to America. We follow them on their journey. That’s it.

I like the film, I don’t love it. It’s solid. Not sure how this is a strong nominee, but okay. At best it’s a third choice in the category. Fifth for me. Just not something I would ever take. I’m more interested in how this managed to be nominated in separate years than anything else.

The Godfather.

Yes. This is the choice.

Sounder is a solid film. Almost forgotten now, strangely. Also one of those movies I feel like a lot of people might have grown up with that I somehow missed entirely.

It’s a coming of age story. The son of a black sharecropper has to deal with life after his father is thrown in prison.

Very good film. Unfortunately in a year where it stood absolutely no chance at winning. The Godfather. Cabaret. Even Deliverance. No chance this beats any of them. It would have been a a weak winner on its own, but beating those films — not a good look. Perfectly suited as a nominee.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Reconsideration: The Godfather will be on every list of the five greatest American films ever made. It was the choice, it is the choice, and it’s one of the three best choices they’ve ever made. That’s how it works. Cabaret would have been a top 30 winner all time, but top three is top three. The Godfather is the choice here.

– – – – – – – – – –

Rankings (category and films):

  1. The Godfather
  2. Cabaret
  3. Deliverance
  4. Sounder
  5. The Emigrants

My Vote: The Godfather

Recommendations:

The Godfather. I was gonna post a gif from the movie of what would happen if you haven’t seen it, but there’s actually too many potential options. How many people even get to this article without having seen this?

Cabaret is all-time essential. Must see for all film buffs. I’m not even going to justify it. You need to see it.

Deliverance is essential. You should know why. If not, just listen to this for a while. Maybe it’ll come to you.

Sounder is a really good film. Solid recommend. Not essential, but one of those nice coming of age movies that’s worth seeing.

The Emigrants is fine. It’s a good enough film. Moderate recommend. Not essential, but worth a watch if it sounds like something you want to see. Don’t actively seek it out because you feel you need to see it. That’s never a good thing to do with foreign films.

The Last Word: It’s The Godfather. We’re done here.

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(Read more Oscar Quest articles.)

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